Bologna’s Orto Botanico

The Orto Botanico is a quiet corner of Bologna where you can go to enjoy the greenery or perhaps get away from the growing tourist crowds for a picnic.

The Orto Botanico, or academic Botanical Gardens, was set up by the University of Bologna at this location in 1803. However, the original garden was established in 1568 in a courtyard of the Palazzo d’Accursio by Ulisse Aldrovandi, following what is thought to be the world’s first botanical garden in Padova by just 23 years,

Ulisse Aldrovandi (Wikimedia)

Although a lawyer by profession, Aldrovandi became interested in botany whilst held prisoner in Rome on charges of heresy. After further study, he became Bologna University’s first professor of natural sciences. Aldrovandi’s wife Francesca Fontana was his research partner and co-author of some of his books.

The garden continues today as a research facility and as well is open to visitors. It’s located at 42 Via Irnerio and is open every day from 10am until 5.30pm except Monday and a few public holidays. Enter through the gates and follow the signs which take you around the left side of the building.

The entry gates to the gardens at 42 Via Irnerio. (P. Granville)

The gardens have several hot houses that you’ll pass by. Only the small tropical one is open to visitors.

Just past the hot houses is the pond with typical plant types of this environment.

This brings us to the open section of the garden with several paths and seats. There are a number of venerable and impressive trees scattered through this area.

A Weeping Pagoda tree. (P. Granville)
Juglans X intermedia Jacques (P. Granville)

At the rear of the gardens is a little hill with a short pathway.

A leafy path in the gardens. (P. Granville)

A quick visit might last 30 minutes or you could easily stay for an hour or more in nice weather to catch up on your messages, read a book or have a picnic lunch.

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