hotel in florence city centre with garden - san marco historic garden florence

The history of the garden

In the second half of the 15th century Lorenzode’ Medici (called the Magnificent) established a school of art and sculpturein San Marco Garden, via San Gallo, where he also kept the statues of his private collection. He asked Bertoldo, one of Donatello’s pupils, to teach this art to talented young men who were offered board and lodging while attending the school.

It was right in the Florence garden of Orto de’ Medici, in 1489, that Lorenzo de’ Medici met Michelangelo Buonarroti who was then an exceptionally gifted brisk young sculptor.


One day Michelangelo was carving an old faun’s head when Lorenzo approached and saw his work. The legend says that, while watching it, he said there must be a mistake since the faun, who still had all his teeth in his mouth, did not look old. At that point, the boy readily chiseled away one tooth from the faun’s mouth, making Lorenzo laugh heartily. This could have been the moment when a stimulating life-long friendship started off, gifting the World with all the masterpieces we all still admire.

Nothing is left of the ancient school apart from the little garden, that Hotel Orto de’ Medici of Florence jealously keeps.The Garden was accurately restored and today, the roses grow in the shade of an old cinnamon tree, which reaches its best during spring, showing a wonderful bloom.



Hotel Orto de’ Medici is located in Via San Gallo, one of the most ancient street of Florence. During the older times, this road was the extension of the Roman “Cardus Maximus”, the north/south axis that shaped the whole town plant. It started to be considered part of the historical town center only in the Middle Ages.

In the 15th century, during Renaissance time, the street was rich in Monasteries and Green Areas; among these stands out San Marco Garden (today Orto de’ Medici), where Lorenzo established his art school. In the course of the 18th century, when the Lorena Family came into power in Florence, San Marco Garden was already the private garden of the villa where Grand Duke Leopoldo kept his lover, the dancer Livia Raimondi Malfatti.

In the 19th century the Grand Duke re-shaped the outlook of the street, building the elegant palaces we can still admire today, including the palace of Hotel Orto de’ Medici. The building belonged to the Socci family, whose coat-of-arms can still be seen at the entrance of the palace. The family decided to enrich the residence with splendid frescoes now completely restored. The overlooking Terrace was added then, while the inner Garden remained untouched. That terrace represents today the hidden pearl of the Hotel, alongside the adjacent room, where you can have breakfast during winter, surrounded by ancient frescoes.

The Bufalini family finally bought the whole palace during the middle of the 20th century, while the Hotel could come to life thanks to careful refurbishment conducted by the Architecture Studio Roberto Magris & Partners (now Melucci Cardini Associated Architects).

The Hotel, with its charming wooden floor and the original frescoes, still keeps that magic atmosphere coming from the old times.

Today, thanks to the enthusiasm of the new management and the high quality of our staff, we are able to offer a unique accommodation experience. At Hotel Orto De’ Medici you can breathe the pure old Florentine charm from 2 centuries ago and, at the same time, enjoy modern comfort.

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