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Spring in the botanic garden of Siena

Siena has a very old medical tradition: the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala had a very important garden, the Orto dei Semplici, used for the cultivation of plants with medicinal properties since the beginning of the 17th century.

Herbs and medicines for the Hospital of Siena

In 1756 the field of herbal studies was supplanted by natural history, and starting in 1759, under the direction of Giuseppe Baldassarri, the garden began to collect uncommon plants. In 1784 the Grand Duke of Tuscany Peter Leopold began university reform, and in a short time the garden's collection grew to contain more than a thousand new plants, many from abroad. In 1856, the garden was moved to its current location.

The garden of two and a half hectars lies in a small valley just inside walls located by Porta Tufi of Siena. Various plants are displayed in three different sections of the garden.

The first section contains local varieties of plants from Tuscany, including and some examples of herbs used for medicinal, aromatic and culinary purposes. A second section contains aquatic plants, along with more exotic trees and shrubs, unable to withstand the local climate, such as quince, pomegranate and jujube.

A third section is dedicated to fruit bearing plants, and plants of the cactus and agavi families. The tepidarium is used to protect plants found in semi-desert regions, such as American cacti and African euphorbia.

Amazing green of Siena

Today the garden is located inside Siena's city walls, covering one hillside of the valley S. Agostino. Its central collection is arranged in systematic order within brick-bordered, rectangular flower beds, along with old specimens of exotic and local plants. A farm area grows fruit, olive trees and vines of the main Chianti grapes.


Spring is the best moment to enjoy a lazy afternoon, far from the crowd of the center town, and into an amazing world.

Tips and info

Open to visitors from Monday to Friday from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 2.30 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.

Guided tours are available by booking only and last an hour and a half.

Groups must be accompanied and be comprised of a maximum of 20 visitors per guide.

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