It seems only fitting that in a city whose symbol is the iris there should be a garden devoted solely to the cultivation of such flowers.
The Giardino dell' Iris, which is one of Florence's better-kept secrets, opened in 1954. This small six-acre garden, which is situated next to the Piazzale Michelangiolo, is only open for a few weeks each year (April 25th to May 20th), during the plant's flowering season.
The iris has been the heraldic emblem of Florence for almost a thousand years and since 1251 this has taken the form of a stylised red iris on a white background.
The city's famous gold florin (fiorino d'oro), which was first minted a year later in 1252, was stamped on one side with the image of Saint John the Baptist, Florence's patron saint, and on the other with an image of an iris.
For centuries the coin, which contained twenty-four carats of unalloyed gold, was accepted as a standard of currency throughout Italy and also in England, France and Spain.
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