At the heart of Four Seasons Hotel Firenze waits a delightful surprise: the Giardino della Gherardesca – a sanctuary of giant shade trees, vast lawns and vibrant flowers. Though one of the largest Florentine gardens – measuring 4.5 hectares (11 acres) – this walled park has been kept private and unseen for hundreds of years.

Originally planted as a Renaissance garden in the 15th century, the Giardino has been restored to its 19th century design, presenting a showcase of rare and endangered botanical species. Amongst the most striking: Taxus Baccata, a decorative evergreen known as the longest living plant in Europe; and a Thuja tree, an aromatic conifer called the “tree of life” for its homeopathic properties.

Strolling the Giardino offers a refreshing respite from Florence’s busy streets. As you explore the interlacing of pathways, you’ll discover original statues, fountains, pools, a small Ionic temple and a pavilion known as the Kaffeehaus.

Enjoy the simple pleasures of lying back on a lawn dotted with tiny wildflowers, reading in the shade of centuries-old trees, or lounging beside the garden swimming Pool. In fine weather, you can savour meals al fresco on Il Palagio terrace. Or venture to the top of the startlingly high, tree-covered hill – a lovely spot for romantic dinners, with views of the Duomo across Florence’s red-tiled rooftops.