Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

There is a small cathedral in Vico d’Elsa, located in the township of Barberino, which boasts a garden where grow 5.000 “piante grasse” (plants in the cactus family) which are beneficial to your health.

The plants are rare and almost extinct and make up the first “therapeutic garden” in Italy. The garden was designed and created by a group of locals. It is a project that invests in “intelligent” plants and their therapeutic effects and gives visitors, especially the disabled, a path towards well-being.

The garden is tied to the donation of these plants by Tuscan collectors including Andrea Rosselli (who passed away a few years ago) and Alessandro Macini.

These unusual plants come from all over the world and have raised the quality of this botanical garden, making it one of the largest and most diverse in Europe.

“In addition to the presence of the “piante grasse” – says Luigi Lisi, president of the local cultural association “Il Giardino Sottovico” – the main attraction and strength of this project reside in the social and therapeutic functions with which it was conceived.”


“In fact, the plan for the garden foresaw the creation of various paths which stimulate the visitors’ senses; there are specific areas where all of the five senses are combined in an experience that aims to help the feeling of wellbeing in our visitor. We have been working with the disabled particularly by also offering them work opportunities, a breakthrough which translates into an important social event”.

The botanical garden of Vico d’Elsa is a structure that hosts a greenhouse with 200 square meters of these succulent and rare plants. It contains and protects plants from 5 continents.

The garden is also a learning experience, a meeting place for children, adults, the elderly, schools, and centers for the handicapped. For hours and to schedule visits and activities see: