The Buontalenti Grotto (also called "Grotta Grande" in Italian) in Boboli Gardens is an artificial grotto designed by Bernardo Buontalenti and built between 1583 and 1593 ca. at the end of the Vasari Corridor on commission from Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici. It is one of the most spectacular and captivating places in Boboli Gardens, a real fairy-tale treasure chest, originally embellished by water features, and finely decorated with mother-of-pearl, shells, artificial stalactites and stones which frame frescoes and seem to confine beautiful and twisted body sculptures by famous Renaissance artists like Baccio Bandinelli or Giambologna portrayed in their effort to come out of the walls, in a sort of birth out of the elements like earth and water.
The Grotto is accessible to groups of maximum 25 persons. Each visit can last maximum 10 minutes. Visits are free (included in the ticket for Boboli Gardens) and booking is not required. Visitors are expected to meet at the entry gate of the Grotto according to a fixed schedule.
School groups, like all groups exceeding 25 persons, are not admitted without a special authorization granted by the Director of the Uffizi Galleries.
On the first Sunday of each month the Grotto will remain closed. During any other extra or special opening of the Boboli Gardens, it will be accessible according to a fixed schedule.