There are botanical gardens in every Italian region, but they are particularly numerous in Tuscany and Lombardy. The prototype of European botanical gardens specifically intended for study and research was founded in Padua in 1545 (the botanical gardens of Pisa and Florence date to around the same period).

From the Renaissance to the present day, the purposes of botanical gardens have progressively evolved: from the cultivation and display of medicinal plants, combined with botanical experimentations and spread of botanical knowledge, over the course of the centuries they also became acclimatisation gardens with the introduction of the first greenhouses with temperature and humidity control in order to recreate tropical and subtropical climates. As a consequence of the tampering with and reduction of biological diversity, botanical gardens eventually also became sanctuaries for endangered or even extinct species and sites for biodiversity conservation.

Botanical gardens are shrines of knowledge. A quality that is attested by their valuable herbariums, unique collections of orderly sorted pressed and dehydrated plants (whole or in parts).

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