MEDICI VILLAS AND GARDENS CLOSE TO FLORENCE
Decorative gardens surrounding dream villas.
Sites included: Villa di Careggi, Villa la Petraia and Villa di Castello
Get to know the Medici villas in the Monte Morello foothills.
RECOMMENDED MODES OF TRANSPORT
VILLA DI CAREGGI
Purchased by Giovanni de’ Bicci in 1417, it was built in a moment of change, mixing a fortified medieval style with lavish Renaissance elements. Born there in 1448, Lorenzo the Magnificent was very attached to the villa, and it was there that he died in 1492. It remained Medici property until 1780. when the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo sold it to Vincenzo Orsi. From then it passed to the Hollands and later to Francis Joseph Sloane. The latter restored the villa and made substantial changes to the building and the park. The last owner was Rosina Cirilla Fornaciari who sold it in 1936 to the Arcispedale of Santa Maria Nuova to build the Careggi hospital.
VILLA LA PETRAIA
Bought by Cosimo I in 1544 and given to his son Ferdinand in 1568 to be transformed into a suburban villa. Here too the gardens are spread over three levels, making for a breath-taking view of Florence. On the adjacent terrace sits the famous Fiorenza fountain topped by Giambologna’s Venus. The second terrace is called Piano del Vivaio. The third terrace is characterised by a large Italian style garden. At the back of the villa there is a large park that connects it to the adjacent Villa di Castello. The villa is famous for its fresco cycle by Cosimo Daddi and Baldassare Franceschini, otherwise known as Il Volteranno. In the villa there are 12 lunettes representing the Medici villas that were commissioned to Flemish painter Giusto Utens by Ferdinand I to decorate the Villa di Artimino.
VILLA DI CASTELLO
Most famous for its beautiful gardens spread over terraces that are perpendicular to the villa, this villa was designed by Tribolo in 1538 as a propaganda project for Cosimo I. The garden was to represent the Grand Duke through the presence of the Apennines above and the two rivers, Arno and Mugnone, that run through Florence. The animal cave was supposed to embody the peace that Cosimo had brought to the universe. The first terrace has a grid plan with a fountain in the centre, designed by Tribolo and topped by a statue of Hercules and Anteus by Bartolomeo Ammannati, and is surrounded by many statues whose purpose was to represent the merits of the Medici family. The second terrace, called the citrus garden, is surrounded on two sides by lemon groves with over 500 potted citrus plants. The garden ends with a pond where you’ll find the statue of Appenine, or January.
(currently closed to the public) – One of the most important Italian ceramic museums is in Sesto Fiorentino. Works from the middle of the 18th century up to the innovative style of Gio Ponti in the 1920s are on display. In the Church of San Romolo in Colonnata there are many porcelain decorations, including the main altar from 1783. The Church of Santa Maria e San Jacopo has a marbled earthenware altar that was completed between the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century by the Manifattura Ginori.