Villa Medici Poggio-a-Caiano, Italy

Villa Medici Poggio-a-Caiano, Italy

Cosimo’s eldest son and heir was Piero, and Piero’s firstborn son was Lorenzo. nicknamed the Magnificent. This definition was fully in keeping with Lorenzo’s exceptional qualities – a subtle and cunning politician, a talented and ardent connoisseur of literature, he gathered around him the best minds of the time. Such writers and philosophers as Agnolo Poliziano and Pico della Mirandola and the painters Sandro Botticelli and Michelangelo Buonarroti lived in the court of this uncrowned ruler. It was one of the happiest periods in the history of Florence. A period in which the melancholy of the transience of life prompted a keen search for hedonistic sensations, that is, the pleasures that are available in the present day.

Lorenzo died in 1492. His eldest son and heir was Piero. Two years later Charles the Eighth, king of France, entered Italy with his troops. A new republic was established in Florence, and the Medici family was expelled from the city. These were the years of Savonarola, abbot of the Dominican monastery, who achieved great popularity by combating secularism and the depravity of society. He wanted to return Florentines to the moralism they had abandoned in the heyday of humanism, a revival of interest in classical pagan canons.

From the Medici family came two of the first enlightened popes of the erab Leo X. son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and Clement VII. son of Giuliano, Lorenzo’s brother, who was killed during a plot by the Pazzis, longtime enemies of the Medici family. Clement VII concluded an alliance with the Spanish emperor Charles V. as a result of which the Medici family could finally return to Florence. This happened during the siege of the city, which ended in the fall of the republic. Among the defenders of the Florentine republic against the imperial troops was Michelangelo. He served in the Republican army as a military engineer. Despite this, Michelangelo was able to remain in Florence to complete the Medici Chapel at the highest command of Pope Clement VII.

After Clement VII’s death in 1543, Michelangelo left Florence and moved to Rome, where he lived until his death in 1564.

The ruler of Florence – the Duke of Tuscany – became in 1530 Alexander de Medici, called Moor, his wife was Margherita, daughter of Charles V. The necessary stability of the new Medici dynasty was guaranteed by the subtle play of Clement VII. who consolidated the family’s position by many alliances, among which was the marriage of Catherine de Medici to King Henry II of France.

Duke Alexander, murdered by his cousin Lorenzino in 1537, was succeeded by Cosimo I, a lateral branch of the Medici family. Cosimo was able to maintain complex and delicate relations with France and Spain, putting into practice the subtle political tricks of Machiavelli. Under Cosimo I the family’s influence was also increased by the capture of the city of Siena and the title of Grand Duke of Tuscany (1569). With Cosimo I began a new period of happy life for Florence and for the Medici family. Cosimo I was succeeded by his son Francesco I, who soon died suddenly in the Villa Poggio a Caiano, one of the most beautiful of the many villas the Medici family had built in the hills around Florence.

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In the meantime, new architectural monuments appeared in Florence, such as the Fort Belvedere, the work of Bernardo Buontalenti, and the Chancellery of the Uffizi, created by Giorgio Vasari. These buildings perfectly complemented the enchanting palaces built shortly before by the most influential Pitti families of Florence. The Rucellai, the Strozzi.

Francesco I’s heirs no longer had the economic and above all political power of his predecessors. The family’s cultural and artistic interests remained strongest and were evident in the creation of the Uffizi Gallery and the Palatine Gallery in the Pitti Palace. which was bought by Eleonora Toledo. wife of Cosimo I.

Florence gave birth to a new musical form of performance that became popular in subsequent centuries – the melodrama, better known as opera.

The Medici were patrons not only of the arts; but also of science. Under the patronage of Cosimo II and Ferdinando II, the astronomer from Pisa, Galileo Galilei, lived in Florence. In his search for truth, he defended the empirical method as a necessary part of the methodology of science.The laws of motion he discovered are the basis of all modern technology, including space technology.

The fortune and power of the Medici sunk definitively with the last two Grand Dukes, Cosimo III and Giangastone. With the death of Giangastone’s sister. Anna-Maria-Ludovica (Luisa) in 1743. the Medici family faded away forever. The title of Grand Dukes of Tuscany passed to the Austrian Lorena (Lorraine) family. These princes of Lorena were able to win the affection of the Florentines, especially because of their respect for the legacy received from the Medici. The art collections continued to enrich under the new rulers. With a brief interruption during Napoleon’s invasion. Lorena ruled Florence until 1859. when the Grand Duke Leopold 11 of Tuscany voluntarily left Florence.

In 1860 the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed, of which Florence was the capital from 1865 to 1871. In the second half of the nineteenth century in Florence, there emerges a painting school “macchiaoli” close in style to the French Impressionists. The most prominent representative of this school was Giovanni Fattori of the

The Russian Colony in Florence was small in number, but elite. Here lived the aristocrats Demidovs. Buturlins, etc. There are plaques on the houses where Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky worked. At the turn of the century the Russian community built a church in the Moscow style (arch. M. Preobrazhensky: Via Leone X).

The artistic and cultural identity of Florence, deeply rooted both in its architectural monuments and in its inhabitants, has remained virtually intact to this day. despite the dramatic years of World War II. Now the city is home to about 500,000 people. The city’s economic and productive life is primarily characterized by the same activities that brought good fortune during the Commune: trade and crafts. which, together with tourism, constitute the main sources of income. Florence continues to be a cultural center with the annual “Musical May of Florence” and the Artisanal Exhibition. The city’s history is brought to life in folkloric performances such as the Sixteenth-Century Costume Football Game and the Carriage Parade.

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Medici Villas near Florence

Even if you love Florence very much, getting away from the city for a while in nature is always nice. What could be better than spending a day at the Villa Medici themselves? We decided to figure out where you can feel like a true Renaissance duke.

Villa Cafagiolo

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This villa is one of the oldest on our list. One of the main architects of the early Renaissance, Michelozzo, gave it its modern look. It was beloved by Lorenzo the Magnificent, who spent his youth here, and as ruler gathered the famous humanists Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino and Angelo Policiano in the palace.

A little later the Schiavon brothers founded a ceramics factory in the villa, one of the best of its time. Cosimo I organized a “hunting reserve” at the villa, where rare animals lived in the wild. When the Lorena dynasty succeeded the Medici dynasty, its representatives preferred Villa Cafagiolo to the other Medici villas. After the unification of Italy, the villa passed to the Savoy dynasty, then was sold to the Borghese family. The villa houses a museum, but is currently closed for restoration.

Villa Trebbio

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The villa is in the part of Tuscany where the Medici family itself is from. It is considered one of the first (and perhaps the very first) of the family’s villas. Back in the fourteenth century it belonged to Giovanni di Bicci, through whom the family made its fortune. Giovanni’s son Cosimo the Elder, the first ruler of Florence of the Medici family, commissioned Michelozzo to rebuild the villa. The villa was rather like a fortified castle. It was surrounded by a moat of water and had a drawbridge. However, some elements of the new architecture had already appeared, such as an inner walled garden, like in Roman villas, which was a rarity in the 15th century. In the garden of Villa Trebbia, Cosimo the Elder loved to rest from political affairs. The villa was also the favorite residence of the Grand Duke Cosimo I. The villa is now privately owned, with access by appointment only.

Villa Caredgi

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The most famous Medici villa, seat of the Academy of Plato and favorite country residence of Lorenzo the Magnificent. The villa was built as a fortified castle under Giovanni di Bicci and rebuilt by Michelozzo under Cosimo the Elder. Of note is the large open loggia, which later became a typical element of Renaissance villas. It was used as a holiday villa by the sons of Giovanni di Bicci, Cosimo and Lorenzo the Elder.

It was here, in 1459, that Cosimo the Elder founded the Academy of Plato, the most important philosophical school of Italian humanism, associated with the names of Cristoforo Landino, Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Lorenzo the Magnificent made the villa a true cultural center of the Renaissance. It was here that Lorenzo died in 1492. This villa is the first example of a country residence where rulers lived not in the city itself but in its environs.

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Later, at the behest of Cardinal Carlo de’ Medici, the villa’s garden was redesigned by landscape architects who also designed the Boboli Gardens. Villa Caredgi was popular with foreign travelers who made the “Grand Tour” of Italy and were interested in the history of the Medici and the Academy of Plato. In 1848 the villa was bought by Sir Francis Joseph Sloane of England who planted various exotic plants in the park. It is now open to visitors.

Villa Fiesole (Villa Belcanto)

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In the mid-15th century this villa was bought by Cosimo the Elder for his son Giovanni, known for his love of art, and rebuilt by Michelozzo. Giovanni was a collector of books and paintings and a great lover of architecture. He personally chose for the building of the villa on the hillside, which offers a beautiful panorama, which was contrary to all architectural principles of the time. There are absolutely no defensive and military elements, and the garden is arranged on different levels of terraces, which made it one of the most striking examples of Renaissance villas and an example for subsequent buildings.

Since part of the villa belongs to the hotel and the villa is privately owned, it is not easy to visit the building, but the gardens of the villa are open to the public.

Villa Poggio-a-Caiano (Villa Ambra)

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One of the most famous Medici villas, the best example of the architecture of Lorenzo the Magnificent. It was built in the 1480s by Lorenzo in harmony with his vision of harmony. The architect was Giuliano di Sangallo. Unlike, for example, Villa Caredgi, built only 30 years ago but still resembling a medieval castle, Villa Poggio-a-Caiano is completely devoid of military purpose. This new approach to architecture was made possible by the period of peace and stability achieved by Lorenzo de’ Medici. In the Hall of Leo X, one should pay attention to the cycle of frescoes celebrating the family home. The villa is currently home to a museum.

Official website:

Villa Castello

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This villa, bought by the Medici in 1480, is known primarily for its gardens, second only to the Boboli Gardens in Florence. The villa is now occupied by the Accademia della Crusca, Italy’s most prestigious linguistic institution and regulator of the Italian language. The villa belonged to a lateral line of the Medici family that eventually gave Tuscany its first Grand Duke, Cosimo I. It was at the villa at Castello that the future Cosimo I spent his childhood years. Cosimo I subsequently commissioned Giorgio Vasari to rebuild the villa, which served representative functions. Access to the building is by appointment only, but it is safe to walk through its gardens.

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Villa La Petraia

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One of the most beautiful Medici villas with a beautiful panorama of Florence. The villa did not come into the possession of the Medici until 1544. The son of Duke Cosimo I, Ferdinando, commissioned Bernardo Buontalenti to rebuild it. The villa’s three terrace gardens were inspired by those of the Villa Medici in Rome, where Ferdinando lived as a cardinal. The villa also has an English garden. Villa La Petraia is famous for its cycle of frescoes, The Glory of the House of Medici, painted by Volterrano in the seventeenth century. After the unification of Italy, the villa served as the residence of King Victor Emmanuel II. The villa is open to visitors.

Villa Poggio Imperiale

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This Villa Medici has the most “unrecessionary” appearance: outwardly it is built in the style of classicism, but inside it is dominated by baroque. The villa was once called “Poggio Baroncelli” after the first owners and witnessed various important events. It passed to the Medici in 1565, when Cosimo I simply confiscated it from the Salviati family for insubordination. In the 17th century, Maria Magdalena of Austria, wife of Cosimo II, commissioned the architect Giulio Parigi to completely rebuild the villa. Since Maria Magdalena was descended from the Habsburg imperial family, the villa was named “Poggio Imperiale” in her honor, and its interiors were painted with subjects that glorified the Habsburg house. On April 2, 1770, Mozart himself performed his only concert at the villa. At the beginning of the 19th century the villa was rebuilt again, giving it a classical appearance. Then the most famous Danish sculptor B. Torvaldsen took part in the decoration of the villa. Since 1865 and up to the present day, Villa Poggio Imperiale houses the Institute of the Blessed Annunciation (Santissima Annunziata), a boarding school for girls. The villa is open to visitors as a museum, but only on certain days.

Pratolino Garden

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The former Villa Pratolino is the most extravagant and most “Russian” of the Medici villas – now called Villa Demidoff. The villa’s garden, made in the English style, is one of the most beautiful and largest in Tuscany.

The villa is quite far from Florence, at the foot of the Apennines. The villa was purchased in the second half of the 16th century by Francesco I, who commissioned Bernardo Buontalenti to build a country house for his wife Bianca Capello. The villa must have been of maximum wealth; famous sculptors such as Giambologna, Choli, Danti and Ammanati took part in its decoration. Francesco I liked everything mysterious and unusual, so various unusual mechanisms, fountains-noisettes pouring water, antique statues, labyrinths and grottos were placed in Villa Pratolino. It is worth noting the giant 14-metre statue Allegory of the Apennines by Giambologna, depicting an old man personifying the Apennines, merging with the surrounding nature.

Under the Lorena dynasty this villa fell into complete disrepair, so that in 1820 the historic building of the villa had to be demolished. After the unification of Italy, the villa was purchased by the rich Russian family of the Demidovs, whose representatives had lived in Tuscany since Nikolai Demidov was appointed Russian ambassador to Florence in 1822. The Demidovs restored the surviving buildings, then commissioned the architect Emilio de Fabris to rebuild one of the structures into the new main building of the villa that still exists today. The Demidovs owned the villa until 1981, when it passed from the last member of the family to the state. The garden is open to visitors during the warmer months, but sometimes, by way of exception, it can also be visited in winter.

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Villa La Madja

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In 1536, a historic meeting between Duke Alessandro de’ Medici of Florence and the famous Holy Roman Emperor Charles V took place in this villa while hunting.

The villa had belonged to the Medici family since 1583, purchased by Francesco I, who pursued a strategy of gradual expansion of his dynasty’s land holdings. In 1584-85 the villa was rebuilt by the court architect Bernardo Buontalenti. Compared to the other Medici villas, the appearance of Villa La Madjà is rather modest. The peculiarity of this villa was a square lake with a gazebo for fishing. In the seventeenth century, the Medici sold the villa, on which they subsequently created regular and English gardens. Later the villa belonged to various families, including the Ricasoli family. In 2005 the villa, now owned by the city of Cuarrata, was restored and modern art was exhibited in the park. The villa is now open to visitors as a museum.

Villa Artimino

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This villa is also called “Villa La Ferdinand”, or “the villa of a hundred fireplaces”.

It was built at the wish of Ferdinando I de’ Medici, who liked the place very much when he was hunting. The villa is actually in the middle of a huge Medici hunting reserve, enclosed by a 50-kilometer wall. It is a masterpiece by Bernardo Buontalenti, who by the time it was built was already in his old age and at the peak of his talent. In the architecture of the palace you can see stylistic elements of the other Medici villas, typical for the XV century. Domenico Passignano and Bernardino Poccetti took part in the decoration of the villa. Its interiors once housed works by Titian and Caravaggio, now transferred to museums. In the Hall of the Villas are the famous semi-circular paintings of 17 Medici villas (now copies) by the Flemish painter of the 16th and 17th centuries. Giusto Utens, depicting the villas from a bird’s-eye view.

The villa was seriously damaged during the 2nd World War, but has since been restored.

The villa is privately owned. Today it hosts congresses and events and has a hotel and restaurant. An Etruscan sanctuary was once located on the site of the villa’s Pagetian enclosure.

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