The Medici villas in Tuscany
The villas in which the Medici, lords of Renaissance Florence lived, are located in the magnificent Tuscany, immersed in a splendid countryside, close to cities of art such as Florence and Lucca. Built in harmony with nature between the 15th and 17th centuries, the villas are country buildings dedicated to pleasures, arts and knowledge. In addition to being places of rest and leisure, they represented the summer “palace” on the territories administered by the Medici and the center of agricultural economic activities in the area in which they were located. These palaces are among the most important examples of Renaissance and Baroque architecture in Tuscany. Their gardens and their perfect integration with the surrounding environment helped to bring out an aesthetic sensibility of the landscape that was a characteristic of Humanism and the Renaissance. These villas also testify to the influence exercised by the Medici on European culture through their widespread patronage.
In particular, 12 villas and two gardens became part of the World Heritage Site. The gardens are those of Boboli in Florence and Pratolino in Vaglia. The Boboli Gardens, born as the Grand Ducal garden of Palazzo Pitti and also connected to the Forte di Belvedere, is a perfect example of an Italian garden. The park of the Medici villa of Pratolinohosts magnificent works of art.
The villas are instead those near Florence: Careggi, La Petraia, Cerreto Guidi, Castello and Poggio Imperiale. The villas of Belcanto in Fiesole, in Poggio a Caiano (near Prato), La Màgia (Quarrata, near Pistoia), in Artimino (Carmignano, near Prato), Cafaggiolo in Barberino di Mugello, del Trebbio (in San Piero a Sieve) and the Palazzo di Seravezza in Lucca.
In some of these villas the Medici took up hunting expeditions, as in Trebbio and Cafaggiolo, which among other things were the first villas to be built and for this reason have the appearance of a fourteenth-century fortification.
Then there were the summer residences, such as the Artimino villa. A place of entertainment is also the villa of Fiesole. Instead, Villa La Màgia was a place of strategic importance, where in 1536 a historic meeting took place between Duke Alessandro de ‘Medici and Emperor Charles V. Without forgetting one of the oldest residences, Villa Carreggi, a place of rest, but also economic center for the many agricultural activities that took place there. The Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano is also splendid, with its luxuriant garden and terraced porch, which belonged to Lorenzo the Magnificent which hosted historical figures such as King Vittorio Emanuele II.
Today these residences are used for various purposes. Some, such as La Petraia, one of the most beautiful Medici villas especially for the position from which it overlooks the city of Florence, are part of the Florentine museum complex. While the villa of Cerreto Guidi houses the historical museum of hunting and the territory. Villa Poggio a Caiano is also a museum.
Others are seats of institutions such as Villa Castello, now home to the Accademia della Crusca; or the villa of Poggio Imperiale, renovated in neoclassical style, which houses a state school, or the Palazzo di Seravezza, home to the Museum of work and popular traditions of Versilia. Still others have been sold or entrusted to private individuals, who keep them for private use or have them used as a venue for events.
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