Villas de’ Medici around Florence

Villas de' Medici around Florence
Villa Demidoff of Pratolino, Appennino

What makes the Tuscan landscape around Florence amazing and unique worldwide is the block of villas disseminated in the green hills. Almost all the villas date back to the XV and XVI centuries, in full Renaissance, when Florence and the whole Tuscan probably lived the most famous, glorious and prestigious time of their history.
The peculiarity of these wonderful places is their hybrid fusion between the history that characterises them (some of them date back to the XIV century) and the modern actuality of their use: a lot of these villas are today private business properties that host private and corporate events. Other villas, instead, became luxury accommodations or typical farmhouses (called also agriturismi) which contribute to make Tuscan and its hills famous worlwide.

For example, Villa di Cafaggiolo was the favourite residence where the Famiglia de’ Medici used to spend the summertime. Still today, the villa is nestled by wonderful gardens and a wide park where guests used to go hunting. During the Renaissance the villa was in great measure restructured by the architect Michelozzo di Bartolomeo in 1452 and became a very important meeting place where the italian intellectuals used to meet and get together. Today Villa di Cafaggiolo is owned by a private business consortium that use the villa as a conference and convention place.

At Villa Reale di Castello, also called Villa Medicea and probably the most fascinating one, one of the special guests usually present was the painter Botticelli: he painted and dedicated to the villa (when Lorenzo de’ Medici bought it in 1480) his masterpieces Il Trionfo della Primavera and La Nascita di Venere (today they are a heritage of the Uffizi Gallery). The villa became a public property of the State in 1919 as a gift to Italy by Vittorio Emanuele III; that’s why today the villa is not visitable: this is in fact the headquarter of the Accademia della Crusca, an italian linguistic institution dedicated to the safeguard and preservation of the italian language. However, the gardens and outbuildings outside the villa are something wonderful, where there’s also a musem.

Villa Demidoff is located in Pratolino, Vaglia (very close to Florence) and was instead bought by Francesco I de’ Medici in 1568 as a gift to Bianca Cappello. At the beginning of the XIXth century it was totally crushed and in 1872, the villa was sold to the Prince Paolo Demidoff (the prince of a royal russian family). Since then, Villa Demidoff has been continuously set and restrctured. However, the villa shows still today some evidence of the Renaissance: the colossal statue of the Appennino, the chapel. Today at the villa takes place the CEDIP, the International Center of the Park Documents.

Villa Medicea Ferdinanda dates back to 1596: it was designed by Bernardo Buontalenti and built to satisfy the duke Ferdinando I wishes. Today the villa usually host private events (weddings, gala) and it’s also used as a art centre (shows, art galleries, exhibitions).

Many others villas animate the neighbourhood of Florence. Plan your next trip there, go and discover them to enjoy your holiday and live a wonderful experience!

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