Medici villas #4: Villa Medici Roma

Medici villas #4: Villa Medici Roma

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The Villa Medici in Rome, together with its garden, it is one of the most majestic of the Medicean villas. Located next to Villa Borghese Park, it was acquired by Ferdinand I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1576. Since 1803 the building hosts the French Academy in Rome. It was precisely Ferdinand I de’ Medici who commissioned Bartolomeo Ammannati to complete the structure. It is the first property of the Florentine family in Rome, with which they reaffirmed their permanent presence in the city.…

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Medici villas #2: Poggio a Caiano

Medici villas #2: Poggio a Caiano

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The construction of this medicean villa located between Florence, Prato and Pistoia was the whim of Lorenzo the Magnificent, thus he commissioned it to his favourite architect, Giuliano da Sangallo, at the end of the 15th century. A residence for the pure leisureliness of contemplation by the dynastic power, the villa of Poggio a Caiano recovers elements of the classic architecture such as the fronton and Ionic temple at the main facade. Due to the harmony and symmetry of its proportions, as for representing an ideal of life in the outskirts under Humanism, the site is listed World Heritage by the UNESCO since 2013. Walking the Parco all’inglese and the Giardino all’italiana is as stimulating as visiting its interior. Free entrance.
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Medici villas #1: La Petraia

Medici villas #1: La Petraia

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Perched on a hill top of Castello, with a panoramic view of Florence, this astonishing 14th century villa was first owned by the Brunelleschi family and the Strozzi, before being home to Cosimo I de’ Medici and his offsprings. It was also the favourite residence of Vittorio Emanuele II in the company of her lover Rosa Vercellana. Its significance has paved the way for restorations throughout the centuries, thus becoming declared UNESCO World Heritage in 2013 and an asset of the state museums today. Not to miss are the famous lunettes painted by Giusto Utens — each representing a Medici villa and garden —, the sculptures of Giambologna and a wander lost in its gardens. There is a guided tour in Italian every 30 minutes. Free entrance.

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Medici villas #3: Medicean villa di Castello – Accademia della Crusca

Medici villas #3: Medicean villa di Castello – Accademia della Crusca

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Like the villa of La Petraia, the villa medicea di Castello is in the hills of Castello, a few kilometres from Florence. Built in the 14th century and completely rebuilt in the 16th century, it is mostly famous for its gardens, which compete in splendour with those of Boboli. Also known as Villa Reale, L’Olmo or Il Vivaio, di Castello serves currently as the headquarters of the Accademia della Crusca, Italy’s most prestigious linguistic institution, so the visits are restricted and always subject to prior request. The gardens under management of the Polo Museale di Firenze, the institution in charge of the public museums of the province of Florence, are however more accessible. In addition to the gardens, another must-see is its library, the largest in the country regarding linguistics and history of the Italian language.
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Monica Magnani’s Florence

Monica Magnani’s Florence

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Se qualcuno mi dice ‘Firenze’ la prima cosa che mi viene in mente è fuggire via. Firenze, a volte, io la guardo e mi sembra diventata un luogo comune, un cliché inventato per far contenti i turisti. Firenze per la nave da crociera è il percorso di due ore, per gli amanti clandestini è la città di un fine-settimana, per le famiglie sono i musei delle vacanze di Pasqua, per le gite scolastiche è il capitolo sul Rinascimento, per gli animi malinconici è lo struggimento della sindrome di Stendhal. Io, da questa Firenze, ho continuamente voglia di scappare e forse mi piace proprio perché, poi, quando sono fuggita via dai luoghi comuni, è così bello aver nostalgia di questa città! Firenze, per chi ha voglia di scappare, ha molte vie di fuga: per alcune ci vuole un mezzo di trasporto, per altre, invece, basta un paio di scarpe comode.

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Gardens of Florence #9: giardino di Boboli, the paradigm of a 16th century Italian garden

Gardens of Florence #9: giardino di Boboli, the paradigm of a 16th century Italian garden

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The Boboli Gardens date back to 1418, when Luca Pitti bought its land in Oltrarno with the intention of building the magnificent Pitti Palace, later owned by the Medici family. The landscaping was commissioned by the Medici to Niccolò Tribolo, the famous architect responsible for the gardens of their villas of Castello and La Petraia. However, after the premature death of Tribolo, it was Bartolomeo Ammannati who finished the job. The Boboli is the paradigm of the 16th century Italian garden, as well as one of the largest historical parks in Florence. Around the main axes are placed avenues, hedges, terraces full of statues and fountains. The first operas of history were also represented in its open air amphitheatre.
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Gardens of Florence #5: il giardino di Santa Maria Novella, flowers and fruits of Florentine tradition

Gardens of Florence #5: il giardino di Santa Maria Novella, flowers and fruits of Florentine tradition

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The garden of the prestigious perfume brand Santa Maria Novella is located in Firenze-Castello, close to the Medician villa of La Petraia. In this 161,458 ft² paradise still operates the ancient tradition of harvesting the hortus conclusus, just as the Dominican friars used to do in the monastery as of thirteenth century. In the garden and orchard of Santa Maria Novella grow all extracts and essences needed for the elaboration of the perfumes and other products of the legendary brand. The aroma of plants, trees and shrubs; the butterflies and lizards; the Tuscan sun; the Duomo of Florence in the distance … A perfect anti-stress frame prone to relaxation in a pure natural state. (Un)fortunately, it is not open to the public, so better ask for an appointment. (visiteofficina@smnovella.com).
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Uffizi Square of Florence: the sculptures of the Great Tuscans

Uffizi Square of Florence: the sculptures of the Great Tuscans

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The particular design of the Galleria degli Uffizi shapes sort of a square, around which the lodge runs. In the 28 niches that border it, Cosimo I de’ Medici wanted to place sculptures of distinguished Florentines in the field of literature, the military and the government. However, it was not until the nineteenth century, when the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was under the rule of the Lorraines, that the publisher Vincenzo Batelli finally resumed the creation of these statues. Among those illustrious Tuscan characters are Cosimo the Elder and Lorenzo the Magnificent, great representatives of the Medici family; also masters of art, such as Giotto, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; great names of literature, such as Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio and Machiavelli; and men of science or adventure like Galileo Galilei and Amerigo Vespucci. Overall, the place is a perfect panorama, especially ideal for a romantic walk at midnight, alone or not.

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Gardens of Florence #13: parco delle Cascine, the largest public park in Florence

Gardens of Florence #13: parco delle Cascine, the largest public park in Florence

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It takes longer to cross the Park Le Cascine (parco delle Cascine) than to cross the historical centre of Florence, this gives an idea of its size. This park is the favourite for those who want — or try — to get fit. Its proximity to the river Arno also makes it an ideal place to organize a picnic or lie down to sunbathe. Usually, it is not very busy, not even on a Saturday at noon on a mid-spring sunny day. Except for some fountains, an eccentric pyramid, and some other ornamental lamps, there is no other human imprint or artifices made by the man, not even terraces or cafes, except the two food trucks that are next to a recreational mini-zone with decadent fairground attractions for children.

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