Abbadia d'Ombrone

Abbazia di Vallombrosa

Villa Arceno

Bardini Garden in Florence

Bernard Berenson

Boboli's Gardens

Il parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo

Villa Bottini

Castello di Brolio

Villa Cahen

Villa della Capponcina

Villa Capponi

Villa Medici at Careggi

Villa di Catignano

Cecil Ross Pinsent

Castello di Celsa

Villa Certano Baldassarrini

Certosa di Pontignano

Villa di Cetinale

Villa Chigi Saracini

Villa Farnese (Caprarola)

Gardens in Fiesole

Villa Gamberaia

Villa Garzoni in Collodi

Villa di Geggiano

Villa Grabau

Villa Guicciardini Corsi Salviati

Horti Leonini di San Quirico

Villa I Collazzi, Firenze

Iris Origo

L'Orto de'Pecci (Siena)

Villa I Tatti

Villa Medicea La Ferdinanda

Villa La Foce

Villa La Gallina in Arcetri

Villa Lante

Villa La Petraia

Villa La Pietra

Villa La Suverana in Casole d'Elsa

The Medici Villa at Careggi

Villa Medici in Fiesole, Firenze

Garden of Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Firenze

Villa Medicea at Poggio a Caiano

Medici Villas in Tuscany

Villa di Monaciano

Giardino degli Orti Oricellari | Firenze

Orto Botanico, Siena

Villa Orlandini in Poggio Torselli

Il Palazzone

Villa Palmieri and Villa Schifanoiai

Villa Peyron al Bosco di Fontelucente

Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza

Villa di Pratolino

Villa Reale di Marlia

Villa San Donato in Colle (Bagno a Ripoli)

Villa Santini Torrigiani

Villa di Vicobello

Villa Vistarenni

Il Vittoriale degli Italiani

Gardens in Tuscany
Villa La Petraia
Villa La Petraia


Villa La Petraia


Petraia is one of the most attractive of the Medici villas, both on account of its position in the Tuscan landscape, and for its fine pictorial decoration and the beauty of its garden and park.

Originally an ancient fortified residence, which preserves its great tower, it was enlarged at the end of the 16th century to create the present villa with its beautifully designed terraced garden.
The courtyard of the villa, which was roofed over in the 19th century, is decorated with frescoes by Volterrano and Cosimo Daddi. The famous bronze statue of Venus/Florence by Giambologna, which originally stood above the fountain in the garden of the Medici Villa of Castello, is now exhibited inside.

'The Medici family purchased the villa in the middle of the 16th century. Around 1566-1568, Cosimo I had the complex restructured, and gave it to his son Ferdinando I (first cardinal, and later Grand Duke) who completed the works. The garden in front of the villa, done on a project by Tribolo, develops on three superimposed terraces, created by means of major infill works.

During the restructuring works conducted by Tribolo, the aqueduct structures, which from the springs of Valcenni brought water to La Pietraia, were also redone. Despite these works, the presence of water in the garden was not as impressive as at Castello. Water served exclusively to irrigate the areas of the garden planted with fruit trees and officinal plants.

In the first half of the 19th century, the romantic park was created on a project by Bohemian architect Joseph Frietsch. The function of the park is to connect La Pietraia and Castello by means of an alley, from which depart walks and footpaths, that climb up the hill, skirting brooks and lakes. The park abounds in holm-oaks and cypress trees, and also has several specimens of red oak and various types of pine trees. The sundial on the facade, in part painted and in part carved on a plaster support, still integral and functioning, was made shortly before the mid 18th century. Inhabited until the end of the 19th century, the Petraia complex is today public property and open to visits.

The villa can also be associated with the name of Galileo Galilei. It was precisely from La Pietraia that Lodovico Incontri sent Galileo «two flasks of sour cherry wine from La Pietraia», inviting him to inform His Highness should he desire others. On May 9, 1638, Galileo declared he was willing to visit the Grand Duke who was staying at the villa.'[1]

The Medici Villa of Petraia forms, together with the Italian style garden and the romantic park that surrounds it, a very interesting museum complex both in term of architectural decoration and because of the furniture is still preserves in its interior. The current layout was arranged during the reign of the Savoy.

Villa La Petraia
Villa La Petraia

The old castle that already existed in 1362 changed owners several times (Brunelleschi, Strozzi, Alessandra dei Bardi, Salutati) and was finally acquired by the Medici when they returned to Florence in 1530. Transferred from Cosimo I to his son, Cardinal Ferdinando in 1568, it was enlarged and transformed into a Villa on initiative of the latter who became Gran Duke after the death of his brother Francis I (1587).
This general architectural layout , that typically reflects the style of Buontalenti, owed to Davide Fortini was later integrated whith decorative elements and wall paintings by its owners. The two cycles of frescoes that fully cover the walls of the courtyard belong in fact to the Medici period. The central section of first fresco by Cosimo Daddi commissioned by the wife of Ferdinando, Cristina of Lorraine , shows the Deeds of Goffredo di Buglione during the siege of Jerusalem. The other fresco commissioned by Lorenzo de' Medici to Baldassarre Franceschini named the "Volterrano" illustrated, in the space below the two loggias, episodes from the Medici's life and can therefore be rightly enough considered one of the most representative examples of Florentine painting in the early 17th century. It was again Ferdinando who commissioned the decoration of the Chapel on the first floor, attributed to Bernardino Poccetti.

The walls painting in the chapel on the first floor and in some of the rooms were instead executed during the Lorraine period, although the palace owes its present-day layout (iron and glass panel covering the courtyard, its transformation into a large ball room and the arrangement of the furniture ) to the Savoy. In this occasion, the Savoy brougth several fabrics and furniture decor from other residences they owned in Turin, Modena, Lucca and Parma.

Even the large garden surrounding the villa bears trace of the historical stratification of the building. The base layout, clearly dating back to the late 16th century, has been enriched by 18th-19th century additions, such as the so called "Piano della figurina" decorated with the Fountain of Fiorenza ( Niccolò Tribolo, Pierino da Vinci and Giambologna) and the English style park on the nothern side, created with the typically romantic taste that characterised the first half of the 19th century.


Villa La Petraia, The courtyard, frescoes by Cosimo Daddi - early 17th century


Medici Villa La Petraia address: Via della Petraia, 40, 50141 Firenze

Opening hours
8.15 – 16,30 (November – February)
8.15 – 17,30 (March and October)
8.15 – 18,30 (April, May and September)
8.15 – 19,30 (June – August)

Closed on the 2nd and 3rd Monday of each month, New Year’s Day, May 1st and Christmas Day


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Artist and writer's residency | Hidden secrets in Tuscany | Holiday house Podere Santa Pia

Tombolo Feniglia
Podere Santa Pia, famous wines in southern Tuscany
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Sarteano Castello



Capella Vialetta, near Pienza


Villas and Medici's Gardens

Palazzo Pitti [The Pitti Palace] | Boboli Garden | Address: Firenze, Piazza de' Pitti 1
One of the world’s most beautiful and large (45 thousand square meters) gardens stretches behind Palazzo Pitti: the Boboli Gardens. It was begun in 1550 to plans by Tribolo, the inventor of the Italian garden when Cosimo I and his wife, Eleonora di Toledo purchased the palace. Over the coming centuries the gardens were expanded and transformed by many architects (Vasari, Ammannati, Buontalenti, A. and G. Parigi, Zanobi del Rosso, Paoletti and Poccianti). The eighteenth century stone amphitheater with the Egyptian obelisk in the middle was the setting for many famous performances in the past. In addition to comprising an ideal extension of the palace courtyard, it is the perfect starting place for various strolls along the tree-lined paths and avenues, many of which are flanked by ancient or sixteenth-seventeenth century statues. There are many large pools (the Trident Fountain with the statue of Neptune by S. Lorenzi; the Isolotto with Giambologna’s statue of Oceanus in the middle). And there are many grottoes, the most outstanding of which is Buontalenti’s Mannerist oeuvre with sculptures by Giambologna and copies of Michelangelo’s Prisoners. Much work was done in the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries: it included broadening the paths for carriages (this led to the destruction of the old Maze and the area for game) and the construction of new buildings such as the Kaffehaus, the Limonaia, the Palazzina della Meridiana (home of the Costume Gallery) and the Casino del Cavaliere (which houses the Porcelain Museum). The amazing variety of plants, the extraordinary wealth of sculptures, architectural settings and views of the city and its surroundings make a visit to the garden a unique experience for the soul and the senses.

Medici Villa at Careggi | Address: Firenze, loc. Careggi, Via Gaetano Pieraccini 17
Medici Villa 'La Petraia' | Address: Firenze, loc. Castello, Via della Petraia 40
Parco Mediceo di Pratolino - Villa Demidoff [Medici Park at Pratolino - Villa Demidoff] | Address: Vaglia, Via Fiorentina 282
Medici Villa 'Ambra' | Address: Poggio a Caiano, Piazza de' Medici 14
Medici Villa 'La Ferdinanda' | Address: Carmignano, Artimino, Via Papa Giovanni XXIII 5
Villa Medicea di Cerreto Guidi [Medici Villa at Cerreto Guidi] | Address: Cerreto Guidi, Via dei Ponti Medicei 7
Palazzo Mediceo di Seravezza [Palazzo Mediceo di Seravezza] |Address: Seravezza, Via del Palazzo 358

Medici Villas - UNESCO World Heritage Centre |

The Medici Villas form a totally new system of residences built by the Medici family outside the walls of Florence, in the centre of vast farming properties. From the 15th to the early 18th century, the Medici family played a decisive political role in the Tuscan territory, adding to their city homes, more specifically connected with the exercise of their power, these places for recreation and hunting which, thanks to the Medici patronage, became meeting places for literati, philosophers, and artists. The group of villas was built during the phase of the family's political success, while the city of Florence was becoming the heart of the formation, and later the expansion throughout Europe, of the Renaissance culture.

The villas were splendid residences, rich with works of art (Botticelli's "Spring" was painted for the villa in Castello), which were both excellent economic investments that were a source of constant income, and safe political centres, since they guaranteed the control of the territory of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Each member of the Medici family had his own estate as a place of pleasure and representation and, depending on the seasons, the Grand Duchy moved from one villa to another; for hunting at Pratolino and Cafaggiolo, and in the winter toward the sea in search of milder temperatures.

Originating as the transformation of ancient castles and pre-existing villas, down through the centuries the country residences of the Medici were the settings of important events connected with both the historic-political and the cultural affairs of the city of Florence.

Characterized by a general conception based on a clear relationship between the building and the park, surrounded by vast gardens, they were a decisive element in launching, for both the conception of architecture and the arrangement of the surrounding greenery, the features that later became typical in the territorial organization around Florence and throughout Tuscany, based on a Renaissance-style rational arrangement. The language of the Medici architects, ordered by the Grand Dukes themselves, is inspired by rigor and elegance and dominated by simplicity and austerity, according to a precise "State architecture" that made the figure of the Prince omnipresent throughout the entire Grand Duchy.

Generally speaking, the villa consists of a compact building whose façade stands out for its calculated sobriety with few decorative elements. Large porticoes open the building up toward the surrounding garden and landscape. The garden, mainly organized into descending terraces, is a fundamental element of the villa, as can still clearly be seen in the Medici complex of Castello, commissioned by Cosimo I from Niccolò Tribolo, who designed it on the basis of the canons and descriptions of Leon Battista Alberti, and considered by Vasari as one of the "richest gardens in Europe".

Apart from the private ("secret") places for the family, the gardens of the villas are organized scenographically to glorify the entire court and astound guests and visitors. They are a measured concession to that "French" style that found little application in Tuscany: the culture of the control of space was too strong and ingrained.

The interiors of the buildings are enriched with important cycles of murals, celebrating the Medici family.

The Villa of Poggio a Caiano constitutes the oldest attempt to bring the classical suburban villa back to life, on the basis of the writings of Pliny and Vitruvius; during the Renaissance, it became an actual country home, even though the solution of the large central atrium with coffered vaulted ceiling derives more specifically from a study of the Roman baths. The edifice was built over the remains of an ancient Cancellieri fortress which had belonged to the Strozzi family and then to Giovanni Rucellai, purchased in 1474 by Lorenzo the Magnificent, who engaged Giuliano da Sangallo to rebuild it completely. The villa is a pure geometric volume supported by a porticoed base. The marked accent of rustic simplicity becomes an expression of a subtler, more sophisticated elegance thanks to the insertion of the tympanum. The general conception of the complex reinvents the layout of the Tuscan villa, no longer revolving around a closed courtyard, as in medieval buildings, but around a large hall or reception room ("salone") that distributes the main rooms, arranged along the longitudinal axis of the building. This centrality of the "Salone" is exalted by the presence of the scenographic pictorial cycle, celebrating the Medici family, painted by Franciabigio, Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, and Alessandro Allori. During the subsequent centuries, other work enriched and transformed the complex which, in the 19th century, became the vacation home of the Savoy family.

The Villa della Petraia dates from the late 16th century, when the Medici, after purchasing it from the Strozzi, renovated and enlarged the ancient castle, which already existed in the 14th century. The general Buontalenti-style architectural rearrangement was embellished by the various owners with decorative elements and murals. The frescoes of the courtyard, by Cosimo Daddi and Volterrano, date from the time of the Medici, the ground-floor chapel is from the period of the House of Lorraine, and the iron and glass roofing of the courtyard, its arrangement as a large party room, and, more in general, the interior decorating of the villa were added by the Savoy, who brought in furniture from various other residences they owned in Turin, Modena, Lucca, and Parma.

The vast garden surrounding the villa also reflects a similar historic stratification. Over the original late-16th-century general plan with overlapping terraces created with great embankments, were placed the 19th-century landscaping of the so-called "Piano della Figurina", adorned with the Fiorenza Fountain (Niccolò Tribolo and Giambologna), and the romantic English-style park on the north side, created in the early 1800s.

Formerly the favourite residence of Cosimo de' Medici's mother, the Villa di Castello was renovated and decorated by Cosimo himself immediately after his election as the city's Grand Duke (1537). Impressive projects to enlarge the villa and landscape the gardens were promptly launched, in order to celebrate, through the various decorative elements, his astonishingly quick rise to power and his role as an ensurer of the peace and prosperity achieved. The garden, the best preserved specimen of an "Italian style garden", in accordance with Leon Battista Alberti's canons and descriptions, is organized along a central axis on three descending terraces, of which the first may be considered an external continuation of the Villa. A magnificent plumbing system supplied water to the numerous fountains. Among the decorative elements, stand-outs are the Fountain of Hercules and Antaeus, so called after the bronze group by Bartolomeo Ammannati, which decorates its top, and the Cave of the Animals or of the Flood, completed by Vasari, which celebrates, in a perfect simulation of a natural cave in which sculpture groups of animals in polychrome marbles are placed, the pacification of the living universe by Cosimo. Worthy of note is the garden of medicinal herbs, a true gem of its kind, and the excellent collection of citrus plants, including some of the most important in the world.

The Villa di Careggi, the Medici's favourite residence in the 15th century, combines monumental value with the historic value of the place where Lorenzo the Magnificent devoted himself to his studies, surrounded by the philosophers and literati of the Platonic Academy. Purchased by the Medici, it was renovated and enlarged in around the mid-15th century, after a design attributed to Michelozzo di Bartolomeo. It is from this time that the building's typical characteristic of a compact block, with unifying elements in the crenellated top overhanging stone corbels and the projecting volumes of the two loggias to the west, dates. The decorative scheme of the interiors mainly dates from the early decades of the 17th century, when, on orders from Prince Carlo de' Medici, who became a cardinal in 1615, both the villa and the garden were transformed under the direction of Giulio Parigi, an engineer of the Medici court. Particularly fine is the "grotticina", below the first floor "salone", with the fountain decorated with sponges and the majolica-tiled floor. The vast garden surrounding the edifice reflects both the 17th-century changes and those in the romantic vein, made in the late 19th century, when the villa became the place commemorating the legend of Lorenzo the Magnificent.

The Villa di Cerreto Guidi, located not far from Vinci on the slopes of Monte Albano, was built in around 1565 by Cosimo I, and replaced the ruins of the ancient castle of the Guidi counts.

A hunting residence and rural administration centre, as well as a convenient stopover point for the transfers of the Grand Duke's court from Florence to Pisa and the Maremma region, the building, on a rectangular plan, is characterized by simple, straight architectural forms, enhanced by majestic terracotta and stone ramps, traditionally attributed to Buontalenti, which form a sort of scenographic base. The building, whose interior is characterized by a 19th-century decorative scheme, is enriched in the back by a garden, which was also probably redesigned in the last century and, in the front, at the top of the ramps, a large area affording a view of an extraordinary panorama. The imposing size of the villa, which holds an interesting series of Medici family portraits, stands out as an element that characterizes the surrounding landscape.
Satements of authenticity and/or integrity

The Medici Villas have maintained their original characteristics unchanged, expressing the particular measurement and refined taste of the Florentine culture during both the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
All the monuments benefit from legal protection through national legislative provisions (Legislative Decree no. 42/2004, "Code for cultural assets and landscape"), regional and municipal administrative measures, and management mechanism measures that ensure their preservation.
Comparison with other similar properties

This complex of residences is comparable only to the most distinguished examples of aristocratic residences surrounded by gardens ordered by the most important Italian families of the Renaissance - such as the Gonzaga in Mantua and the Este in Ferrara - in relation to the political and cultural function they had, as an extension throughout the territory of the court life, as well as to the Palladian Villas and those of the papal nobility in Latium.
Compared to the examples mentioned, the Medici Villas, which were created through a reutilization of pre-existing structures, stand out for their characteristic as a system of control and supervision over the territory, combined with their productive functions and use as places for artistic expression, representation, and recreation for the Medici family.

On a clear day you can see Corsica

Podere Santa Pia is a peaceful retreat, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the splendor of the Maremma hills that rise up from southern Tuscany. To the south is the little isle of Montecristo. Alexandre Dumas visited the uninhabited island of Montecristo in 1842 and was inspired to use the craggy, windswept rock as the setting for his novel The Count Of Monte Cristo.

The island of Montecristo is one of the seven Islands that make up the Tuscan Archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and lies about 60 km from the coast of Italy. From time to time Montecristo is visible from Podere Santa Pia. The diamond-shaped Island, which is around four square miles in size, was immortalised by Alexandre Dumas in The Count of Monte Cristo as the site of an enormous hidden treasure.

Dumas arrived on the island in 1842, in the company of Napoleon Bonaparte's nephew, and was inspired to use the craggy, windswept rock as the setting for his novel The Count Of Monte Cristo. "It is fantastic and lonely, smelling of thyme and broom," he wrote, in a letter. He decided to write The Count of Monte Cristo to remind him of the trip. Only a thousand tourists are allowed to visit the island each year under a tightly-controlled permit system.



Media related to Villa di Castello at Wikimedia Commons