Medici villas and gardens in Florence
From the Villa di Poggio Imperiale to the Boboli Gardens
Villas included: Villa di Poggio Imperiale and the Boboli Gardens
These villas are the starting point for an urban trekking route that’s equally doable with public transport, rich in history and unforgettable panoramic views.
RECOMMENDED MODES OF TRANSPORT
THE MEDICI VILLA OF POGGIO IMPERIALE
The Medici Villa of Poggio Imperiale – the itinerary begins at the villa, found perched on the Arcetri hill, which Cosimo I donated to his daughter Isabella de’ Medici. Between 1622 and 1625, the villa was renovated by the architect Giulio Parigi and then by Giacinto Maria Marmi. In the meantime, the villa was passed to Maria Maddalena of Austria and then to Vittoria della Rovere. In 1770, Mozart held his first and only Florentine concert there, and at the beginning of the 19th century, the villa took on its current Neoclassical style. It then passed into the ownership of Elisa Baciocchi Bonaparte and Maria Luisa of Spain. Giuseppi Poggi’s renovation of Florence when the city became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy included the villa in the string of residences found on viale dei Colli.
Continuing on via San Leonardo and via Viviani, you’ll arrive in Arcetri.
In Arcetri (arcis veteris), traces of history are everywhere: Villa il Gioiello in Pian dei Giullari is the house where Galileo Galilei lived; in the Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory, opened in 1872, scientific research of the sky and the planets still continue today. Heading down via Torre del Gallo and via di Giramonte, which boast fantastic views of the city, you will arrive at the Basilica of San Miniato
BASILICA OF SAN MINIATO AL MONTE
A gem of Tuscan Romanesque architecture, St. Minias was the city’s first martyr and chose this area as his resting place. Construction of the current church began atop his tomb in 1018. The façade is inspired by monumental Roman buildings with marble geometric inlays. The Olivetan Abbey flanks the church. In 1553, Cosimo I surrounded the entire complex with a wall, transforming it into a veritable fortress.
In 1869, Giusueppe Poggi designed the biggest belvedere in Florence at the end of viale dei Colli, Piazzale Michelangelo, allowing visitors to take in Florence and all her monuments.
Following viale Galileo, via San Leonardo and Costa San Giorgio, you will arrive at the Church of Santa Felicità.
One of the oldest places of worship in the city, its current form dates to 1735, when an intense restoration project transformed it completely. The outside of the church is characterised by the Vasari corridor, which passes alongside it. Inside, there are masterpieces such as The Deposition from the Cross, the Annunciation and the medallions depicting the Evangelists by Pontormo.
THE BOBOLI GARDEN
One of the greatest examples of Italian horticulture, the project was begun by Tribolo, succeeded by Ammannati and Buontalenti and then passed to Giulio and Alfonso Parigi. Start at the Luxor obelisk in the spectacular Amphitheatre before moving on to the Fountain of Neptune the large Fountain of the Ocean by Giambologna and the statue of Abbundance, its face modelled after the wife of Francesco I, and end at the wonderful Buontalenti Grotto.