OTHER MEDICI VILLAS IN THE TERRITORY
The lunettes by Giusto Utens vis-à-vis with the UNESCO-designated villas
Villas included: all the Medici villas
The famous “lunettes,” painted by Giusto Utens for the Medici Villa di Artimino from 1599 to 1602 constitute a sort of inventory of the grand ducal properties during the reign of Ferdinand I. The 14 lunettes, of which there were originally 17, represents many of the properties that are today UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as others that for various reasons are not UNESCO-designated. These, unfortunately not open to the public or open on rare occasions, are at the centre of this itinerary.
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MEDICI VILLA IN MARIGNOLLE
Just a few kilometres from Florence, in the hills south of the city, in via di Santa Maria a Marignolle 30, is where we can find the Medici Villa di Marignolle. Founded in the 14th century, the villa became a Medici property when it was confiscated from its owners, the Ridolfi, following the attempted assassination of Cosimo I in 1560, known as the “Congiura dei Pucci”. The villa was renovated by Bernardo Buontalenti and donated by Francesco I to his illegitimate son, Don Antonio, whom he had with his future second wife Bianca Cappello. The villa was sold by the Medici in 1621. Today, it’s a private property and is not open to the public.
MEDICI VILLA DI LAPPEGGI
Also a short distance from the city, in the Municipality of Bagno a Ripoli, in via di Lappeggi 42, is the Medici Villa di Lappeggi, which takes its name from the hill atop which it’s built. Purchased by Francesco de’ Medici in 1569, it was renovated by Bernardo Buontalenti. The villa remained in the Medici family until its final days, and was where many members of the family resided. Its maximum splendour came in the 1700s, when it was the residence of Cardinal Francesco Maria, who renovated it according to the style of the era and made it the headquarters for his personal court, as well as a place for many festivities and wild entertainment. It was sold by the Lorraine family in 1816 and brought down to size. The villa is now a private property and is not open to the public.
Along the Arno, in the Municipality of Montelupo Fiorentino, is where we find the Villa dell’Ambrogiana. It was purchased by Ferdinand I de’ Medici in 1573 and renovated on his orders once he became grand duke by the architect Raffaello Pagni, a collaborator of Buontalenti. The villa, one of the largest, in an isolated position and dominating over the surrounding countryside and the Arno basin, was the preferred residence of Cosimo III, who moved many of his painting collections here and built a Natural History “gabinetto,” a sort of collection, under the direction of court doctor Francesco Redi. In the 1800s, the villa was transformed by Leopold II into a clinic for treating mental illnesses, and until 2015, it was an asylum for the criminally insane. The villa is now owned by the Ministry of Justice but is being used by the Agenzia del Demanio and therefore not open to the public.
VILLA DI MONTEVETTOLINI
In the Municipality of Monsummano Terme, in the Province of Pistoia, in the far reaches of the Montalbano territory, sits the Villa di Montevettolini. The villa was built on the orders of Ferdinand I de’ Medici in 1597 thanks to the architect Gherardo Mechini, a student of Buontalenti, who incorporated some elements from the previous building. The villa, boasting a severe appearance that overlooks the Valdinievole, was sold by Ferdinand II in 1650. It is now a private property and is not open to the public.
MEDICI VILLA DI COLLESALVETTI
Lastly, moving to Livorno, specifically the Municipality of Collesalvetti, we find the Medici Villa di Collesalvetti. The building was bought by Giuliano and Lorenzo de’ Medici in 1476. The villa was actually a farm with many different buildings used for farming purposes, and it remained as such until 1571, when it was enlarged on the orders of Eleonora di Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I. It later became a Lorraine property and was completely absorbed into the urban fabric. The building, now nearly unrecognizable, was transformed and divided into apartments and commercial spaces, and is located in piazza della Repubblica in Collesalvetti.