The Montalbano villas
A home for hunting: from Lorenzo the Magnificent’s villa to Ferdinand I’s villa
Villas included: Villa di Cerreto Guidi, Villa di Artimino, Villa La Magia, Villa in Poggio a Caiano
This itinerary, rich with history and scenery, concentrates on the Montalbano area and the villas that the Medici built there starting in the second half of the 15th century.
RECOMMENDED MODES OF TRANSPORT
VILLA DI CERRETO GUIDI
Built by Cosimo I in 1555, the villa is named after the ruins of the castle owned by the Guidi Counts on which it was built. Originally a hunting lodge, perhaps designed by architect Buontalenti, it was finished by Alfonso Parigi the Elder in 1575. Particularly noteworthy is the large zig-zag stairway leading to the entrance. Today it houses a landscape and hunting museum.
You can’t miss the Mumeloc, a museum dedicated to the memory of the past, and the Fucecchio Marsh nature reserve, the largest marshland in central Italy.
VILLA DI ARTIMINO
Bernardo Buontalenti built this villa for the Gran Duke Ferdinand I in only four years (1596 – 1600). It was the long-standing location of many hunting trips, and in 1626 the large Barco Reale hunting area was created. Enclosed by a high wall that stretches for more than 50 kilometers, the estate is approximately 4,000 hectares in size. The Barco was divided into 10 areas, in which every ten years the trees would be cut down for fire word. The area was protected by guards called birri.
From Artimino, with a short detour, you’ll reach the Church of San Michele Arcangelo, which has one of the great masterpieces of Renaissance art, the Visitation by Pontormo.
VILLA DI POGGIO A CAIANO
The villa, commissioned by Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1480, looks over the surrounding countryside, in the last expanses of Montalbano. Halfway through the 16th century, Cosimo I had the gardens designed by Tribolo. In the 17th century, the park that was always used for hunting, called the ‘pheasantry’, was enlarged.
VILLA LA MAGIA
Bought by Francesco I in 1583 and renovated by architect Bartolomeo Buontalenti, who also designed the garden and added a huge artificial lake, today non-existent, the villa was used for fishing and hunting. It was an important hunting spot, most memorable for the famous hunt organised by Emperor Charles V, and is adjacent to the Poggio a Caiano and Artimino villas. It stayed in the Medici family until the end of 1645 when it was then passed on to other families such as the Attavanti from Castelfiorentino, who created the Italian-style garden.
Nearby, in La Ferruccia, the rectory in the Church of Santi Filippo e Giacomo houses an interesting museum of Holy art.