The marvelous Medici Villas declared World Heritage Sites
Lords of Florence first and then Grand Dukes of Tuscany, the Medici were for a long time one of the most powerful and richest families in Italy. This boundless richness still echoes today in the majesty of the monumental villas and gardens that this Mugellan family built between the 14th and the first half of the 18th century. Real masterpieces of Renaissance architecture, the Medici villas were built by the most important architects of that time; we are talking about people like Bernardo Buontalenti and Giuliano da Sangallo…
Among the various Medici villas, which were around thirty, 12 have been declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. To these are added 2 monumental parks, the Boboli Gardens in Florence and the Medici Park of Pratolino (also known as Villa Demidoff), which were also declared World Heritage Sites.
Often arisen in place of ancient castles, the Medici Villas served the dual role of a center of economic activities as well as a place of rest and recreation. It is no coincidence that all have spaces with a recreational function such as parks and gardens; some even had their own hunting grounds, an activity much appreciated by the lords of the time.
The Medici Villas of Mugello
The Villa di Cafaggiolo and the Villa del Trebbio were the first to be built by the Medici. Both located in Mugello (the first is near the town of Barberino, the second one is near San Piero), these villas were built by the famous architect Michelozzo and have typical architectural features of medieval castles.
Between Pratolino and Fiesole
Going down towards Florence, in addition to the already mentioned Parco Mediceo di Pratolino, there is the Villa Medici di Fiesole also known as Belcanto or Palagio di Fiesole. Although it’s not one of the most well-known Medici Villas, the Villa Medici di Fiesole is a beautiful example of fifteenth-century architecture and is embellished by a beautiful garden with a panoramic view of Florence and its surroundings.
The Medici Villas in Florence
Florence was the center of the Medici’s power and in fact here we find several villas that belonged to the family, including 4 of those that in 2013 became part of the World Heritage. The Medici villas of Florence generally rise on the hills that surround the city as if to create a sort of “encirclement” of the city. In the area between Careggi and Castello, in the short space of just 2 and a half kilometers, we find three villas, in reality they are four if we also count Villa la Quiete; we are talking about the Villa di Careggi, Villa La Petraia and the Villa di Castello, home of the prestigious Accademia della Crusca. The last Florentine villa, the Villa of Poggio Imperiale, is located on the Arcetri hill, not far from Porta Romana, in a beautiful panoramic position a few steps from the historic center of the city.
Other villas in Tuscany
Soon the Medici family began to build other villas throughout Tuscany; by the end of the sixteenth century a real network of villas had developed, to which were added a series of secondary residences, farms and hunting lodges. Among the most important villas of all there are the marvelous Villa di Artimino, also known as La Ferdinanda or Villa of the hundred chimneys, the very elegant Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano, the Medici Villa La Magia in Quarrata which is located on the northern slopes of the Montalbano, the Medici Villa of Cerreto Guidi and finally the Medici palace of Seravezza in the province of Lucca.