Let’s discover together another huge piece of the Medici’s heritage in the wider Florence area: the villas. We start from a very important one, the “Villa Medicea di Castello”.
Villa Medicea di Castello: a special one
The Ville Medicee were a network of building owned by the Medici family.
A demonstration (another one!) of wealth and power, and a sort of system to be out of a crowded city but still close enough to go back quickly if needed, or wanted.
The Villa Medicea di Castello was built (for the current layout) in 1529-1530 in the “Castello” (castle) area (NW from the city center. The “castle” was actually a water reservoir built under the Roman emperor Claudius – 10BC / 54AD and the aqueduct, built by Macrinus – 165/218AD, who later became an emperor as well).
As in the case of other buildings and properties, the Villa was already existing and owned by another wealthy family: the Della Stufa.
The buyers were the, if you want, “less noble” branch of the family: Lorenzo (not Il Magnifico, but Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici “il popolano”, the commoner, the plebeian, 1463/1503) and Giovanni di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici (again “il popolano”, 1467/1498).
Villa Medicea di Castello: the home of Venus and Spring…
Maybe a “popolano” to the eyes of the Florentine people, Lorenzo had definitely great taste in arts! Actually he is the Sandro Botticelli greatest patron.
The Villa Medicea di Castello was the original site for two of the most ever iconic paintings: La Primavera, painted in 1478/1482 and La nascita di Venere, painted in 1482/1485.
Though times were ahead for the Villa Medicea di Castello, but: during the Siege of Florence (1529-1530), the end of the “War of the League of Cognac”, it was looted and burned.
The first Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519-1574), commissioned Giorgio Vasari for the restoration and a major overhaul of the Villa and the architect and sculptor Niccolò Tribolo for the design of the garden.
Villa Medicea di Castello: I am your father (said to Boboli…)
The project for the Villa’s garden was an ambitious one, designed around the concept of the Villa itself as a portrait of Tuscany, with its own Appennini (symbolized by the Ammannati’s Appenini statue), and rivers (the streams from the fountains, to represent the Arno and the Mugnone, a Florentine Arno tributary).