Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany
The¬†Medici villas¬†and Gardens are a series of rural building complexes near¬†Florence¬†which were owned by members of the Medici¬†family between the 15th century and the 17th century.¬†Twelve villas and two pleasure gardens spread across the Tuscan country side make up this site which bears testimony to the influence the Medici family exerted over modern European culture through its patronage of the arts.
Built between the 15th¬†and 17th¬†centuries, they represent an innovative system of rural construction in harmony with nature and dedicated to leisure, the arts and knowledge. The villas embody an innovative form and function, a new type of princely residence that differed from both the farms owned by rich Florentines of the period and from the military might of baronial castles.
The Medici villas form the first example of the connection between habitat, gardens, and the environment and became an enduring reference for princely residences throughout Italy and Europe. Their gardens and integration into the natural environment helped develop the appreciation of landscape characteristic Humanism and the Renaissance.
The first Medici villas were the¬†Villa del Trebbio¬†and that at¬†Cafaggiolo, both strong fortified houses built in the 14th century in the¬†Mugello region, the original home of the Medici family. In the 15th century,¬†Cosimo de’ Medici¬†built villas designed by¬†Michelozzo¬†at¬†Careggi¬†and¬†Fiesole, still quite severe buildings, but with additional recreational spaces: courtyards, balconies, and gardens.¬†Lorenzo de’ Medici¬†spent long periods at the¬†Villa di Careggi. Gradually, Florence became surrounded by a collection of Medici villas, with others in more distant parts of the¬†Grand Duchy of Tuscany. By the end of the 16th century, there were at least 16 major estates, with at least another 11 of secondary interest (mainly agricultural or owned by the Medici family for a short time), together with a constellation of farms and hunting lodges throughout Tuscany.