The Medici Villa di Cafaggiolo (also known as Cafaggiolo Castle) is located in Barberino, in the heart of the Mugello, the old homeland of the Medici family.
The villa, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the greatest masterpieces of Renaissance architecture by Michelozzo, who in 1443 was commissioned by Cosimo the Elder to turn the fourteenth-century castle into a residential building.
This is where the Medici came to stay in the countryside, welcoming illustrious figures and artists. Indeed, the sumptuous halls and vast grounds used meeting places for symposia, parties, dances and receptions for princes and popes.
Lorenzo the Magnificent spent part of his childhood in Cafaggiolo and also stayed here as an adult surrounded by men of culture. In 1515, the castle’s doors were opened to Pope Leo X and some future wives of the Medici family were received here. Margherita of Austria was welcomed by Caterina de’ Medici in 1533 and Joanna of Austria came from Vienna in 1565 to marry the grand duke Francesco I.
At the end of the Medici line, with Giangastone in 1737, the villa fell into Hapsburg-Lorraine hands. Later, in 1864, the Italian government sold it to the Borghese princes, who made considerable changes to the property.
Now closed to the public, restructuring work is underway to include the villa without a luxury resort, which will also be opened to visitors once completed.