The Medici Villa of Poggio Imperiale is one of the Medici residences recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located in Florence on the hills of Arcetri. The villa originally belonged to the Baroncelli family, followed by the Pandolfini and finally the Salviati, before Cosimo I de’ Medici seized the property and gifted it to his daughter Isabella, married to Paolo Giordano Orsini.
Purchased by Grand Duchess Maria Maddalena of Austria in 1622, it was renovated and embellished by Giulio Parigi, who connected it with the city via a massive monumental boulevard leading to Porta Romana: the villa was named Poggio Imperiale in honour of the noble origins of the Grand Duchess. In the 1700s, the Lorraine family further amplified the villa when Grand Duke Leopold chose to make it his permanent residence: here, in 1770, Mozart held his only concert in Florence.
Other enlargements were commissioned by Maria Luisa, Duchess of Lucca, and later, by Elisa Baciocchi, Napoleon’s sister, who gave the villa the current Neo-Classical appearance. In 1864, just before Florence became the capital of Italy, the government ceded the villa to the Educandato Femminile della Santissima Annunziata, which still uses the building today. Following its recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the villa was opened as public museum, which can be visited on Sunday.