Villa Medicea Poggio a Caiano

Poggio a Caiano

Hillside between Florence, Pistoia and Prato famous for its Medici Villa

Read the story of Poggio a Caiano on Poggio a Caiano The outdoor Renaissance The Medici Villa in Poggio a Caiano and the humanistic dreams of Lorenzo the MagnificentRead the story of
Poggio a Caiano is located at the intersection of Florence, Pistoia, Prato and Montalbano. The hill town gets its name from "poggio" meaning "knoll", and the family name "Caius" or "Caia" and offers a beautiful view over the plain of the Ombrone and Bisenzio rivers toward Prato to the north and Florence to the east, and over the lowlands leading to Pistoia and the Appenine mountains. It was not by accident that Lorenzo de' Medici chose this site to build his Villa, the building which is still the most dominant in the town. From the 14th to the 17th centuries, Poggio a Caiano was well known as the river port of Prato. The last part of the Ombrone river from the Asse bridge (located just before Poggio a Caiano) was a very active commercial zone connecting Pistoia and Prato via the river Arno with the seaports of Pisa and Livorno.

It is not easy to reconstruct with any certainty the history of the area from pre-Roman or even Roman times. It is believed that there was some kind of Roman settlement (such as a Roman camp or a home of the Cai family) which, according the the history of Livy, was abandoned. Other sources report that the foothills around Poggio a Caiano have been inhabited since the high middle ages. Beginning in the 10th century, the area was owned by the Cadalindi di Fucecchio and the Olivetani monks of Pistoia. Ownership passed to the Pistoiese family of the Cancellieri who built a small fortification called Ambra. From the 14th to the 17th centuries, Poggio a Caiano was well known as the river port of Prato, and the last part of the Ombrone river from the Asse bridge (located just before Poggio a Caiano) was a very active commercial zone connecting Pistoia and Prato via the river Arno with the seaports of Pisa and Livorno.

In 1420, Palla Strozzi began to acquire land and buildings from the Cancellieri, and it is at this time we find the name of Poggio a Caiano mentioned for the first time in a few historical documents, next to the names of Bonistallo and Caiano. In 1488, another famous Florentine family began to show an interest in the area when Giovanni Rucellai purchased the "possessions and buildings and houses of Poggio a Caiano". The history of the city, however, has remained tied to another, even more illustrious and celebrated family, that of the Medici. By 1431, Cosimo de' Medici had bought six farms in the region. His grandson Lorenzo the Magnificent not only bought property in the area including all of the surrounding estates and began to build the Villa, but also was dedicated to the huge job of constructing flood control canals and stabilizing the banks of the Ombrone as well as upgrading farming techniques on the estates north of the river.

To this end, the wonderful example of the work of Lorenzo are the pastures of Poggio a Caiano - Tavola (a true example of the ideal farm), the construction of which would have begun in the spring of 1477. As a consequence of all the construction at the Villa and in the surrounding area, many highly skilled craftsmen moved to Poggio a Caiano, including masons, carpenters, furniture makers and the like. This colony of skilled labor constituted the nucleus of the town that was born not as a farming community but as the factory of the Villa giving it the appearance of "city". It's location, between Florence and Pistoia, and the presence of the Villa Medici (which remained after the end of the Medici dynasty the summer home of first the Asburgo - Lorena and then of the Savoia) helped to maintain the prosperity of the small town, which later became one of the principal centers of the art of straw weaving (braids, hats, etc.), or "paglia".

The development was culminated by the separation of Poggio a Caiano from the city of Carmignano, and the creation of the city, or comune, of Poggio a Caiano, July 14, 1962. The separation can be seen as part of the larger picture of economic progression that affected the two cities in different ways. Camignano, a mostly agricultural community inserted in a textile economy, suffered from the general crisis felt throughout agriculture in Italy in the last part of the 20th century. Conversely, Poggio a Caiano, thanks to its fortunate location between Prato, Pistoia and Florence, increased its development in industry and handcrafts by becoming part of the wool and textile industry of Prato.

Source: montalbano.toscana.it
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