An inhabited center since Roman times, on the banks of the river Ombrone, Poggio a Caiano is one of the best-known towns in the Montalbano area. First the Strozzi and then the Medici populated the area, an important point of reference for trade and communication.
The town strongly identifies with its magnificent Villa Medicea, the mansion commissioned by Lorenzo the Magnificent, born with the name Ambra, and shrouded in a myth that gives the place further charm: the nymph who bore this name was helped by the goddess Diana to flee to this hill, to save herself from Ombrone, who tormented her.
Built between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by the architect Sangallo, the Villa Medicea of Poggio a Caiano is a true masterpiece, today also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its construction is considered a rarity: clearly built as a place for vacation, not designed to counter attacks, and for the administration of the land, it has no special fortifications. Wonderful are its elegant halls and pleasant is its garden with the lemon house. Like any true ancient and noble residence, it was also involved in court intrigues, such as the well-known mystery of the couple Francesco I and Bianca Cappello, whose death was probably due to premeditated poisoning.
The Medici's passion for nature and botany can also be seen in the Museo della Natura Morta (Still Life Museum, the first in Italy), housed inside the villa, with more than 180 paintings covering the centuries from the 16th to the 18th century.
Also nearby are the Scuderie Medicee, built for Cosimo I around 1548 by Nicolò Pericoli known as Il Tribolo, where horses and riders once rested. After restoration, they have been used as an exhibition and convention center; inside there is also a library and the Museo Ardengo Soffici e del ‘900 italiano (Ardengo Soffici and Twentieth Century Italian Museum), where the works of the 20th-century painter find a home.
Poggio a Caiano falls within the Area around Prato, squeezed between the ridge of the Calvana Mountains and the wooded Apennine ridge.
A few kilometers away is Carmignano, with its medieval Fortress and the Chiesa dei Santi Michele e Francesco (Church of Saints Michael and Francis), inside which is the Visitation, one of the best-known works by Pontormo.
Also of interest are the hamlets of Cerreto, Bonistallo and San Cristina in Pilli, the last two in particular being known for two valuable religious buildings.
One of the most popular events is Assedio alla Villa (Siege at the Villa), a characteristic event that takes place every year in September: concerts, shows, flavors, art workshops, historical reenactments, parades in period costumes and flag-wavers. The Assedio alla Villa takes its origin from a historical event: in 1565 Archduchess Joan of Habsburg was welcomed by the people so joyfully that it seemed like a siege, the noblewoman responded by pouring out abundant wine as a sign of gratitude.
The Villa Medicea is one of the locations used by the Festival delle Colline, a traveling summer festival that spans music and theater and has been held for more than 40 years.
Poggio a Caiano is located along the Strada dei Vini di Carmignano e dei Sapori tipici pratesi (Road of the Wines of Carmignano and Typical Flavors of Prato), created to promote the area's wines and culinary excellence. Carmignano DOCG, a wine with an ancient tradition, is produced here: in 1716 Grand Duke Cosimo III granted the wine of Carmignano the first true license of nobility, a kind of DOC ante litteram, listing it among the best Tuscan wines worthy of protection.