Poggio a Caiano is its villa. Located on the banks of the Ombrone River, it’s widely known for its magnificent Medici residence. The house, commissioned by Lorenzo the Magnificent, was originally called Ambra and has a legend that makes it even more precious and charming. It’s said that a nymph by the same name was helped to escape by the goddess Diana right here on this hill, where Ombrone, her tormenter, couldn’t reach her.
Built in the 15th and 16th centuries by the architect Sangallo, the Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano is a masterpiece. Like every historic, noble residence worth its salt, this villa is also shrouded in the intrigues of court life, like the famous mystery about husband and wife Francesco I and Bianca Cappello, whose deaths probably weren’t an accident; it’s widely believed that they were poisoned.
The villa is considered a rarity because it’s clearly a country home and was used for managing the area, open and not prepared for potential attacks, as demonstrated by its lack of fortification elements. Today, it’s been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its splendour continues even inside and throughout the grounds. Its elegant rooms are wonderful, it’s garden and limonaia pleasant to explore. The Medici’s passion for nature and botany can be discovered at the Museum of Still Life (the first in Italy), home to more than 180 paintings dating to between the 16th and 18th centuries.
The Medici Stables can also be found in the area, which used to house the horses and knights, and is now a museum dedicated to the 20th-century painter Ardengo Soffici.
Close by, the hamlets of Cerreto, Bonistallo and San Cristina in Pilli are interesting to explore. The latter two in particular are famous for their impressive religious buildings.