Located near Prato, in the Bisenzio Valley, not far from Canneto is Villa Rucellai (via di Canneto 16; reservations only for small groups, tel. 0574/460392). The villa is surrounded by a medieval tower and has been modified several times over the centuries. Visitors can admire the formal gardens, characterized by hedges and hedge-sculptures in many of the terraces that overlook the valley.
VILLA POGGIA A CAIANO
The most important historic garden in the Prato area is the Medicean Villa at Poggio a Caiano (piazza de' Medici 14; pay entrance, open during the day, every day, except the 2nd and 3rd Monday of the month, and 1/1, 1/5, 25/12; for information, call tel. 055/877012).
There is no longer any trace of the ancient formal garden and Renaissance fruit garden, following the 18th- and 19th-century modifications to it. The part of the garden in front of the villa is surrounded by a small wall and features flower beds with large citron trees and hedges. On the east side, there is an 19th-century garden next to the large lemon-house, designed by P. Poccianti.
The garden has seasonal and multi-coloured flowers, vegetables in vases and some exotic plants, which are also present at the back of the villa. A thick wood and park descends from the villa, on the north side, until reaching the Ombrone river. Here, there are several monumental Turkey oaks, which, together with the holm-oaks and bay trees, is a subsection of the park's native flora.
VILLA LEMMI & VILLA GUARDUCCI
In the neighborhood of the Pieta you can find two more historical villas. This is a residential neighborhood characteristic of Prato, in which the wool factories and buildings give way to elegant villas and countryside. This neighborhood developed in the late nineteenth century, reflected in the neo-Renaissance, eclectic and Art Nouveau styles. Both villas illustrate these styles.
Villa Lemmi is characterized by an angular tower and windows which are suggestive of contemporary development along the Tuscan coast, especially in Viareggio.
Villa Guarducci was built in the twenties and inspired by the Neo-medieval style, (arched windows, turret and sgraffito decoration) which make it one of the most emblematic buildings of the whole of Prato.
This attractive Villa was built in 1927, by the Florentine architect Paolo Emilio André, which mixes different styles, blending classical and contemporary solutions, much appreciated by the rich bourgeoisie of the time.
Characterized by the striking Art Deco-style decor, this building is inspired by neo-Gothic architecture, which refer to the ancient building of medieval Tuscany.
Lies near the railway station, which has a classical facade with rusticated edges and double- and triple-windows.
VILLA SALVI CRISTIANI
The fifteenth century Villa owned by the Signe, this large building was later bought by Boninsegni and Go, and finally in the nineteenth century by Salvi Cristiani. The villa is surrounded by green olive trees and has an elongated L-plan with a facade characterized by rectangle windows, the result of renovations.
VILLA XX SETTEMBRE
Among other villas in the area of Giolica are the Villa XX Settembre, built by Adriano Zarini; Villa di Mezzo Poggio, which conserves the original core of an ancient watchtower; and the famous Villa Cupolin d'Oro in Giolica Via di Sotto which, like many other villas in the area, suffered severe damage during the bombing of the Second World War.