The Medici left an amazing inheritance of monumental importance, both artistic and historical, with works which are still today available to those visitors who dream of immersing themselves in the cultural and spiritual world of Renaissance Tuscany. Amongst others the villas and gardens that were named UNESCO World Heritage Sites are destinations of high interest.
Florence: religious and political heart of the Medici family
Departing from the centre of the city, it is easy to find oneself in front of the biggest works made by the Medici family, now preserved as museums, amongst others the Uffizi, the Galleria Palatina, the Museo degli Argenti and the Galleria dell’Accademia.
During the tour, Boboli Gardens cannot be left aside. They were commissioned by the Medici family and are situated behind Palazzo Pitti, their private residence for almost four centuries. It was designed as a model for an Italian Garden, and became a model for many European courts, and it represents a real open air museum, inhabited by statues, both ancient and Renaissance, and is embellished with caves and great fountains.
The most beautiful Villas and Medici’s traditional wines
A few kilometres north of Florence, there is the Villa Medicea della Petraia
, a typical suburban villa, and a shelter at the same time, of the grand dukes of Tuscany. It is one of the most fascinating Medicean villas due to its perfect location, the artistic excellence and the luxuriant nature of the park.
In the same area there is also the Villa Medicea di Castello, a beautiful Renaissance architecture building, one of the oldest suburban residences of the family, and Cosimo I’s favourite. The villa is not open to the public, but the wonderful garden is. Designed in 1538 to celebrate the power of the prince through the symbology of the statues, the fountains and the caves – amongst others: the Cave of Animals, once animated by playing fountains – which fascinate visitors, together with the enchanting citrus orchard and its rare plants. The villa is the headquarters of the Accademia della Crusca, The National Institute for the preservation and the study of the Italian Language.
The journey continues along the Strada dei Vini di Carmignano (Wine Route of Carmignano) and the Sapori tipici pratesi (Typical Tastes of Prato), particularly in Carmignano and Poggio a Caiano which were the favourite Tuscan properties of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Francesco I and the Grand Duke Ferdinando, who all loved countryside residences, for they loved nature, hunting and great parties in the gardens. Here are the Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano, purchased in 1473/74 by Lorenzo the Magnificent as “prince home”, with vast territories around, and the Villa medicea d’Artimino, commissioned at the end of the 1500’s by Ferdinando I and built on the homonymous hill in the middle of the Barco Reale, the great hunting reserve, managed with great passion by the Grand Duke.
This piece of land also offers another great experience: the famous Medici wines.
- Carmignano DOCG, which was the first wine ever given the DOCG warranty, as it was officially acknowledged – together with the Chianti, the Pomino and the Valdarno Superiore – in the public announcement by the Grand Duke Cosimo III de' Medici in 1716.
- Barco Reale DOC, named after the Medicean hunting reserve, delimited by ancient walls, where the Medici made wine experiments.
The Medici in the native lands of Leonardo da Vinci
Along the Strada dell’Olio e del Vino (Route of Oil and Wine) del Montalbano Le Colline di Leonardo, besides discovering the birth place of the great genius Leonardo and tasting wonderful local products, one may visit the Villa Medicea di Cerreto Guidi, built in 1556 commissioned by Cosimo I as a hunting residence and territorial garrison. Inside the villa many portraits of the Medici family are exhibited, and on the first floor the Museo Storico della Caccia e del Territorio – Museum of Land and Hunting – hosts a collection of arms, mostly hunting weapons from the XVII to the XIX century.