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The Medici Villa of Cafaggiolo, the Castle of Trebbio and the Convent of the Bosco ai Frati

The Bilancino Lake: enchanting views and places to be discovered

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The hilly slopes of Mugello are scattered with villas; the landscape that we see has also been formed, from the Middle Ages to the present day, by the signs left by the old and new lords with their residences. There is no road, even those that are today more narrow and disconnected, that does not acquire nobility and that does not suddenly surprise us for a large gate or the glimpse of a lane; from every panoramic point you can see the presence of villas or a line of cypresses, usually accompanying the entrance lane, or for the thick and dark woods of trees that populate hundred-year-old parks. Large façades or a wide expanse of roofs often spring up suddenly with all of the fascination of their history. We will just mention a few of the important historical places, those that are found in the immediate proximity of the Bilancino Lake and the view of which can complete your day.

VILLA MEDICEA DI CAFAGGIOLO (1454), favourite place of Lorenzo il Magnifico, where he would go hunting and where he composed the poem “Nencia da Barberino", dedicated to a peasant-girl of the area. The wide prospect, crowned with brackets and merlons, is distinguished by a large tower, also crenellated, in which opens a monumental gateway, framed by rustic ashlars. The interior, much reworked in the 19th century and the first few years of the 20th century, holds some lovely stone fireplaces, maybe from the 16th century, in the ground floor rooms. To the left of the Villa we find the long stables (XVI-XVII centuries) and to the back a park filled with hundred-year-old trees, among which a redwood brought by Giovanni da Verrazzano.

Cafaggiolo in its period of main splendour, between the end of the XV and the beginning of the XVI century, hosted also a factory of the famous Majolica ceramics, where the master potters worked under the protection of the benefactors of the Medici. The castle of Cafaggiolo is now open to the public for individual guided tours and for booked groups. The museum path of the countryside Medici residence winds through portraits of the illustrious characters of the Medici Family, that have spent pleasant or tragic periods of their life in Cafaggiolo; ancient Majolicas of the Medici kilns, once adjacent to the Castle and the object of recent digs; Renaissance customs and testimonies written by the illustrious guests of the Castle, to end in the striking park with hundred-year-old trees. For booked groups it is possible to experience a tasting of some typical products of the Mugello area.
For information and bookings
Castello di Cafaggiolo
Via Nazionale 16
50031 Barberino di Mugello (FI)
Tel. 055 8479293 Fax 055 8498103
Point of reference: Milvia Labardi and Michele Bosco
Internet: www.castellodicafaggiolo.it
E-mail: info@castellodicafaggiolo.it
A painted panel by Giusto di Utens gives us an image of Cafaggiolo as it must have been originally: with two towers between which was the main tower and in front of which was the smaller one, in an assymetrical play that seems to multiply; this also shows us the town walls and moats and, at the main entrance, a drawbridge.
The Villa today is privately owned, but it is possible to visit upon appointment.
For information and bookings for guided tours for groups: Tel. 055 8458793

On the top of a hill covered by thick vegetation, at the centre of a cypress grove, we find the block of the CASTELLO DEL TREBBIO. Built, probably on the remains of a Medieval fortification, by Michelozzo (1427 - 36) for Cosimo il Vecchio, the Castle rises on the top of a knoll, surrounded by a wood of cypress trees. Flanked by a crenallated tower it presents a solid, squared body, crowned with brackets and closed around a rectangular courtyard with a well; on the west side an enchanting Italian-style garden extends and from the crenallated tower you can enjoy a wide view over the whole of the Mugello area.
For information and booking guided, group tours: Tel. 055 8458793

In an enchanting position is the CONVENT DEL BOSCO AI FRATI, once a cenoby of the Basilians (XI century) that was almost completely rebuilt by Michelozzo upon request by Cosimo il Vecchio, who owned the nearby Villas of Cafaggiolo and Trebbio. At the façade of the church was a doorway of squat columns, while on the interior (single nave) Michelozzo’s hand is recognisible in the ribbed cross vault in clear stone and in the extension of the choir, in a grandiose polygonal shape, in front of which is an imposing 17th century altar-frontal in engraved and gilded wood, with the Medici arms.

In the adjacent cloisters there is the capitular room, used as a sacred art museum; an interesting part of the collection is the dramatic wooden Crucifix, discovered in 1950 and attributed by most to Donatello. The cloister connects the Michelozzan refectory with the vegetable patch and garden, onto which the monks’ cells face.

(Article edited by Lago di Bilancino)
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The Mugello area, which has lived for centuries in Florence's shadow, is found in the watershed of the Apennines Mountains. ...
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