Giardino della Villa medicea di Castello
The Medici Villa of Castello became part of the assets owned by the Medici family in 1477, when Giovanni and Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici, cousins of Lorenzo the Magnificent, bought it from the Della Stufa family. It was in this Villa that Marsilio Ficino educated the young Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco to the vision of a Humanist world.
After the Medici family passed to the Lorraine family, who considerably modified the garden and equipped it with various pictorial decorations in the interior, the villa then passed to the Savoy family, who in turn donated it to the State in 1919.
Today the villa is the seat of the Accademia della Crusca and the Opera del Vocabolario Italiano. For this reason, the interior of the villa can only be visited by appointment on special occasions, while the garden can be visited freely.
The Garden of the Villa of Castello can rightfully claim to be a prototype of the 16th-century Italian garden. It was created as a significant part of an overall programme to renovate and embellish the Villa of Castello, inherited from the mother Maria Salviati, grand- daughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent.
The general project was entrusted to Niccolo? Pericoli, known as “Il Tribolo”, who was also responsible for constructing the imposing hydraulic system that conducted water from the Castellina spring above, to feed the numerous fountains. As for the inventor of the garden’s elaborate iconographic scheme, which was intended to exalt the illuminated dominion over Tuscany of the new Medici government as well as their peacekeeping role, some scholars now opt for Benedetto Varchi, others for Luca Martini or Niccolo' Martelli. The key points of the rich and elaborate decorative project created by Tribolo, together with Pierino da Vinci and other artists, are – along the central axis of the Italian garden behind the villa – the fountain of Hercules and Antaeus, (a work, now a copy, made by Tribolo and Pierino da Vinci and crowned by a bronze group by Bartolomeo Ammannati; the original can be admired in a room of the nearby Villa La Petraia, which also keeps Giambologna’s Venus/Florence, which at one time was positioned to complete the so- called Fountain of the Labyrinth again from the Castello villa, but transferred to Petraia at the time of the Lorraine) and the extraordinary Grotto of the Animals or the Flood.
Among the most famous in Europe, designed by Tribolo himself and originally enlivened by spectacular water features, this is a perfect simulation of a natural cave that gathers sculptural groups of animals in polychrome marble, and plays a key symbolic role in the complex allegory created in this garden for Cosimo and his successors. In the “wilderness” of Holm- oaks, oaks, and cypresses that develops in the upper area – transformed into an English-style park in the first half of the 19th century – stands the great basin created by Vasari and decorated by the Apennine or January, a bronze sculpture by Ammannati. The garden boasts an exceptional collection of citrus fruits, consisting of about five hundred plants of historical-botanical importance, unique in the world and descendants of the ancient Medicean varieties with specimens from a period stretching over three hundred years. The plants are meticulously cared for using ancient cultivation techniques, are on show in the open from April to October, and are stored in the historical lemon houses in the winter period. There is also a garden of medicinal herbs which is a real jewel with the Stufa dei Mugherini, a greenhouse that preserves the rare Indian jasmine from Goa called “mugherino” in Italian, which gives the name to the greenhouse of the so- called “Ortaccio” or secret garden.
More information The medici Villas and gardens
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via di Castello, 44
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Closure: February 2020: 1-3-4-8-12-13-14-18-19-20-21-22-24-26-27-28-29
Full: Free admission only by reservation for visits and narrative itineraries "The gardens of bizarre"