Medici villa gardens extend hours for summer
The gardens of the historic Villa Castello, once owned by the Medici family, are now open for extended hours until the end of August.
Featuring a spectacular range of citrus trees, rare plants, fountains, a sculpture-filled grotto, and antique and Renaissance statues, the gardens were designed along complex symmetrical lines to celebrate Cosimo I de’ Medici’s rise to the position of Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1538. Cosimo employed Niccolò Tribolo to design the garden but Tribolo never completely realised his vision before his premature death in 1550. Although it took more than 20 years to complete the design due to delays related to Medici business and political affairs, the gardens set a benchmark in Europe, influencing both Italian Renaissance landscaping and later French formal gardens.
The Medici family spent many afternoons in the gardens in the summer, which were cool due their ample shade and fountains. It was Cosimo III de’ Medici who, inspired by a strong interest in botany, introduced different species of plants to the garden, including a rare variety of Indian jasmine, and ordered a special greenhouse for his exotic plants to protect them from the winter cold.
One of the first villas outside Florence owned by the Medici, Villa Castello dates back to 1477. It originally contained works of art by famous Florentine artists, including Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Primavera. Although the villa itself is not open to the public, visitors can stroll the gardens free of charge, from 8:15 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily.
Villa Castello Gardens
Open daily: 8:15 a.m.–7:30 p.m.
(Closed 2nd & 3rd Monday of each month)
The garden may be closed without warning for technical reasons; phoning in advance for information is recommended.