Monday, June 2, 2008

Villa People

Surrounding Florence are scores of masterpieces tucked away in country churches and small public museums. Some of the most interesting are to found in the Medici Villas which dot the Tuscan landscape. These include: Villa “La Petraia”, Villa of Castello, Villa of Careggi and Villa of Cerrrto, Certainly all of these are worth a visit, but perhaps the most interesting is the Villa of Poggio a Caiano. Designed by Giuliana da Sangallo for Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1480, this villa contains a beautiful garden and the Museum of Still Lives. This museum boasts rooms of paintings from the Medici collections, well presented and rarely visited. The villa itself is a slice of Medici life, including games room, theater, dining rooms and bedrooms. Of particular note is the Salone di Leone X (which takes its name from the famous pope, son of Lorenzo). This room is a showcase of important 16th Cetury frescoes illustrating episodes from Roman history by Andrea del Sarto, Allesandro Allori and Francabigio. The finest work, however, is the lunette by Pontomoro. A mannerist masterpiece, it depicts the divinities Vertumnus, god of harvests and Pomona, goddess of fruit tress.

The villa is a 50 minute trip from Florence. For 2 euros one catches the COPIT bus next to the MacDonald’s on via Nazionale. Phone the museum ahead for a reservation (see number below), pack a lunch to eat in the garden and enjoy a day out of the city.

After the villa, and seeing as how you are in the neighborhood, it is a short bus ride to Carminiagno, where a second Pontoromo masterpiece, “The Visitation”, resides in the church. You can buy a bus ticket (95cents one way) at the bar across the street from the villa and catch the bus directly in front of the villa. Ask for directions to the church when you arrive. Not much else to see there, but be sure to try some of the local sweets and indulge in a bottle of wine from one Italy’s finest regions.

Villa Poggio a Caiano 8:15 – 12:30 2:00 -18:30.. Closed the 2nd and 3rd Monday of the month.
Still Life Museum 055 877012
Both are free to visit.

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