The Medici Villa of Petraia forms, together with the Italian style garden
and the romantic park that surrounds it, a very interesting museum complex both in term of architectural decoration and because of
the furniture is it still preserves in its interior. The current layout was arranged during the reign of the Savoy.
The old castle that already existed in 1362 changed owners several times
(Brunelleschi, Strozzi, Alessandra dei Bardi, Salutati) and was finally acquired by the Medici when they returned to Florence in 1530. Transferred from Cosimo I to his son, Cardinal Ferdinando in 1568, it was enlarged and transformed into a Villa on initiative of the latter who became Gran Duke after the death of his brother Francis I (1587).
This general architectural layout , that typically reflects the style of Buontalenti., owed to Davide Fortini was later integrated whith decorative elements and wall paintings by its owners. The two cycles of frescoes that fully cover the walls of the courtyard belong in fact to the Medici period. The central section of first fresco by Cosimo Daddi commissioned by the wife of Ferdinando, Cristina of Lorraine , shows the Deeds of Goffredo di Buglione during the siege of Jerusalem. The other fresco commissioned by Lorenzo de' Medici to Baldassarre Franceschini named
the "Volterrano" illustrated, in the space below the two loggias, episodes from the Medici's life and can therefore be rightly enough considered one of the most representative examples of Florentine painting in the early 17th century. It was again Ferdinando who commissioned the decoration of the Chapel on the first floor, attributed to Bernardino Poccetti:
The walls painting in the chapel on the first floor and in some of the rooms were instead executed during the Lorraine period, although the palace owes its present-day layout (iron and glass panel covering the courtyard, its transformation into a large ball room and the arrangement of the furniture ) to the Savoy. In this occasion, the Savoy broughth several fabrics and furniture decor from other residences they owned in Turin, Modena, Lucca and Parma.
Even the large garden surrounding the villa bears trace of the historical stratification of the building. The base layout, clearly dating back to the late 16th century, has been enriched by 18th-19th century additions, such as the so called "Piano della figurina" decorated with the Fountain of Fiorenza ( Niccolò Tribolo, Pierino da Vinci and Giambologna) and the English style park on the northern side, created with the typically romantic taste that characterised the first half of the 19th century.