Villa di Poggio a Caiano
 
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Poggio a Caiano Villa, by Giovanni Stradano (Sala della Gualdrara, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence)
Eleonora da Toledo and Her Family Reach the Villa - Fresco (1567 - 1577)

 

 

The Poggio a Caiano villa, certainly one of the most interesting building projects of the early Renaissance, was begun in 1485 by the express wishes of Lorenzo the Magnificent who chose Giuliano da Sangallo (1445-1516) to carry out the plan. In fact, this construction presents many features of the new Renaissance architectural idea, especially in a renewed attention to classical building models and nature. Of particular interest is the small entrance pronaos on the first floor: with its pillars with wide intercolumniations and its glazed terracotta frieze, it adheres to the idea of the tuscanicae dispositiones as set forth by Vitruvius in the 1st century BC. Other noteworthy features are found in the large central hall which recalls the oecus of Roman villas and in the open loggia on the ground floor which runs along all four sides of the building. This latter architectural creation explicitly reveals a new attitude towards nature. In fact the loggia opens the building towards the outdoors, inviting the natural world to take a direct part in the architectural composition. Strictly in-looking structures are abandoned in favor of forms that allow man to achieve a new spatial and existential dimension. At the moment of Lorenzo’s death (1492), the villa was still incomplete and it wasn’t until 1512 that construction began again, this time according to Pope Leo X’s orders. The villa didn’t undergo any further substantial modification in the following centuries; in the nineteenth century, the architect Poccianti was instructed to design a grand indoor staircase as well as two new flights of stairs outdoors in order to allow access to the terrace.

The villa’s central hall is decorated with frescos carried out between 1519 and 1521, according to the wishes of Pope Leo X (Lorenzo the Magnificent’s son). A synthesis of the most representative Florentine painting of the sixteenth century, the cycles were executed by Pontormo (1494-1556), Andrea del Sarto (1486-1531) and Franciabigio (1482-1525) who respectively painted the “Vertumnus and Pomona” rural scenes which are in keeping with the secular spirit animating the whole architectural complex; the “Tribute to Caesar”, which represents an event taken from Lorenzo’s life; and “Cicero’s Return from Exile” which celebrates Cosimo’s return to Florence. The latter two works were later touched up by Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) who added on to the sides and painted the other frescos in the hall.

The villa is 22 km far from the center of Florence.



The Villa
 
Monumental stairs
 
Pediment with Greek allegories
 
Monumental stairs
Porches
 
Porches - Detail
Side view of the Villa
 
Sundial on the facade
Stables
 

Ceiling painting in the front, under the arcades

Old Roman sarcopagus - the two sculpted sun faces
have been made probably in the 16th century
 
Detail of one of the faces
Ceiling of the porches with grotesques
 
Hall of Pope Leone X
Frescoes by Alessandro Allori
The dining room
 
Hall of Pope Leone X
Painting of Pontormo and Allori
The theatre
 
The bathroom
The living room
 
Pontormo
Fresco depicting Vertumnus and Pomona - Detail
Pontormo
Fresco depicting Vertumnus and Pomona - Detail
 
Pontormo
Fresco depicting Vertumnus and Pomona
 
Pontormo
Fresco depicting Vertumnus and Pomona - Detail
Pontormo
Fresco depicting Vertumnus and Pomona - Detail
In the Villa - Museum of Still Life
Bartolomeo Bimbi
Falcon - 1708
Bartolomeo Bimbi
White Parrot - 1716
 
Bartolomeo Bimbi
Flowers and Swallows
1690 - 1695
Bartolomeo Bimbi
Wild Roses
1717
 
Bartolomeo Bimbi
Oranges and Lemons
1704
Bartolomeo Bimbi
Plums
1716
 
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