Barberino di Mugello
New 2013, June: Villa di Cafaggiolo is a Unesco World Heritage Centre
This imposing structure was one of the favourite residences of Lorenzo the Magnificent. It was built by Michelozzo Michelozzi in 1451, roughly, for the Medici family at the request of Cosimo il Vecchio. The architect converted the former manor house into an innovative estate-type residence.
The existing version of the structure is the result of numerous 19th century renovations, but it is still fairly easy to identify the parts designed by Michelozzo. The design of the crenelations and the corbels have become ornamental elements and blend with the more simple window cornices, supported by brackets, and with other elements of interior design such as the stone fireplaces, which characterize the halls on the ground floor and are easily attributed to the style of Michelozzo.
The estate provided the noblewomen and merchants, captains and intellectuals, artists, cardinals, popes and princes who gathered there for hunting expeditions, symposiums and peasant feasts, a pleasant backdrop, and was also the summer and winter residence of the Medici family. There Luigi Pulci read his Morgante and Lorenzo composed his carnival songs; Poliziano, Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola sojourned there, as did Leo X in 1515. In one of the rooms on the second floor, Eleonora of Toledo was stabbed by her husband Piero de' Medici in 1576.
After the estate had passed into the hands of the Lorrainese, in 1778 the Grand Duke entertained his brother Joseph, Emperor of Austria there, and later on Leopold II, and the King and Queen of Naples who stopped there on their way north. It was subsequently auctioned off by the Italian government and bought by Prince Marcantonio Borghese.
At the height of its splendour, between the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century, Cafaggiolo was also the home of a famous majolica factory whose kiln would later be used by Ferdinand I in the mirror and glass works that he founded with the French masters.
A vast, dense wild wood surrounded by walls, which had been the hunting grounds of the Medici family, stretches behind the estate.
Closed for restoration.
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