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Villa Medici at Castello (Villa Reale)

Duke Cosimo I, Grand Duke of the Medicis, loved this place. Though a cold, secretive, moody and ruthless despot, Cosimo I was a generous patron of the arts. He employed a sculptor, Niccolò Tribolo, to design the garden. Castello has spacious terraces and a central axis, following Bramante's example. There is a fine grotto set into the garden wall on the main axis. It celebrates Cosimo I's love of hunting (check). Tribolo's garden sculpture uses an iconographical theme drawn from Ovid's Metamorphosis. It celebrates the greatness of the Medici family. Much of the original garden furnishing, which Vasari describes (below) has gone. The garden is enclosed by walls, in the manner of a hortus conclusus. A lunette of the garden was painted in 1599 (8?), now kept by the Museo Topograpico in Florence, shows the structure of the garden layout much as it is today. Sadly, the garden's sculpture programme was never finished, the planting has been thinned and the garden does not have as much charm as one feels it could have. Montaigne's description has secured the garden's fame (written in 1580 and published 1774).

Castello, Tuscany, Italy

All year, Daily, 9am to closing time (varies according to season), Closed on second and third Monday of each month

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