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The marvellous Villa at Artimino

artiminoSituated in front of the charming little village of Artimino the marvellous Villa lies on a hill overlooking the entire plane of Florence and Prato. The villa was commissioned by Ferdinando I to the Tuscan architect Buontalenti and built between 1596 and 1600. It is said that Ferdinando I, during a hunting party was fascinated by the countryside near the Albano mountain and asked the old and famous architect Buontalenti to build this splendid villa as a hunting lodge.
The concept of “villa” was actually rediscovered in the 16th century. Throughout the Middle Age people were actually bound to live mainly in castles inside the feudal domains conceived as protective places, but during the Renaissance period the villas became places where it was possible to spend some period for fun or pleasure,artimino1 into the nature, without any fear of being attacked: after so many centuries the classical idea of “otium” was once again fully appreciated. The villa at Artimino was named “La Ferdinanda” after the grand duke’s name, but it is also known as the “Villa of the Hundred Chimneys” because of its many variously-shaped chimneys. The building has a square and simple structure like a fortress, but the front is characterised by the elegant entrance with a double staircase leading up onto the first floor of the villa. The staircase was in the Buontalenti’s plans but was built only in 1930 for the Countess Maraini’s will. Undoubtedly it is a perfect device to give an unexpected and gracious movement to the whole façade.
artimino2The typical Tuscan style is enriched by mannerist decorations as you can notice in the serena stone decorations. Inside the Villa there are 56 rooms, disposed according to a particular set: on the first floor you can find the bright salon at the entrance, next to it an elegant and cosy chapel, then the large Salons of the Bear and of the Lion, and finally the series of the Christine of Lorraine’s rooms with a pretty decorated bathroom, called “ricetto del Poggiolo”. The beautiful loggia has on the ceiling marvellous frescoes painted by Bernardino Poccetti and Domenico Crespi, called “il Passignano”.
After the end of the Medicis dynasty, the villa passed to the Lorenas dynasty and at the beginning of the 20th century to the Marainis family. Nowadays “La Ferdinanda” is owned by a private company which uses it for ceremonies and cultural events and meetings. In the basement the villa hosts the Artimino’s Municipal Archaeology Museum, set up with archaeological finds from ancient Etruscan settlements of this area. Unfortunately it is not easy to get to Artimino by public transport. From Florence coach station take a bus to Poggio a Caiano, then call the toll-free number 800-063840 and ask for a bus to Artimino. The bus is only on demand, it is inexpensive and it is available from Monday to Friday, from 9.45am to 12.15pm.

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