Villa Medici

Villa Medici

Villa Medici is located on the slope of the Roman Pincian hill next to the Piazza Espana. In ancient times the site of the Villa Medici was part of the Gardens of Lucullus constructed by the Roman commander and consul Lucius Lucullus. The land later passed into the hands of the imperial family with Messalina who was murdered in the villa. In the Middle Ages the land was abandoned and turned into vineyards. In 1576 the property was acquired by the cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici hence the name of the villa. It was the first estate of the Medici family on the territory of Rome. Ferdinando de’ Medici commissioned Bartolomeo Ammanati, one the most famous Florentine sculptors and architects of the mannerism style, to design the villa, in the style so popular at that time. When the male line of the Medici died out in 1737, the villa passed to the house of Lorraine and, briefly in Napoleonic times, to the Kingdom of Etruria. In this manner Napoleon Bonaparte came into possession of the Villa Medici. In 1803 Napoleon moved the French Academy in Rome to the villa.

The Academy was established in 1666 by the king of France Louis XIV so that the young and talented artists, engravers, sculptors and architects (since 1803 composers as well) could improve their skills in Rome. During the construction works on the territory of the villa various antique objects were coming to sight with almost every spadeful of earth, with the result that the facades of the Villa Medici became the virtual open-air museum. Other 170 antique pieces Cardinal purchased from the noble Roman families to decorate the Villa. The most significant objects are the Medici Vase (I century AD) and the statue of the Venus de’ Medici, a life-size marble statue of the I century BC, a copy of the lost Greek original. The antiques from the Villa Medici were in the XVII century moved to the Uffizi Gallery forming the nucleus of its collection. The park that has the total area of 7 ha hides numerous fountains, pools and flower beds. Villa Medici is open to public on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The park can be visited only with a guided tour upon preliminary booking.

Address: Viale della Tinita dei Monti, 1
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 9.30 am - 5.30 pm; 1 January, 1 May and 25 December closed
How to reach: metro Spagna
Coordinates: 41.908270, 12.482488