Near Florence there is a place called Pratolino. In this place rises Villa Demidoff, one of the Medici's villas and one of the most beautiful gardens in the city.

THE VILLA

The Medici villa of Pratolino, later called Villa Demidoff in honor of the family who bought it and rebuilt it in 1872, was originally an estate belonging to Francesco I De’ Medici and it was destined to become a very luxurious villa for his wife Bianca Cappello. The reconstruction, entrusted to some illustrious personalities such as Buontalenti, Ammannati and Giambologna, lasted from 1569 to 1575 and cost well 782000 scudi. The result was a marvelous palace surrounded by a park full of magical inventions in perfect line with the extravagant tastes of the Grand Duke.

 

 

 

THE CRISIS OF THE VILLA

After the sudden death of Francesco and Bianca in 1587, the villa fell into ruins until the end of the seventeenth century, when Ferdinando De 'Medici, son of Cosimo III, took care of the building and enriched it with statues and frescoes. When he died, in 1713, the Lorraines took the power and the villa was abandoned again, since considered a useless waste of money. The park became a hunting reserve while the villa suffered various water infiltrations and other losses. Only at the beginning of the XIXth century the Grand Duke Ferdinand III commissioned the Bohemian engineer Joseph Fritsch a renovation project of the estate. Fritsch transformed the Italian garden into an "English" one: the cultivable areas were sacrificed to make room for the ornamental ones and the park's surface went from 20 to 78 hectares. He transformed the Italian garden into an "English": the cultivable areas were sacrificed to make room for the ornamental ones and the park's surface decreased from 20 to 78 hectares.