While many are currently planning their 2015 trips to Italy, and quite possibly Tuscany, we want to provide you with a few suggestions of places that we adore and that are easy to reach. Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort is only a short train ride from Florence and if you come with a car, you will have access to so many interesting areas of the region.
One such day-trip that we highly recommend is to the stunning former Medici residence, the incredible Villa Demidoff (formally called Medicean Paggeria of Pratolino) which is nestled in the little town of Pratolino, only 15 minutes north of Florence. During the summer, this is one of the best areas of Tuscany to picnic on the weekends and stroll how you would imagine they did in Renaissance times.
History of Villa Demidoff
The name ‘Demidoff’ comes from the rich Russian Russian Prince Paolo II Demidoff, who purchased the neglected Medici Villa in the 1870’s and restored the residence by also placing grand statues in the surrounding grounds which still impress people today. It is a place that brings together mythology, classical arts and philosophy.
The Villa itself has many famous names attached to itself. From Francesco de’ Medici aka the Grand Duke of Tuscany who bought the property into the Medici family in 1568, the talented architect Bernardo Buontalenti who made the park ‘the garden of the wonders’ and the famous sculptor Giambologna. It is rumored that The Grand Duke bought this property to make it into a ‘fairy tale’ for second wife Bianca Cappello.
The Renaissance villa has been destroyed but the park is still intact and one of the most marvelous in Tuscany. It is also a place to discover nature, with plenty of ancient trees (tall oaks and cedars, and plane trees), flora and fauna – if you get lucky you will see a wild deer or foxes who often wander in this area, especially in the areas less used by humans.
The Colossal Statue
The first statue that everyone always associates with Villa Demidoff is undoubtedly the large statue of the Appennine or ‘Zeus’ (God of the rains) built by Giambologna (1579-80). . The one you see is a replica of the original which has been moved to the Boboli gardens in Florence. Also check out Cupid’s Grotto by Buontaltenti and the Fountain of Mugnone with Giambologna’s statue, under the great Zeus.
How to Visit
Villa Demidoff ” Pratolino Park: Via Fiorentina, 276
Pratolino, Vaglia (FI). The park typically opens the beginning of April on the weekends, normally all summer. Call for a guided tour. For more information, please read this article by Discover Tuscany.
Tel. 055 4080734 – 055 4080777 (call if you want to make sure they are open)
Only about 11km from Florence, by bus take ATAF #25A Pratolino from Piazza San Marco and get off at the last stop. From Villa Campestri, travel time by car is roughly one hour.
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