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“Relaxing, beautiful morning at Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano”

Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano
Ranked #4 of 71 things to do in Prato
Certificate of Excellence
Park Ridge, Illinois
Level Contributor
19 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Relaxing, beautiful morning at Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano”
Reviewed 20 September 2013

We decided to hire a driver and take our two small girls out to see the country during our 10th wedding anniversary trip to Florence. We chose to visit two of the Medici Villas as both my husband and 8 year daughter are quite interested in Medici history. Villa Poggio a Caiano is beautiful, relaxed and without tourists (we actually saw several school field trips which the girls loved). The villa and gardens are beautiful but not overwhelming. Our driver, Heliana, was charming and so informative! She also took us to Villa di Artimino and arranged for a lovely private wine tasting. We stayed at the Bernini Palace Hotel in Florence which was amazing and Lorenzo who arranged for our side trip (as well as many other extras) was a true asset!

Visited September 2013
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1 Thank FGTG09102003
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Amsterdam
Level Contributor
33 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Excellent day trip from Florence”
Reviewed 28 July 2013

A beautiful villa built by the Medici through several generations. It is fascinating to see how the tastes of the various members of the family change, but they still have the urge to collect. Don't miss it if you are interested in art and history. Only a half hour bus ride from Florence.

On the practical side, please note that the instructions are clearly stated in English at the entrance, but when they start explaining that you need a reservation, it gets a bit confusing, so I'll share what I learned. There are two escorted tours (silent tours). One is for the interior of the villa and it starts on the half hour. No reservation needed

The other tour is for an art exhibition of Natura Morta collected by several of the Medici and it starts every hour on the hour. Only for this tour you have to make a reservation at the entrance. If you arrive in between those hours, as we did, walk around a little bit but make sure you stand at the door of the villa exactly on the hour or on the half hour depending which of the two tours you want to take. We enjoyed both tours.

This is really worth your time and inexpensive since the entrance is free and the bus ride was about 2 euros.

Visited July 2013
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8 Thank irvilia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sweden
Level Contributor
123 reviews
60 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“Certainly worth a trip”
Reviewed 26 June 2013

This wonderful old Medici-palace, is a bit different to what you´ll see in Florence. Beautiful wall-paintings and a lovely garden, will give you a totally different feeling than the fortified homes they had in Florence. Worth a detour!

Visited July 2012
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Thank AnotherSwede
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
64 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“Escape the crowds and save money at this little-known architectural gem”
Reviewed 9 April 2013

It's hard to overstate the architectural significance of this place. Lorenzo de' Medici (the great) asked Giuliano da Sangallo to do something revolutionary in the late 15th century. Instead of the usual defensive, enclosed castle, he wanted a gracious building looking back to ancient Rome, set in gardens, with no military potential. It inspired villas throughout Tuscany, which inspired Palladio in the Veneto in the 16th century, who set the model for most of the grand country houses of England in the 17th and 18th, which then set the model for the idea of noble living around the rest of the world. (Including the White House in Washington D.C.)

About a decade ago when I visited there wasn't a lot to see after admiring the world-shaping exterior. The main hall, filled with grand frescos glorifying the Medicis, comissioned by Medici Pope Leo X, and a 19th century theatre and billiard room added for Italian King Vittoro Emanuele, was about it. The government's clearly been beavering away, as the aforementioned rooms are now in great shape, and have been joined by almost all of the other rooms on the piano nobile (the main entertaining floor). These aren't Renaissance, but 19th century. Some are a suite of rooms done up for Napoleon's sister Elisa, who he made Grand Duchess of Tuscany and who took her responsibilities there seriously. This was a favourite retreat in Tuscany and the rooms are lovely examples of the light, delicate neoclassicism of the Napoleonic era. The other rooms, more of the renovations made for the King during the brief years when Florence served as capital of the newly-united Italy, are heavier-handed, but still a pleasure to explore. Though the villa had been emptied, the curators have found representative furniture to stage the rooms.

Amazingly, Poggio a Caiano is free. As are all of the Medici villas. A bit of pay-back, I thought, for the steep service charges at the Ufizzi. These villas are also little visited. As opposed to the crowds in every corner of Florence, we spent an hour here on a Sunday afternoon wandering by ourselves. (In fact, it looked so empty we drove right by the first time, thinking it was closed.)

Visited March 2013
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4 Thank BencardsBites
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Leamington Spa, UK
Level Contributor
29 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“Hope for the nice guides”
Reviewed 21 September 2012

We visited on Tuesday, 18th September, arriving at around 13:20. I am being so precise to pick up some of the points in the “pessima organizzazione!” review of 12th August 2012, whose message was that the place is run by a bunch of persnickety bureaucrats whose goal in life is to exert their power to make life as inconvenient as possible. Our impression was that the quality of the experience is pretty much up to the luck of the draw in terms of who is minding the door.

When we arrived, the office at the entrance (where you can buy books) was shut and there were three people (only two of whom seemed to be members of staff) outside the front door of the villa smoking. When we asked about going in we were told by the female guide that the next tour of the residential area was at 13:30 and that the next tour of the museum of still lifes on the top floor would be at 14:00 'if possible' (with no indication of what might make it impossible). We had a quick look at the grounds (which are very nice) but with the definite feeling that if we weren't back at 13:30 on the dot, we would not be able to get in for another hour.

When we got back, the woman was gone. Her colleague was happy to let us in a couple of minutes early and to walk around the residence with us (which seemed to be a logical requirement based on the amount of furnishings and objets on show on the lower floors. The third guy tagged along for a while. This part of the visit was pretty standard - a fancy Medici villa with lovely decoration and furniture. There was a strict no photography rule but he seemed happy not to notice any breaches on our part. When I suggested that his female colleague might have been a bit more of a stickler, the other man did a great riff (in Italian) on the Jack Nicolson diatribe in the Witches of Eastwick which ends 'When GOD makes mistakes, they call it... nature. So whaddya think? Women... a mistake... or DID HE DO IT TO US ON PURPOSE?'

Then he took us to the top floor. If you like the odd still life, you will go crazy up there. There are hundreds of them - the biggest pure collection we have ever seen, many of them commissioned directly for the Villa (with a huge Bimbi contingent, including a picture showing 70 different kinds of lemon, most of which no longer exist). There is a comprehensive catalogue available at the entrance (but no postcards): it costs 69 euros and weighs a ton, but we bought it anyhow because the collection is so stunning.

It is a bit of a schlep getting to Poggio a Caiaono (probably best to approach from the Pistoia exit on the A12); but the villa is well worth a visit. You should just hope that you encounter the nice staff rather than the nasty jobsworths and should aim to arrive just before the hour or half-hour.

Visited September 2012
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4 Thank Tom10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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