"Villa Medici, Part I" Top 5 Page for this destination Villa Medici Tip by von.otter
Villa Medici, Rome: 8 reviews and 27 photos
“With S. to the Villa Medici, perhaps on the whole the most enchanting place in Rome. The part of the garden called the Boschetto has an incredible, impossible charm; an upper terrace, behind locked gates, covered with a little dusky forest of evergreen oaks. Such a dim light as of a fabled, haunted place, such a soft suffusion of tender grey-green tones, such a company of gnarled and twisted little miniature trunks — dwarfs playing with each other at being giants — and such a shower of golden sparkles drifting in from the vivid west!”
— from “Italian Hours” 1908 by Henry James
ENCHANTMENT Our tour of the grounds of Villa Medici was conducted in Italian and French only (the two languages of its web site, as well), and at the time of our trip (May 2007) the tours were conducted on the weekends only. It did not matter that we could not understand the guide; whatever he could have said could be read in English in a book or on the web. The point here was to gain access to this beautiful space filled with art and history.
Enviably positioned on the Pincian Hill, Villa Medici was a cardinal’s dream realized. Ferdinando Cardinal de’Medici (1549-1609) bought the property in 1574. He set about converting the small villa into a showplace for his antiquities collection. Between the death of one pope and the election of another, bandits and jockeying nobility contributed to Rome’s instability; any show of wealth would attract unwelcome attention. Also pagan art was not looked on favorably. The Cardinal solved both problems by turning the main facade of the villa toward the garden and the city side was left severely plain. The Medici family coat-of-arms topped with a cardinal’s hat, and an antique marble mask hang over the loggia’s arch. (see photo #2).
This is a happy destination. Académie de France à Rome was founded in 1666 by Louis XIV (see photo #5) as a branch of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris. Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Charles Le Brun and Gian Lorenzo Bernini were its first directors.
In 1802 Napoleon transferred Académie to the Villa Medici from the Palazzo Mancini on the Corso. Select French artists, having won the prestigious Prix de Rome, were honored with a five-year scholarship in the Eternal City to study art and architecture.
A copy of Giambologna’s 1564 elegant bronze “Mercury” (see photo #4) decorates the fountain. Many of the originals from Cardinal de Medici’s collection were removed to Florence when he shed his red hat and cloak and assumed the position of Grand Duke of Tuscany; in their place copies were substituted.
Address: 1 Viale Trinita dei Monti
Directions: By Metro: Linea A to Spagna stop. By Bus: 117 or 119.
Phone: +39 06 67 611
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