‘Enchanting Villas and Gardens’ by ORT

Hidden in the ancient villas of the powerful Medici family, music will entrance the public over the month of June. ORT’s “Enchanting Villas and Gardens” comprises a series of concerts through June 22 each based on a different theme with a free, guided visit of the historic premises included in admission.

An evening dedicated to “Nocturnes” features young violinist star Letissia Fracchiolla (winner of the 2018 Premio Crescendo) conducted by Nil Venditti. Mendelssohn’s “The Hebrides,” named for the archipelago which inspired the composer, will be followed by Mozart’s “Concerto n.3 for violin and orchestra K.216;” then Haydn’s “Symphony n.101, the Clock” will be played.  As its name suggests, the piece was inspired by the ticking of the clock.

“Baroque Villa” will be performed by cellist and conductor Augusto Gasbarri and flutist Fabio Fabbrizi. This concert series will be a family affair as all the pieces were composed by J.S. Bach and his son C.P.E. Bach. J.S. Bach’s “Suite n.1” and “Suite n.2,” two lively court dances, will be interceded by C.P.E. Bach’s “Concerto for flute and orchestra Wq.22,” which was written for Frederick the Great of Prussia, an avid flutist.

The series is a collaboration between the Orchestra della Toscana and the Polo Museale of Tuscany. In addition to the concert itself by ORT, private tours that will last for 30 minutes will be offered at the villa of the night, all of which were collectively named a UNESCO cultural site in 2013.

The guided visits of the enchanting villas and gardens start at 8 pm, followed by the concerts at 9:30 pm. The admission cost is €12.50, for UniCoop members €10.50. Tickets are available at the ticket office of Teatro Verdi, the Box Office circuit, at the site of the concert (on a limited basis), and www.ticketone.it.

There are 12 different Medici villas that are a part of the UNESCO site. Only three will be venues for the remaining performances: Villa della Petraia, Villa of Poggio a Caiano and Villa di Cerreto-Guidi.

Villa della Petraia is an ancient castle originally constructed in 1362 and obtained by the Medici family in 1530. In the villa’s ballrooms, there are two sets of elaborate and beautiful frescoes: one by Cosimo Daddi and the other by Baldassare Franceschini, also known as the Volterrano. Giambologna’s famous statue of Venus-Fiorenza and Ammannati’s Hercules and Anteo is located inside of the palace from its original place in the gardens, which are stupendous on their own. The surviving 12 lunettes painted by Giusto Utens remain inside as well, depicting the Medici villas from the outside. The garden has three levels: the highest overlooks the city center of Florence; Giambologna’s fountain where the Venus-Fiorenza was originally placed is on the Piano della Figurina; and the North Side is designed to resemble an eighteenth century English Romantic garden.

Lorenzo the Magnificent commissioned Villa of Poggio a Caiano to Giuliano da Sangallo. The architect’s H-shaped villa represented an architectural revolution due to its styles in its use of proportion, harmony and symmetry to imitate the Classical style. The building contains a museum of still life paintings on its second floor, displaying around 200 paintings. The villa has a unique stratification of styles based upon its inhabitants: the Medici, Napoleon’s sisters and King Vittorio Emanuele II. The Salon of Leo X contains some of the most important frescoes for the Medici family by Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, Franciabigio, and Alessandro Allori.

Villa di Cerreto Guidi, once a main hunting lodge for Cosimo I near the Fucecchio marsh, is now the site of a hunting museum. The building’s unique design with its set of four brick, zig-zagging stairs to the entrance, called the Medici bridges, is said to have been designed by Bernardo Buontalenti. The villa’s beautiful frescoes are still visible in some rooms. The villa has been restored with the help of antiques dealer Antonio Conti and Stefano Bardini, who decorated the building with period appropriate furniture and a collection of Granducal tapestries. Also on display are several family portraits of the Medici family over the years. (katy rose sparks with additional reporting from stephanie d’amelio and lea bourgade)


Thurs. June 13

“Nocturnes.” Villa Medicea La Petraia, 9:30 pm

Fri. June 14

“Nocturnes.” Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano, 9:30 pm

Sat. June 15

“Nocturnes.” Villa Medicea di Cerreto Guidi, 9:30 pm

Thurs. June 20

“Baroque Villa.” Villa Medicea La Petraia, 9:30 pm

Fri. June 21

“Baroque Villa.” Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano, 9:30 pm

Sat. June 22

“Baroque Villa.” Villa Medicea di Cerreto Guidi, 9:30 pm