Villa Medici

A short walk away from us is Villa Medici, surrounded by the Villa Borghese gardens. Built by Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, it was intended to be a statement of the Medici presence in Rome.  Today housing the French Academy of Rome, it’s a massive building in the front …

Villa Medici
Villa Medici

Pause to admire the lovely fountain in front of the Villa:

Villa Medici's "cannonball" fountain
Villa Medici’s “cannonball” fountain

You may recognize the fountain from the painting by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, painted between 1825 and 1828:

Court's famous painting of the fountain
Corot’s famous painting of the fountain

The cannonball at the center harkens back to a myth about Queen Christina of Sweden, an eccentric queen who gave up her throne, converted to Catholicism, and moved to Rome.  Now let’s go in though the massive front doors, which also are linked to the Queen Christina story:

Villa Medici's massive front door
Villa Medici’s massive front door

 

The dent in the front door, allegedly from a cannonball shot at the Villa by Queen Cristina
The dent in the front door, allegedly from a cannonball shot at the villa by Queen Christina

Inside, there is usually a modern art exhibit or two going on.

Modern art exhibit at Villa Medici last fall
Modern art exhibit at Villa Medici last fall

Tours take you up a marvelous spiral stairway …

The spiral staircase
The spiral staircase – I never tired of seeing these in Rome!

…into a few lovely restored rooms, which have paintings that reveal that perhaps the various cardinals who lived in Villa Medici over the years were not  immune to the charms of lovely ladies.

A ceiling painting
A ceiling painting of Europa and the Bull

Then you sweep outside to the back of the Villa, where the real beauty lies …

The Lion Loggia
The Lion Loggia – note the lions, the symbol of house Medici

 

The ornate back side of Villa Medici, including the Lion Loggia
The ornate back side of Villa Medici, including the Lion Loggia

During the construction of the villa, many antiquities were “appropriated” from nearby archaeological sites, the bits and pieces incorporated into the ornate facade of the back of the villa.

The back side of Villa Medici
The back side of Villa Medici

 

The Medici crest
The Medici crest over the arch

 

An antique best incorporated into a rondel
An ancient bust set into a rondel

Beyond lie beautiful gardens …

Let's stroll into the gardens ...
Let’s stroll into the gardens …

 

Parts of the gardens are formal ...
Parts of the gardens are formal …

 

... and there's a small obelisk in the formal garden
… and there’s a small obelisk in the formal garden

Perfect for strolling …

Large paths for strolling
Large paths for strolling …

 

...with some lush hidden gardens ...
…with some lush hidden gardens …

 

... and little surprises, like these copies of the Niobe group sculptures ...
… and little surprises, like these copies of the Niobe group sculptures now in Florence  …

But’s there’s even more to see, as we’ll see in our next blog post!

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