Villa Medici at Fiesole, the first true classic Renaissance villa in Tuscany, Italy, was commissioned by Giovanni, the second son of Cosimo il Vecchio and, among other owners over the centuries, belonged to the mother of Iris Origo in the early part of the 20 C. Life there during that period is described by Iris Origo in her excellent autobiography, Images and Shadows.
Villa Medici at Fiesole was completed between 1451 and 1457, and it has been proposed recently that the villa owes its design to Leon Battista Alberti rather than to Michelozzo. It remains to be seen how widely this hypothesis will be accepted, but there’s no doubt that the villa, with its gardens and its views out over Florence, became the prototype of the classic Renaissance villa, meaning that it conforms to the Albertian criteria for rendering a country dwelling a villa suburbana. The beauty of this villa does not derive from mediaeval decorative elements, as in earlier Florentine residences, but from its simplicity and harmonious proportions. I’ve made a few comments about the integration of the garden as an extension of the Renaissance villa in my post on the history of Tuscany and Tuscan culture.
The villa now belongs to an American university but the gardens can be visited Monday through Friday by appointment – apparently groups only. Tel. +39 055 239 89 94
More about Tuscan villas and their gardens.