Magnolia trees in Florence

After living in Seattle for a few years, I’ve yet to see any other micro-climate produce the  the amazing magnolia trees that grow there.  But, Florence is no slouch when it comes to these monumental trees.

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Last weekend I was in the lovely garden behind the Palazzo Guicciardini, and this beautiful speciman was putting on a pretty show.  My pictures, unfortunately, do not capture the majesty or the beauty of the big white blossoms, but I hope you get the picture.  Look at the top section in this picture below and you will see some of the white blooms.

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Another closer view:

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Here’s a view I found on the internet to better show the white blooms.

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And yes, the blooms are gorgeous, but even the foliage of this tree is lovely.

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Where ironwork meets horticulture

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I make a weekly walk through a lovely residential neighborhood in an outer area of Florence.  You see all Florentines and Italians here.  I’ve never ever seen a tourist in this area, which is kind of amazing if you understand the waves of tourists that swarm this amazing city.

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My weekly walk takes me by a very interesting front garden of one of the many villinos in the neighborhood.  The first time I saw this large cactus (I don’t actually know what the plant is, if I’m wrong, please leave a comment!) it looked like a caged animal to me, one that was trying to work its way out of the surrounding metal enclosure.

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Yesterday I walked through the area again and wanted to take more inclusive pictures to show how this front garden is organized.  Here they are:

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As you can see, the cactus has a fantastic magnolia tree behind it.

 

Here is how the entrance to the home is organized and decorated.  Very lovely to my eyes,

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And then, here’s that massive plant!  Love it!

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Lorenzo de’ Medici’s sculpture garden

Lorenzo de' Medici and His Artists in the Sculpture Garden

 

Ottavio Vannini – Michelangelo Showing Lorenzo il Magnifico the Head of a Faun, surrounded by the other sculpture students

 

 

Young Michelangelo Carving a Faun's Head

 

Young Michelangelo Carving a Faun’s head by Emilio Zocchi

 

The Piazza San Marco on the former Via Larga, which is now Via Camillo Cavour, was where Lorenzo de’ Medici’s Sculpture Garden was situated in Florence. In the map below, you can get a sense of where the garden was in relationship to Piazza San Marco. The sculpture garden would have been where the words “Army Facility” show below.

 

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The Google map showing a satellite view, gives an even better sense of this former garden area.  Think away the Army building to the south end of the space, where Via Cavour and Via degli Arazzieri intersect, and you can see that there is still garden area in the site of the former Medici garden.

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Created with the hopes of becoming a great educational institution for studying art, Lorenzo de’ Medici curated a garden full of antique sculptures for artists to come and sketch as part of their artistic practice. Lorenzo also added sleeping and dining quarters so that students could easily live among the work they were studying. Francesco Granacci and Bertoldo di Giovanni are two of the many people to enter through its doors.

The most famous story of Michelangelo’s time in the Garden surrounds Michelangelo’s Faun statue. When Lorenzo saw this statue, he jokingly told Michelangelo that he looked too perfect to be an old faun. Michelangelo than took his drill and knocked out one of the teeth in the mouth of the Faun.

He showed his subtraction to Lorenzo who gained much amusement and pleasure from Michelangelo’s ability to listen and act on his critique.  Although the Faun statue has not been found, the two works of Michelangelo’s attributed to this time period are the Battle of the Centaurs and the Madonna of the Stairs. 

 

Villa Salviati

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A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of visiting a famous villa in Fiesole, the Villa Saliviati.

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Of course the villa has its own (gorgeous) chapel; here is a detail of the ceiling:

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And the villa also has a grotto:

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There is a lot of interesting interior detailing:

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So, now you’ve seen my pictures, let’s get some info from Wiki on the Villa:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

History [ edit | wikitesto change ]

In the 14th century, the castle of the Montegonzi was built on this property land already belonged to the Del Palagio. In 1445, Arcangelo Montegonzi sold it to Alamanno Salviati , the man who introduced the cultivation of salamanna and jasmine grapesin Tuscany.

 

Alamanno commissioned Mielcozzian workers to reduce the castle to a villa, with a garden and woods . In 1490, the nephews of Alamanno, dividing their uncle’s assets, and gave the villa to Jacopo, who was related to Lorenzo de ‘Medici.

 

In 1493, new, considerable renovations were undertaken, to which perhaps Giuliano da Sangallo took part and which lasted about a decade.

 

Giovan Francesco Rustici also took part in the works. Between 1522 and 1526 he created for the villa a series of terracotta roundels with mythological subjects (such as Apollo and Marsyas or Jupiter and Bellerophon ).

Today the Villa’s  Limonaia is the the headquarters of the Historical Archives of the European Union.

In 1529, the house was sacked by the anti-cult faction and between 1568 and 1583 Alamanno di Jacopo Salviati and his son Jacopo further enlarged and embellished the villa, with the gardens ( 15701579 ) and the buildings that border the northern border and create a scenic backdrop connected to the villa.

New Year’s eve, 1638, was an event to remember. That evening, in this villa, the severed head of the lover of Caterina Canacci, was brought to the villa, hidden under the linen that the wife of Salviati, Veronica Cybo, sent him weekly.

The villa then passed to the AldobrandiniBorghese and on December 30th 1844 it was bought “with a closed gate” (ie with all the furnishings) from the Englishman Arturo Vansittard.

Then came the tenor Giovanni Matteo De Candia aka Mario, who lived there with his wife, the soprano Giulia Grisi , the Swedish banker Gustave Hagerman and finally, in 1901, the Turri.

The grotto: 

During the WWII, the grotto was used as the post of an allied command: Lensi Orlandi recounted the memory of nocturnal visits of “kind and rich Florentine, often mature matrons”, who “crossed the threshold of those rooms to give honor to the admired winners” [2 ] .

There followed a long semi-abandonment, in which the villa was not accessible even to scholars (he visited Lensi-Orlandi in 1950, but could not Harold Acton in 1973 ).

In 2000 the monumental complex, together with its gardens, was purchased by the Italian Government to be destined for the European University Institute , which made it the seat of the Historical Archives of the European Union ; one can mention, among the various documents contained in them, the personal papers of the founding fathers, such as Alcide De Gasperi , Paul-Henri Spaak , Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi .

The end of the renovations took place in October 2009 and on December 17, 2009 the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitanoinaugurated the Historical Archives of the European Union .

This villa was in communication with Villa Emilia (which was higher up) – which in ancient times was a convent of Cistercian nuns suppressed in 1453 – through an underground gallery : hence the other name with which the villa is known, “del Ponte at the Badia “.

Architecture [ edit | wikitesto change ]

The courtyard

The main body of the villa reveals its military origins, especially in the two crenellated turrets, in the corner, and in the crowning with the walkway on corbels , very similar, for example, to that of the villa of Careggi . It is made up of two adjacent buildings, but with similar architectural features: the east one is more massive and tall, the west one is of smaller volume and height.

The building is arranged around the central courtyard, portico on three sides with columns in pietra serena with Corinthian capitals ;the entablature towards the inside is decorated with graffito friezes, with the rounds of the Rustici inserted into this strip in correspondence with the round arches.

The interiors are often covered by vaulted , barrel and cross vaults .

Gardens [ edit | wikitesto change ]

The gardens

You get to the south facing of the villa through a long cypress avenue that once led to the Via Faentina and that after the construction of the railway was modified, creating a passage on it.

The Italian garden , in front of the villa, is built on three terraces at different levels and, although it is being restored, it is made up of geometric flower beds in boxwood with flowery essences. The property is then surrounded by a large English park , where there are, among other things, a bamboo grove, two ponds and, scattered here and there, various items of furniture, such as statues, temples, caves, fountains, pavilions and more.

Villa Salviati , or villa of the Ponte alla Badia , is located along the homonymous street near via Bolognese in Florence , [1]