The Villa Medici, since 1803 the seat of the French Academy in Rome, is located on the Pincian Hill (Pincio). It is a villa and architectural complex with a garden, bordering the Villa Borghese. The villa also houses an exhibition space called the Grandes Galeries.
Villa Medici Rome
Address, opening hours and entrance fee
Address: Viale della Trinità dei Mont, 1 – Rome. Telephone: +39 06 67611 or 06 6761223 or 06 6761311. Opening Hours: There are guided tours at different hours in English, French and Italian. These are however suspended during the Covid crisis. Entrance fee exhibition: 6 Euros; exhibition + gardens: 12 Euros.
History and description
The Villa Medici was founded in 1576 by Cardinal Fernando I de’ Medici. In ancient Roman times part of the gardens of Lucullus existed on the site, which later became property of the Imperial family. During the Middle Ages the area was used for the cultivation of grapes.
Only one building was present on the property in 1564 ,when it was acquired by Cardinal Giovanni Ricci di Montepulciano, and that was the Casina di Cardinale Marcello Crescenzi, who had also started commissioning architects to embellish the property, first Nanni Lippi and then his son Annibale Lippi. Michelangelo also contributed some improvements.
The fountain in the front of the Villa Medici is formed from an ancient Roman vase and was designed by Annibale Lippi in 1589.
When Ferdinando de’ Medici took over, he had Bartolomeo Ammanati put the finishing touch to the architectural improvements, ordering him to incorporate several bas-reliefs and statues found during excavations into the facade.
A series of grand gardens were created, as well as a small study on the north eastern side of the garden. These two rooms contain 16th century frescoes by Jacopo Zucchi and were not discovered until 1985.
The gardens were full of Roman sculptures, including the Capranica and the Della Valle collections. The “Niobe Group”, the “Wrestlers” and the “Arrotino” were amongst the most famous sculpture groups in Rome.
In the 18th century many of these sculptures were moved to Florence, to be placed in the Uffizi.