Villa Medici or Belcanto

This is one of the oldest villas that the Medici family owned. It is the best conserved of them all and the least known.
It was built by Cosimo the Elder in the place of a dwelling. According to Giorgio Vasari, Cosimo’s son Giovanni had it rebuilt in 1450 by the family architect Michelozzo. Recent studies tend to rule this out, however, and attribute the design to Leon Battista Alberti.
According to the town register, the villa was built between 1451 and 1457, and is a typical early Renaissance building with windows framed in pietra serena and a large loggia with a panoramic view. This villa is very different from earlier Medici ones. It no longer has a defence-military purpose so there are no towers, no raised walkways or moats. The loggias are a clear indication of openness towards the outside compared to the closed fortifications that defence would have required. The influence of Giovanni Medici can be seen in the marked reduction of the villa’s agricultural and productive capacity in favour of total orientation towards the kind of leisure activities that would stimulate the intellect. Indeed it was the first country residence to have a garden instead of a farm. Lorenzo il Magnifico became owner in 1469 and he spent much time here in the company of poets and men of letters of the Neo-Platonist academy such as Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and Agnolo Poliziano.