Medici Villas and Gardens are UNESCO Sites in Tuscany

Paris - Luxembourg Quarter: Jardin du Luxembou... Paris – Luxembourg Quarter: Jardin du Luxembourg – Fontaine de Médicis (Photo credit: wallyg)
Pratolino detail Pratolino detail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Castello Mediceo di Cafaggiolo, in a view by G... Castello Mediceo di Cafaggiolo, in a view by Giusto (or Gustav) Utens, 1599. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Pietro de' Medici murdered his wife in the vil... Pietro de’ Medici murdered his wife in the villa in 1576. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Villa Medicea di Careggi, the first of the Flo... Villa Medicea di Careggi, the first of the Florentine villas, was also created for Cosimo de’ Medici by Michelozzo from an existing castle.
Frontal view of the Villa La Petraia Frontal view of the Villa La Petraia

Between the 15th century and the 17th century, the Medici Family owned the Villas and Gardens in Tuscany. These villas were scattered over the territory that they ruled, demonstrating their power and wealth.

“The Medici villas form the first example of the connection between architecture, gardens, and the environment and became an enduring reference for princely residences throughout Italy and Europe. Their gardens and integration into the natural environment helped develop the appreciation of landscape characteristic Humanism and the Renaissance.” UNESCO

They were also recreational resorts for the leisure and pleasure of their owners; and they were the center of agricultural activities on the surrounding estates.

In 2013, the Medici villas were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Cafaggiolo-Villa front large.jpg

Visit these country palaces in Tuscany and the territory that the Medici Family ruled.

These recreational resorts were innovative for the period;  dedicated to leisure, the arts and knowledge.

Twelve villas and two gardens spread across the Tuscan landscape make up this site which bears testimony to the influence the Medici family exerted over modern European culture through its patronage of the arts.

Major villas

  1. According to UNESCO:
“Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The economic, financial and political fortunes of the Medici were behind extensive patronage that had a decisive effect on the cultural and artistic history of modern Europe. Among the resulting architectural and aesthetic forms, the Medici villas in deep harmony with their gardens and rural environment are among the most original of the Italian Renaissance. The nominated property is a selection of twelve complete villas with their gardens and two additional pleasure gardens spread across the Tuscan countryside and near to Florence. The Medici villa and its gardens embody an ideal of the princely residence in the country where it was possible to live in harmony with nature, and dedicate as much to leisure pastimes as to the arts and knowledge.

Criterion (ii): The Medici villas and gardens in Tuscany are testimony to a synthesis of the aristocratic rural residence, at the end of the Middle Ages, which made material a series of new political, economic and aesthetic ambitions. Villas and gardens formed models that spread widely throughout Italy during the Renaissance and then to the whole of modern Europe.

Criterion (iv): The Medici baronial residences provide eminent examples of the rural aristocratic villa dedicated to leisure, the arts and knowledge. Over a period spanning almost three centuries, the Medici developed many innovative architectural and decorative forms. The ensemble is testimony to the technical and aesthetic organization of the gardens in association with their rural environment, giving rise to a landscape taste specific to Humanism and the Renaissance.

Criterion (vi): The villas and gardens, together with the Tuscan landscapes of which they are a part, made an early and decisive contribution to the birth of a new aesthetic and art of living. They are testimony to exceptional cultural and artistic patronage developed by the Medici. They form a series of key locations for the emergence of the ideals and tastes of the Italian Renaissance followed by their diffusion throughout Europe.


Despite some reservations due to the changes made to certain of the sites and their environment, at times affected by changes in use and modern development, the serial nomination forms an ensemble with sufficient integrity to testify in a credible and satisfactory manner to its Outstanding Universal Value. The serial composition has been fully justified. A significant effort to preserve the characteristic landscapes associated with the sites, and still surviving today, has been announced by the State Party.


The components of the sites testifying to the preservation of the authenticity of the architectural forms, the preservation of decorative styles and materials, the composition of the gardens, usage of the places respectful of the Medici’s achievements and ideals, and the preservation of the main components of the landscapes largely offset the reservations raised during the critical examination of each of the sites that make up the serial property. For those attributes whose authenticity has suffered, many are the subject of a restoration or usage reassignment programme, notably as museums or cultural venues.

Management and protection requirements

The serial property includes villas and gardens listed as national monuments. They are subject to Italian laws on the protection of historic monuments or as cultural sites of national value. These legislative texts are implemented under the Regional Orientation Plan of the Region of Tuscany, then within each municipality through approved structural plans. In addition to the buffer zones, a series of listed or protected landscape zones has been instituted for all the sites, except two (Nos 9 and 10).

An adequate individual management system is in place at each of the sites, together with technical coordination for conservation actions, under the aegis of the Region of Tuscany and the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities. This cooperation for standardised and agreed management was recently extended and formalized in the Memorandum of Understanding, a deed shared by the property’s various partners (Ministry, Region, 4 provinces and 10 municipalities). It has led to the creation of a Steering Committee for the serial property that is scheduled to begin operation starting in fiscal year 2013. It is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Management Plan, and coordinating the property’s protection, promotion and communication. The Committee will be supported by a Technical Bureau and an Observatory for the property and its conservation. However, their actual implementation needs to be specified. Furthermore, while the conservation of each of the sites is adequately organized, its overall planning should be better highlighted in the Management Plan.”

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