Monsummano Terme and its environs
Villas and Historical Buildings
in Monsummano Terme
The villa was constructed around 1887 by the architect Vivarelli for the journalist, writer, and statesman Ferdinando Martini. Displaying the typically eclectic taste of the late 19th century, the two-story villa looks like an elegant square block, connected by five stairways with a raised floor. Inside, the elegant rooms with coffered ceilings are decorated with polychrome ceramic tondi. The surrounding park contains numerous specimens of prized ornamental plants and such very rare species as sequoias, camphor trees, Himalayan pines, and Atlas cedars. Following its purchase by the municipality in 1981 and a careful restoration, the villa was inaugurated on 26 June 1988 by the then President of the Senate Giovanni Spadolini. In recent years, the villa has assumed its definitive role as a museum of contemporary art and of the twentieth century for the planning and implementation of projects organized by the Department of Culture.
The Osteria dei pellegrini
The Osteria dei Pellegrini, or Pilgrim’s Inn, was commissioned by Grand Duke Ferdinando I to welcome pilgrims going to the Sanctuary of Fontenuova. It was built in stages starting in 1607 designed by the architect Gherardo Mechini. The building’s most significant alterations date to the 19th century as the osteria gradually gave up its original functions to accommodate offices and public courts. In 1833, the chancellery moved from Buggiano to Monsummano. In 1855, the building was purchased by the Community of Monsummano and Montevettolini to locate the prisons there. The prisons and courts remained there until the 1980s. The town library has been on the ground floor of the Osteria dei Pellegrini since it was founded in 1970. Between 1995 and 1998, the building underwent essential renovation and reinforcement works that led to its complete restoration and transformation into a multi-purpose cultural center for the town’s activities. Today the Museum of the City and Territory, the library and the town’s historical archives are housed in the Osteria dei Pellegrini. One of the 19th-century prison cells has remained intact on the second floor to preserve the historical memory.
The Monsummano residence in which Giuseppe Giusti was born on 13 May 1809 was built between 1791 and 1793 by the poet’s paternal grandfather, Giuseppe. The proportions and external layout were inspired by a generic late-rococo taste, softened by the sober accents typical of the Tuscan tradition. The interior wall decoration was inspired by typically middle-class decorative standards. Acquired by the State in 1972 and restored, the Giusti House is now used as a museum.
The Medici Farm
The Medici farm is located in the Le Case area and was one of the holdings of the grand ducal villa in Montevettolini. Over time, the estate was affected by the ongoing work to expand the farms, reclaim the land, and construct or restore rural outbuildings houses, and diversify the land uses that repeatedly changed the district’s appearance. In the 18th century, the administrative management was transferred to the plain where new factories used for various uses were built in the area known as Le Case Nuove. Still marked by the Medici coat-of-arms, today the vast complex has been totally restored by its current owners, the noble Borghese family. The management for events and ceremonies, as a premium congress, exhibition, and catering center, has been outsourced.
Medici villas and other historical buildings
Perhaps Tuscany’s best known image is of its Medici and Renaissance villas and country residences. During the Medici rule, which concerned the city of Florence and much of Tuscany, the Medici family had some villas built, surrounded by beautiful parks and gardens, between the 15th century and the first half of the 18th.
These monumental complexes were built in the area around Florence, constituting a true territorial system. Often built to replace old castles, the villas –decorated with frescoes and surrounded by Italian gardens and sizeable parks – express the highest level of Renaissance and Baroque architecture achieved in Tuscany. Several of these wonderful architectural masterpieces are in the Montalbano area.
Medici Villa of Montevettolini – Monsummano Terme
The Medici villa in Montevettolini is located at the northern end of the hill, not far from the parish church of S. Michele Arcangelo, the rectory, and the Piazza del Comune. Built by Grand Duke Ferdinand I, the villa’s construction was entrusted to Gherardo Mechini. Appointed “His Highness’s Architect” in May of that same year, he had previously been in service to the Grand Duchy as a master-builder since 1581. It was built between the end of the 16th century and the first twenty years of the 17th century.
The whole building remained almost unchanged in its overall appearance throughout the following period. Its austere features were maintained, presenting an imposing and severe appearance, with a fortress-like aspect. It is plastered in white with simple stone corners; the doors and windows are trimmed with blocks of smooth or ashlar sandstone.
Some pre-existing structures of the village’s defensive system were incorporated into the building’s construction. Indeed, the fortress and one of the six towers in the city walls, the Canton Gate tower, were annexed to the new building. These structures were largely dismantled and some of the material was reused to make the new building. The fortress and the tower were joined by a two-story building in addition to the ground floor. The first floor is occupied almost entirely by a vast reception hall. The left side of the building, in which the tower was incorporated, is more than a floor in height because it is situated on sloping ground. On this side, just below the eaves of the roof, small windows and openings similar to a guardhouse alternate in very tight succession. There is a rather regular progression of square, stone-framed windows with small openings below, along the entire perimeter of the building on the top floor. This same linear rhythm is repeated for the larger openings on the piano nobile; the ground-floor windows and doors are open without respecting this repetition. The palace’s fortress-like appearance is accentuated by four sentry boxes, also equipped with loopholes and watchtowers.
Owned by the Borghese family, the villa is a private residence that cannot be visited.
On the web:
Comune di Monsummano Terme