The Villa Medicea di Lilliano takes its name from the Medici rulers of Tuscany, to whose numerous country retreats the villa was joined in the XVII century, and from its location atop the small plateau of Lilliano that rises between the villages of Antella and Grassina to the south of Florence. The views commanded from this location (north toward the centre of Florence and south-west to the Chianti hills) offered a strategic and convenient site for the construction of a watch tower as early as the XI century, and the tower and its foundations form the nucleus of what was to become a large stone farmhouse over the course of the following five centuries.
A lunette depicting the adjacent Medici estate of Villa Lappeggi painted by Giusto Utens around the year 1600 includes a view of the farmhouse among the hillsides in the background, recognizable by its two side towers and wall enclosure. The Palazzo della Fattoria, as it was then known, had passed through the Gianelli, Guiducci and Capponi families before it was purchased in 1646 by Grand Duke Ferdinando II to serve as a dépendance to the Villa Lappeggi. In 1667 the complex was appointed to Cardinal Francesco Maria de’ Medici and at Lilliano the villa’s subsequent refurbishment and enlargement (overseen by the architect Antonio Maria Ferri) included the addition of fountains, statuary and lemon trees arranged within the descending terraces of the walled gardens. Inside, the main gallery was frescoed with figures by Pier Dandini set within trompe l'oeil architectural capriccios by Rinaldo Botti.
The Villa di Lilliano, transformed from a simple farm house to a lavish country home, came to entertain renowned guests and their retinues, including King Frederick IV of Denmark during his state visit to the Tuscan capital in 1709. Lilliano was sold following the death of Francesco Maria two years later, and after more than a century came to be purchased by the Malenchini family in 1830. Today, in addition to the sumptuous baroque decorations such as the exquisite private chapel of the Medici Cardinal and twin winder stairways in the central courtyard, the historic agrarian function of the villa is still evoked through well-preserved architectural features including the suspended first-floor granary, lemon house and subterranean oil cellar.
"The history behind the villa and its association with Florence is terribly interesting. Go and stay for a week, and for Heaven's sake, bring friends!"
Stacy L – Trip Advisor