ing inspiration from the places and people with whom he came in contact. Past Villa della Petraia is the Church of San Michele a Castello. Already recorded in the 11th century, it was largely restored in the early 1th century by the grand duke, and again in the 18th cenutry. Two companies, the Compagnia della Vergine and the Compagnia dei Battuti di San Michele, founded between the 1th and 1th centuries, used to meet here. The recently restored Oratory of the Compagnia dei Battuti houses a fresco depicting Saint Michael the Archangel defeating Lucifer, painted in 166 by Volterrano for Don Lorenzo dei Medici. The church’s exterior has a rather simple structure, the result of later renovations. Inside are works of art from various periods, including a Madonna Enthroned with Saints Lawrence and Stephen, attributed to Pacino di Bonaguida and, on the chancel, an organ produced in 18 by Nicomede Agati from Pistoia. Behind La Petraia, we glimpse Villa di Quarto (also known as Paxton or the Grand Duchess’s), a large, elegant residence that belonged to Girolamo Bonaparte, and later to Prince Anatolio Demidoff, who modified its appearance. The Capponi family, who acquired it in 186, restored it, seeking to return it to its 1thcentury aspect. Going past the Villa di Castello°, also known as the Villa Reale, now the seat of the Accademia della Crusca, Via di Castello crosses Via Giovanni da San Giovanni – where we find Villa Il Pozzino, renovated in the 1th century by the Grazzini family, who entrusted the decoration of the courtyard to Giovanni da San Giovanni – and then Via di Bellagio – where we find Villa Le Brache.
Itinerary in the Territory from Poggio a Caiano to Artimino and Carmignano Lucia Mannini The route that connects the Medicean villa of Poggio a Caiano with that of Artimino, in the area of Montalbano, is particularly fascinating for its landscape and its rich history, and offers the possibility of visiting archeological sites as well as ancient parish churches. In fact, as indicated by the archeological finds, there were flourishing Etruscan settlements already by the th century B.C. at Artimino, Comeano, and Poggio alla Malva that had been founded there to take advantage of Montalbano’s favorable geographic location as a crossroads of commerce between important centers. In the centuries following, these places came to have an especially strategic and military importance since Montalbano separated the Pistoia area from those of Prato and Florence in the east, and from the Valdinievole in the west: this function is confirmed by the still visible and dense network of castles and fortalices – in particular Carmignano and Artimino – that were theaters of bitter struggles and famous battles between the local communities and the cities of Florence, Prato and Pistoia. A period of peace followed with the arrival of the Medici: with Lorenzo the Magnificent who erected the villa of Poggio a Caiano, Cosimo i who first hunted in these lands, and Ferdinando i who had the vast Barco Reale hunting reserve enclosed (with the reserve’s main entrance still at Poggio alla Malva) and who built the villa of Artimino. english version
Da Fiesole ad Artimino