Villa Medici in Rome

The Villa Medici is a mannerist villa and an architectural complex with a garden contiguous with the larger Borghese gardens, on the Pincian Hill next to Trinità dei Monti in Rome, Italy.  Let’s take a closer look at it…

Villa Medici in Rome: a close up


After leaving the Trinità dei Monti, turning to the right towards the Pincio gardens, which is the most popular walking place in Rome for those who like air and open spaces, we come at once to the famous Villa Medici. Built in the sixteenth century for Cardinal Ricci, it was acquired by Cardinal Alessandro de’ Medici, who became Pope Leo XI in 1605, and thereafter for two hundred years was the property of the later Medici, the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. Since 1803 it has been the French Academy of Art. It has some original reliefs built into its walls six from the Ara Pacis, of which we shall see fragments at the Terme of Diocletian and of which the Uffizi in Florence has a room ful but the collection of casts is the chief possession.

Itl was in these gardens that Velasquez, when in Rome in 1630, made the two beautiful and so very modern landscapes that are now among the glories of the Prado.

Villa Medici: historical events

The principal historical event in the life of the Villa was the imprisonment here of Galileo. This was in 1683, when the great astronomer and mathematician was nearly seventy and had fallen foul of the Inquisition for the dangerous, antibiblical theories contained in his treatise on the earth’s motion, Galileo, standing in the church of S. Maria sopra Minerva, had read his recantation, denying that he was a naughty Copernican but sentence followed.

Villa Medici: the view

Standing by the Villa and looking over this fountain you see two domes of churches one straight ahead, and one more to the right. The first is S. Carlo in the Corso and the other St. Peter’s. Many artists have painted this view of St. Peter’s, but none so well as Corot, who was in Rome from 1825 to 1828.

Villa Medici: opening hours and info