Surrounded by fine vineyards and olive groves, this garden in the Chianti hills hosts one of Italy’s most interesting open-air theatres, used today as in the past to stage plays, in which the architecture harmoniously blends with the plant elements.

In the 1530s, the turreted farmhouse here belonged to the Bandinelli family. It was enlarged and repurposed between 1768 and 1799, to mark Anton Domenico’s second marriage to Cecilia Chigi Zondanari. Closely related to the villa’s architecture, the garden layout dates back to that period. Enclosed at the back by the open-air theatre, the so-called piazzone is the most original element of the entire composition. Lined up with the building, it was built prior to 1783, the year when Vittorio Alfieri staged one of his tragedies here (the room where the poet stayed is furnished with a sumptuous canopied bed). The small theatre’s stage space is outlined by a ring-shaped set of double laurel hedges. The entrance is marked by two brick aedicule-propylaia which are topped with the Bianchi Bandinelli and Chigi Zondanari families’ coats of arms. Statues of Comedyand Tragedystand in their own niches. As at nearby Villa Gori, a tall cypress tree accentuates the perspective effect of the stage. An axis orthogonal to the one that connects the building and theatre leads to the “wild garden” on one side, and a formally-designed vegetable garden on the other, which features an elegant semicircular fishpond. A boundary wall decorated with terracotta sculptures surrounds the entire green area. Six monumental gates, also decorated with terracotta sculptures, offer access through the wall.