On the Pincian hill, in a garden hidden by an austere building, the tradition of the Medici villas combines with the Roman cult for antiquity. The harmonious Renaissance architecture is reflected in the clean layout of the formal garden transitioning into wild thickets.

In 1574 the powerful Cardinal Ferdinando di Medici bought from Cardinal Ricci di Montepulciano an uncompleted villa located on Rome’s most popular hill, already famous in the Roman era and home to many pleasure palaces affording magnificent views of the city. His dream was interrupted by his return to Florence due to dynastic reasons, but not before one building, by architect Bartolomeo Ammannati, was completed. This construction faces the city with a compact and austere prospect. The back facade, however, is decorated with ancient reliefs and features loggias and porticos opening on a garden set out in three sectors with an ample parterre of geometric flowerbeds, bordered with boxwood, once intended for exquisite flowers surrounding a fountain with an obelisk at the centre. Left of the parterre there are the “quadrati”, square green rooms closed by tall hedges, often bordered with ancient herms; on the opposite side grows a wild thicket, a holm oak wood where originally there had been a ragnaia, a system of nets for catching birds. In the direction of Via Pinciana, the thicket transitions into an artificial hill inspired by Mount Parnassus. Valuable, ancient statues lovingly collected by the cardinal used to adorn the garden; among them was the famous group of Niobids and the Dacian prisoners. The entire collection followed the Cardinal on his return to Florence in 1587, and can be seen in the city’s museums. Only a few copies remain in the gardens of Villa Medici.