Last Thursday, Friday and Saturday I was at Villa Medici in Rome where the French academy was hosting a convention entitled “From painting to the Garden. Artistic transfers from Antiquity to the present time”. Papers were given by 16 academics under the above theme although the actual topics varied greatly. I very much enjoyed the stimulation and often enlightening papers and discussion that followed. Villa Medici’s garden is under the care of the French academy and has undergone some restoration.
Most of the large original sculpture that was displayed in the garden has since been taken to Florence and can be seen in the Boboli Garden or The Loggia di Lanzi in Piazza Signoria.
The garden is typical of the Renaissance with compartments created from Box hedging; a part of the original garden had displays of exotic plants (which no longer exist) a ‘Ragnaria’ where wild birds were netted and a mount built on top of two ancient temples representing Mount Parnassus, this was topped by a Pegasus thereby inferring that Ferdinand di Medici was the patron inspiring the muses.
Possibly the most interesting and beautiful of the things to be found here is a study built for Ferdinand as a sanctuary from his busy ecclesiastical life, the upper walls and ceiling are frescoed with plants, flowers birds and animals showing his true love of nature. His career as a Cardinal ended when his brother unexpectedly died and he returned to Florence as Grand Duke in 1587.
When I saw my garden on Sunday I was amazed by how things had changed in just three days, more about this, the greenhouse and the vegetable garden soon.