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An exotic Medici passion

You may not know that the Medici family had a real passion for citrus plants. Their collection, which was renowned and very numerous, included the rarest and most bizarre species. In a short time, they were dictating fashion among the leading noble families of the time, involving most of the European courts.

However, the plants were too exotic for the cold Tuscan winters and they needed special places in order to get through the winter and the continuous seasonal shifts.

Therefore, the Medici family equipped its villas and gardens with lemon houses and began to grow plants in large terracotta pots, to make them easier to move.

Citrus tree collection really began in the 16th century with Cosimo I de' Medici in the garden of Villa di Castello in Florence, but other plantations are witnessed in the gardens of Villa la Petraia and Villa dell'Ambrogiana and in the Boboli Gardens, where a splendid citrus garden, created in 1612 and designed by Giulio Parigi, still exists today.

Despite a thousand adversities that caused a great many trees to be lost, the surprising collection of Medicean citrus fruit trees has reached the present day. Today, it is divided between the Boboli Gardens, Villa la Petraia and Villa di Castello. The latter undoubtedly contains the most precious citrus collection in Europe, with almost a thousand trees.

Dipinto raffigurante bergamotti
  • Progetto finanziato a valere sui fondi Legge n. 77 del 20 febbraio 2006 “Misure speciali di tutela e fruizione dei siti italiani di interesse culturale, paesaggistico e ambientale, inseriti nella “lista del patrimonio mondiale”, posti sotto la tutela dell’UNESCO”