Villa Medici in Fiesole was one of the family's first properties and was built by Cosimo the Elder for his son Giovanni. At one time, it was just assumed to be the architectural work of Leon Battista Alberti along with Bernardo Rossellino and Antonio Manetti, with Giovanni dei Medici actively involved in all stages of construction, but today this has become a certainty.
Villa Medici in Fiesole is the first example in which the idea of a country residence moves away from the traditional concept of fortress and castle, evolving into an independent form that favours man's relationship with the landscape. This was the new concept of using loggias and terraces, opening up the way to the future Renaissance villas.
Lorenzo the Magnificent inherited the villa in 1469 and welcomed the humanists from his Neoplatonic Academy there, such as Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino and Poliziano. The villa was involved in the famous Pazzi conspiracy, a plot by the Pazzi family against the Medici family. On that occasion, they had planned to poison Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici, but the attempt was unsuccessful; it took place on 26 April 1478, inside Florence Cathedral, Giuliano was assassinated and his brother Lorenzo was wounded.
Villa Medici in Fiesole was the first place in which citrus fruits were grown and this became a distinctive element of all the Medici gardens. There was also a vegetable garden with aromatic plants and birds were hunted in the small wood.
From the 17th century the villa had various owners. Around 1770, it was purchased by Lady Orford, Horace Walpole's sister-in-law, who commissioned the architect Paoletti to extend the upper garden by building the Lemon-house and the Panoramic viewpoint. A century later, William Spence completed the access road, with the construction of the new road between Florence and Fiesole.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Lady Sybil Cutting Origo, mother of Iris Origo and owner, along with her husband, of the Foce in Val d'Orcia estate, commissioned the last interventions on the garden: it was spread over three terraces and has a neo-Renaissance style.