Many examples remain of civil and residential architecture designed by the greatest specialists of the time on behalf of the Medici family which governed the city of Florence and most of Tuscany between the XV century and the first half of the XVIII century.
Quite a number of villas surrounded by splendid parks and gardens were built, and are today destinations of considerable monumental, artistic, cultural and historic importance.
The Medici Villa at Poggio a Caiano was built by Giuliano da Sangallo towards the end of the XV century over a villa that previously belonged to the Strozzi family. It belonged to Lorenzo the Magnificent and hosted illustrious royal personages including Vittorio Emanuele II. Its architecture is splendid, with a terraced ground-floor portico. A double-ramp staircase leads to the exquisite central loggia, inspired by classical motifs. Inside, it is a sort of little museum (outside sixteenth-century frescoes), while outside it is surrounded by a beautiful park.
In the vicinity of Comeana, "La Ferdinanda," also known as Villa di Artimino was commissioned by Ferdinando I de' Medici to Buontalenti towards the end of the XVI century.
The Medici Villa at Castello is a fine piece of Renaissance architecture, restored by Vasari and surrounded by a beautiful garden designed by Tribolo. The villa is headquarters of the Accademia della Crusca.
The Medici Villa of Petraia is among one of the most beautiful residences in the surroundings of Florence. It was transformed on a project by Buontalenti (second half of the XVI century), commissioned by Ferdinando I. Not far from Fiesole is another Medici Villa also known as Belcanto or Palagio di Fiesole. It was built by Michelozzo (1458-1461) on order of Cosimo the Elder.
On the outskirts of Florence the Medici Villa of Careggi was purchased by the family during the first half of the XV century and restructured by Michelozzo for Cosimo the Elder. Surrounded by a splendid park, this residence was among the favourites of Cosimo who died there in 1464.
Another Medici Villa is located at Coltano, not far from Pisa, and is the Visitors Centre of the Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Natural Park. The Medicis commissioned Buontalenti to restructure it (1587) into a sort of hunting lodge.