The Medici Complex
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The Medici complex, evidence of this family's dominion over the village, is centrally located.
It consists of the,Museo Villa Medicea, of the farm, separated from the master's building by the Pieve or Parish church of San Leonardo, and of the four ramps leading to the large square in front of the villa and known as Uedici bridges.
In the middle of the 16th century, the Medicis gradually extended their ownership in the territory of Cerreto Guidi.
The site evidently met with Cosimo's favor and he had a splendid mansion built at the top of the hill where the Guidi castle, by then falling into ruin, bore witness to its earlier owners. In a letter of 1564 the Grand-duke ordered the work to he begun. A few years later the majestic ramps that lead to the villa were built. In this phase, a document of 1575 attests to the presence in Cerreto of the Medici architect Bernardo Buontalenti to whom the entire complex can presumably be attributed.
The facade of the Villa is austere, articulated by simple framed windows and a portal with the Medici coat of arms above. The whole is balanced by the imposing access ramps leading to the square, the socalled bridges, with the striking color contrast of the unplastered brick and stone of which they are built.
The interior, seat of the Museo Nazionale Villa Medicea, is extremely severe. The painted decoration dates to the 19th century. On both floors there is a central room with a fireplace around which the other rooms are symmetrically arranged. Currently the Villa houses an iconographic Medici collection, with portraits of the family up to the grandduchy of Ferdinando I. The exhibition is completed by household furnishings of later periods.
Known as Isabella dei Medici, the Villa was in the "headlines" in the sixteenth century when Isabella, daughter of Cosimo I, was murdered here by her husband Paolo Giordano Orsini, with the consensus of her brother Francesco I, because she was suspected of adultery.
The origins of the Pieve of San Leonardo are unknown, in part due to a lack of documentation. In 1416 it became the principal church in the area.
Altogether it is not unlike the late Romanesque buildings of the Val d'Elsa, with a gabled facade, which the church still preserves. Inside various furnishings and outstanding works include the baptismal font in polychrome glazed terracotta from the workshop of Giovanni della Robbia.
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