When we visited Florence a few years back, we stayed one night at Villa Il Cerretino in Prato, Tuscany. What an intriguing experience! The Villa is situated just outside Florence, immerged in the picturesque Tuscany countryside of what was once the summer residency of the powerful and influential Medici family.
The Villa itself is stunning and exudes the history, art, and architecture of the 15th century. The grounds are emerged in a striking nature that only enhances the Villa’s appeal. Once you walk in, the colorful past of this place will float thought your body and for a moment you may forget all about your precious cellphone or modern-day reality.
The Villa offers accommodation for groups up to 14 people in its elegant rooms with splendid views of Tuscany's countryside. Most importantly, the Villa has an very rich past as it was once the residence of two famous lovers.
The lovers were the Grand Duke Francesco, a member of the Medici family, and Bianca Cappello, a fascinating woman belonging to a Venetian aristocratic family. The love between Francesco and Bianca was one of the most talked about and most romanticized relationships during the Renaissance and of the Medici family.
At the age of fifteen, Bianca had married a man from Venice and ran away with him to Florence. However, once in Florence she soon realized that although her husband was a great lover, he lacked the financial resources he had promised her. A few years later, she met Francesco, who in 1574, had succeeded his father Cosimo, to become the second Grand Duke of Tuscany. Between the two, it was love at first sight. However, Francesco was also married to Joanna of Austria, daughter of Ferdinand I, the Holy Roman Emperor. Joanna of Austria was not as beautiful as Bianca and had birthed six daughters and not a single male he hoped for to secure his succession.
Francesco and Bianca’s profound love began as an adulterous relationship that was consumed at the Villa Il Cerretino. Initially in secret, the lovers would meet here to live out their deepest desires. Eventually, both Bianca and Francesco widowed, in not such clear circumstances, and in 1578 the two married. This love story was as beautiful as it was controversial for its time.
Only nine short years later, in October 1587, in the Villa of Poggio a Caiano, a few minutes from Il Villa Cerretino, Francesco and Bianca died, 10 hours apart from each other. The circumstances of their death are still today mysteriously concealed to historians, but rumor has it that they were poisoned by Francesco’s brother, cardinal Ferdinando, who was anxious to put an end to one of the most scandalous relationships of the family, and to become the next Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Visiting the Villa Il Cerretino may give you the key to solve this intriguing mystery. We have an idea, but we won’t spoil it for you.
We felt like royalty during our stay at Villa Il Cerretino. Breakfast was brought to the doors of the villa's private dining room, where we were treated to a variety of pastries from one of the best bakeries in town. The modern suite maintained an authentic Tuscan style, which was an added highlight to our experience. Given a chance, we would return for another stay at Villa Il Cerretino in the blink of an eye. The villa is a hidden gem in a country full of prominent tourist attractions. So, if you are in need of a one-of-a-kind experience in the land of the Renaissance, we highly recommend that you visit the charming and alluring Villa Il Cerretino.
For more information about the Villa Il Cerretino visit their website at http://villailcerretino.it/
~ Written by: Viktoria Rusnakova & Samuele Bagnai, authors of Enthusiastic All the Way & Tuscan Who Sold His Fiat to the Pope, respectively.
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