Situated along the well-known promenade that, from the Spanish Steps, leads to the renowned Pincio Terrace, the Villa has maintained through time the elegance and tranquility that characterizes it to this day.
Skipped or neglected by many, too impatient to reach the Villa Borghese gardens or to venture along the Spanish Steps instead, Villa Medici stands above, full of mystique. For the visitors that do decide to explore it, the Villa rewards them with its rich historical and artistic value, which has long inspired poets, writers and artists.
The Villa gets its name from one of the most prestigious Italian families of the Renaissance period. When Cardinal Ferdinando de Medici received ownership of the property, he trusted the architect Bartolomeo Ammannati to create his magnificent residence. Following the trend at the time, the Villa was designed as both a living space and a museum where the Medici could display their classical art collection. To this day, visitors’ eyes are immediately pulled to the sophisticated panels taken from the Ara Pacis Augustae and embedded into the façade.
Villa Medici later became known as the Academy of France when it was bequeathed in 1803 to the state of France, its function changing from residence to prestigious art academy. To accomplish this, the Villa underwent alterations to its structure, such as the implementation of artist lodgings and creation of vast studio spaces.
In the last few years, and following the restoration of the grand and glorious gardens, the options for visitors have significantly increased. In fact, the Academy of France, while still promoting the art and creativity of the young artists it welcomes every year, has decided to open its doors to the public, inviting both the curious and the passionate to explore its historic halls.
Gazing out from the balcony overlooking Rome alone is worth the price of the ticket. From here, you can enjoy a unique view of the majestic Eternal City, as well as admire the most significant monuments and structures the city has to offer. Try to spot the domes of the most beautiful churches, from the Church of Santa Maria in the nearby Piazza del Popolo all the way to the Basilica di San Pietro.
There is even more to see inside the Villa, such as the famous pavilion painted to resemble an aviary or the apartment in which the Cardinal resided. Both these rooms, done in the Renaissance style, are the works of the painter Jacopo Zucchi.
On top of the classical tour, the Academy offers an intimate itinerary dedicated to the illustrious artists that have resided there. From Fragonard to Ingres, Debussy and the enlightened years of Balthus, visitors are invited to discover more about their lives and their artworks. Children are also welcome to visit the Academy on a special tour where they will discover the secrets of the Villa gardens, from the animals that inhabit them to the historical figures that once strolled through them. So plan a visit of the Villa Medici and enjoy one of the best things to do in Rome !