The art of hard stones in Florence and in Tuscany

March 2, 2018  |  Culture and Art, Florence, Toscane  |  Comments Off on The art of hard stones in Florence and in Tuscany

Tuscany Florence Opificio delle Pietre Dure Table in hard stones

The art of hard stones (Pietre Dure), dates back to the 16th century, and was developed in Florence and Tuscany under the impetus of the Medici family. Today the fascinating but unfortunately too little known Museum of the Opificio Delle Pietre Dure presents the history and the techniques used for this “Art of Stone painting” as well as examples of these art works.

The art of hard stones is to use semi-precious stones of different colors, finely polished, cut and adjusted, to create images, as in marquetry but using minerals instead of wood. The pieces of stone are glued piece by piece on a support to form tables, decorative panels, cabinets … “Stone painting”, such was the name of this technique, able, as painting, to represent the most varied subjects: geometric drawings, landscapes, flowers, birds…

Toscane Villa le Barone A lounge with an antique cabinet in hard stones

The art of hard stones was inspired by the ancient Roman “opus sectile”, a technique where marble and other stones with geometrical and figurative designs were cut and inlaid in the the floors and walls of Roman buildings. However, it was in the 16th century that the art of art stones developed, first in Rome and then in Florence, where the Medici gave it its full dimension. The Grand Duke Ferdinand I of Medici, who in 1588 created a factory specializing, specializing in the cutting and intaglio of hard stones, and that remained active for more than three centuries which has now become the “Museum of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure “, a small but unique museum in that it traces the history of a fascinating aspect of this Florentine art. In the entrance courtyard of the museum you can still see the stones that Ferdinand I had brought from Tuscany, Sicily, but also from many other countries known then, Bohemia, Persia, India … On the ground floor, one can admire the different aspects of this art from the 16th to the 19th century, and on the first floor, the hundreds of samples of semi-precious stones, and the superb workbenches used to cut, carve, polish the different pieces that will compose the tables, paintings, cabinets.

We are happy to have in one of the lounges at Villa le Barone a hard stone cabinet from the 17th century, secret cabinet that was used to hide the silver coins! And during your stay in Tuscany, visit the Museum of Opificio Delle Pietre Dure. (

The Della Robbia Family in Florence and Panzano in Chianti

February 23, 2018  |  Culture and Art, Florence, Tuscany  |  Comments Off on The Della Robbia Family in Florence and Panzano in Chianti

Panzano in Chianti -Pieve di San Leolino- Tabernacle by Giovanni Della Robbia

The Della Robbia Family, Florentine sculptors and ceramists, have left an important footprint in Tuscan Renaissance art. Their superb works, and in particular glazed terracotta, can be seen in Florence and many other places in Tuscany. There are two tabernacles in Panzano in Chianti, in the San Leolino church. Villa le Barone is a former Della Robbia property, now transformed in a boutique hotel and managed by their heirs.

Luca Della Robbia, born in early 15th century, was a sculptor at the beginning of his career, and one of his first work, “the Cantoria”, can be seen at the Museo del Duomo in Florence. But he soon invented and developed the superb technique of glazed terracotta, also called majolica, giving to his ceramics beautiful shiny colors that were resistant to outdoors conditions. His nephew Andrea worked in his workshop and took over it at his uncle’s death in 1482. Andrea’s sons Giovanni and Girolamo continued his work and added many new colors to the simple polychrome works that the Della Robbia Family had produced earlier. Color became their primary focus and sculpture took the second place. Their work became more and more realistic.

Panzano in Chianti -Pieve di San Leolino- Tabernacle by Giovanni Della Robbia

The Della Robbia’s workshop was a very successful enterprise that developed many types of glazed terracotta products: liturgical items, such as tabernacles, baptismal fonts, altars… but also works made for use in private homes. Works were commissioned or bought from stock. Molds enabled the workshop to replicate popular models with consistent quality, and also to vary them by adding details before firing. The Della Robbia had a catalogue, enabling them to sell not only in Florence but also all over Europe.

You can see many of the Della Robbia’s work in the Bargello museum In Florence, but also strolling through the city you will come across many of their public works on or in highly visible and significant buildings in the city, including the Cathedral, the church of Santa Croce, the exterior of San Michele, Santa Maria Novella square.

The San Leolino church in Panzano in Chianti, which you can admire from Villa le Barone’s gardens, holds two Giovanni Della Robbia tabernacles.

Palazzo Larderel Via Tornabuoni in the center of Florence

January 19, 2018  |  Culture and Art, Florence  |  Comments Off on Palazzo Larderel Via Tornabuoni in the center of Florence

Palazzo Larderel Florence – The terrace

Ideally located on Via Tornabuoni in the center of Florence, the historic 16th century Palazzo Larderel offers a unique opportunity for a wonderful stay in the Renaissance’s capital.

It makes you feel a true Florentine aristocrat! Decorated with antique original furniture and paintings but with all the modern comfort, the apartment to rent is situated on the second floor, and has a wonderful 60m2 terrace. It can host 6 persons.

The Palace, a classified building, member of the Italian Association of Historic Monuments (ADSI), was built around 1580 in late Renaissance style on a design by Giovanni Antonio Dosio for the Giacomini family, and has been the property of this family that lived there until 1793.It then passed on to the Michelozzi Boni, and was purchased in 1839 by the Larderel counts, and still belongs to their heirs.

Palazzo Larderel is situated on the smartest street of downtown Florence, a stone’s throw away from such monuments as Il Duomo (Cathedral and Baptistry), Palazzo Vecchio (Town Hall), Ponte Vecchio (covered bridge) and innumerable attractions related to art and beauty, but also to gastronomy and high style shopping.

Palazzo Larderel Florence Living room

The apartment for rent is located on the second floor (there is an elevator). It boasts a wonderful 60m2 sunny internal terrace, surrounded by jasmine, where guests can relax and have their meals. It has a wonderful large living room opening on the terrace with a dining area for inside meals. Also opening on the terrace is the master bedroom, with its en-suite bathroom, recently redone with a superb bath tub and shower. There is another smaller bed room with a stowaway bed for 1 or 2 persons, and a bath room with a shower. A small stair leads to a double bedroom that can be arranged with twin beds. In all rooms, you will find antique furniture and paintings from the 18th century, fine fabrics and carpets, and pieces of art.

There is a fully equipped kitchen, even though, for food, you may prefer to enjoy Tuscan cuisine in one of the many nearby “trattorias”. The apartment has air conditioning in each room, TV in the living room and Wi-Fi internet connection. There is a cloakroom where to store luggage, an all-in-one washer dryer,
A doorman is present in the building from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 1pm, and from 3 to 7pm, and on Saturday from 8 am to 11am.

You will find in the apartment all needed information to help you make the most out of your stay in Florence.

For those who want to discover Tuscany’s countryside, you might wish Villa le Barone, in the heart of Chianti, also owned by the Larderel’s.

For more information you can contact 00 39 055 85 26 21 or write to

Meeting of art historians and experts in Tuscan historic gardens in Villa le Barone

December 16, 2017  |  Culture and Art, Florence  |  Comments Off on Meeting of art historians and experts in Tuscan historic gardens in Villa le Barone

Villa Guicciardini Corsi Salviati Sesto Fiorentino Tuscany

A Meeting of art historians and experts in Tuscan historic gardens was held at Villa le Barone to take stock of their research on the historic Villa Guicciardini Corsi Salviati in Sesto Fiorentino, near Florence. Villa le Barone is indeed an ideal place to organize small group meetings.

12 art historians and experts from historic gardens gathered at Villa le Barone at the end of October to present the state of their research on the historic garden of Villa Guicciardini Corsi Salviati, on the statues that adorn it and on the frescoes and paintings inside the Villa. Luisa Capodieci, lecturer in the history of modern art at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, and Maria Grazia Messina, Professor of History of Contemporary Art at the University of Florence, coordinate this team of researchers whose goal is to write a monograph on various aspects of the Villa and its garden.

The results of this work will, among other things, make it possible to highlight, on the basis of the case of Villa Corsi Salviati, the problems related to the restoration and conservation of properties that are part of the Association of Italian Historic Residences (ADSI, Associazione Dimore Storiche Italiane) and prepare a monograph on the history of the Villa and its garden which will also be a manual of means of action for the use of garden owners and historic properties. Andrea Todorow, advisor of ADSI (Tuscany), indicated the support of ADSI for this project.

Grotesque Studiolo Villa Guicciardini Corsi Salviati Sesto Fiorentino Tuscany

Piero Tiano, researcher at the National Research Center and Alberto Cosciani presented their work, a light restoration of some garden statues, without using biocides.

Giorgio Galletti, responsible for the conservation and restoration of many Italian historical gardens (Boboli, Poggio a Caiano, Castello …) pointed out that many artists in the service of Cosimo de Medici have worked in the garden. This one was later transformed by Bardo Corsi, then Giulio Guicciardini Corsi Salviati at the end of the 19th century.

Claudia Bucelli (Professor at the New York University in Florence) detailed and illustrated this role in her presentation and photographic projections.
Botanist Cristina Giordano spoke about the friendship between the famous botanist and ethnologist Odoardo Beccari and Bardo Corsi, Giulio’s father, at the end of the 19th century. Bardo has created at Villa de Sesto one of the first horticultural establishments of exotic pantes in Tuscany and won various awards in international exhibitions.

Luisa Capodieci then presented his work on the grotesques of the sixteenth century, with Eros and Psyche represented in the center of the vault, which adorn the studiolo of the Villa.

Stefania Petrillo, Professor at the University of Perugia, presented the state of his research on the frescoes of the 19th century representing the 4 elements, realized in the big living room of the Villa by Eugenio Agneni, painter friend of the Corsi Salviati family.

Laura Santi, PhD student in History of Photography at the University of Florence, presented the albums that contain the 9000 photographs of Giulio Guiccardini Corsi Salviati, which testify to life in Sesto and in the Maremma where Giulio had a property.

Finally, Antonio Mazzinghi, head of the family archives, recalls the importance of the links between the Villa and the “Fattorie”, farms that depended on the Villa and operated on the model of sharecropping.

In conclusion, the experts and researchers decided to present the further progress of this research during a study day to be held at the French Institute of Florence on February 9, 2018.

Palazzo Strozzi: “The Cinquecento in Florence” exhibition

September 30, 2017  |  Culture and Art, Florence  |  Comments Off on Palazzo Strozzi: “The Cinquecento in Florence” exhibition
Michelangelo River God at the exhibition "The Cinquecento in Florence" in Palazzo Strozzi Florence Italy

Michelangelo River God at the exhibition “The Cinquecento in Florence” in Palazzo Strozzi Florence Italy

The exhibition “The Cinquecento in Florence” that takes place in Palazzo Strozzi in Florence until 21 January 2018 and that celebrates the art of the 16th century in Florence should not be missed! Villa le Barone will be pleased to book tickets for you to admire this wonderful exhibition!

“The Cinquecento in Florence”, between Michelangelo, Pontormo and Giambologna that takes place in Palazzo Strozzi until 21st January 2018 is celebrating the art of the 16th century in Florence, an era of outstanding cultural and intellectual talent that was to spawn a heated debate between the “Modern Manner” and the “Counter-Reformation“after the Council of Trent, between the art sponsored by the Medici and the Church, between profane and sacred art. The exhibition showcases more than seventy works of art, sculptures and paintings. It opens with two absolute masterpieces, Michelangelo’s sculpture “River God” and Andrea Del Sarto’s painting “Pieta di Luco”, both of them reference work for other 16th century artists. It then develops comparisons between works of the early century, with for instance a unique juxtaposition between Pontormo’s Deposition (that can normally be seen in the San Felicita church in Florence), Rosso Fiorentino’s Deposition from the Cross ( normally exhibited in Voltera) and Bronzino’s Deposition from the Christ ,(a loan from the Besançon(‘s museum).

Pontormo- detail of "The deposition",  at the exhibition "The Cinquecento in Florence" in Palazzo Strozzi Florence Italy

Pontormo- detail of “The deposition”, at the exhibition “The Cinquecento in Florence” in Palazzo Strozzi Florence Italy

The exhibition continues with a chorus of styles by talented artists such as Giorgio Vasari, Jacopo Zucchi, Santi di Tito, Vincenzo Danti, Giambologna. It is possible to admire in particular the works sponsored by Francesco 1er de Medici for his small office in Palazzo Vecchio, or for the redecoration of the churches in Florence in order to bring them into line with the instances of the Council of Trent. The exhibition concludes with works announcing the Baroque era.
This stupendous exhibition has been curated by Carlo Falciani and Antonio Natali. Villa le Barone will be pleased to book tickets for you!