Built on hillside with beautiful views over Florence to the south and Castel di Poggio to the east, this neo-renaissance villa, formal garden of boxwood parterres and terraces, fountains and statues, park, woodland (the Bosco di Fontelucente, named for the spring that feeds the fountains), artificial lake and olive groves was created by Piedmontese textile magnate Angelo Peyron after 1914.
The work was continued by his son, landscape architect Paolo Peyron (d. 2003), who left the ensemble to the Fondazione Parchi Monumentale Bardini Peyron, run by the local savings bank, the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, who also run the Musei di Villa Bardini.
The complex is built over Etruscan ruins, including underground chambers and Cyclopean walls in the Bosco di Fontelucente. Many of the original statues were destroyed during the Second World War (the house and gardens were requisitioned by the German High Command, and later by the Allies, who used it as a military hospital) and were replaced by others that once adorned Venetian villas along the Brenta Canal.
The Villa itself is a museum of Paolo's good taste; before his home was taken over by the Nazis he squirrelled away as many treasures as he could in a farmhouse, only to find his paintings, rare books and priceless manuscripts and prints thrown into well and scattered in the mud. He spent decades restoring it, and it's now a fine example of elegant 20th-century life.
Via di Vincigliata 2, Fiesole. Bus No. 47 from Fiesole stops at the gate. You can also book private 7-28 seat private bus transport between the Villa Bardini and Villa Peyron.
Hours Gardens open June, July & Sept Sat & Sun 10am-4.30pm. Villa open only by reservation, minimum 10 people (email them at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Adm Gardens only €8; €6 ages 7-14; Villa €10
+39 055 5978 278. Reservations (Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm)+39 055 200 66 206
Images by: Sailko, GNU Creative Commons License