Imagine you are a member of the Florentine Royal Court during the reign of the Medici family. You have graciously been invited by Cardinal Francesco Maria de’ Medici to one of his lavish parties at his residence in the hills of Florence.
This is what the experience may have been like, according to the lecture given by Jeremy Boudreau, Head of History of Art at The British Institute of Florence:
It is 1709, the Cardinal Francesco Maria is hosting a party to honor the visit of King Frederick IV of Denmark. You arrive at the Villa Lappeggi early the morning of the celebration. His Highness Prince Giovan Gastone, the Cardinal’s nephew, arrives having escorted the King of Denmark to the villa. The grand table is decorated elegantly and the royal pages attend to the table. Musicians play music during the meal and the table is reset for each course. Towards the end of the dining experience, rare liqueurs are brought and poured into a pyramid of glasses. An impressive silver coffee pot is placed in front of the King. The pot has four spouts and is shaped like a fountain. Pastries and biscuits are brought on gold trays to be dipped in chocolate. Then a centrepiece filled with flasks of San Lorenzo wine is brought to the table.
After the lavish meal, the King of Denmark tours the rest of the property. The musicians accompany the King for entertainment. You and the other guests stroll through the large garden filled with lemon trees below the villa. From there the guests continue along the pathways to another building called La Fattoria. Everyone enters the lush gardens where beautiful flower arrangements were placed on the stairway. The guests are given a small bouquet of flowers tied with colorful string upon arriving in the garden. The garden has various sections, each organized with different plants and flowers. As everyone returns to the first garden area, there is a table set with a cold picnic foods including soaked bread, dairy products, chilled fruits, and a large variety of cakes. There is also a separate table with an ornamental centrepiece full of rare Tuscan wines. The King is very impressed by the fruit, as it is new to him and his court.
Later a grand ball hosted outdoors rounds off the day and the King of Denmark leads the dancing. As the air becomes damp at dusk, the King enters the villa with the other guests to continue dancing indoors. The guests dance country and folk dances that align with the atmosphere of freedom in the countryside. All the guests are merry and have enjoyed the day, especially the King of Denmark.
Feeling like a Medici at Villa Medicea di Lilliano
Looking to experience something similarly luxurious? The Cardinal’s residence still exists today and is now a splendid wine estate called Villa Medicea di Lilliano. The estate is located in the country hills of Florence. It was originally a lookout tower during the 11th century. Shortly after, it became the home of Grand Duke Ferdinando II de’ Medici. Cosimo III later entrusted the property to his brother Cardinal Francesco Maria.
Today guests visit the villa from all over the world to experience the luxury of Tuscany reception. The villa is also a wine estate producing some of the most renowned Chianti wines and organic extra virgin olive oils, thanks to the passion of Malenchini family. To learn more about Villa Medicea di Lilliano, visit their website here.