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The park of the Villa, entirely fenced, extends for about five hectares and is made up of various types of gardens. In an interesting 17th century Terrilogio we find the property reproduced and described.

The double façade access to the valley of the Villa consists of four imposing stone pillars that denote the ancient splendor of the Buonvisi family. In fact, they were built in gray stone, embellished and enriched by friezes in white marble, as evidenced by the remaining lateral volutes, the half columns, in which the two materials alternate, the niches, one of which is still surmounted by the coat of arms of Buonvisi. The pillars were also made more animated by stylized stone masks and geometric decorations made with black and white river stones, decorations that will then also recur in other works of the Villa. The entrance gate opens onto a long and spectacular avenue of cypresses; at the bottom of it, in all its beauty, the stately home appears.

The peculiar characteristic, however, is not given so much by said row, but by another, parallel to it, consisting of imposing and ancient hornbeams: these, intersecting at their summits, constitute an arboreal vault, which connects to the villa through a series of small scales. This pergola, unique of its kind, replaces the more usual pergola of plants such as vines, wisteria, jasmine, common in other places. The upstream access, consisting of two curved tympanum pillars, with masks and mosaics, also decorated with the Buonvisi comet, is more sober.

The garden in front of the building has a double slope of the land that rises to the north, where the Villa is located, and to the east; to remedy this, terraces were used, which still exist today, intended for various crops: the various areas are separated by low walls, grassy hills, low box hedges. (Buxus sempervirens L.) The overall structure of the garden is still today marked by particular effects of surprise and movement. In fact, going along the cypress-lined avenue (Cupressus sempervirens L.), on the right there is a “green room”, made with yew plants (Taxus baccata L.) and laurel (Laurus nobilis L.); in the middle of it, among the dark green of the trees, stands a light stone table flanked by two benches. Further on we find a round gushing basin, terracotta statues and a stepped waterfall adorned with tuff. To the left of the entrance gate, in addition to the row of hornbeams already mentioned, we find a plantation of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus Labill.); this area west of the main entrance in the past was used for the cultivation of vines and fruit trees.

In addition to the aforementioned avenue of hornbeams, scattered throughout the park we find other suggestive arboreal creations such as, for example, a beautiful belvedere covered by arched yews, bordered by a balustrade with columns that opens suggestively on the garden below and on the landscape of the hills. surrounding the city. The beauty of the place is enhanced by the stone and terracotta statues which, with their symbolism, recall us to the destination of the place: a barn owl and a beautiful Diana sitting, with her faithful dog and quiver, are positioned in a plantation of holm oaks (Quercus ilex L.), which constituted the ragnaia, that is the place intended for the placement of nets to hunt birds.

The north garden is characterized by the presence of one of the most original statues of the Villa, the so-called “Pitocco” which represents an old man, immortalized in a natural pose, sitting on a low wall, with his legs abandoned along it, his back slightly curved.

The beauty of the park is accentuated by the fountains whose functioning was and is favored by the richness of the area’s waters. In the ancient system, still functioning, the water from the springs was conveyed into a large tank which, thanks to the slight difference in level of the ground, guaranteed a constant functioning in the supply, necessary both to feed the jets of the fountains, and to irrigate the garden and vegetable garden. In the north garden there is what is considered to be the most beautiful fountain in the park: that of the “Sirena”, attributable, according to Isa Belli Barsali, to the same architect who created the entrance to the east. It is leaning against the surrounding wall and its top is surmounted by a tympanum, which supports a Buonvisi coat of arms.

In the center, surrounded on the sides by two stone pillars, adorned by two caryatids that stand out against the background of a symmetrical decoration made with black and white river stones, and by grinning satyrs, is the figure of a winged mermaid. If the fountain is beautiful, the fake cave is equally interesting, also located in the northern area. This building, with a purely sixteenth-century taste, is located in an amphitheater of holm oaks that enhances the fake naturalness of the tuff stones and stalactites. In the center of the cave, seated on a boulder, there is a putto, crowned by fantastic horses and winged cherubs with fish tails.

In addition to satisfying the aesthetic taste, this fountain had the task of feeding the basins of the terraces with its waters and, in particular, the avenue of hornbeams. The peculiarity of this work is constituted by an opening in the central part of the cave that allows you to see the lands in front of the lock.

Another source, which still today is dominated by the Buonvisi coat of arms, is that of the Abundance. The nineteenth-century-style statue emerges from a niche, which incorporates the decoration, albeit more linear, with gray stone and white marble bands of the entrance gate.


The first documents on this Villa are quite late and date back to 1593, when Alessandro Buonvisi, in his will, while leaving his son Lodovico heir to all his possessions, expressed the desire that his wife Angela, if he had not found the accommodation together satisfactory to his son, could go and live in the Villa of S. Pancrazio; the other consists of a detailed Terrilogio dating back to the 18th century, which shows the plan of the garden and the design of the building.

From the aesthetic characteristics it is believed that the project for the construction of the Villa was commissioned by the Buonvisi, between the end of 1400 and the beginning of 1500, to Matteo Civitali. Civitali (1436-1501), a distinguished sculptor, carver, architect, worked in Lucca and in other Tuscan cities. Culturally trained at the Florence school of Lorenzo dei Medici, he transferred the taste of the Renaissance into his works, that is, the search for harmony through the study of proportions and perspective. Among his most notable works of architecture remains the Palazzo Pretorio in Lucca. The characteristic of this building is constituted by a beautiful and harmonious Loggia and this element is also present in the upstream façade of the Villa Buonvisi in S. Pancrazio.

The building itself is very linear: the rectangular plan is marked, on the south facade, by three rows of windows, perpendicularly aligned with each other. In the center, the large entrance portal is surmounted by a small stone balcony, enriched by columns and by a tympanum interrupted by the Buonvisi coat of arms.

On the north facade, the harmonious portico is made up of five arches and four linear and imposing stone columns that rise up to include two floors. Outside the portico is delimited by four series of low columns, also in stone; inside we find symmetrical windows that surround the entrance portal, surmounted, as in the south facade, by a small balcony.

This building is inspired by orderly and elaborate balances, highlighted by “full” and “empty”, which denote the conscious search for an all-Renaissance beauty marked by the harmony of forms.
The Villa was the favorite seat of two Cardinals, Girolamo and Francesco who, when they were in Lucca, chose it as their home. In 1661 Cardinal Girolamo hosted a Sacred Synod, which was attended by Pope Alexander VII himself; and another Synod was called there by Cardinal Francesco in 1700, a few months before his death.

The Buonvisi stable, linked to a singular legend, is also of great artistic value; the bet of Buonvisi with the king of France Louis XIV. Buonvisi claimed that the stables of San Pancrazio were more beautiful than any room in the palace of Versailles. Intrigued, the king sent one of his ambassadors to verify the veracity of Buonvisi’s words. The messenger arrived on the spot found the walls of the stable entirely covered with gold coins bearing the effigy of the Sun King. The ambassador, faced with so much splendor and the image of his king, could only recognize that Buonvisi had won the bet.

Residences and Gardens of Lucchesia The historic residences of Lucchesia bear witness to the illustrious past of the region, with many dating back to the Renaissance and Baroque periods. These aristocratic abodes not only serve as custodians of local history but also as repositories of art, precious furnishings, and sumptuous architecture, transporting visitors back in time.

Equally extraordinary are the gardens of Lucchesia, characterized by geometric layouts, elegant fountains, and a rich variety of plants and flowers. Many of these green spaces are masterfully designed, creating unique atmospheres and offering picturesque views of the surrounding hills. From the Garzoni Garden in Collodi, known for its fairy-tale atmosphere, to the gardens of Villa Reale di Marlia, with their classical inspirations, each green space is a living work of art.

Exploring the heritage of the residences and gardens of Lucchesia means immersing oneself in a world of elegance, beauty, and historical charm. Every corner tells the story of noble families, creative landscape geniuses, and cultural influences that have shaped the region over the centuries. A journey through these treasures not only provides an overview of the past but also an unforgettable experience of timeless beauty.

The proximity to the Historic City Center was a preferential element for the settlement of villas and second residences by numerous noble families of Lucca in past centuries. According to an initial census, there are 74 historic-monumental villas in the territory of the Circoscrizione, often accompanied by extensive and highly valuable gardens that significantly characterize the hilly landscape. This territory, together with the hilly area overlooking the entire plain of Lucca, saw the proliferation of country villas from the 16th century onwards, connecting to the city palace for many noble families of that time. Among cultural and environmental assets, these villas play a particularly significant role due to their high historical, architectural, and artistic value, which must be appropriately safeguarded and enhanced in an overall integrated territorial system. The "Monumental Villas of Lucca" were the rich and elegant country residences of Lucca merchants. Dating from the 15th to the 19th century, there are about 300, mostly located in the Lucca hills on the edges of the so-called "Piana di Lucca," on the Pistoia side, practically adjacent to the Pizzorne plateau.

In the construction of these works of urban bourgeoisie immersed in olive groves and vineyards, the people of Lucca have altered their landscape, considering beauty as the primary consideration. Visitors come into contact with a multitude of values ranging from architecture and landscape to agriculture and traditional activities, creating a contemplative and intimate atmosphere. It is recommended to organize the visit to Lucchese villas along specific routes to delve into the tranquility and elegance of these charming abodes. Only 6 of them are "Visitable," and of these, only a few can be explored inside, such as Villa Bernardini in Vicopelago di Lucca. They showcase the best of Lucca's artistic and cultural heritage with frescoes, statues, ponds, parks, etc., unique in their elegance and richness of meaning. Every detail in these noble residences has been carefully thought out and tastefully designed by the ancient owners and architects of the time. Some villas have undergone adaptations to various historical periods, preserving, however, an artistic style of great refinement. Most of the villas feature ponds and caves with water features, lemon groves, and plants of rare and particular beauty in their splendid gardens.
The Gardens of Lucca