Typological Research and Renaissance Treatises

1 Wolfflin identified two basic types of villa in the Italian tradition: "a spacious country villa, of noble proportions, well-equipped for long visits, and a smaller extra-urban villa, not far from the city gates." H. Wolfflin, Renaissance and Baroque, Cornell Univ. Press 1967, the chapter on the villa. One of those to take up this subdivision by function was Frommel who identifies the "palazzo-villa", "farm-villa", "castle-villa" and "rural villa", and Heydenreich who subdivides the villas into three categories: the " castle-villa", based on a fortress, later turned into a villa for pleasure and entertainment; the "suburban villa" and its variations, including the princely villas in the outskirts of the city; the "villa in the proper sense", a landowner's country house expanded into a villa. C. L. Frommel, La villa Madama e la tipologia della villa romana nel Rinascimento, in "BCISA", Venice 1969, XI (1969), p. 47; and L. Heydenreich, La villa: genesi e sviluppifino al Palladio, ibid., p. 12.

2 Some restrictive interpretations (see, among others, L. Douglas, Il problema della villa e le plantations americane, in "BCISA", XII (1970), p. 231) make a distinction between one type of extra-urban construction, defined as the true villa, and other types of country houses. This criterion is based on a philological study of the word "villa" in classical times, recorded and codified by Vitruvius, for whom the villa was a profit-making agricultural property worked by slaves. In De Architectura, the word "villa" would always seem to be used of farm buildings and houses which formed part of a large property. Vitruvius's only allusion to the proprietor's residence appears in the well-known phrase: "si quid delicatius in villis faciundum fuerit, ex symmetriis quae in urbanis supra scriptae sunt constituta ita struantur uti sine impeditione rusticae utilitatis aedificentur" (Chap. VI, 6, V). This provided the basis for the distinctions already drawn by Pliny between "urban villa" or administrative central body encompassing the proprietor's residence, and villae rusticae, consisting of separate farms inhabited by farm workers, or peasants. The urban villa and rustic villas made up a large estate. The terminology of these distinctions goes back at least as far as Cato's treatise De Agricoltura; in the

Although typological-historical research has produced a wealth of detailed contributions on the theme of the Italian villa, particularly from the time of its codification by Renaissance writers (including developments in the various regional areas where the most remarkable examples are to be found), the question of the origins and first typological conversions of villas does not appear to have received the same exhaustive and systematic treatment from specialized historians. The reasons for this deficiency are probably not to be attributed to a continuing prejudice of a purist nature, but are chiefly related to the impossibility of reconstructing, in documented fashion, a sufficient quantity of typologically significant and classifiable original material covering the period of the urbanization of the city and region during the time of the Commune. The task is rendered more difficult by the lack of an unequivocal definition of sufficient available structural elements to identify this particular category in its earliest phase which, as has been shown in the previous chapter, was accompanied by the numerous unspecified functions of this particular period, when the commissioners were just emerging as a social class. We shall avoid adopting restrictive interpretations of the meaning of the word "villa", which lean towards the rigidly typological-functional classification proposed by some scholars (such as that introduced by Wolfflin1 and followed by others) and risk missing, moreover, the highly varied expressions of this suburban phenomenon as an instance of upper and middle-class culture.2

As we have said, the country around Florence was already becoming settled by the 12th century, leading to a connection between the extra muros "master's house" - built to serve the dual purpose of monitoring a farm and holidaying in the country - and the pre-existing fortified-castle residence and rural house. In many cases this relationship proves useful for localizing new structures in already well-established areas of the region's network of settlements, but the effect is chiefly recognizable in the specific influence that pre-existing structures exercized on the birth of new types of buildings, developing and crystallizing into the first residences for signori not connected with purely productive interests. This involved designing procedures and a range of medieval models which were to appear in the grander buildings of the early 15th century, delaying, in a certain sense, the subsequent cycle of architectural expression. The problem therefore, from a typological point of view, lies more in the area of evolution and range than in that of origin. Nor, as has been mentioned, is there any absence of possibilities for verifying this transition in other parts of Italy, where the recurring elements of rural characteristics are sometimes more marked than in the Florentine area.3

It is quite natural, in any case, that this continuous process should have come about through the grafting or juxtaposition of certain pre-existing elements drawn from other contexts, firstly the urban palazzo and then the monastic cloister complex, even though these elements were undoubtedly all produced according to empirical choices (and only later more sophisticated ones), in accordance with the gradual nature of the process we have mentioned. Amongst the most common interventions to be found accompanying a building's changing use and status in preparation for its typological shift were, either singly or together: the enlargement of some areas (entrance); the particular character of some features (vaulted ceilings); the insertion of areas designed to serve as places of relaxation and rest (loggias, interior courtyards); the dawning of a rational order; an awareness of spatial volumes; introduction of decorative architectural features (such as crenellations); more carefully considered positioning of entrances, and even demarcation of an outdoor area and of a hortus. A study of a large number of examples - certainly not easy due to the limited availability of the material to which reference is made - should lead to confirmation of the studies we were able to carry out on a more limited number of structures from the first stages of their evolution, possible to reconstruct on the basis of historical records.

Certainly, it is far more legitimate to study the origins, derivations and references to pre-existing buildings and specific models in the case of the first major villas built by the leading families in the early 15th century (for the Medici family: Trebbio, Cafaggiolo, Careggi, Fiesole). For one thing, these work were "signed" and were already full participants in that early affirmation of humanist thought whose orientation we have outlined in the previous chapter. Although discovery of the Ancient world was a decisive factor in the ensuing artistic direction of the early Renaissance, at this stage knowledge of it appears not to have been absorbed, nor its models or prototypes adopted, in this area of architecture

Oxford Classical Dictionary, London 1960, the entries: agriculture (p. 24), latifundia (p. 480) and villa (p. 947).

3 "Moreover, the same differentiated regional diffusion adopts a different nomenclature for some types of building which, arising more directly from the world of rural architecture and thus more influenced by usage, could be included in the general typology of the villa since they have a part for the landowner's occupation with specific emerging ornamental and structural features. Many regional areas reveal differences of this kind cascine in the Po Valley, corti around Mantua, the Roman vigne, and casene and bagli around Palermo. In these examples the name frequently refers to some earlier tradition, predating the heyday of the villa which lacked this centuries-old historical background. In these instances it is not easy to make firm demarcations or investigate the stylistic and historical implications which led to these examples." P. F. Bagatti Valsecchi, Tipologia ed evoluzione storica della villa italiana, in Ville d'Italia, Milan 1972, pp. 180-181.

4 Of interest concerning the structure of the Roman villa is "the connection, phsyically verifiable by a study of the remains, between the residential section and the structures for the pars fructuaria, a connection which exists from the period of the earliest known villas of Republican times to the dwelling-places of the late Roman potentiores. This connection was given concreteform by the enclosure surrounding all the components of a villa, whether physically or structurally orchestrated, or in simple paratactic order. In both Republican, more recent late-Roman times, and obviously in Africa, this enclosure had a defensive purpose, so there is good reason to hold that the villa is an antecedent of the feudal castle. But even without a defensive purpose, an established enclosure still serves to mark a boundary, besides safeguarding privacy. While there is no single definition of a villa, open to all the most varied and sometimes whimsical architectural interpretations, we can say that an enclosure, with the ensuing gravitation towards the interior, remains a constant." G. A. Mansuelli, Problemi della villa romana, in "BCISA", XI (1969), p. 23.

5 As far as "sources" for the villa are concerned, on the broader basis of the relationship between the Renaissance and classical antiquity, it is difficult to trace a direct line from the Roman villa to the first Renaissance examples. As J. S. Acker-man has pointed out early Renaissance architects were quite unfamiliar with the appearance of a Roman villa. The only firm information was in literary form, but the attention that Cato, Varro, Columella and the other rei rusticae scriptores of classical times paid to the villa, concerns only its existence as a unit of production and ignore the architectural aspects. The only writer to offer detailed descriptions of large and sumptuous villas is Pliny the Younger. But Pliny's villas were not in harmony with the taste or possibilities of the Renaissance gentleman and, at least in the early Renaissance, their features were not even imitated. J. S. Ackerman, Sources of the Renaissance villa, in Studies in Western Art, Vol. II: The Renaissance and Mannerism. Acts of the XXth International Congress of the History of Art, Princeton 1963, pp. 6-19. See also L. H. Heydenreich, La Villa: genesi e sviluppi fino al Palladio, op. cit.

6 On the surprising knowledge and diffusion of Vitruvius's work in the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, see L. Ciapponi, De Architet-tura di Vitruvio, nel primo umanesimo, in "Italia Medievale e Umanistica" III, 1960, pp. 59-99. Also 2000 anni di Vitruvio. Studi e Documenti di Archtettura, edition of the School of Architecture, Florence 1978, n.8.

in the Florentine world, although it was to produce some of the most outstanding examples of secular late Renaissance architecture. Undoubtedly, we should not underestimate the role of ideological consolidation that the knowledge of antiquity came to play in trends that were already beginning to emerge, allowing, among other things, interesting analogies to be made between the past and present, in the dual role of the villa as both a place of retreat and a centre of agricultural exploitation. The former purpose is well-documented by literary sources: Cicero's villas, Catullus's villa at Sirmione, Horace's Villa in the Licenza valley, the renowned villas described by Pliny in his letters; and, the latter, by the de re rustica writers, from Cato to Columella, careful as they are to stress the productive aspect of the villa by distinguishing between the residential part and the pars fructuaria.4 Ruins of the great Roman villas, to be found all over Italy, are completely ignored, nor is their presence acknowledged in copies and reconstructions of ancient monuments or in architectural drawings until at least the beginning of the Cinquecento.5

Alberti was the only writer to make some attempt to codify precepts on the theme of the villa, while making abundant use of classical sources, particularly Vitruvius,6 for the purpose of evaluating ecological questions of settlement, determining the optimal distance from a city and the location in relation to other uses of the surrounding area; however, even he appears largely tied to the late-medieval model. In an attempt to fill this gap, various scholars have sought to form hypotheses and conduct research into similarities

of form and type in the search for the direct antecedents - outside the classical tradition - of the early Florentine examples. In summarizing the conclusions of these studies, beyond the hypotheses that can be outlined as their descent being from the fortified medieval castle, according to Patzak,7 and the late-medieval urban palazzo, it is of value to indicate a study by Swoboda, written around eighty years ago but taken up again,8 which relates the villa with projecting side-wings - the portikusvilla mit ekrisaliten, of which the first completed example is considered by Swoboda to be the Belvedere of Innocent VIII in Rome - to the direct influence of the late-Gothic Palazzo Loredan in Venice, and through this the Fondaco dei Turchi, a building that in itself would constitute a link in the chain between the palatial architecture of the late Empire and Renaissance developments. However Swoboda's hypothesis, clarified by J. S. Ackerman in a more recent interpretation which emphasises the symmetry of volumes, openness towards the outside world and surrounding countryside, two-floor façade, central block with loggia on the ground floor and projecting enclosing side-wings, "the tripartite façade with central loggias and corner towers",9 finds few exemplars in Tuscany. Ackerman identifies the building facing the courtyard of the Badia Fiesolana as a structure that is related to the one discussed, while a further example may be found in a building depicted in a fresco in the cemetery in Pisa, although its architectural type appears uncertain. According to Bierman,10 instead, the 13th-century Palagio ai Torri near Compiobbi, with a loggia flanked by two towers, would approach this pattern. It should be said that Patzak upheld the Venetian influence on the Medici's Fiesole villa, because its creator, Michelozzo, was familiar with the Venetian area, having stayed there between 1433 and 1444. According to many of these writers a Venetian contribution, favoured by a natural geographic position rendering the use of fortifications and defensive measures in the buildings superfluous, would have been of importance to the development of a domestic architecture notable for the lightness of its structure and its general tendency to open onto the outside world with large windows or arcades, as is the case with the Palazzo Loredan mentioned above. Whatever the true basis of these similarities of form and typology - certainly insufficient, however suggestive, to clarify all the features that are characteristic of the dignified Tuscan villa, or the links, connections and history of their fruition - we must state that a standard definition of types of buildings, or at least those showing an explicitly geometric

7 B. Patzak, Palast und Villa in Toscana, Leipzig 1913.

8 K. M. Swoboda, Römische und romanische Paläste, Vienna 1924. Of the same author, see Palazzi antichi e medievali, in "Bollettino del Centro Studi per la Storia dell'Architettura", II (1957), pp. 3-32; and The problem of the iconography of late antique and early medieval palaces, in "Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians", XX (1961), pp. 78-79.

9 J. S. Ackerman, Sources of the Renaissance Villa, op. cit., p. 13.

10 H. Bierman, Lo sviluppo della villa toscana sotto l'influenza umanistica della corte di Lorenzo

11 Magnifico, in "BCISA", XI (1969), p. 38. In the same essay Bierman rejects Ackerman's hypothesis that the building appearing in the painting in the Pisan cemetery is a villa, sustaining that it is a cloister with one open side.

Below: Palagio ai Torri near Compiobbi, plan of the ground floor.

Right: Reconstruction of the second panel by Filippo Brunelleschi with the perspective view of Piazza della Signoria; sketch by Baldassarre Peruzzi of a thermal bath in Villa Adriana at Tivoli; Sebastiano Serlio, some examples for central plan churches.

rationalization of layout and design, only emerged in the second half of the 15th century, a lapse of almost fifty years with respect to the model of the urban palazzo; but naturally adopting previously employed architectural elements. Now, we have to consider what was the novelty of the project processes defined by the new theories of the Renaissance. Medieval man had always sought to avoid relating architectural issues with theoretical speculation. Projects were evaluated on the basis of empirical considerations, as a sequence of choices between alternatives of equal weight and possibility. If at times this choice fell to geometrical schemes and proportional calculations, these had a religious or cabalistic meaning, or were simply for structural convenience. On the other hand, according to humanistic theories, every single problem can be seen as a particular case of a more general problem, dependent on precise laws from which it acquires internal measure and congruence. The two acts that define the new vision of operations carried out on architecture and on the city are the planned and canonical references to the classical orders, and the control instituted and permitted by the use of the science of perspective. Perspective, in general use beginning in 1425, provided the possibility of rationally controlling space, and of dominating it on the paper and in the real world. In the perspective system, for example, from reduction in size one can deduct the distance between objects. One point on the paper can represent the encounter of two lines in the infinite, that is to say, represent the infinite in a finite way. One of the consequences of this technique is that reality is no longer a simple inventory of things, but a system of relations. Everything is known by proportional relationship: knowledge, according to Alberti, happens "by comparison". The conventional forms of the Roman architectural orders, assumed independently of building-type as ideal models to be conformed to allow us to define, a priori, in their proportions, the forms of construction. Design becomes the assembly of a geometric scheme of these elements, fixed with relationship to the building structure, so as to constitute a closed system that at least theoretically can be extended to the urban scale, connecting every man-made environment in a system of rational relationship. On the other hand, it need hardly be stressed how the acquisition of these elements, and in particular of perspective, is much more than a merely technical and artistic act, but is in part the result of and in part the catalyst for a "world vision" having at its centre man born from the dissolution of the medieval universe.

The result of these choices is the foundation of a precise sector of activity - to which the word "art" is applied - removed from the environment of the medieval artes, separate from technical operations, and independent of the levels of experience it was earlier pervaded with (science, theology, morality). Architecture was given a new working method, consisting of the preparation of a "project" in advance, with drawings and models which are the work of the architect, and the actual execution, which is a later and material event, reserved for the construction workers.

The idea of the project presupposes the concept of creative invention, while the drawing makes communication possible. Codification of typical elements gives rise to a language, and architecture acquires a cultural dignity that brings it in relationship with other creative arts, science and literature. These new events cast into crisis the tradition of collective behaviour on which the guild organisation of the first Florentine commune was based. Artists now signed their own works, and they established solid allegiances with the new moneyed aristocracy in Florence and abroad. Both components of the new method - the geometric theory of perspective and the reference to the normalized elements of antiquity - represented a fundamental break with and reaction against the imperial practices of the Middle Ages. Regularity, symmetry, proportion now had to govern all architectural design.

The Renaissance movement had a special link for "perfectly" regular forms which are the basis for innumerable patterns of decorative planning, from the plan for the ideal city, to the details of ornamental parts. Alberti mentions in his Book VII ch. IV the delight of Nature herself in creating such forms as the bird's circular nest or the hexagons in the hives of "bees, hornets, and all kinds of wasps". Such examples are not chosen at random but with the purpose of demonstrating that the laws of beauty are eternal. Return to precise outlines, and concern for regularity led inevitably to a search for symmetry.

Every building, church, palace or suburban villa, was based on an axis or two perpendicular axes. According to the principle of regularity in classical architecture the bays of colonnades are all equal, and this allowed easily to emphasize the axis. Proportion, or the relationship between dimensions, was one of the overriding concerns of the Renaissance. Alberti went back to classical theories of harmony and proportions: architecture would possess the same natural harmony as music, and the idea that the two arts were interconnected became current in treatises on harmony.

Below: Fra' Giocondo, sketch for a circular temple and for the circus in piazza Navona; Ludovico Cigoli, from Michelangelo, plan of St. Peter in Rome.

Right: Leonardo's sketches of central plan churches, Giorgio Vasari Jr plan of the church of Santa Maria delle Carceri in Prato; Unknown Tuscan artist plan of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence (G.D.S.U.).

The return to the classical style promoted the forms taken from antiquity such as columns, capitals and entablatures, cupolas, domes and ornament all made up the new vocabulary of the Renaissance style. The orders, at once a system of proportion and of decoration, were the basic structure of the new language.

One of the first achievements of Filippo Brunelleschi was the revival of classical systems of support. Have a look at the façade of the Ospedale degli Innocenti in Piazza SS. Annunziata in Florence which he designed in 1421 with a portico with columns, used to support round arches. The centralized plan became the standard plan for the votive church being built all over Italy. Giuliano da Sangallo, the architect of the Medici villa in Poggio a Caiano, designed the perfect example of a church based on a Greek cross in Santa Maria delle Carceri in Prato. In the sacristy of San Lorenzo (a Medici funerary chapel) Brunelleschi adopted a square plan covered by a dome, producing a variant of this in the Pazzi Chapel in Santa Croce. His design for Santa Maria degli Angeli (unfortunately never finished) was a rotunda with chapels radiating from it. In smaller buildings he used the centralized plan (that is, a single space that could be enclosed within a circle) which had virtually disappeared since the days of the Romanesque baptistry. The palace or palazzo is the most important type of civil building. Traditionally, the palace was a block built round a central courtyard, looking very massive from the outside, but with plenty of loggias and balconies opening on to the courtyard. Florentine palazzi retained their austere exteriors, making extensive use of rusticated stone. The palazzi built at the middle of the 15 th century for the most important families of the city, such as Rucellai, Strozzi, Pitti, Tornabuoni, Medici, are intended as monuments to express, through their monumental shape and size, the power and the role of the family. Brunelleschi's project for palazzo Medici called for a building isolated on the piazza, square in design, with nine windows per side and the central door in line with the main door of San Lorenzo church, underscoring the relationship between the church and the family palace. But Cosimo the Elder refused the project, preferring the more conservative one made by Michelozzo in 1444. His design, in spite of its stereometric block and the adoption of classical elements, is really a clearer elaboration of the medieval palace. With palazzo Medici, Michelozzo set a model which was to be widely followed; the most celebrated example being the Strozzi palace, built by Benedetto da Maiano and Simone Pollaiolo in 1489.

Alberti's palazzo Rucellai, built around 1455, differs from Michelozzo's palace: it is the first attempt to apply the classical orders to a palazzo's front with its rows of pilasters and the alternating rhythm of the bays; Palazzo Pitti, which followed Brunelleschi's design in its central part, represents a really innovative example: here the design of the façade is controlled through the application of a modular arch-window scheme. But palazzo Pitti was never used as a reference type. If the central courtyard is the most typical feature of the palazzo, the first villas built without the reference to a codified model also developed around a courtyard. We shall now continue to set out a typological-planimetric classification, already attempted by those who have conducted studies on the Tuscan villa from the early years of the 20th century,11 while remaining aware of the pitfalls of drawing too strict a comparison between the plans and compositional and volumetric results on the basis of considerations already made concerning the complex historical formation of a large number of the buildings. We can therefore state that the chief feature to emerge that is specifically related to the ground-plan is undoubtedly a courtyard, around which stood the main body of the building, usually supplied with an upper-floor loggia on one or more sides. The presence of the courtyard is characteristic of the earliest structures and may be directly derived from urban models.12 The position of a courtyard with respect to the development of the body of a building tends to repeat itself according to recurring patterns which can be divided, in their simpler forms, into four categories: a) a compact block with the body of the fabric surrounding the courtyard (Palazzo Vecchio is an urban example); b) a building with side-wings (like Palazzo Pitti) and a courtyard closed off on three sides by the body of the building, the fourth side screened or not by a wall which often gives access to a garden (this second type can be considered an elaboration of the portikus-villa type, and therefore derived from the Palagio ai Torri layout, and generally developed later than the closed block type, codified in Ammannati's ideal plans, as well as in some exemplary realizations, such as the Collazzi villa in Giogoli); c) an L-shaped building with one wing, usually a service area, annexes and a courtyard enclosed by walls on the other two open sides; d) a courtyard between two separate blocks of building, developed in linear fashion. Alongside these forms, sometimes made more complex by the inclusion of more than one interior courtyard, usually due to an original structure's successive phases of growth, there emerged the

11 H. D. Eberlein, Villas of Florence and Tuscany, New York 1922. Eberlein forms an intriguing, if hard to prove, hypothesis that the Tuscan villa is derived from the Etruscan farmhouse, based on the continuation of characteristic features such as the courtyard and loggia. See also K. W. Forster, Back to the farm, in "Architectura. Journal of the History of Architecture" 1, 1974, pp. 86-97.

12 It is almost a duty here to cite Boccaccio's description in the proem to the first and third days of the Decameron, where the courtyard and loggia are used as features for identifying the villa: "A most beautiful and ornate palace which was situated on a slight eminence above the plain. Entering the palace, they explored it from end to end, and were filled with admirationfor its spacious halls, equipped with everything they couldpossibly need. . . The whole place was decorated and they were seated on a loggia overlooking the central court." G. Boccaccio, The Decameron, English trans. with an introduction and notes by G. H. McWilliam, London 1972 (1995), p. 189-190.

Below: View of palazzo Medici Riccardi and plan of the ground floor. Right: From the top villa I Collazzi at Giogoli, villa Petraia, villa Michelozzi at Bellosguardo, Baroncelli, from Giorgio Vasari Jr Piante di Chiese Palazzi e Ville di Toscana e d'Italia (Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe Uffizi (G.D.S.U. 4529-4594) Florence).

Pratolino Plan

solid block type with no courtyard, its prototype being the villa at Poggio a Caiano, and this would appear to be the result of a more conscious reflection-imitation of grander urban models. We find this same typology in those designs of Buontalenti not influenced by pre-existing structures such as Pratolino and Artimino, and other 17th-century building work, such as Villa Machiavelli in San Casciano, with its regular plan and double side-loggias, or Villa La Tana in Candeli, which features a two-storey central salone. The type of structure with a courtyard closed on all sides includes: the Uguccioni and Capponi villas at Montughi; the Borgherini and the Strozzi villa (known as Lo Strozzino) at Bellosguardo, a stately building with a corner loggia, perhaps the work of Simone del Pollaiolo, owned first by the Pandolfini family and later by the Strozzi; the Salviati villas at Maiano San Cerbone; the Medici Villas Petraia and Castello; the Magia at Tizzana; Villa Corsini at Mezzomonte; Palazzo Bettoni in Montepiano; the Saracino Belvedere, attributed to Baccio d'Agnolo. Types with a courtyard open on the fourth side include: Villa Le Brache and Il Gondo at Castello; Loggia dei Bianchi and the Orsini villa at Quarto; Mula at Quinto; the Medici villa at Lappeggi; Castelletto of the Cavalcanti; Valdimarina of the Salviati family; Il Gioiello in Pian dei Giullari; Villa Palmieri at San Domenico which, after its baroque conversion, has a courtyard closed on the fourth side also, realized by means of a loggia at the upper level of the main body of the building, the central crowning feature of the façade facing the garden. The L-shaped layout is characteristic of structures such as the Pazzi villa (La Vacchia) in Pian dei Giullari, the result of a series of interventions on a 13th-century structure with an incorporated tower, in which the main body of the building with a central great hall is connected to a building at the side, housing a service courtyard and a lemon-house; the Michelozzi villa or Torre di Bellosguardo, a late 16th-century reworking of a medieval building with a tower, with an L-shaped loggia opening onto a courtyard; Villa Pandolfini at Signa, owned by the famous 15th-century merchant and humanist, has a loggia on one side only and a long lateral structure, identified as a "pollaio" (hen-house) on Vasari's plan. The Castel Pulci villa, the property of the Riccardi family, is an example of the doubling of an L-shaped layout, in which one L-shaped structure with an arcade and loggia encloses the courtyard, and the other a walled garden.

Lastly, the linear layout, with a courtyard dividing the two main bodies of a building, was the plan of the Marignolle villa and the Antinori villa (known as "Brancolano") outside Porta Romana, while the Torrigiani villa in San Martino alla Palma can be interpreted as a further development of this plan since the central courtyard is surrounded on three sides by arcades.

The first Medici villas were also based on a closed plan round a central courtyard, simpler in the case of the Trebbio and more evolved at Cafaggiolo and Careggi, but still denoted by the building closing around an inner area, and related to a castle's repertoire of forms. The plan of the Trebbio villa consists of an irregular main body round a closed courtyard and an incorporated tower rising from the south-west corner. In the plan drawn by Giorgio Vasari the Younger at the end of the 16th century, although made regular in an arbitrary fashion with respect to the building's true layout, we immediately recognize the typology of the block and closed courtyard, reached through an entranceway with a depressed vault. A loggia on the ground floor is covered by cross vaulting and gives onto a courtyard. On the north side of the courtyard is an exterior staircase, following a layout found in preexisting structures (for example, the medieval "Torricina" above Falle at Compiobbi, an old villa which later became a farmhouse attached to the Falle palazzo). The crenellated exterior ambulatory encircling the entire block was interrupted by the intrusion of the tower, with the result that the tower appears perfectly embedded in the whole structure. The lunette painted by Giusto Utens, the sole known visual representation of this villa, offers a reliable image of the building, even though only partially corresponding to the actual situation.

At Trebbio, therefore, Michelozzo's intervention, referred to by Vasari ("at Trebbio likewise he carried out many other improvements which are still to be seen"13) refers to restoration work on a pre-existing structure. This kind of intervention typifies all Michelozzo's work on the Medici villas, because also at Cafaggiolo and Careggi properties Michelozzo was engaged in carrying out works to alter and enlarge preexisting structures. "Cosimo de Medici also built, with the advice and design of Michelozzo, the Palace of Cafaggiolo in Mugello, giving it the form of a fortress with ditches round it; and he laid out farms, roads, gardens, fountains with groves round them, fowling places and other appurtenances of a villa, all very splendid and... at a distance of two miles from Florence, also, he built the palatial Villa of Careggi which was very rich and magnificent; and thither Michelozzo brought the water for the fountain that is seen there at the present day",

Below: Plans of Careggi, Il Trebbio and Cafag-giolo from the book Piante di Chiese, Palazzi e Ville di Toscana e d'ltalia disegnate dal cav. Giorgio Vasari il giovane (G.D.S.U. Florence). Right: Careggi, Michelozzo's courtyard and plan of the ground floor of the villa.

13 G. Vasari, Life of Michelozzo Michelozzi, in Lives of the Painters Sculptors and Architects, London 1996, p. 385.

14 "Greatly enlarged by Grand Duke Cosimo I and provided with a walled park for festivities, much of which still survives, being built like an old fortress with several towers and a surrounding moat with drawbridges. In the interior is a large chapel, used as a church, dedicated to St Cosmas and St Damian, ancient guardians of the aforementioned royal House of Medici. There are fine paved floors, halls and large rooms with several courtyards, loggias and galleries, making it most magnificent and grand (albeit old-fashioned) ". C. Brocchi, Descrizione della provincia delMugello, Florence 1748, p. 50.

Vasari reports, in a description which corresponds closely to the definition of a villa-castello. The estate appears to be unusually grand for a private house of the early 1400s, even discounting the substantial alterations which were already under way by the following century.14 Vasari the Younger's drawing, though displaying a not quite credible regularity, gives an idea of the grandiose nature of the whole complex, developed around a central L-shaped court which, after Michelozzo's intervention, must presumably have closed the building on the west side with a wall dividing the courtyard from the "secret garden", following a pattern we have already mentioned. The two Medici villas in Mugello are still hovering between the outward appearance of fortified buildings and a new spatial sensibility which is closer to the Renaissance in style, most clearly displayed by the rooms with vaulted ceilings in the interior. The Careggi villa, where the remodelling in around 1459 of a "palazzo with courtyard, loggia, well, vault, dovecote, tower and walled garden", bought by Cosimo from Tommaso Lippi for 800 florins in 1417, displays a similar late-medieval repertoire of enclosed forms and irregular layout, despite the different and more "suburban" nature of this building, being positioned much closer to the city and therefore having the advantage of being easier to visit. The rooms here are given greater regularity, shown by an increasing tendency to align them and by the use of elements such as a tripartite loggia on the ground floor and a smaller loggia above which, later codified by the treatises, were to become part of a common pattern in villa construction. But this does not prevent us from seeing, disregarding the numerous alterations sustained by Michelozzo's complex over subsequent years, the links with examples of late-medieval architecture. At Careggi the towers were removed and two light Renaissance loggias were added to the rear of the building, in a symmetrical manner, to form a small sheltered courtyard. However, these changes appear merely superficial because, although the new additions show a waning of the defensive castle-like character of the more important suburban buildings, they do not belie a lingering taste for traditional architecture and a resistance to the introduction of innovations. In the Medici villa in Fiesole, Michelozzo's project for the: "magnificent and noble palace at Fiesole, sinking the foundations for the lower part in the brow of the hill, at great expense, but not without great advantage", according to Vasari's testimony, is more obviously in rapport with the landscape. The building is set in a position affording views of the surrounding landscape from determined angles.

Completely open to the exterior, the villa is dramatically dissimilar to its predecessors; it is based on a really innovative layout, in the disappearance of the central courtyard, so that the living space looked outwards, towards the open countryside. The core of the villa is the central salon, connected with two loggias on the west and on the east side. This villa was not an adaptation of a pre-existing building. The site was chosen for the panoramic view and a massive substructure had to be built to support the building and the garden on the steep hillside. It was a cubic block covered in off-white stucco, with arches not moulded and windows unframed "having in the lower part vaults, cellars, stables, storerooms and other handsome and commodious habitations; and above, beside the chambers, public halls and other rooms, he made some for books, and certain others for music" (as G. Vasari states in Life of Michelozzo).

In the interests of discovering sources and drawing comparisons we are persuaded to make an attempt to reconnect new emerging information to the continuity of the occupation of the countryside, and above all to its agricultural antecedents. But for more elegant extra-urban buildings too, at least until the last quarter of the 15th century, the hypothesis of an evolutionary adaptation is fully and unconditionally confirmed. According to this theory, gradually changing new elements of increasing significance emerged and coexisted around an original nucleus; one should not speak therefore of typological constants but rather of a constant in the manner of formation, in which recurring additions and alterations evolved, drawn from both the rural and urban building traditions. Without entering into the uncertain dating of Michelozzo's interventions on the Medici family's suburban villas,15 this being a matter, in our opinion, related to a cultural and artistic position of the architect and his milieu, we must reconsider in which category to place Michelozzo's work. Similarities to models of the past should probably be understood, not so much as a late legacy of already out-moded designs, but as a revival of structures suited to a society in a period of adjustment, as was the case in Florence during the first half of the 15th century. Thus, the battlements and defensive ramparts of Trebbio and Cafaggiolo should not be read as "delightful incursions into a medievalism interpreted with ironic detachment", as interpreted by Tafuri,16 since the use of such elements had not yet reached the cerebral value of an allusive reference, but still answered a real need. Nor should the presence of the pre-existing building complexes on which Michelozzo was repeatedly called to intervene be

15 We should recall that for Patzak, work at Trebbio and Cafaggiolo took place in around 1420, while other scholars, starting with Fabriczy, disagree totally with this hypothesis and set the date of Trebbio between 1427 and 1436 and Cafaggiolo later, work being protracted until the middle of the century, while Careggi should be set at around 1457. M. Gori Sassoli, Michelozzo e l'architettura di villa nel primo Rinascimento, in "Storia dell'Arte", 23 (1975), pp. 5-49.

16 M. Tafuri, L'architettura dell'Umanesimo, Bari 1972, p. 40.

17 F. Brunetti, Le tipologie architettoniche nel trattato albertiano, in Omaggio ad Alberti, "Studi e Documenti di Architettura", Florence, 1 (1972), p. 271.

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