Villa Tovaglia

Along Via Santa Margherita a Montici, which leads from the church to Piazza Calda and then runs downhill to the Villa di Rusciano, we find what was the Villa La Torre, later "La Bugia", which belonged to the Guicciardini family from 1507 to 1634, then to the Nerli and lastly to the Morrocchi. It had been built in the past by the Amidei and on September 4, 1470 it was sold by Giovanni Francesco Amidei to Agnolo di Lapo del Tovaglia, who had it enlarged and remodelled by the Medicean architect Lorenzo da Montaguto between 1480 and 1490.
On August 11, 1500 Francesco Malatesta sent from Florence to Francesco II Gonzaga, at the latter's request, a drawing of the villa done by Leonardo, as well the project for replicating it. Malatesta specifies: «I am sending Your Illustrious Lordship the drawing of Agnolo Tovaglia's house done by the hand of Leonardo Vinci… The aforesaid Leonardo says that to make a perfect thing, it would be necessary to transport this site which is here, there where Your Lordship intends to build [...] I have not had the drawing coloured, nor had the ornaments of verdure, of ivy, of boxwood, of cypresses, nor of laurel added, as they are here, since I thought there was little need of them: but if Your Lordship wishes, the aforesaid Leonardo offers to do so in both the picture and the model».
In effect, the architecture of this building complex (with the core of the medieval tower, the villa with its hortus conclusus, greenhouses and lemon houses), in spite of the discontinuity due to remodelling and additions, is remarkable, especially in relation to the magnificent landscape of the Florentine hills, rising like an airy balcony over the valley of the Ema.
It is interesting to note that Bartolomeo del Tovaglia was one of the bankers recorded by Leonardo in a memorandum in the Codex Atlanticus dating from the late 15th century as one of his correspondents from France and Flanders.

Texts by
Alessandro Vezzosi, in collaboration with Agnese Sabato / English translation by Catherine Frost