The new Hall of Frieze is dedicated to the famous frieze of the late fifteenth century commissioned by Lorenzo the Magnificent inspired by the classical myths and allegories interpreted as the Platonic myth of the soul.
In 1473 a ruined fortified house at Poggio a Caiano, called the Ambra, and land and a mill owned by Giovanni Rucellai, were bought by Lorenzo de’ Medici. First, agricultural improvements were carried out, then in 1485 work started on the Medici Villa del Poggio, the “Villa on the Hill”, to designs by Giuliano da Sangallo commissioned by Lorenzo.
Prior to the building of this villa large country dwellings were defensive, fortified and with rooms looking into a central courtyard. Built on a quadrangular base around a large central hall with rooms having windows overlooking the surrounding countryside, the Villa del Poggio was revolutionary.
At Lorenzo’s death in 1492 the villa remained largely unfinished, work being resumed when Lorenzo’s youngest son, Giovanni became pope as Leo X. The central hall is named after this first Medici pope.
The villa was donated to the Italian state in 1919. After a long period of neglect it became a national museum in 1984 and since that date has undergone restoration. It is now open to the public with the new exhibition romm.
The other attractions of the villa are the Pontormo frescoes depicting Vertumnus and Pomona in the main salon. The formal gardens, now somewhat wild, slope down to the River Ombrone at the rear of the villa.