page created 19th September 2007 updated 20th November 2010
The garden at the right, visible in this 1599 'lunette' painting by Medici artist G. Utens, is now home to a collection of potted citrus. The present day neo-classical limonaia (lemon house) was built about 1825 at right angles to the original stables.
Front & side views of the villa, built for Lorenzo de' Medici and completed in 1514. Some 15km west of Florence, in the small town of Poggio a Caino, it is now the city's Museum of Still Life Paintings.
The citrus collection itself, while certainly worth seeing if you are in the area, is neither as old nor anywhere near as extensive as the amazing Medici collection at Villa Castello in Florence itself.
C. aurantium 'Chinotto'
The potter's name on an 1855 terracotta pot
A knobbly citron fruit
The Museum of Still Life -Museo della Natura Morta- housed in the villa, contains several paintings of great interest to those researching old citrus varieties. These are by the Medici artist Bartolomeo Bimbi. Unfortunately, I have so far been unable to find any reproductions that are clear enough to read the numbered labels. To see the actual paintings, you have to pre-book a timed visit, and I found that, even though the original variety labels are definitely legible, there was simply not enough time to stand and take notes at any particular painting. Photography is not allowed. So I am still searching for the information, or I would have to make special arrangements to view the paintings for longer. Does anyone have images of high enough definition to assist?
I have now found copies of the variety labels at the bottom of the four main citrus paintings by Bimbi. They are reproduced here from the book entitled 'Bartolomeo Bimbi - Un pittore di piante e animali alla corte dei Medici'.
Update November 2010
However, in most cases I am still not able to link the names to the fruits pictured, because the numbers in my copies of the paintings are so indistinct. Better reproductions must exist, such as this small section I found on the Italian website stilenaturale . My requests for high definition copies of the whole pictures have not been answered. Perhaps an Italian reader of this page can help!
Numbers 18,20,27,30 are clearly visible, and can be correlated with the names shown above. I have added these names to the image.
This is a section of "T.IIA"
Limone Ponzino dorato
Limone S. Maura
Limone di madonna laura