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Villa Celle

Villa Celle began to take on its present appearance as of the second half of the 17th century, when the Fabroni family began to modernise it. Cardinal Carlo Agostino Fabroni, in particular, organised the orchard plantations, the farms, and reordered the waterworks, building pools, nymphaeums and fountains. The facade is characterised by its large Baroque pediment and clock, which recalls the analogous solution of the Villa di Bellavista. In the second half of the 18th century, work began on the villa’s new service road, which tradition claims was done on a project by Leonardo Ximenes. The gardens and woods were laid out on typically Baroque geometric schemes. A "Chinese" aviary of brick and iron was built in 1812. Between 1841 and 1842, a rectangular waterbody was excavated on the northern edge of the woods to produce the ice for the icehouse, which was formed by a well having the shape of a truncated cone, made of dry-walled stone blocks, and equipped with a drainage canal and a catch basin for the infiltration waters. The icehouse water was also utilised in the dairy, a small building that recalls the icehouses of the Pistoian mountain.

The transformation into a romantic park was carried out in the mid 19th century under the direction of Pistoian architect Giovanni Gambini. The little "Chinese" lake with natural forms was inaugurated in 1845. Its little island resting on grottoes had a berth for small boats and a little neoclassical temple. A small bridge that passed over a rocky ravine with a waterfall led to the lake. The year 1848 marked the onset of work on an amphitheatre with natural forms, crowned by the neo-gothic "Temple of the Fountain-head" (today the "Tea House"). The results that Gambini achieved were so remarkable that Niccolò Puccini summoned him for the lake of his own villa at Scornio.

In the late 19th century, the lemon-house was renovated to its present form, and the Michelucci Foundry was commissioned with manufacturing the gates for the villa and farm. During World War II, the villa was occupied by a German military command post and transformed into a hospital, while a bunker was excavated in the park. In 1969, the Celle property was purchased by entrepreneur Giuliano Gori who collected contemporary art, and here formed the first collection of environmental art.


Texts by Graziano Magrini

English translation by Victor Beard

Last update 28/gen/2008