The Medici Festival at Artimino

Walter Fortini
June 30, 2005

In an old film with a young Vittorio Gasman, the charming Medici Villa of One Hundred Chimneys in Artimino was used to represent the Gonzaga residence located in Mantova. In reality, the villa is in Artimo, in the heart of Tuscany, within the Commune of Carmignano, amidst the hills between Prato and Florence.  Between July and August, this beautiful villa is used again, as it has been since 2000, as the setting for a festival, that is dedicated entirely to the Renaissance and it’s music.


The vineyards and the olive orchards have laid siege to the villa where the charm has remained unchanged.  Inside the Medici villa there is even a small museum (visits by reservation only) dedicated to Renaissance instruments.  And the remains of an Etruscan acropolis that were hidden beneath the villa’s foundation, with refined ivory and Etruscan tombs dating back 2700 years, tell of how this trade city once blossomed.


Artimino, and all of the Montalbano area, is definitely a territory to be discovered, where a day trip away from Florence makes for an easy outing.  (Info. Proloco, 055 8712468). And, thanks to the Renaissance Festival, Artimino has also become a destination for an evening in the countryside, breathing the perfumes of the fields, as well as its art.  Within the park there is a stupendous amphitheatre that is used for ancient theatrical representations.  Also, there is the villa itself, which was constructed at the end of the 14th Century by Grand Duke Ferdinando I dei Medici, and designed by Buontalenti. 


At the festival, there will be about 10 different performances and events where poetry will be combined with music and theatre.  Harpsichord lessons will be offered, there will be ancient dance and song performances, and there will be a banquet on July 28th where, between one dish and another, “intermezzi,” or musical intervals, in pure Renaissance style will be performed.


Nella Anfuso, is the original creator of this modern day Medici Festival at Artimino.  She organises the event, working together with the Friends of the Museum “Gianuario” of Artimino (the small museum inside the museum) and the Renaissance Music Foundation Study Centre.  A primary purpose of the affair is to conduct artistic and cultural research.  However, the production is not lacking in humanitarian goals either, given that all proceeds will be donated to the UNICEF program “Safe Maternity” in Sierra Leone, a country with the highest death rate among expectant mothers.


The young talents from the Puccini Conservatory of La Spezia will open the Medici Festival.  Rollando and Marco Raselli will play the guitar on July 21st, Susanna Carrara will play the flute, and Paola Nieri the harpsichord.  On July 27th, Massimo Colombani, will perform also with the flute, and Aurora Ceccarini, on August 26th, will entertain with the harpsichord.


The banquet will take place on July 28th with dishes made from the original recipes of Cristoforo di Messisbugo, a “grand chef” from the Ferrara Court in the mid 1500’s.  The feast promises to be a voyage through flavours and aromas decidedly from different times. For the banquet, it is necessary to reserve in advance, if possible by July 10th, by calling 055 8751426. The price for a seat at the banquet is 44 euros per person.


After the banquet, the concerts and performances will begin. From August 5th to the 14th, there are six dates where there will be dance, music and song in costume.  On August 5th, the festive atmosphere of a sojourn in a Medici Villa Court will be recreated, and Beatrice Cristini and Franco Nuti will provide a dance performance.  On August 6th, Daniel Ganum will play the lute.  The August 7th event will include music that was played during performances of Shakespeare’s plays.  Magdalena Amenabar will sing and Daniel Ganum will play the lute.


Those who enjoy the harpsichord should not miss the concerts on August 8th, 12th, and 14th.  Amelia Isabella Bianchi, Aurora Ceccarini, Paola Nieri, and Enrico Barbagli will perform.  Harpsichord lessons will be offered from the 8th to the 14th of August.

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