Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xiv

This book examines the nature of the early Renaissance Medici gardens on the outskirts of Florence. In particular, it is an inquiry into the human intentions and motivations that guided the construction and cultivation of gardens, orchards, and kitchen gardens within the Medici properties of Trebbio, Cafaggiolo, Careggi, and Fiesole (fig. 1).

Recently it has been argued that the role of these properties within the history of the Florentine villa in the early Renaissance has been much overemphasized, in that this tiny sample is often considered representative of...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-9

A typical Italian-style garden often seems to be a garden that is enclosed by a wall or surrounded by a hedge of boxwood trimmed closely so as to resemble a wall; with geometric flowerbeds, and stonework channeling rushing waters; with a bosquet of evergreens in the background, and terraces connected by symmetrical staircases and ramps mirroring the architecture of the house. And this style is said to have originated during the Renaissance.

This definition, reiterated in the pages of books on the history of the Italian garden, seems as rigid as the geometry informing the layout of these...

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CHAPTER 1 Medici Gardens

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pp. 10-87

The earliest studies on the properties of Trebbio and Cafaggiolo date to the end of the eighteenth century. Then and throughout the nineteenth century the most common tendency in the study of Florentine villas was to describe them from the point of view of a traveler who gives a detailed account of the villas unfolding along his or her path during an imaginary tour across the countryside. Exemplary in this sense are the studies of Domenico Moreni, Guido Carocci, and Giuseppe Baccini, three Tuscan scholars whose archival research has thrown light on the origin and history of many properties of the...

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CHAPTER 2 From Work of Nature to Work of Art

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pp. 88-98

The practice of garden making in early modern Florence was a perfunctory activity, resulting both from an oral tradition and from the application of the principles of good husbandry extracted from agricultural handbooks. These texts were manuals more than treatises in that their authors’ main objective was to share their horticultural knowledge, which was the result of years of direct experience. This knowledge did not include the methodological principles related to garden design, however, for it is likely that a concept of design intended as process (the series of actions performed by the designer), rather...

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CHAPTER 3 Writing the Garden in the Age of Humanism

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pp. 99-145

The Medici orti of the fifteenth century were the product of an empirical modus operandi that was by and large indebted to an oral knowledge, handed down over many generations. Because garden making proceeded empirically, its tradition was subject to change, and its practice was probably revised and adjusted according to the outcomes of horticultural experiments. Petrarch’s annotations on gardening reflect an artless kind of plant cultivation, motivated perhaps by an urge to imitate the classics and by a curiosity to verify the reliability of the scriptores’ horticultural advice. His gardening notes as well as his poetry...

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CHAPTER 4 Practice and Theory

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pp. 146-178

The tradition of garden making that produced the Medici orti of the early Renaissance did not operate by means of drawings and models. It appears that a concept of design vis-à-vis the “art” of gardens did not yet exist, and that the layout of Quattrocento pleasances resulted from an empirical modus operandi. This may have taken into account such elements as sense perception, that is, the sense of olfaction, which would dictate the choice and grouping of odoriferous plants—as Ficino’s recommendations suggest—or the sense of sight, which would call for the choice of sites totally open to the...

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Conclusion

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pp. 179-186

In the sixteenth century, by the time the technique used to lay out a garden had been assimilated into garden practice as thoroughly as grammatical rules had been into rhetorical performance, the scriptores rei rusticae started to codify in writing the relationship between the elements of the garden. That is, they started to put into writing a tradition of garden making, which had resulted from the modus operandi of their predecessors. The result of this process was the production of manuals, or reference books, that would facilitate the implementation and maintenance of a garden. The purpose of these texts was to commit...

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APPENDIX A: Letter by Galeazzo Maria Sforza

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pp. 187-188

Anday a Caregio pallatio bellissimo di esso Cosmo quale visto da ogni canto et delectatomene grandemente non mancho per la polidezza di giardini, che invero sono pur tropo legiadra cosa, quanto per il degno edificio dela casa, ala quale et per camere et per cusine et per sale et per ogni fornimento non mancha piu che si facia ad una dele belle case di questa cita, disnay [desinai] insieme con tuti li sudetti salvo Giohanne di Cosmo, che non volesse sedere ala tavola mia ne anche mangiare, quando laltri per fare servire ognuno. Dopo el disnare essendo immediate partito el S.re M. Sigismundo...a

APPENDIX B: Metric Letter by Alessandro Braccesi

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pp. 189-194

Notes

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pp. 195-274

Bibliography

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pp. 275-292

Photographic Acknowledgments

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pp. 293-294

Index

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pp. 295-306