Palazzo della Gherardesca

Florence, Italy | C.1473

Photo Credit: Richard Waite

Located within Florence, Italy’s largest botanical park is the striking Palazzo della Gherardesca. Surrounded by gardens bursting with colors throughout the year, the structure was built between 1473 and 1480 for Bartolomeo Scala – the Chancellor of the Republic who was the scholar and diplomatic confidant under Lorenzo the Magnificent.

The building is one of the first examples of an urban villa, designed from theories by Leon Battista Alberti who suggested that people move away from urban centers and find comfort in designs more similar to suburban Roman villas. The building is revered for its meticulous decorations that are graced with frescos and bas-reliefs by the top craftsmen and artists of the time.

Over the centuries, the estate was utilized as the Suor Maria Riparatrice convent, and later home to Cardinal Alessandro de’ Medici, who reigned as Pope Leo XI in 1605 for merely a month before he died suddenly, earning him the nickname Papa Lampo – “The Flash Pope”.

Following Pope Leo’s death, the building was passed onto his sister, Constance Dei Medici and wife of Ugo della Gherardesca. The family was extremely powerful in Italy, and they showed this influence by conquering lands throughout Tuscany. Their reputation would keep the property in the family for three centuries, which is the reason the Hotel now keeps their title in the current namesake.

With a history of residence who held high importance in Italy, coupled with the opulence of throughout the dwelling it is not a surprise the building was deemed as a monumental building to be considered a national artistic heritage in 1901 by the Directorate General of Antiquities and Fine Arts.

The Four Seasons franchise purchased the building in 2001, and the building underwent its most radical restoration over the course of seven years with the help of architects, historians and craftsmen all under the supervision of the Superintendence of Fine Arts. The Hotel officially opened in 2008, and today guests can stay within the gorgeously preserved building and be offered the highest of comforts.

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