The History - International Foundation Omraam Onlus

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The History

the Foundation > The Villa di Vico

The building in which the headquarters of the Foundation are located is situated on a hill, about a mile from the town of San Vincenzo a Torri, in the municipality of Scandicci, about 20 minutes south-east of Florence. It has a rectangular plan and is built around a central body, that was probably a watchtower during the Middle Ages.

The central tower belongs to a time prior to the construction of the remaining parts of the building and has a typical architectural style of the fourteenth century. The vox populi attributes this part of the building to Castruccio Castracani, a military leader who inspired Machiavelli in the drafting of his main political and strategic work, the Prince.

According to a legend, Castruccio buried his treasure close to the tower of Vico. The tower was however part of a warning system which made the Val di Pesa an important strategic and military outpost.

It is difficult to go back to documentation for the periods prior to 1480, since the first records of the Republican Cadastre are from 1427 and are however missing, as they have suffered the flood in 1966. Many architectural elements suggest us that the structure that surrounds the tower must have been built at the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, to use the buildng as a small monastery.

At the end of World War II (during the time when the military front was located in the Val di Pesa) the building, because of its proportions and its high robustness, is used as a military hospital by the German troops, while the tower is used as a lookout point in the direction Cerbaia (operation area of the Allied forces). Because of this dual function, the Villa was heavily bombed (the tower suffered the most damage, being beheaded several meters). After the war, the Villa was in a state of semi-abandonment, until the late 60's when a careful restoration was able to restore the ancient XVI century structure of the building.

La Villa Vico in una riproduzione del 1640 ca. (Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Carte Galli Tassi n° 394)

Description of the building
From outside the building has a sturdy conformation, type formwork. On the northeast corner there is a large porch, with stone columns, already described at the time in a registration from the XVIII century. Inside the rooms worthy of note are the central hall on the ground floor, with a large stone fireplace, with the emblem of the noble family of the Medici, located on the north side of the room. Continuing on the right as you enter into a vaulted room -  in the oldest part of the building, namely the tower - on the left side there is an ancient holy water stoup, in in sandstone, probably from the period in which the building was used as a small monastery (XVI century). In an other room it is possibile to note a large stone portal, the original entrance of the tower (located to the north, to the village of San Michele a Torri, which originally was the headquarter of the warning system in the area): the portal belongs to the second half of the XIII century. All rooms on the ground floor have wooden ceiling beams. Upstairs, in the main building, you go to a room with wooden ceilings and a large stone fireplace. Under the entire surface of the building there are vaulted cellars of which the oldest is the one on which the tower stands.

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