A Medici’s Mansion
Maria de’ Medici, Lorenzo il Magnifico’s step sister, in the XVI Century commited the building of “a Palazzo made for women, on three floors from ground level, similar to a rectangular tower, decorated with white and brown quartz eave and large windows also framed with quartz”, on the bases of the ruins of a Roman Villa.
The Berni family bought the Palazzo in 1620 from the Gaetani Counts. The Berni married in to the Studiati family and the property became the symbolic Studiati Berni union.
At the begining of the XIX Century Roman ruins emerged in the garden: two basrelifs, a marble bathtub, a marble head of the Roman Emperor Giulio Cesare, donated by the family to the Museum Opera della Primaziale in Pisa.
In 1821 doctor Pietro Studiati Berni, had the rooms painted as you can see them today and planted many different variety of palm trees in the garden.
Luigi Bonaparte: reshape history.
In 1822 Luigi Bonaparte, King of Holland and brother of Napoleone, came to stay in the Villa. Professor Pietro Studiati Berni was his doctor.
The aparments of the Borgo were rennovated with frescos, paintings, decorations for Luigi Bonaparte and his wife Ortensia de Beauharnais to welcome them at the best.
Luigi, described as moody and difficult, preferred the Master rooms of the Villa, and Pietro and Giuseppina Studiati left those rooms to him and his wife. Bonaparte was Doctor Studiati’s living-in patient for a longtime. Luigi Bonaparte’s medical files (well kept in the Studiati family archive) proove that Luigi among other maladies, was impotent.
Anyone interested in history, in French history, can now make their own conclusions about the French Emperor descendence.
Zarina Catherine the Second
During the second half of the XVIII Century the Russian Zarina Catherine the Second, wasa guest of the Villa owned by Cesare Studiati Berni, well known doctor, having himself been at the Russian Court for two years. When Catherine the Second came to Pisa, Cesare Studiati wanted to make her feel welcomed and return her hospitality, so he had painted a Palazzo in Pisa the same colour blue as Catehrine’s Palazzo in Saint Petersburg, she appreciated very much the gesture and had many parties there.
The Palazzo in Pisa is still called Palazzo Blu and it is a Museum, certainly worth a visit .
Paolina Bonaparte and the “small” coffee set
Luigi Bonaparte, King of Holland was staying in the Villa to be cured by Pietro Studiati Berni, his doctor. At that time his brother Napoleone had imposed an import ban on coffee, coton and other raw materials so to weaken the English Empire. Luigi had no intention to obey the rule imposed by his brother. After his act of disobedience , Napoleone dismessed him from his duties as King. Luigi was left alone with his maladies and his wife, so he decided to go to Italy, under false name, to be cured.
In the mean time Napoleone died.
Paolina Bonaparte, was staying in Toscany and came to visit her brother Luigi and her sister in law Ortensia as they were staying in the Villa. She hadn’t seen them after the death of their brother Napoleone. She was clearly still suffering for that loss, Luigi clearly wasn’t.
To thank Pietro Studiati for the hospitality, Paolina sent a set of twelve small coffee cups made of white pocellain with a blue border, that he very much appreciated.
Luigi instead, when he saw the coffee cups and noted the small size of the cups, the size imposed by the import ban he had refused to follow when King of Holland,took it personally and became furious!
Another curious historical name connects the Villa to Australia trough the British Emperor.
Thomas Townshend was a very significant political figure during the 1780s. He took the title of Lord Sydney and when Captain Philipp in 1788 on his way back from India discovered Australia named the Cove where he docked Sydney in his honour. Lord Sydney dedicated most of his life building solid basis for Australia with english laws and human freedom, avoiding a prison Island with a Military Regime, laying the foundations for the modern Australia.
Lord Sydney’s descendent, married into the Studiati Berni family and lived in the Villla. Paintings, prints and original portaits of Lord Sydney decorate some of the rooms of the Villa.
Giacomo Puccini (1858 - 1924), the most famous italian opera composer after Giuseppe Verdi, had a deep friendship with the Architect Pietro Studiati (1876 – 1962). He wrote 16 operas, most of which are performed very often today.
Pietro Studiati and Giacomo Puccini used to spend a lot of time to get her in the Borgo, on the near Massaciuccoli lake, at Torre del Lago where Puccini built his house partially desinged by his friend Pietro.
Il Chianti Classico. “Alla ricerca del vino perfetto”
In 1859 Cesare Studiati Berni, agronomist and scientist, was called by his friend Barone Bettino Ricasoli, one of the leading italian wine maker, for reducing the level of acidity in Tuscan red wine to be competitive with the French bordeaux. .
All the letters with the results of the chimical experiments exchanged between thnetwo friends are collected in the book “Alla ricerca del vino perfetto”.