Cardinal Ferdinand of Medici (1551-1609) is responsible for most of its present
character. In 1576, he put the Florentine architect Bartolomeo Ammannati in
charge of the extension of the country pavilion he had bought from Cardinal
Ricci’s heirs, in order to transform it into a palace able to show to the Romans his
greatness and his ambitions, on the location of the legendary Luculus’ villa. The
mannerist painter Jacopo Zucchi carried out the inner decorations while
Ammannati adorned the façade looking onto the garden with an extraordinary
collection of ancient bas-relief. The works lasted until 1587, when the Cardinal left
Rome to become Grand-Duke of Tuscany.
The Cardinal also created vast gardens. Their 16th century line is still preserved,
remaining nonetheless a lively place. It gracefully carries the signs of the posterior
periods, with the pine trees planted in the 19th century or some squares and flower
beds’ transformations in the second half of the 20th century. The charm of this park
and the views it arranges on Rome made it a source of inspiration for the greatest
artists such as Velasquez, Ingres and Corot.The French Academy in Rome was founded by Louis XIV’s minister, Colbert, the
11th of February 1666.