Fodor's Expert Review Villa Medici
Purchased by Napoléon to create an academy where artists could study Italian art and put it toward the (French) national good, the villa originally belonged to Cardinal Ferdinando I de' Medici, who also laid out the immaculate Renaissance garden to set off his sculpture collection. In 1803, the building became the official host to the French Academy of Rome. Garden tours in English are offered, allowing you to walk in the footsteps of Subleyras, Fragonard, and Ingres, who all worked here. The guided tour is the only way you can see the gardens and the incredibly picturesque garden facade, which is studded with Mannerist and Rococo sculpted reliefs and overlooks a loggia with a beautiful fountain devoted to Mercury. There is also a pleasant cafeteria (daily 8 am–7 pm) at the loggia level, by the Galleria del Cardinale Ferdinando de' Medici.