Horti Leonini

In the middle of the sixteenth century Diomede Leoni, a native son of San Quirico d'Orcia without vast fortune or artistic training, decided to build a garden in his hometown which he named "Horti Leonini". Over time, the garden has been faithfully maintained, yet both its creator and its history have been almost forgotten.

From his letters and other research we find that Diomede (1515-1590) was working as an "agent" in Rome during the heady days of late Renaissance. While working for both a Venetian cardinal and the Medici’s, he befriended Michelangelo and was at his bedside when the artist died in 1564. Given this fact and the timing of the construction of his Horti, it is very possible that Michelangelo had a hand in its design. How much he was involved we will never know since there are no documents that directly link the artist to the garden. Nevertheless the garden belies a grandness that prompted the historian, Isa Bella Bersali, to write that the garden showed the “hand of an architect unknown and important”. (Baldassare Peruzzi e le ville senese nel cinquecento, 1977).