Why is this complex called “Parco de’ Medici”?
Because on its adjacent side, opposite the motorway, a historical castle called “Castello dei Papi” – Castle of the Popes - is found which was the country home of several popes during the Renaissance era. In particular Pope Leo X, alias Giovanni de’ Medici, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent. A painting made by Raphael of Pope Leo X is exposed at the Galleria Pitti in Florence. As you can see, the Castle of the Popes is an architectonical mix which was created around the main building constructed during the second half of the 15th century under Popes Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII. The castle was then enlarged by Cardinal Alidosi under Popes Alexander VI and Julius II. We can see the name of this pope engraved into one of the architraves above the great windows with leaded glazing which reflect those of Palazzo Venezia build some years before.
This mass of architectural styles was created by great artists of the period and of which we mention Bramante, Giuliano da Sangallo and the great Raphael who frescoed the basin shaped apses of the Bramante Chapel. A fresco which was furtively removed at the end of the 19th century and sold in France is now displayed at the Louvre amongst other Italian master pieces. The Castle of the Popes remained abandoned for centuries and was recently acquired by the Sovereign Order of Malta who has restored it and now uses the castle as offices for their nearby Hospital.
Pope Leo X lived in this castle with his court of scholars, musicians and artists. It was therefore the memory of this fabulous years which Pope Leo X lived in these walls, that inspired the promoters of the confining tourist and recreational complex to call it “Parco de’ Medici”.
The complex is 10 minutes by car from the international airport in Fiumincino and is located between the motorway and the river Tiber, within the great ring road “GRA” which surrounds Rome. With an area of roughly 100 hectares we find the touristic recreational compound called “Parco de’ Medici” which stands out for its 27-hole golf course with a welcoming Club House. But let’s cross the motorway again and lets follow the route of Viale Salvatore Rebecchini to arrive at the entrance of the Golf Club. This golf complex was build in 1990 by recovering a completely arid and flat area ideal to accommodate what was then foreseen to become a great seaplane port for Rome, a project never accomplished and later definitely abandoned.
The recovery of this piece of land is doubtless the most important ecological environmental transformation carried out in Rome after the war. More than one million cubic metres of soil were moved, lakes created and mounts of earth were accumulated in numerous points with the aim of giving movement to the fairways and thousands of plants were planted. Including the ruins of an ancient artefact from 1st century BC, a small river landing by the Tiber which flew right behind this building during that period.
In fact, the Tiber was the most important route for provisions for the city of Rome. The first port structures were build directly at the river estuary which were later transformed into two ports during the 1st and 2nd century AD: the bigger one called “of Claudius” (which is now completely covered by earth and used for the runways of Fiumicino airport) and the smaller, more architectural one in hexagonal shape called “of Traiano” is still quite visible nowadays.