Oligarchs in Florence isn’t as a new thing as you might be expecting 🙂 There was an Abramovich in the old times as well and before communism locked our Russian friends within the borders of great Mother Russia, the Demidoff Family was a special Guest of Florence.
Nicola Demidoff was the Florence ambassador of Tsar Alexander an avid collector of artworks. The Villa construction began in 1822 by architect Giovan Battista Silvestri , former head of operations at the Uffizi , in neoclassical style, with a main building and two wings stretched out to form a kind of square, as in the Pitti Palace.
The villa was finished by his son Nicholas, Anatole Demidoff , in 1831 , who received the Grand Duke Leopold II the title of Prince of San Donato. Around the villa were also planted about 5,000 mulberry trees for silkworm, textile processes were completed in the complex of Pratolino.
In the park of Villa Demidoff was built the first golf course in Italy in 1889. The Florence Golf Club was founded by a group of British part of the colony of subjects of His Britannic Majesty present in Florence.
The house was severely damaged during the Second World War and never restored . In the surviving rooms were built modest homes , while the adjacent park was fully occupied by modern buildings.
The only structure that is still in good condition is the Chapel Demidoff di San Donato , built inspired by the Pantheon in Rome , which is now used by the Church of Christ of Florence.