Villa Le Balze

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Villa Le Balze
Le balze, giardino d'inverno 02.JPG
General information
Architectural style Renaissance
Location Fiesole, Tuscany, Italy
Coordinates 43°48′22.25″N 11°17′18.97″E / 43.8061806°N 11.2886028°E / 43.8061806; 11.2886028Coordinates: 43°48′22.25″N 11°17′18.97″E / 43.8061806°N 11.2886028°E / 43.8061806; 11.2886028
Completed 1913
Owner Georgetown University
Design and construction
Architect Cecil Pinsent
Geoffrey Scott

Villa Le Balze is a garden villa in Fiesole, Tuscany, a comune of the Metropolitan City of Florence in central Italy. The Villa is owned by Georgetown University and hosts year-round study abroad students focused on specialized interdisciplinary study of Italian culture and civilization, as well as such other subjects as politics and history.


Villa le balze 01.JPG

Villa Le Balze was planned in 1911 by English architects Cecil Pinsent and Geoffrey Scott for the American philosopher Charles Augustus Strong and his wife Elizabeth Rockefeller Strong, who lived there for much of their lives. It was built in a tight space among the Tuscan hills overlooking the city of Florence and across the street from the 15th century Villa Medici. In Italian, "Balze" means cliffs, referring the Villa's physical situation, which in some areas rests on a 50 degree incline. It was completed in 1913 in the Renaissance architectural style and its seven formal gardens were designed similarly to the Italian Renaissance gardens of the 15th century. Many of the statues throughout the gardens and Villa depict the great philosophers, reflecting Charles' study during reclusion at the Villa.The Villa was joined with its neighboring Villino to create the three-acre campus that it now is, including several acres of olive groves.[1]

The Villa was the subject of significant attention during the Second World War. Initially used as the office of the Bank of Tuscany, the Villa was seized by German forces and used as a military headquarters. Under German control in 1944, the Villa underwent bombardment by machine gun and artillery fire of the Allied forces, causing substantial damage. At one point, a German mortar shell penetrated the roof of the Villa and became lodged without detonating in the library.[2][3]

In December 1979, the Marquesa Margaret Rockefeller de Larrain, granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller and daughter of Elizabeth and Charles, gifted the Villa Le Balze to Georgetown University.[4][5]


  1. ^ "Le Balze Garden". Retrieved 2016-06-06. 
  2. ^ "History of the Villa". Retrieved 2016-06-06. 
  3. ^ "Villa Gardens". Retrieved 2016-06-06. 
  4. ^ "About the Villa". Villa le Balze. 2007-01-09. Archived from the original on 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  5. ^ "Academics". Villa le Balze. 2007-06-26. Archived from the original on 2007-03-15. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 

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