Baldassarre Turini, the builder of Villa Lante, was born in 1486 in the small Tuscan town of Pescia. The son of a local wealthy family, he studied law, and soon the young Baldassarre was recruited by the powerful Florentine Medicis. In 1512, he was a member of Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici’s entourage and was captured by the French at the Battle of Ravenna.
When Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici was elected Pope Leo X in 1513, Turini followed him to Rome. His loyalty was soon rewarded with the important title of datarius (head of the office responsible for dating papal documents). Leo X intended to make Turini a cardinal, but before he could do this, he died unexpectedly in 1521.
During the short reign of Pope Hadrian VI, Turini was forced to give up his post. When Leo X’s cousin Giulio de’ Medici was elected Pope Clement VII, he appointed Turini as a nuncio, a trusted agent of the pope and the Medici family.
Turini also held important administrative posts in Rome: he was magister viarum, monitoring construction work in the city, and was in charge of the Medici and Strozzi palaces. Pope Paul III eventually appointed Turini as his legate, or representative on important occasions, such as emperor Charles V’s visit to Italy in 1536.
Baldassarre Turini died in October 1543, and his body was blessed in the church of Sant’Eustachio, near his townhouse. Later, Turini’s coffin was moved to his birthplace, Pescia, where a funerary monument by Raffaello da Montelupo was erected to him in the cathedral.
Turini had close links with the most important artists of the early sixteenth century. According to Vasari, Turini commissioned works from both Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, and was executor of the latter’s will. He was also a close friend of Raphael’s young pupil, the architect and painter Giulio Romano.