FIESOLE

Fiesole – km 8 – Refreshment N° 2

Panorama from the hill of Fiesole view  by via San Domenico.

In the foreground is the Abbey of San Domenico.

Villas, castles and palaces on the hill of Fiesole seen from Via San Domenico

We leave Florence on via San Domenico, a wide comfortable road with a slight incline which winds through Piazza Edison. After barely two kilometers this road takes us to a small group of houses that serve as faithful sentinels for the Convent of San Domenico which dates to the middle fifteenth century with its magnificent portico of six columns and inside of which you can admire splendid works of art, above them all the “Madonna and Saints” of the artist Beato Angelico (1387 – 1455).

We approach Fiesole, but not without first having visited the beautiful Badia Fiesolana, the sublime work by Filippo Brunelleschi (designer of the Cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence’s Duomo) who lavished the Church’s Sacresty, Cloisters, Refectory and Library with riches of the Faith and art (1377 – 1466). An authentic treasure chest of the fifteenth century.

A centre for tourism and art, it was an Etruscan city allied to Rome (217BC) against Hannibal. The city was a military stronghold and field of battle for Stilicho against Radagaisus in 405AD and in Belisarius’ battle against the Astrogoths. This magnificent city has a wealth of Etrusco-roman archeological sites amongst which are the theatre and the Temple which host many musical and cultural activities.

The old town centre is an ode to art and the history of Civilization. In Piazza Mino, after having left the Seminario Vescovile rises its magnificent Cathedral which was completed in 1028 under the Bishop Jacopo il Bavaro and within which one can admire many works of art by such masters as the Della Robbia, Nicodmeo Ferrucci, Tadda, Lorenzo di Bicci, Cosimo Rosselli and of course Mino da Fiesole (1430 – 1484) to whom the immense piazza is dedicated. In the middle of the piazza are situated the bronze equestrian statues of Giuseppe Garibaldi and King Vittorio Emanuele II at their meeting at Teano. These statues were undertaken by by Oreste Calzolai (1852 – 1924) a native of Borgo San Lorenzo. Fronting the piazza is the old Pa­lazzo Municipale adorned with the heraldic badges of the town’s Podestà (mayors) and Gonfalonieri (the city’s standard bearers), while to its right the sixteenth century Church of Santa Maria Primerana provides a worthy cornice.

If Fiesole can still number ancient sacred edifices such as the churches of Sant’Alessandro, San Francesco, the Bandini Museum, the Chapel of the Tomb and the Conventino di San Bernardino and a unique countryside our itinerary brings us to Borgunto, and then on the road to Settignano, Vincigliata and to the Bosconi di Montesenario, an area rich with villas, Palazzi and castles surrounded by woods and immense gardens, well maintained paths and small parks and rich with a variety of flora that make the environs of the ancient Etruscan city the pride and honour of Florence and Tuscany.

Badia Fiesolana

Aldo Giovannini