Sui colli di Fiesole
Places of worship

Fiesole Cathedral

Dates back to 1028 when Bishop Jacopo il Bavaro decided to move the cathedral from its original position near the abbey

Piazza della Cattedrale, 1
This building dates back to the year 1028 when Bishop Jacopo il Bavaro decided to move the cathedral from its original position near the abbey, within the city walls. He dedicated it to Saint Romolo, an evangelist from Fiesole, and this saint feature heavily in the works of art in the cathedral.

The cathedral has a Romanesque basilica and three naves supported by stone columns with decorated arches. The presbytery is raised on a crypt. This is the result of work carried out between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and restoration done between 1878 and 1883. The nineteenth century restoration involved reconstructing the façade, cleaning up the original carvings and eliminating all elements which had been added on since it was first built.
The interior of the cathedral is majestic and severe in its simplicity. The only decoration in the central nave is the 1273 marble ‘paliotto’ or altar decoration and the two fifteenth and sixteenth century frescoes of Saint Benedetto and Saint Sebastiano, both by Pietro Perugino. The wooden desk of Saint Andrea Corsini, made in 1371 by Pietro di Lando, sits against the left wall. In the presbytery there are frescoes by an artist from Fiesole, Nicodermo Ferrucci. These sixteenth century frescoes depict stories from the life of Saint Romolo. By the main altar is a Gothic triptych which was commissioned in 1450 by Bicci di Lorenzo. The side altars are accompanied by Neo-Gothic style triptychs painted in 1886. Two chapels open out from the right side of the presbytery.
The burial chapel of Bishop Leonardo Salutati is a real Renaissance jewel. It houses the bishop’s marble sarcophagus which was sculpted by Mino da Fiesole and which is decorated with gold. The sarcophagus sits on a shelf above a particularly life-like sculpted bust of the bishop. On the facing wall is a marble dossal depicting the Madonna and Child between Saint Leonardo and Saint Remigio and the head of Salvatore. This sculpture was carried out by the artist Opus Mini. There are also painted wall decorations here which were done at the same time as and in harmony with these bas-reliefs sculptures. The paintings were done by Cosimo Rosselli and show the Evangelists and Saints Leonardo and Giovanni Battista.
The chapel of the Santissimo Sacramento has typically nineteenth century decorations and is home to copies of two paintings of the Ghirlandaio school showing stories from the life of Saint Romolo. To the other side, with the monument to Bishop Corsani (responsible for the nineteenth century restoration work) on the left, there is the chapel of the Canonici, or Canons. This ancient sacristy was frescoed at the end of the fourteenth and start of the fifteenth century. It contains a marble dossal by Andrea Ferrucci, completed between 1492 and 1494. The chapel is also home to important liturgical items such as Bishop Salutati’s mitre and the 1584 reliquary bust of Saint Romolo. Against the facing wall is the large and impressive statue of Saint Romolo by Giovanni della Robbia (1521).
The crypt is reached by a staircase and is supported by columns with eleventh century arches which were probably part of the original construction. They have Gothic and Neo-Gothic medallions painted on the vault and on the left there is an original Ghirlandaio school painting depicting stories from the life of Saint Romolo, including his martyrdom. In the bishops’ sepulchral chapel there is a panel painting by an anonymous artist who is today known as the Maestro del Bigallo (the Master of the Bigallo).
This painting depicts the Madonna on a throne with Child, the oldest icon of the cathedral, which was probably painted between 1215 and 1220 when the church was first enlarged and the bell tower was built. Until 1790,this painting (which was known as the ‘Madonna del Soccorso’) was actually situated by an altar on the right side of the crypt. This was later demolished to make room for the baptismal font by Francesco Ferrucci del Tadda. The wrought iron gate was completed by Sienese father and son, Petruccio and Francesco di Betto and dates back to 1349.

This gate closes off the apse in the crypt which houses the remains of Saint Romolo. The crypt was restructured in 1488 by the Romoli family who also added the new marble altar and other elements such as wall paintings showing stories from the life of Saint Romolo attributed to Rosselli and which unfortunately have been severely damaged by damp.
An ancient Etruscan city, a honeypot for art and literature lovers
Fiesole has always been a favorite destination for people seeking the classic Tuscany. While wild and neighboring the city, it also boasts an unforgettable hilltop view of Florence. Aristocratic and secluded, Fiesole is a well-kept secret. ...