Mino Square - FIesole


The small town rises on a hill 6 km from Florence

Read the story of Fiesole on Fiesole Fiesole, between stones and the sky Exploring Fiesole, from the ancient city to the querriesRead the story of
Fiesole was one of the most important Etruscan towns on the southern slopes of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. It was allied to Rome in the III century BC. In 90 BC the town rebelled during the social war, being then taken by Lucio Porcio Catone.
The acropolis was found on the top of the hill, where today the convent of St. Francis stands. The city enjoyed relative prosperity up until the barbaric invasions. In 405 Fiesole was the stage for the battle that saw the Goths of Radagaiso defeated by Stilicone.

The bishops of Fiesole, from 492, gained political power during the High Middle Ages, at the time of the Byzantiums and the Longobards. In particular during the Longobard domination the city started to suffer an evermore obvious decline, coinciding with the growth of the economic and political influence of Florence. A first destruction of Fiesole by the Florentines is a rather legendary episode, traditionally dated 1010, and maybe should be considered only as an implicit testimony of the lengthening Florentine shadow over the hilltop town. In 1125 however there was the real conquest and from then Fiesole followed the fate of the nearby city of Giglio.

In 1325 the Florentines improved the city walls, in the fear of an offensive by Castruccio Castracani, thereby emphasising the noteworthy strategic importance of the site. In particular the high town centre was walled, and from 1399 hosted the Franciscan convent.

Fiesole became a favourite place for the creation of suburban villas from the construction of the Villa Medici, one of the very first to fully take advantage of the magnificent panoramic view, theorised by Leon Battista Alberti in his “De re aedificatoria”. The Medici also squandered a great deal of riches in the reconstruction of the Fiesole Abbey.

From the end of the 18th century Fiesole was a favourite place to stay for foreigners in Italy, who bought the villas from the Florentine nobles, restructuring them and giving them magnificent gardens. As well as numerous passing foreigners, the small town hosted a large community of northern Europeans and Americans.
Among these should be remembered William Spence, who lived in Villa Medici hosting a wide colony of English pre-Raphaelites, the painter Arnold Böcklin, who died in Villa Bellagio, or John Temple Leader,who recreated a romantic medieval dream in the castle at Vincigliata.

During the Second World War, it saw the episode of the so-called Martyrs of Fiesole. Centre of the main town is piazza Mino da Fiesole, where the imposing Romanesque cathedral, the Palazzo Altoviti (today seat of the bishop seminary), and the Town Hall are situated. On one side of the main square, at the end of a short but steep climb, the church of St. Francis rises. Still around Piazza Mino, but to the north, we find the entrance to the Roman Theatre. As well as the theatre, perfectly conserved, are the remains of a necropolis, Roman thermal baths and some other buildings from late-imperial times. The theatre is seat to a theatrical and musical summer season known as Fiesolan Summer. A few metres from the Roman theatre is the entrance to the Museum Bandini, where an important and vast collection of ceramics by Della Robbia is kept.

Cover image credit: TOB



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