The small town called Fiesole stands on a hill north of Florence and is reached through some of the loveliest panoramic roads in the capital town of Tuscany.
The first settlements in the area date back to the Etruscan era. The Etruscans were a mysterious people coming from present Turkey. But it is under the Romans that Fiesole became the most important town in the area, at least until Florence ascent. Traces of that period are still visible in Fiesole, as for example the wonderful Roman theatre, built following the slope of the hill.
In the Renaissance many noble families chose to have their countryside residences built on this hill. Nowadays in Fiesole there are over 30 villas – elegant buildings surrounded by well-tended luxuriant gardens.
Fiesole attracts many tourists, and in spring and summer weekends the Florentine love to climb the hill and enjoy the panorama while eating an artisanal ice cream.
But that of Fiesole is not the only hill around Florence. South of the town there are Arcetri (which is renowned for having been the place where Galileo Galilei was secluded), Poggio Imperiale, where you can admire one of the Florentine villas that once belonged to the Medicis, and Bellosguardo, whose name (meaning “magnificent view”) reveals its major feature.
And if you still have doubts about how fascinating would be living in a villa on the hills around Florence, remember that at the beginning of the 20th century Enrico Caruso bought two of them.
One of the most memorable thing you can do in Florence is to visit Vasari Corridor. Some people do not understand where this wonderful secret corridor of the Medici family is. In fact it is not simply visible and it is also not simply accessible for security reasons.
The Vasari Corridor is an enclosed private passageway long approximately 1km built in 1565 in just five months by order of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici. The total design is planned by Giorgio Vasari, from which the corridor has taken its name.
Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici has ordered to build this passage at the time of the wedding between his son Francesco I de’ Medici and Johanna of Austria. He especially wanted to be able to move freely between his residence, Pitti Palace, and the government palace, Palazzo Vecchio. In fact, since he had replaced the Republic of Florence, he felt insecure in public. The meat market on the bridge Ponte Vecchio was then replaced by goldsmith shops (that still occupy the bridge until now) to avoid its smell reaching into the passage.
On the other side of the Arno, the corridor passes over the loggiato of the church of Santa Felicita until it finally reaches the Boboli gardens and the apartments in Pitti Palace. The secret passageway contains over 1000 paintings, all dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as the important collection of Self-portraits by the greatest Masters of Western Art, like Giorgio Vasari, Andrea del Sarto, Bernini, Canova, Delacriox, Chagal and many others.
The Vasari Corridor can only be visited through guided tours organized by travel agencies and the costs are a little bit expensive. However, it will surely be worth the visit!
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