Fiesole - FirenzeAl centro di un’emozione
A miniature trove of artistic treasures is an apt definition of the Bandini Museum. This small building, constructed in neo-Renaissance style in the early 1900s, houses one of the most prestigious art collections in the whole area of Florence. It is composed of paintings and sculptures from between 1000 and 1400 which Canon Angelo Maria Bandini, from whom the museum takes its name, collected during the second half of the eighteenth Century. On his death in 1803 he left the collection to Fiesole, the city of his birth and the place where, despite absences obliged by study and his activity as a librarian, he always sought to keep a home, firstly in Villa delle Tre Pulzelle in San Domenico and then in the building adjacent to the oratory of St. Ansano which he purchased in 1795. The rooms on the first floor contain the “primitives”, the works of medieval art by Taddeo and Agnolo Gaddi, Nardo di Cione and Lorenzo Monaco, and paintings from the Renaissance, from Neri di Bicci to Iacopo del Sellaio, while the ground floor rooms boast a splendid collection of pieces by della Robbia.
The Theatre was built towards the end of the first Century B.C. using stone hewn from the rocky slope that was then fashioned into the seating. The only remaining original part of the cavea is to the right; the whole left part has been rebuilt. Access was made easier by narrow steps that divided the seating into 4 triangular sectors. There was an open space between the cavea and the ”orchestra” that was reserved for the higher echelons of the city elite and illustrious guests who would sit on richly decorated marble seats.
The performance took place on a proscenio with, in front, a low wall which had a niche called the “pulpitum” in its centre and to the rear the scaena of which nothing is left. Three doors open on to the stage, the regia and the portae hospitales which was the actors’ entrance. To the sides of the stage there are other vault ceiling passages used as storerooms. The slabs used in the pulpitum and frontescena, exhibited inside the museum show that the building was in use for a long time..
A cultural tradition of making use of the theatre was established in the twentieth Century and this continues to this day as the annual “Estate Fiesolana” festival.
The spa was for meeting people and attending to body care. It was built at the same time as the theatre and was comprised of an open-air section and a covered one. The former was used for swimming and gymnastics and it was bordered by porticos at both northernmost and southernmost ends. The internal walls, which must certainly have been colonnaded, led to a large open area that contained piscine (swimming pools) of various sizes, a cisterna to purify the water and a criptoportico for gymnastic exercises.The covered area was composed of three main areas namely the frigidarium, a cool ambient, the tepidarium, a moderately warm area for passing through and the calidarium, a hot room, as well as the auxiliary facilities such as the latrine. The frigidarium had a chamber with a semicircular pool lined with marble. Three arches separated it from the neighbouring area that was used for meeting people and holding conversations. To one side of this area there was a niche in which a statue of Hercules as a boy was found which now stands inside the museum. The tepidarium was kept moderately warm by a furnace that generated steam and heat. The calidarium was the hottest area; it was warmed by two furnaces set behind the east wall which can still be seen today. The heat circulated below the flooring of the room which was raised and tiled in terracotta and it was also fed through hollow bricks laid vertically in chimney form which also stretched along the walls. The labrum, the tub used for washing after a big sweat and the laconicum, an authentic sauna, are still recognisable today
The Museum of Natural History of the University of Florence proposes a fantastic journey to discover Science, Nature and Art History in one of the most beautiful and popular cities in the world. The collections of the Museum of Natural History, distributed in different buildings in Florence, include specimens of extraordinary scientific and naturalistic value: the 16th century herbaria, the world’s most important collection of anatomical and botanical wax
models, the fossil skeletons of large mammals, the extraordinary collections of multi-coloured butterflies, the splendid examples of Elban and Brazilian tourmaline, the artistic hardstone carvings of the Medici Collections, the spectacular maori sculptures, the ethnic jewellery of native peoples, the monumental trees in the Botanical Garden, the collections of anatomical preparations. Founded in 1775 by Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Habsburg-Lorraine, it was one of the first scientific museums in the world. On that occasion, the naturalistic collections and scientific instruments housed in the
Uffizi Gallery were transferred to the restored Torrigiani Palace near the grand-ducal residence of Pitti Palace and
the Boboli Gardens. Today this palace contains the “La Specola” Zoology Section and the “Cristalli” exhibition.
The Museum offers its visitors (alone or with the family) curious exhibition courses and learning experiences
aimed at reconstructing “the unity of knowledge”, creating occasions and events illustrating the close relationship
between History, Art and Science.
Towards the northern end of Piazza Mino the entrance to the Archaeology Park opens out like a proscenium. Extending over some 35,000 square metres, it exhibits part of the ancient city as it was laid out in Roman times. The remains of a theatre, a Roman Etruscan temple and a bathhouse are set in one of the most beautiful green areas of the whole of Fiesole and the surroundings of Florence.
Rediscovery of these ancient remains dates to the nineteenth Century when national unification had created a climate favourable to culture, and Marquis Strozzi began excavating the Roman theatre. Next came the large pool of the spa building and its interior with the tubs and hot rooms. Unearthing the Etruscan-Roman temple was more recent after some chance discoveries led to the first excavations in the early decades of the twentieth Century and although limited are still proceeding today.
Designed to resemble a Tuscan temple by the architect Cerpi and the superintendent of Etruscan antiquities Luigi Adriano Milani, the Municipal archaeological museum was inaugurated inside the archaeological area in 1914. The discoveries made in the archaeological area were indexed and arranged and then transferred to the museum together with those found in the city and surroundings which up to then had been kept in two rooms in the Praetorian Palace (today’s town hall).
From then on, the museum’s exhibits are not only from the city of Fiesole and the surrounding area but are also Etruscan and Roman pieces from other areas of Etruria which were donated to the museum by private individuals or institutions. Subjected to renovation and refurbishing from 1980 onwards, the museum focuses mainly on Fiesole and its territory. The most significant artefacts of the area dating from Etruscan times include the steles fashioned from locally quarried pietra serena, the votive bronzes, the large bronze lioness, the architectural terracottas from the temple and, from the Roman era, the marble statue of Isis and the marble portraits and friezes from the old theatre. There are also several prestigious artefacts from Longobard sepulchres.
The antiquarian nature of the museum is no less important. From its very beginnings it has received donations of prestigious antique manufactured items – ceramics, bronzes and marbles up to the most recent major collections (A. Costantini 1990) of Attic, Etruscan and Italic ceramics.
The Stibbert Museum is one of the most fascinating and unexpected places in Florence. It is a house-and-museum which was designed by its owner, Mr. Frederick Stibbert, a wealthy English resident born in 1838, son of an English Colonel and his Florentine wife. He inherited a large fortune and, thanks to his agents all over the world, managed to create a Collection which is unique in its genre, comprising works of art from Europe, the Middle East and Japan; he brought together under one roof different ways of life and combat, and organized his museum using modern ideas which are still valid today.
The Collection, which boasts more than 36,000 pieces, is arranged according to didactic and evocative progressions through the house, which was designed and restored to this end by Stibbert himself, and is divided into two main nuclei: the first, composed of the parts of the villa in which he lived, shows the rich furnishings typical of aristocratic society during the second half of the 19th century; the second is made up of his Collection of arms and armor which, scenically placed by the genius of their owner, were divided up to form the European armory, the Islamic armory and the Japanese armory.
His eclectic taste, the same curiosity about the past and exoticism which characterizes the interiors of the Museum, can also be found in the large park that surrounds the villa. Copses, pavilions, statues, false ruins and a small Egyptian temple mark seemingly casual, suggestive, naturalistic walks, arranged according to a romantic vision of gardens which represents yet another innovation carried out by Stibbert, considering the Florentine cultural environment of the time.
The Foundation headquarters are in the fifteenth Century Villa “Le Coste” which for many years was the home and studio of Primo Conti. The Foundation was set up in 1980 and is also known as the Centre for Documentation and Research on Historic Avant-gardism. Indeed it is the realisation of the maestro’s dream “of conserving the memory and material of the most important innovating movements of the twentieth Century”. The Centre has two sections – the museum of the works of Primo Conti and the Archive.
There are over sixty oil paintings and more than 150 drawings by the maestro exhibited in the museum which was opened to the public in 1987. These works were completed between 1911 when his artistic career began and 1985 and the museum is ideal for studying the development of art in Italy and Europe in the twentieth Century. The lay-out of the museum begins with Conti’s first studies on the human form to his early interest in “fauve” art, the forerunner to the maestro’s brilliant season in Futurism. Conti understood the most alive and fertile feelings of Futurism which spawned an anti-academic style of painting, rich in poetics.
The archive is situated on the villa’s upper floor and it contains numerous items that make up the Foundation’s document section. These belonged to the leading players of early twentieth Century Italian culture such as Papini, Pavolini, Carocci, Lega and Sanminiatelli and is a wealth of book resources on Futurism - overall, a heritage of over a hundred thousand documents comprising missives, manuscripts and photographs of the time. There is also a rich collection of Futurist journals, newspapers and periodicals of the time, including the 1909 “Le Figaro” that bears the first Futurist manifesto, the complete collection of the “L’Enciclopedia” magazine considered one of the rare examples of Italian “Dadaism”.
The Temple stands opposite the spa. In Roman times, the two were linked by a road. There was a pre-Roman temple, a building from the Etruscan era built around the late 4th Century B.C. which was much smaller and simpler in layout with a single cell – the holy chamber – which housed the image of the divinity. This cell had two adjacent rooms. Outside there was a colonnade accessed by climbing up steps that still exist today. The floor was in beaten earth and the walls were coated with red plaster. The votive offerings came from the cell and comprised small bronzes and coins now exhibited in the museum.
There was an altar in front of the temple. The Etruscan building was roofed in flat and rounded tiles and its gable had a relief decoration very little of which still remains. It is thought that the temple was dedicated to a beneficial divinity, perhaps Minerva. This building was destroyed by fire in the first Century B.C. when the Romans conquered Fiesole and a new, bigger temple was built in its place. On the southern side there was a rectangular area, the stoà, for pilgrims to rest. Indeed in ancient times only the priest was allowed inside the temple. There was altar in front of the temple.
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Via di Baccano 4, 50014 Fiesole (FI)
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