Fiesole - Etruscans, compensations and good company

A couple of days ago we took a day off, ignoring work and other boring stuff, and went across the hills to Florence, or - more accurately - its older sister Fiesole.  We'd never been there and had wanted to visit the Etruscan and Roman ruins for a long time.  But this time we had an extra excuse - our friends, New Zealand poet and author Vincent O'Sullivan and his wife Helen, were staying at Fiesole in a house once owned by the 19th century author of supernatural fiction, Vernon Lee - (born Violet Paget).  She was a friend of Henry James, Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater, a lesbian and an ardent feminist.  Her extensive library is now in the British Institute of Florence. The Villa Palmerino is divided into apartments specifically for writers and academics on sabbatical, at affordable prices.  They are quirky, furnished in the old-fashioned Italian style and have a homely, lived-in feel to them.

Fiesole is on a hillside overlooking Florence and it has its own quiet beauty.  There's a wonderful Roman theatre, very well preserved

And an Etruscan museum with lots of interesting things inside.  This is one of the 7th century bc 'stele';

and this is a strange funerary jar that reminds me of the canopic jars in Egyptian tombs with the god Anubis on the lid.  One of the theories about the Etruscans is that they were originally the Hittites who migrated to Italy after drought and famine brought down their own civilisation.

We had a very good lunch in one of the terraced restaurants in the town and then took Vincent and Helen back to the house, which is out in the country, surrounded by tranquil gardens, perfect for writing and thinking or just soaking up the sun.  Not that there's much of that in Italy this spring.  The days are changeable - mixtures of hazy sunshine and cloud and rain.  Very cool too.  Last night we had to put on the heating!!
Vincent and Helen at Villa Palmerino


  1. My envy meter is creeping up to dangerous levels.
    Roman ruins, Etruscan funerary objects, and a tradition of supporting the arts.
    All with the bonus of catching up with friends.
    Sounds like heaven.


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