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The history of the Villa

The history of the Villa has for centuries been linked with the ancient family of Altoviti, one of the oldest noble families in Florence. The origins of the family are uncertain and the subject of controversy among scholars: in excavations on Mount Fiesole a Roman inscription was also found that mentions a certain "Furio Cammillo Altovita", grandson of Furio Cammillo, leading to the assumption of Roman origins. If we go by the coat of arms - the flayed wolf that appears on one of the chimneys of the ground floor of the Villa - the first traces are from the end of the 10th century and allow us to go back to a certain Longobardo di Corbizzo who in 1192 lived in Borgo Santi Apostoli in Florence and had seven children, including one named Altovita. The latter may have been the founder of the house and was appointed Knight by Emperor Federico II, perhaps with the symbol of the wolf that symbolised daring captains. The Dominican friar Jacopo Altoviti was bishop of Fiesole in late 1300 and became the protagonist of a series of constructions and expansions (the Bishop's Palace, the Cathedral and the Convent of San Domenico), so it is easy to still see the distinctive Altoviti emblem on these monuments and even in several smaller oratories and chapels. His descendant Neri Altoviti was bishop and in 1637 founded the Episcopal Seminary of Fiesole. In Florence they had many houses in the area of Borgo Santi Apostoli and held the patronage of the nearby church of the Holy Apostles.

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La Famiglia

The family was of Guelph part. With the rise to power of Cosimo I, the wealthy banker Bindo Altoviti was openly hostile to him and for this reason suffered the confiscation of property and exile to Rome. Here Bindo helped many famous artists such as Raffaello and Benvenuto Cellini, who portrayed him in their works. His son Antonio was Archbishop of Florence, a very delicate position given the firm opposition of Cosimo I de' Medici who prevented him taking possession of the seat for twenty years. In Florence, at number 18 in Borgo Santi Apostoli existed the family’s main palace, an actual house-fortress, which the Florentines called simply Il Palagio. At Borgo Santi Apostoli several stately buildings belonged to the Altoviti and on the church of the Apostle Saints there is a large carved coat of arms of the family. The arms of the Altoviti is a silver flayed wolf on a black background and refers to a legendary wolf that is said to have saved the head of the family, mauling one of his enemies. Thanks to the offices held of high ranking officials in various cities controlled by Florence, it is easy to see the coat of arms in the praetorian and podestary palaces of Tuscany. In particular you can see it at Cascia, at San Giovanni Valdarno, at Castiglion Fiorentino, at Scarperia, at Arezzo, San Gimignano, Colle Val d'Elsa and at Radda in Chianti. In the area of Fiesole it is often found on buildings of the diocese for bishops who belonged to this family. You are part of a long history and, if you want, you can trace it.