This morning I came back here. In the Villa Fabbricotti park the cicadas don’t stop chirping and the trees still donate cool air and summer smell. In the wide and sometimes dispersive urban landscape, parks, historic villas and gardens are point of reference which help us recognize places and find ourselves inside their spaces, connecting with them. Among these places, far from the center but at the same time in the heart of Florence, there’s Villa Fabbricotti park. It is accessible for free and it is the ideal for a hike in a green lung in the city center.
Villa Fabbricotti in Florence stands out against the trees of the park that encircles it, beyond the impressive gate (just renovated) which watch the access from Via Vittorio Emanuele II. A mosaic fountain in the entrance with two flights of lateral stairs. The lanes go up steeply and take hold of the park running along a rich and lush plant life. Stud of benches, and a pair of picnic tables, this huge garden tells the everyday story of whom, like today, here works out far from the city traffic. The one who here walks after having lunch at the Café in the building which was the location of the old janitor’s quarters. The one who, together with its dog, chooses to be there because the park is simply beautiful. A net separates the Villa Fabbricotti park from the Stibbert Museum park, over there.
The Villa Fabbricotti park looks after some little treasuries: a small temple hidden by the shrubs, a chapel, the statues. Queen Victoria fall in love with it and painted some particulars in her sketches notebook when in 1894 was the special guest of the splendid Villa. Paulina Bonaparte lived here. The 14th century building was transformed in 1864 from being a hunting lodge, property of the Strozzi family, into a sumptuous abode to receive the new proprietor, Giuseppe Fabbricotti.
The first time I entered the park of Villa Fabbricotti, it would maybe have passed four years from now, the silence, which suddenly separated me from the world that I left a short step from me, kidnapped me, a silence broken only by the singing of different and varied small birds. I believed I was completely alone but I was wrong. I discovered that the park was not only popular among many people, alone or in small groups, but the people who animated it respected that green silence, and, just like me, while walking, enjoyed the first fresh air of autumn. Afar off someone recalled a dog. And thus I found it again every time I came back there. I was in the search of a new map of places familiar to me and the Villa Fabbricotti park, which from its varied levels donate glimpses of the city and of the neighborhood, has been for a non-florentine like me, the first place which embraced me.
Now the park, which is licensed from the Tuscany Region to the city of Florence, risks not to be anymore that center of reference which has been until now. Tuscany Region in 2016 is lack of economic resources and decided to put up for sale some of its “family jewels”. So Villa Fabbricotti and other buildings are destined to become something different. Actually in a pair of point the park is in maintenance and this is proved by the enclosures with signals of work in progress. But there is no state of neglect. The park is still alive as always lived. This is testified by the centuries-old Cedar of Liban, in the open space in front of the lateral entrance of the villa, declared by the neighborhood council “Tree of the peace” in 1987 to underline the values of justice and solidarity with a plaque which proclaims them.
Some days ago I signed an online petition Change.org “No to the sale of Villa Fabbricotti, in Florence” and I invited some Facebook friends to do the same or to write an email to the “Villa Fabbricotti Committee” to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.