Last week we had the good fortune of getting to tour Villa San Girolamo, the villa right above ours on Via Vecchia Fiesolana. I had been curious about the uninhabited villa for ages, occasionally seeing the gates open and wanting to sneak in à la James Bond, but alas, I bided my time until we got an actual invitation, and saved my spy gear for another occasion.
Built in the 14th century, the villa has been inhabited by various religious orders, has been visited by two popes, and has a beautiful private chapel with works by Michelozzo and Nigetti, which would more appropriately be called a church due to its grand size.
Its most recent claim to fame was its being used as the setting for the Oscar-winning film The English Patient. It is told that Charles Strong, original owner of Villa Le Balze, stayed at S. Girolamo in 1911, and taken by the wonderful views of the location, decided to buy the land just below it and build Villa Le Balze.
From the garden, we could look below and see a section of our own villa, including the Secret Garden, and the arches of the east terrace. You're welcome to visit our website if you'd like more information about Villa Le Balze's history, including its fascinating involvement in World War II, with before and after photos of the bombings.
Back to S. Girolamo, I must say its sad to see such a beautiful Renaissance villa empty. Visiting it, one could feel it longed to be filled with grand dinners and laughter, and I longed to be in attendance! Since the departure of the most recent order of nuns, the villa has fallen into disrepair and the owners into financial instability. So, if anyone is in the market for a multi-million dollar villa in the hills of Tuscany, I know a guy who knows a guy.