by Sailko

 

The Badia Fiesolana is the EUI’s hub. Opened in 1976, it houses the office of the President, the office of the Secretary General, the Institute’s library, the Department of Political and Social Sciences, the Academic Service, the Real Estate and Facilities Service, part of the Budget and Financial Affairs Service and the Communications Service.

Behind the row of member state flags stands a building of vibrant history which has played host to everyone from incurables to an army. Ph.D. researchers now walk where pagan cults once wandered, on a site which was also claimed by Christians for the first cathedral of Fiesole.

The 15th century church – which is still used for the annual EUI conferring ceremony and other events – stands on the site of the 11th century one and includes a marble façade from the 12th century of a style seen throughout Florence. The attached monastery was inhabited by Fiesole bishops that spent the 12th century embroiled in disputes with Camaldolese abbots from Arezzo province, and three centuries later the Badia reached such economic hardship it had to be bailed out by the pope.

Cosimo ‘the elder’, of the Medici political dynasty, funded the construction of the Badia complex and “thought how that place ought to be lived in by excellent and lettered men, and for this took thought to make a worthy library there,” according to a bookseller at the time. This wish was however interrupted in 1520 when the Badia was temporarily used as a hospice for the incurables of Florence’s syphilis epidemic.

Less than a decade later Charles V used the Badia for his troops’ headquarters during the siege of Florence, damaging much of the interior and cutting down the surrounding vines and olive trees.

During the following centuries the Badia was at different times a summer residence for bishops, a printing and engraving shop and civilian housing. The Italian government offered the building as the home of the EUI and after extensive work the Badia was transformed into the space we see today.

 

 

To reach the Badia from Florence, take bus n.7 in Piazza San Marco and exit at bus stop “San Domenico 01”, cross the road, walk 50 metres in the direction of Fiesole (the same direction as the bus). Then take the first road on the left, opposite the church and cemetery. Badia stands on Via dei Roccettini, 9.

 

Sources: Image by Saliko | Text by European University Institute
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