Former Monastery of Paradiso


The Castel de’ Pulci, a medieval castle situated in the Arno valley between Lastra a Signa and Scandicci, was included by Leonardo on folio 23r of Codex Madrid II. It was built in the 13th century by the Pulci family, supporters of the Guelph faction and the owners of considerable property in Florence in the neighborhood between the Church of Santo Stefano al Ponte and the Church of San Pier Scheraggio. Their tower house was located in via de’ Lamberteschi. Giorgio Vasari the Younger, the grandson of the artist and writer Giorgio Vasari, made a drawing of the castle after it had been acquired by the Soderini family in 1511. The Pulci family produced three notable men of letters: Bernardo, Luca and Luigi. Leonardo owned a copy of Luigi Pulci’s Morgante (and even nicknamed one of his students ‘Salaino’) and a copy of his Vocabolista, from which he drew up a list of words that can be found in the Codex Trivulziano.
From 1854 to 1973 the castle was used as a psychiatric hospital; the visionary poet Dino Campana died there in 1932. After lying empty for years the castle was completely restored and since 2012 has served as the seat of the Scuola Superiore della Magistratura.


By 'Certosa', Leonardo indicates the Certosa del Galluzzo, one of the most important religious, historic and artistic centres in the vicinity of Florence.


The city of Florence, centre of Humanism and of the Renaissance, was the second homeland of Leonardo, who is frequently mentioned in the sources as "Florentine". On map RL 12685 (Windsor Castle), for the Arno Canal project, he represents the city without naming it, stenographically evidencing the Cathedral with its dome, the circle of walls and the bridges over the Arno. See thematic itineraries.


At the foot of the hill known as "del Paradiso" stands what was in Leonardo's time the monastery of San Salvatore and Santa Brigida. It consists of an extension of the villa called "Paradiso degli Alberti", which was the seat of one of the most important circles in the early days of Florentine humanist culture.


What Leonardo indicates as "Rifredi" on RL 12685 was in ancient times the Rivus Frigidus (Rio Freddo, or cold stream). Today it is called Terzolle, and already Leonardo indicates it as "Terzolle" on folio 23r of Madrid Ms. II, in one of the overall maps for the project for the Arno Canal passing through Prato - Pistoia.
Today it is a right tributary of the Mugnone, flowing into it at Ponte di San Donato. At the time of Leonardo, the "Rifredi" followed today's Via delle Cascine, flowing directly into the Arno in the zone of Prato del Quercione - Piazzale Kennedy.

Texts by
Alessandro Vezzosi, in collaboration with Agnese Sabato / English translation by Catherine Frost
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