San Domenico, Fiesole

Owner of two lots of farmland near the walls of Fiesole, Leonardo draws the hills of Fiesole indicating Monte Ceceri for his prophecy on flight. In the church of San Domenico is the Baptism of Lorenzo di Credi, a free rendering of the Baptism attributed to Verrocchio and Leonardo.

Walls of Fiesole

The town of Fiesole is linked to Leonardo’s experiment with human flight, which took place on the nearby Monte Ceceri. At the beginning of the 16th century the artist acquired two modest plots of land and a small quarry near Fiesole. It is unlikely, however, that he was aware of the ancient ruins, which included a Roman temple and theatre and lay buried close to the town. These have since been thoroughly excavated and opened to the public.

Maiano Quarries, Fiesole

Three toponyms appear in the drawings that Leonardo made of the hilly region to the north of Florence. In addition to Mount Morello, Leonardo mentions Fiesole (a city founded in antiquity, and where the artist owned some land), and Mount Ceceri, from the summit of which one of his students. Zoroastro, flung himself into the void in the attempt to realize the dream of human flight.


Leonardo recalls Monte Ceceri and Fiesole in his Codex on the Flight of Birds: first for having sighted there a cortone "bird of prey", and again for his prophecy on human flight from Monte Ceceri. Legend has it that one of his followers, Zoroastro from Peretola, tried to fly from Monte Ceceri, but the attempt ended in a disastrous fall. Leonardo's first drawing of a flying machine dates from his first Florentine period, around 1480.