The history of the Tower

Yesterday like today

The timeless beauty of Maiano’s Tower

Sir John Temple Leader

In 1844 Sir John Temple Leader, a wealthy Englishman who was the son of a London industrialist and loved to travel, moved to Florence with his wife Maria Luisa de Leoni. Temple Leader bought the land a few miles outside of the city on the hills that extended between Fiesole and Florence close to the ancient hamlet of Maiano. He embarked on a series of projects that revalorized the area: reforesting and restoring around 80 hectares of deserted stone-quarries, rebuilding the Castle of Vincigliata, expanding the Villa of Maiano (the set of the movie “Room With a View”), restoring “Villa I Tatti” (today a campus of Harvard University), and enlarging the village. He created the Romantic Park on the banks of the Mensola creek where, near the quarry “of the columns”, he created a pond and transformed stonecutters’ paths into wonderful secret trails. These special places had welcomed many important visitors in the past, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Benedetto and Giuliano da Maiano, Boccaccio, Vasari, and Lorenzo il Magnifico, but they had been forgotten until Sir Temple restored them to their past splendor.

The Park, the ancient quarry and the village

The Romantic park, now called “Of the Queen”, was named after Queen Victoria of England after her visit there on April 12, 1893 when it was officially inaugurated. The ancient quarry was named after the precious columns of the Cappella dei Principi of San Lorenzo in Florence, which was built entirely of the stones from the quarry. Many masterpieces have been created by important ancient masters who used stones extracted from the quarry. When Temple Leader passed away reconstruction work continued uninterrupted under the guidance of the Stori-Corsini family, which bought all of the farms, the village, and the Villa of Maiano. The Stori-Corsini understood the potential and unique beauty of the place.

The Fattoria di Maiano today

The Miari Fulcis family

In 1961, Lucrezia Corsini married the Venetian Count Giacomo Miari Fulcis and inherited the entire property of over 300 hectares, continuing its development. For the past 25 years the Fattoria di Maiano has been an organic farm that is an attractive pole for experimentation and research that combines agricultural production with hospitality, activities, sports and top-quality restaurants.

Photo: Francesco Miari Fulcis with his wife Nicoletta and 4 children: from the left, Tommaso, Anna, Caterina and Matteo.

The Tower of Maiano Recovery Project


An ancient nineteenth-century neo-gothic tower, commissioned by Sir John Temple Leader between 1870 and 1894, is now located near the Pond of the Columns. The tower is characterized by a wonderful fairy-tale appearance. It was long uninhabited, secret, and hidden. It was, nonetheless, essential to the landscape. In 2015, thanks to the vision of Architect Simone Micheli and Earl Francesco Miari Fulcis, an ethical, clever project came to life: the BIG DREAM IN A LITTLE TOWER. Their intention was to restore the use of this secret meeting place, transforming the tower into a fascinating, elegant and refined suite, a material transposition of a new, emphatic, tangible conception of luxury. It is a space where art, cooking and relaxation blend together, with the aim of creating an experimental place and timeless work of art, capable of generating an effective and extensive communication, transforming itself into a pole of attraction that captures one’s imagination.

My intention with regard to the recovery of the tower is to offer an experience that will remain a strong memory. That is my universal approach to architecture: to make sure that my works express a density of emotions and meanings, capable of penetrating the deepest parts of an individual, giving them the opportunity to live a full and unconventional everyday life.

Simone Micheli

The project exibition

The project BIG DREAM IN A LITTLE TOWER was presented during Milan Design Week in 2015 through the mobile application, which took visitors on a virtual tour of the project, from the Pond of the Columns, to the Fattoria of Maiano. The visitor was able to virtually explore the entire project, living an emotional experience. The exhibition was a huge success during the days of the Fuorisalone, and gradually, step by step, Simone and Francesco’s vision was transformed into a real recovery operation for the ancient tower.

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