Bagno a Ripoli is located on the edge of Florence, two towns that unite without distinct borders. The Municipality of Bagno a Ripoli is made up of various fractions, small communities, each with their own identity. The most important ones besides Bagno a Ripoli itself are Grassina and Antella, with its beautiful little square and its parish church. Since the Medieval times, the territory has been characterized by a plethora of parishes, rural churches, monasteries and religious buildings built along the main Roman roads, near the fords of the Arno River or amidst the hills not far from the roads that link Florence to the sea. This hilly area is lush in forests. Fonte Santa, the most important forest, is located on Poggio Firenze and represents an “ecological niche” due to the presence of flora typical to the coastal area that grows naturally there and is nourished by the Atlantic currents that reach the Arno River.

Throughout the centuries, the Arno River has favored the development of numerous water related activities:  from wool working (see Gualchiere di Remole) to the extraction of sand from the river basin, from wheat milling to clothes washing with the famous laundrymen  of Grassina.

Around churches, villas and castles

The Bagno a Ripolo territory is ideal for taking walks to discover unique landscapes dotted with ancient churches, oratories and places of great historical interest such as Bigallo.

Nine  artistic and naturalistic itineraries are described and rated in the tourist guide book of Bagno a Ripoli

L’oratorio di Santa Caterina delle Ruote a Rimezzano

Construction on the Santa Caterina Oratory, built on the Rimezzano farm at the foot of the Baroncelli hills, was started in 1354. Jacopo and Giovanni, sons of Alberto Alberto, owner of many properties throughout the Antella Parish, were responsible for its creation. The building is characterized by its simplicity: the external walls were constructed with limestone blocks while the gabled façade is defined by a portal framed by a lancet arch, containing a once frescoed lunette, and covered by a considerably sloping roof. An ocular window with stone frame can be found just above. To the back of the chapel stands a small bell tower. The internal space is rectangular in shape and culminates with apse separated by large lancet arch. The space is divided into two bays, both of which covered by vaults with exposed stone ribbing. The first bay is devoid of decoration, while the second bay and apse are covered by a beautiful decortive fresco,
stretching in some sections over to the vaults. The frescoes recount the life of St. Catherine of Alexandra, venerated in the Middle Ages for her wisdom, patroness of judges and notaries.
The remarkable pictorial cycle begins in the apse with scenes of the martyrdom of the Saint. Two artists, as recently distinguished by experts, worked on this section. They
were the so-­‐called Maestro di Barberino, anonymous painter in the style of Orcagna, and Pietro Nelli (a student of Bernardo Daddi), who was able to mitigate the angularity
of the first master by means of an elegant plasticity.
The lunette depicting the Annunciation on the back wall, the depictions of St. Benedict and the Holy Deacon, the decoration of the spandrels and sottarco of the chapel and the three scenes in the apse have been attributed to Barberino.
After varies changes in ownership, the city of Bagno a Ripoli purchased the Oratory, and in two years of work restored the structure and frescoes, cleaning and  consolidating the pictorial cycle, reattaching missing plaster and uncovering paintings covered by previous interventions.
The Oratory is now used for art exhibits, cultural festivals, weddings and events.


La fonte della fata Morgana

At the foot of the lush hills of Fattucchia, overlooking the town of Grassina, we find the Fonte della Fata Morgana, or Fata Morgana’s Spring, also known as the Casina delle Fate. It was built in the second half of the 16th century by Bernardo Vecchietti within the grounds of the Il Riposo villa, the summer residence of the Vecchietti  family and home to a rich collection of art.
The fountain is the work, according to several sources, of the Flemish artist Giambologna. It represents a unique example of garden architecture, as it is halfway between a nymphaeum and a grotto.
After extensive restoration, the structure now appears in all its beauty. Immersed in the countryside between farmhouses
it stands out for its fake pink plaster bricks, in stark contrast with the white limestone ornamentation that frame the
doors and windows. Along the longest side of the structure the following words were inscribed in the central niche:
Io son quella, o lettor, fata Morgana/che giovin qui ringioveniva altrui
Qui dal Vecchietto, poiché vecchia io fui/ringiovenita colla sua Fontana
[I am, oh reader, Fata Morgana/ as I have found youth here, so shall others
Here with the old man, just as I was once old/ young I am now thanks to this fountain]

This mysterious and magical place, along with the fame of Morgana, the seductive sorceress and healer of King Arthur, has inspired over the centuries numerous legends regarding this 16th century nymphaeum, such as tales of bacchanalian parties and summer nights, and especially stories of beautiful women, nymphs and fairies who disappear as mysteriously as they appeared. Still today many believe that the fountain’s waters hold rejuvenating properties.