In front of the church of San Domenico, you can catch the bus (no. 7) either back up to Fiesole (heading in direction “Fiesole”) or back down to Florence (heading in direction “La Pira”), which will take you directly to Piazza San Marco, the last stop.
The easiest ways to reach Fiesole to do this walk is to catch a local ATAF bus (you will see the word FIESOLE written on the front of the bus going in the right direction), which can be found at Piazza San Marco (on via Giorgio la Pira) and runs to and from Fiesole approximately every half hour until midnight. The bus will drop you off right in the main piazza of Fiesole, Piazza Mino. Local ATAF bus tickets can be bought in any tabaccheria (tobacconist) for 1,20 euro, usable more than once if within 90 minutes.
Opening hours of the Churches:
Church of Saint Romulus (San Romolo), Piazzetta della Cattedrale, 1
Open every day from 7:30am-12pm and 3-6pm. In the winter they close one hour earlier.
Church of Santa Maria Primerana, Piazza Mino
Open every day from 9:30am-12pm and 3-8pm
Church of San Francesco, Via S. Francesco 13
Opening hours: Monday to Satureday from 9am-12pm and 3pm-7pm in the summer.
In the winter they close one hour earlier. Sundays and holidays, 9-11am and 3-6pm.
Church and convent of San Domenico, Piazza San Domenico 4
Open Monday - Saturday 7:30am-12:30pm and 4:30pm-6:30pm during the summer; 8:30am-12pm and 4-5pm in winter
Tel. (39) 055 59 230 (for booking a room to stay in the convent)
Badia Fiesolana, Via della Badia dei Roccettini 9
Open Monday-Friday 9am to 5:30pm, Saturdays 9-12:30pm. Closed Sundays.
Visiting the villas:
Only some of the villas are open to the public for visits; many have to be arranged in advance or are only open for visits on special occasions. Those not open to the public at all have been left out of the following list.
Villa Medici, via Beato Angelico 2
The villa is open to the public Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm (6 euro per person).
Visits to the garden for groups only by prior arrangement. To reserve, send a fax to (39) 055 239 8994 or phone (39) 055 59164.
Villa Nieuwenkamp, via Vecchia Fiesolana 62
Visits by appointment only, telephone 800 414 240 (toll free number) or (39) 055 599223
Villa Schifanoia (European University Institute), via Giovanni Boccaccio 121
Visits by appointment only, telephone (39) 055 46851
Villa Palmieri, via Giovanni Boccaccio
Open by appointment only, telephone (39) 055 577204
Gardens in Tuscany | Villa Medici at Careggi
Vernon Lee, Genius Loci: Notes on Places, London (Grant Richards) 1899
Vernon Lee was the pseudonym of the British writer Violet Paget (1856-1935). Violet Paget was born at Château St Leonard in France (Boulogne) and she spent most of her life on the continent, particularly in Italy where, from 1889 to her death in 1935, she lived at the Villa Palmerino.
An engaged feminist, she always dressed à la garçonne, and was a member of the Union of Democratic Control. She was also a lesbian, and had long-term passionate friendships with two women, Mary Robinson and Kit Anstruther-Thomson.
She was responsible for introducing the German concept of 'Einfühlung', or 'empathy' into the study of aesthetics in the English-speaking world. She developed her own theory of psychological aesthetics in collaboration with her lover, Kit Anstruther-Thomson, based on previous work by William James, Theodor Lipps, and Karl Groos. She claimed that spectators "empathise" with works of art when they call up memories and associations and cause often unconscious bodily changes in posture and breathing.
Vernon Lee settled in the fifteenth-century villa in 1889 and stayed until her death in 1935. She was a talented harpsichord player and organized theatrical recitals and plays at the villa. She welcomed such guests as Bernard and Mary Berenson (the latter was one of Lee's closest allies) and hosted other feminist writers.
Vernon Lee was known and appreciated in Italy but especially in England. The “Genius Loci”, whose origins are in romantic ideas and especially the work of Heinrich Heine in his book Gods in Exile (1854), is ‘an encounter with mysterious forces that stun the visitors with their presence having condensed the memory of a fateful event’ (Attilio Brilli). Vernon Lee divides the book into several chapters, all dedicated to the moments when the genius loci, the spirit of the place, was presented to her, including several chapters on France and Italy. Vernon Lee dedicated other books to the theory of genius loci, including Limbo (1897), The Enchanted Woods (1905), The Spirit of Rome (1906), The Tower of Mirrors (1914) and The Golden Keys (1925 ).
The Vernon Lee Collection in the Archive of the British Institute of Florence consists of books from Vernon Lee’s own library, many of which she annotated.
[From 'VILLAS AND GARDENS. A selection of travel literature, published between 1885 and 1914, in the Harold Acton Library. This guide to a selection of books from our collection was put together by Michele Amedei, intern from the Università degli Studi di Firenze. It is one of a series of three: Tuscany, Tuscany and Beyond, Villas and Gardens | www.britishinstitute.it]
 In 1960 Porcinai began work on the renovation and restoration of Villa Rondinelli in San Domenico di Fiesole, which he had purchased. His choice fell on the Villa not only because he wished to set up his studio there, but also because the site and the building –which had been the guest house of the Villa Medici – were steeped in history. In fact in the sixteenth century the terraces of the garden and the open nymphaeum hosted concerts and performances in the summer season. Thus to Porcinai the villa seemed an appropriate setting in which to gather artists, architects, philosophers and poets, thus generating a sort of new Accademia.
Porcinai appointed the premises of Villa Rondinelli as a studio, and in the terraces above he created two greenhouse-studios. This was to be the site of an educational centre. The buildings, extending over two floors, are linked internally by a staircase, with the garden of the upper floor on the roof of the ground floor. They are perfectly integrated into the grounds and the surrounding landscape, with the garden all around just as it was in the time of the Medici, with the same typically Mediterranean vegetation of holm oaks and cypress trees. Porcinai also planted maples, strawberry trees, viburnum and laurel. In the borders were roses, speedwells, spiraea and mahonia. The old staircases and walls are covered in creepers: wistaria, old roses, ivy, plumbago, rhynchospermum etc.
Around the water lily pond and the fountain in grey pietra serena (sandstone) the secret garden was created.
Gardens in Tuscany | Pietro Porcinai - Works | www.pietroporcinai.net
 Source photo Nikater, published under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.