The origins of the castle are very old – indeed it is first mentioned in 1301. It was variously owned by the powerful Visdomini and Alessandri families. For no fewer than 800 years the castle was sold, or lost at cards among the most important families in Florence until its almost total destruction.
In 1840, its ruins caught the attention of a young English peer, John Temple Leader who, strolling through the hills of Fiesole, came across this picturesque pile of ruins which so fascinated him that he resolved to buy it and in twelve years he rebuilt it in the Gothic revival style. He entrusted the architect Fancelli, the son of his factor and the most renowned craftsmen, sculptors, stone masons and painters from Florence with the detailed reconstruction of the castle sticking closely to the medieval style.
Renovation not limited to the building but also the grounds; the slopes of the hill were replanted with rich undergrowth and plants that would flourish in stony ground. Temple Leader’s great merit was that he gave character to the landscape, replanting it with cypresses, pines and ilexes romantically sited in the more visible areas. He purchased the old Column quarry, so called because its stone was used to fashion the pillars in the Cappella dei Principi in San Lorenzo, transforming this natural basin into a small lake-pond.
Legend has it that the castle has secret passages, traps, mysterious chambers and other devilry which romantic imagination had attributed to the Middle Ages. Of all the stories imprisoned within these walls, Temple Leader loved the legend of Bianca, the White Lady, a beautiful young maiden wooed by many men but in love with the son of her family’s sworn enemy. Despite this, their love seemed set to conquer all until their wedding day when Bianca’s brothers slaughtered the future bridegroom on his way to marry his beloved. Still in here wedding gown, Bianca died of a broken heart and from that day on, her spirit flits within the castle walls protecting love of all kinds, especially the most difficult.