Settignano is a picturesque frazione ranged on a hillside northeast of Florence, Italy, with spectacular views that have attracted American expatriates for generations. The little borgo of Settignano carries a familiar name for having produced three sculptors of the Florentine Renaissance, Desiderio da Settignano and the Gamberini brothers, better known as Bernardo Rossellino and Antonio Rossellino. The young Michelangelo lived with a sculptor and his wife in Settignano—in a farmhouse that is now the "Villa Michelangelo"— where his father owned a marble quarry. In 1511 another sculptor was born there, Bartolomeo Ammannati. The marble quarries of Settignano produced this series of sculptors.
Roman remains are to be found in the borgo which claims connections to Septimius Severus—in whose honor a statue was erected in the oldest square in the 16th century, destroyed in 1944— though habitation here long preceded the Roman emperor. Settignano was a secure resort for estivation for members of the Guelf faction of Florence. Giovanni Boccaccio and Niccolò Tommaseo both appreciated its freshness, among the vineyards and olive groves that are the preferred setting for even the most formal Italian gardens.
Mark Twain and his wife stayed at the Villa Viviani in Settignano from September 1892 to June 1893, and greatly enjoyed their visit. Twain was very productive there, writing 1,800 pages including a first draft of Pudd'nhead Wilson. He said the villa "afford[ed] the most charming view to be found on this planet."
In 1898, Gabriele d'Annunzio purchased the trecento Villa della Capponcina on the outskirts of Settignano, in order to be nearer to his lover Eleonora Duse, at the Villa Porziuncola. Near Settignano are the Villa Gamberaia, a 14th-century villa famous for its 18th-century terraced garden, and secluded Villa I Tatti, the villa of Bernard Berenson, now a center of Italian Renaissance studies run by Harvard University.
- Official website
- Villa Gamberaia: architecture
- Twain, Mark, The £1,000,000 Bank Note and Other New Stories, introd. by Malcolm Bradbury (The Oxford Mark Twain, Oxford U. Press, 1996)