"But that ungrateful and malignant people, Which of old time from Fesole descended, And smacks still of the mountain and the granite"
View over Florence from Fiesole
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeView over Florence from Fiesole - Credit: D. Gayo

(Canto 15, lines 61-63)

Fiesole is a mountain village located north of Florence. According to one account of the origins of Florence, the Roman Catiline (108-62 BC), one-time supporter of the dictator Sulla (138-78 BC), once tried establishing a patrician government through conspiracy in 63 BC and was forced to flee to Fiesole after the attempt failed. He was however surrounded by Caesar's forces, who razed Fiesole. Soon thereafter, he was killed in battle at Pistoia. To avoid further troubles in the future, Caesar built a new city on the banks of the Arno (Florence), where most of the former inhabitants of Fiesole settled along with some Roman troops - thereby mythically setting the scene for the many internal strifes to occur there during the centuries. The ancient historian Villani, for example, sees the reason for all the Florentian infighting in the opposition between, on the one hand, the highly civilized and noble Romans, and the rough, bellicose people of Fiesole on the other, who, as Dante says in the poem, "smacks still of the mountain and the granite".