In the distant past, just outside the eastern Etruscan city wall of Fiesole, stood a village named Borgunto. Its actual position is intriguing: there must have been at least one link with the pre-Apennine ridge of Mugello in Etruscan and Roman times. The indent between Montececeri and Poggio Magherini and the hill of St. Apollinare, then down to the centre of the village and beyond, in the direction of the Mugnone valley, contains a fault (a vertical fracture of the rock underground) which has always accumulated water and makes the place the richest in water springs in the whole area of Fiesole. Celebrated by the learned and the antiquarians of the 19th Century as a work of Etruscan civilisation, it is an artificial grotto, the first chamber of which is 10.5 metres deep and some 32.5 metres long from the bottom of the entrance staircase to the end in the direction of the village square (below the present-day butcher’s shop – survey of 1997-98).

The indications are fairly certain that it was the continual source of water for the village of Borgunto (from Medieval times or even earlier) up to 1944, when it became a temporary air-raid shelter. In 1937, Napoleone Raspanti signed a contract with the town council to pipe water from the spring to cool his ice-making plant. After the war, it fell into complete disuse. Time has created a legendary halo around the spring, sometimes magic and religious, associating the spring water with the Virgin Mary (a sacred image was probably placed at the entrance during the counter-reformation), and with a popular belief in the water’s healing properties.