Margherita Fasolo: Florence’s Best Materna?

fasolo 1Four years ago, my wife and I were desperate. We had looked everywhere in Florence for a good materna school for our elder daughter, and were despairing of ever finding one. Our checklist was not particularly demanding (or so we thought). We wanted, in order of importance, a school for 3-5 year olds: (i) that stimulated; (ii) that had no excessive religious or ideological baggage; (iii) that had a good student-teacher ratio; (iv) that was reasonably priced; (v) that was socially mixed; and (vi) that was, if possible, multicultural (we are a British-Italian family). We put a lot of time into looking – open day after open day… – and we were ready to drive a fair distance, too. However, we just could not turn up a school that matched our requirements in a city of half a million. Then, one happy morning we were told, by a chance acquaintance, about the Margherita Fasolo. The most wonderful school experience was about to begin…

The Fasolo is one of Florence’s best-kept secrets. It stands, near Via Aretina, in its own grounds, next to an elementary school, on Via Cambray Digny, and is based out of a modest concrete building: a passerby would, I think, never guess that he or she was walking by a centre of educational excellence. The Fasolo was founded in 1965, in another part of the city, as an ‘active education’ school. I never, honestly, understood what ‘active education’ means: though if you think of an energetic version of Montessori you are ‘ball-park’. Children play, but play purposefully and are given a series of activities (that they develop as they see fit) through each day and many of these activities are carried out in the Fasolo’s lovely garden. The activities are ingenious and are often, the highest compliment, repeated by our children (with accompanying songs) at home. There is also a lot of attention given to resolving problems as a group and negotiating difficulties. If I had read this on a school flier, I would have assumed that this was just ‘talk’, but the Fasolo has certainly improved conflict resolution in our not always happy household!

Fasolo 3Crucially, teacher-student ratios are small. There are two teachers in each class looking, together, after anything from ten to twenty children. There are, I think, six teachers in all (with some part time assistants) and they have, of course, different personalities and different abilities. However, a strong ethos of preparation and retraining means that the quality of the teaching is consistently high and some of the teachers there are simply phenomenal. I was asked recently about the best teachers I had had as a child, and my mind kept floating involuntarily to the teachers that my daughters encountered at the Fasolo, my daughters’ experiences crowding out my own memories! These women (the one male teacher has left) have proved themselves to be loving towards our children, but also wise. On a couple of occasions, when we were concerned about aspects of our daughters’ development, we were given excellent advice in after school interviews. Theirs, clearly, is a vocation rather than just a job.

The parents are typically local, but rave reviews have encouraged some families to come from further afield: one mother comes every day from Prato because she had been to the Fasolo as a girl and had had such a good experience. Families have, in any case, different backgrounds. In my daughter’s class there are, at present: a British, a Polish and two Australian children, so about a quarter of the class have non-Italian parents. We have also found that parents bond very well, perhaps the result of common values and, of course, because of the many common school activities. Families often meet after school in the nearby parks, with their children. Many of our most important family friends, in the last years, have come through this school. Ten months after our elder daughter left my wife still has an active WhatsApp feed of parents from my elder daughter’s class. Moreover, when the mothers from that year get together they lament that the Fasolo ‘failed them’, by not creating an elementary section (the level above materna). My elder daughter, meanwhile, insists on going back for frequent visits.

fasolo 2The school is private but non-profit and asks about 400 euros a month per attendee (I don’t have the exact number to hand), though, my understanding is that there is some room for negotiation if a family sends more than one child. When we, first, visited the Fasolo this seemed like a lot of money, but I am glad that we made the sacrifice: it was paid back to us many times over. This sum includes the price for lunches made by a local chef in the excellent Fasolo kitchen: my elder daughter is now at elementary school and refuses to eat the food served up for her there, comparing it unfavourably to her earlier gourmet feasts. There is also a nido that looks after babies from one and a half to three and that is based on the second floor of the building. Soon I hope to take my youngest daughter to the Fasolo (she is at present six months old) and I am thrilled at the idea of starting the whole happy cycle again: people I trust and methods that work.

If anyone is interested in knowing more the website is If you want to set up a visit, the email is, the telephone number, meanwhile, is 055/6594828: ask for Alessandra. I and my wife have spent a lot of time in the last years sniffing out schools (some good and some absolutely dreadful experiences) and we have often found that parents are better guides than those who work in schools (for very understandable reasons). If anyone wants, then, to get in touch with us directly about the Fasolo, these are our emails. Just type the email address of both of us in the address line:simon emailvalen email

We will give honest advice or try to put you in touch with parents who can.  Written by Simon Young

Bilinguals/multilinguals to participate in her future online research

Ciao moms! Posting this on here since it might be of interest to many of you:
A mom in our network was recently contacted by Juditta Miosota from Spain, who is doing a PhD online survey about bilinguals and multilinguals (English, Spanish, German, Arabic, Italian and others) and I said I’d be willing to participate.
She’s looking for any other bilinguals/multilinguals to participate in her future online research (questionnaire) and asked if I’d help spread the word. If you’re interested, you can contact her by email at Thank you!

Mom’s Question

We will be based at EUI from September for one, maybe 2 years and would like our girls (aged 6 and 9) to start in a school nearby as we’d also like to live around that area. Have looked at Kindergarten school as an option but considering Boccaccio as we’ve heard there are some international families there. Any other suggestions for schools? Is it possible to still get in for September? They speak English and Norwegian.

Mom’s Question

I am looking for an Italian language teacher for my 7 year old son and myself. He is a complete beginner to the language, and I am a little ahead of him but still very basic. Ideally, I’d like him to learn in a group with other children about his age while I also learn in a group. If anyone would like to form a group of this sort, please get in touch with me. Also, we need a teacher – if someone is interested in teaching, please also get in touch! My email is Thanks! Asha

The Florentine Needs your Help


The Florentine is looking for ideas for an upcoming article on “Fun things to do with kids in and around Florence in the spring”. Niche activities and places, not the usual suspects, which are fun for both children and adults alike now that the nice weather is here. Please send your ideas by email to Helen Farrell, editor of The Florentine, at

Deadline for submissions is Tuesday 21 April. The article needs to go out in the May issue.

cropped-cropped-logo-for-blog1.jpgFirenze Moms 4 Moms Network will be credited for the contributions from you so thanks for participating in this article.

Festival dei Bambini. Nuovi Mondi – UN’IDEA LUMINOSA

Firenze 17 | 19 Aprile 2015  

festival bambini

Festival dei Bambini. Nuovi Mondi – UN’IDEA LUMINOSA: Seconda edizione

<span title=”Dal 17 al 19 aprile, Firenze ospiterà eventi gratuiti a misura di bambino con un occhio di riguardo al loro mondo, alle loro aspettative ed espressioni.

“>From April 17 to 19, Florence will host free events suitable for children with special attention to their world, their expectations and expressions.

A big party to which you are all invited and this year, for the second edition, took inspiration from the themes of the International Year of Light decreed by the United Nations, to turn on – it is appropriate to say! <span title=”– la fantasia, la curiosità, il divertimento, il gioco, la voglia di imparare e di stare insieme…

“>- Imagination, curiosity, fun, the game, the desire to learn and to be together …

Check out the program in the appropriate section!

Essential Oils Meeting


Organizer: Clinton Gene Healey-Magherini

This group is set up for those that are interested in learning and discussing about the use of natural oils in your daily life. These oils are used for many things throughout your life that help benefit the health of your family. If you are at all interested in integrating Essential Oils into your family life or just want to learn more come to this meeting. 
You will be making salt scrubs, creams and more with a gift bag to take home.

Date:  18 April
Place:  Hotel Baglioni

Time:  5-7pm

Cost is Free but there is a max of 36 people. Open to all.

Deadline for Registration is April 11th

Sign up Now to be at this Meeting