If you are spending a few days in Florence, then Fiesole, a hilltop town a little over five miles (8.5 km) from the center of Florence, makes for a great day trip. You can spend an entire day in Fiesole or just a few short hours. Whatever you decide, there is plenty to see and do.
How to get to Fiesole from Florence
The great thing about Fiesole is how accessible it is by bus. Even if you have rented a car, the road to Fiesole is challenging to navigate, and finding a place to park can also be rather difficult.. There is limited parking and you have to pay to park on the street, however the public payment machines are also difficult to locate.
Take the bus. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local color, and it’s a nice ride. The Number 7 bus will take you from the center of Florence to Fiesole. The bus line starts near Piazza San Marco off of Via La Pira. It runs almost every thirty minutes, and the last bus out of Fiesole is a few minutes before midnight, making it possible to stay late into the evening. Take a look at the ATAF website for more details about the Number 7 bus.
Another thing you always want to do, is check for days when busses, taxis, and trains will be on strike. Strikes typically take place with plenty of warning, however when they do occur, a public transportation strike can last anywhere from four hours to one day.
Ruins of Fiesole
Before the Medici Family, before the Renaissance, and even before the Romans, there were the Etruscans. The Etruscan civilization heavily flourished here in Fiesole during the 4th century BC. There is a museum and archeological site where you can walk among Etruscan ruins, along with an old temple as well as the original Etruscan walls. The Romans conquered the Etruscans, taking control of Fiesole, in 90 BC. While fighting with the Etruscans, the Roman army set up their base camp near the Arno River, an area which would later become Florence.
The architecture site is also home to a rather well preserved Roman theater. On the grounds of the architecture site is a museum with a nice display of ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan artifacts.
The ticket cost for the museum, and the archeological site is 10 EUR (10.90 USD), however there are many discounts offered for large groups, families, and different age groups. You might want to check the website for opening and closing hours as they change throughout the year, and as of March 2016, the archeological area and museum is closed on Tuesdays.
If you're up for a hike
To the west of the main square of Fiesole, you’ll find the location of the Convento di San Francesco. The monastery and small museum offer free admittance, however the main draw to the monastery might be the view. It is quite a hike to the top, it is not a long hike, but it is very steep. Still, the 360 panoramic view is worth it.
If you do not wish to hike, you can take in the grandeur of the Cathedral of Fiesole, located next to the bus terminus. The cathedral was built in the 11th century, and is a beautiful study in Romanesque architecture and simplicity.
Eating in Fiesole
There are small cafés that surround the piazza where the bus drops you off and picks you up. Start your visit with a quick cappuccino and a pastry. Later for lunch, you can visit another of the restaurants, or you can find the local fruit vendors and grocers located steps from the piazza and have a makeshift lunch of meat, cheese, and bread.
Fiesole is a romantic wonderland when it comes to nighttime dining. Just a small walk around the town and you’ll find several different restaurants with views overlooking Florence, the setting sun, and the shining lights of the city in the distance.
There's something for everyone in Fiesole
Whether you go for a quick trip to the museum and a coffee, or choose to make a day of it, Fiesole is a tranquil escape. During the summer months it is cooler in the hills, and typically there are less tourists crowding the small town.
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