Atop a hill to the north of the city of Florence, largely ignored by most visitors to the city, is the Convent of San Francesco. Below that gorgeous renaissance building is the heart of Fiesole, a little known jewel and the birthplace of modern day Florence.
The village was founded by the Etruscans. When the Roman’s conquered the village in the third century BC, they named it Faesulae, hence its modern name. The earliest inhabitants of Florentia, modern day Florence, came from Fiesole.
What most visitors don’t realize is that within a few minutes bus ride from the center of Florence is one of the best archaeological sites in Tuscany.
The Archaeological site includes remains of the Roman temple (built on the foundations of the Etruscan’s temple), a well restored Roman bath complex and an amphitheater capable of holding up to 2000 spectators.
Beyond the relics in the Etruscan Museum, located on the grounds of the archaeological site, is the Museo Bandini, which offers an amazing collection of 14th to 14th Century works by artists like Taddeo gaddi and Lorenzeo Monaco. The ticket for the archaeological site includes admission to this museum.
There are not many walks in the are of Florence that offer more spectacular views of the city than the Via San Francesco, which leads from the main town square UP the hill to the convent of the same name. If the timing is right, stop by the Erta del Mangia, a lovely restaurant on your right as you climb above the town. The restaurant offers a quiet garden and fairly priced meals.
The chapel at the Monastery of San Francesco, sited on what once was the Acropolis of the Etruscans, contains a spectacular early Renaissance altarpiece. The quiet inner courtyard offers a sense of the peaceful seclusion found by the monks who once inhabited the buildings.
Fiesole is truly a little-known jewel above the city. Include a visit when you are in the area and you will not be disappointed.
Some additional details and restaurant recommendations are listed below.
IF YOU GO:
The Number 21 bus leaves from Santa Maria Novella Station on a regular basis. Fares run Euro 3.50 each way for the trip to the main piazza in Fiesole. Easy access to all the sites mentioned in this post from this bus stop.
Tickets for the Archaeological Area and the Museo Bandini are available at the entrance to the site. The entrance is located a few steps from the main square in the village.Cost: Euro 10.00 per person. No discount for children unless EU citizens. Group rate available for groups larger than ten visitors. (Euro 6.00 per person)
Archaeological Site: Via Portigiani, 1 – Fiesole
Open: 9,30am- 7pm (summer) and 9.30am-5pm (winter). Closed on Tuesdays only during the winter.
Museo Bandini: Via Dupré, 1 – Fiesole
Open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays – in March, 10am-6pm, in April 10-7pm
Call 055.596.1293 to verify opening times
Monastery of Saint Francis: May-Sep 10am-12 noon and 3pm-6pm; Sat, Sun and holidays 3pm-6pm; rest of the year 10am-12 noon and 3pm-5pm; Sat, Sun and hols 3pm-5pm. Closed on Mondays.
Perseus: On the square in the village. Excellent Tuscan menu, authentic preparations. Beefsteak Florentine? This place is famous for its preparation. Italian’s eat here. Not much more to say.
Hotel Villa Aurora: The entrance to this unassuming three stay hotel is directly off the main square in the village. They offer lovely clean rooms for a fraction of Florence’s costs – the views from the rooms facing west are unforgettable. There is a large terrace for drinks and meals – owned by another business, yet directly next to the hotel. Good value.
Piazza Mino, 39 – 50014 Fiesole (FI)
Tel. 05559363 –
Web Site: Hotel Villa Aurora