Florence may be the cultural heart of Italian Tuscany, but Fiesole is the soul. Round out your visit to Florence with a day at this historic town.
The Etruscan culture is one of the oldest in Italy, and the settlers of these hilltops north of present day Florence shaped the nation’s future. Rome conquered Faesulae, what is the Fiesole of today, in 283 BC, and about 1000 years ago Florence defeated the locals and absorbed Fiesole. Christian influence was asserted early on by Saint Romulus, a disciple of Saint Peter.
Modern Fiesole is an archeological treasure, and a nice museum displays historical artifacts adjacent to the archeological park. Take the number seven bus from the main bus station attached to the railroad station. Tell the agent you want the Fiesole pass, and he will sell you a round trip ticket with a design special to the archaeological site. This ticket will get you into the site.
The site contains no massive structures from ancient Fiesole, but an amphitheater remains largely intact and is the site of modern theatrical events. Adjacent to the archaeological site is the Cathedral of Fiesole featuring an upstairs gallery of early religious art.
All that aside, the view from Fiesole is worth the trip. Besides the lush Italian countryside, there is an excellent view of the city of Florence dominated by the magnificent Duomo. An open air restaurant in Piazza Mino right next to the bus stop is a nice place for lunch, and a stroll around the slopes of Fiesole will relax the mind and invigorate the body. Fiesole is not a preserved artifact of the past. It’s a modern Italian town with paved streets and neat houses and shops. The history is around you in the archeological sites and buildings from Fiesole’s ancient past.
The official Web site contains much additional and up-to-date information about Fiesole and your visit to the town: http://www.fiesole.com/