Fiesole: what to see and where to eat
Restaurants, museums and monuments not to be missed in the beautiful Florentine village
Fiesole is one of the most delightful hill towns in the Florence area: aristocratic, aloof and studded with Renaissance villas, cypress-lined avenues and gardens.
WHAT TO SEE
The best views are enjoyed from the belvedere of the Convento of San Francesco, which very few people know, because you have to walk up the hill to get there from the central Piazza Mino. But the views make it worth the effort. Also worth a visit is the Imperial age Roman amphitheatre (open 10.00 to 18.00 every day except Tuesday, limited hours in winter); in summer it becomes the stage for Estate Fiesolana, a long-established season of evenings including theatre, concerts, dance and film.
In front of the amphitheatre, a gorgeous neoclassical building is home to the Archaeological Museum, displaying testimonies to Fiesole’s ancient past (in March, open 10.00-18.00 every day; April to September, 10.00-19.00 every day; October, 10.00-18.00 every day; November to February, 11.00-14.00 every day except Tuesday). The Bandini Museum (open 10.00-19.00 daily, closed Tuesday, limited opening in winter) contains an extensive collection of Della Robbia ceramics. Other important monuments in the town centre are the Cathedral of St Romulus, the Bishop’s Palace and the ancient church of Santa Maria Primerana.
IN THE AREA
Several major cultural institutions are based in Fiesole, including the European University Institute (EUI), the Scuola di Musica at Villa La Torraccia, Harvard University at Villa Tatti, Georgetown University at Villa Le Balze and two foundations, one named for Primo Conti, the other for Giovanni.
Throughout history, numerous illustrious figures have chosen to spend a period of their life in Fiesole: Boccaccio, Proust, Gertrude Stein and Frank Lloyd Wright, who not only admired the magnificent views of Florence, but also the landscape itself, so bucolic and relaxing. A splendid place to visit is Villa Roseto, once the home of renowned architect Giovanni Michelucci, famous for the design of Santa Maria Novella station in Florence. From the house there are fabulous views of Brunelleschi’s dome, surrounded by the hills of the Arno valley.
WINE AND FOOD
A few years ago the talented winemaker Bibi Graetz opened his winery in Fiesole’s main square. Traditional food can be found at Terrazza 45 (in the square) or at Spaccio della Fattoria di Maiano (outside the town). If you’re looking for exclusivity, don’t miss the gourmet restaurant La Loggia di Villa San Michele. In the hills between Florence and Fiesole stands Coquinarius, the perfect place if you want to combine delicious food and wonderful countryside, combining home-made pasta with breathtaking views of Florence. And if you’re looking for a charming and unusual setting surrounded by plants of every kind, the Le Lune nursery on the road to Fiesole was one of the first to open a restaurant, offering products from its Fontallerta and Barbialla farms in a cheerful and homely atmosphere.