Three days in Florence – the hilltop town of Fiesole – day 3
So far on your 3-day Florentine adventure you have seen some of the most important artworks in the world as well as taking in the prime panoramic views over the city. For a change of pace on day three we’re heading off to the nearby hill town situated above Florence – Fiesole – which is about 8km from the city centre.
While Florence was once a Roman retirement town, Fiesole has Etruscan roots dating back to the 8-9th
century BC. Later conquered by the Romans, this hill town is famous for being home to many nobles’ villas, which dot the pathway to the top of the town, as well as a Dominican convent and Roman theatre.
09:00 – heading high
First stop in your Fiesole jaunt is to head over to Piazza San Marco to catch the number 7 bus which will take you up to the top of the hill town. Make sure you grab a seat by the window as the drive up is a pretty stunning adventure on its own right. If you’d like to find out a bit more about the town’s history, call in at the tourist information office, which is next to the Archaeological Park entrance on Via dei Partigiani. The Archaeological Park is a great beginning to visiting the town. It includes a partially restored 1st
-century BC Roman amphitheatre, baths, and an Etruscan temple.
11:00 – walk the walk
Don’t forget about a really noteworthy panoramic walk in the town, about 1.5km long, which will provide you with views of Florence on a clear day. If you stop by the tourist office first, you can pick up a map and follow the special red and white markings along the path. Bringing along a bottle of water will stand you in good stead.
12:30 – the Convento di San Francesco
Return to the centre of town and walk up the steep hill towards the Convento di San Francesco. First stop in at the Cattedrale di San Romolo, which dates from the 11th century. It has its original 13th
-century bell tower that can be seen from a long distance away. Inside the cathedral are works by Mino da Fiesole and frescoes.
Panoramic stopping points are along the way up to the top to visit the convent and there’s even a free museum (donations welcome) located inside with artefacts from all over the world brought back by monks. For a really nice long lunch, on the steep hill on your way back there’s a gorgeous restaurant with wonderful pecorino (sheep cheese) pasta.
15:00 – visit the Bargello Museum
Hop back on the number 7 bus towards town to check out yet another wonderful and underrated museum, the Bargello. Centrally located in between Piazza Santa Croce and Piazza della Signoria, this museum has a unique inner courtyard and houses mostly sculptures (including the famous bronze David by Donatello), gold work, tapestries and enamels.
16:30 – conquer the campanile
Head over to Piazza del Duomo next to climb the beautiful bell tower (Campanile di Giotto), next to the famous Duomo Cathedral, the undisputed centrepiece of Florence. There’s usually no queue, or at least just a small one, but be prepared for 414 steps (it’s worth it, honestly!). The first stone laid to start construction of this tower was in 1334 and the tower itself wasn’t completed until 1359. Look out for the 16 sculptures of patriarchs and prophets that serve as decoration. Once you’ve reached the top, you will be treated to an outstanding vantage point from which to gaze at Brunelleschi’s dome.
17:30 - wandering the markets
A trip to Florence should always include a stop at the San Lorenzo street markets, where you can spot all types of leather goods, scarves, shoes, handbags and much more. While everything may not be a true ‘Made in Italy’ product, you can normally barter with sellers to get the best deal. Be careful you’re your belongings as pick pockets tend to hang around crowded touristy sites like this one.
18:30 – your final meal in Florence
It can be argued that Florence at sunset (and night) is even more beautiful than during the day. Grab a gelato by the San Lorenzo markets and take a stroll around the historical centre, from Piazza Santa Maria Novella to Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza della Signoria and Piazza Santa Croce before heading to a restaurant for some traditional local cuisine. This city really is a feast for all senses so take advantage of being in the heart of Renaissance Europe and among so much artistic creativity.