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Have you already been to Florence, or maybe are visiting now, and you still have some free time? Perhaps the hustle and bustle of the city are wearing you out and you’d love to spend some time in a more relaxing oasis. Just 2 Km north of the Tuscan capital, between the hills of St. Francis and St. Apollinare you can find a little town called Fiesole. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all that awaits you here!
Brief History of Fiesole
Fiesole was founded by the Etruscans during the 3rd century BC and immediately became an important center for the control of the surrounding area and for trade thanks to its strategic geographical position dominating the Arno valley. From the beginning of the 1st century BC, the city fell under the influence of Rome, and by the end of the century, it was completely controlled by Rome. From that moment, Fiesole’s two identities began to coexist, and still today, both Etruscan and Roman influences can be seen.
After the foundation of Florence in 59 BC, Fiesole will forever maintain strong ties to the city because of its proximity. Throughout the centuries, literature has defined Fiesole as the “mother” of Florence because, like a mother, she has observed the development of her daughter since her foundation through the Renaissance and her hills surround her like two arms in a caring eternal embrace.
The Major Sights
Two squares, two identities: the city center is in Piazza Mino da Fiesole, this square offers a Romanesque cathedral (free of charge) dating back to 1028 (St. Romolo’s Cathedral) with a neo-Gothic façade rebuilt in the 19th century. The relics of St. Romolo are preserved in the crypt. On the other side of the square, there is a little tavern (known as an osteria) which offers typical Florentine cuisine in a small, yet welcoming and friendly environment.
Have you already chosen this destination?
Taking Via Giovanni Duprè, in just a few steps you will reach the archaeological area of Fiesole, where you will be able to admire a Roman theater, thermal baths, and the ancient Etruscan walls. Continuing on the steep Via S. Francesco, in a few minutes you will reach St. Francis’ convent (free entry) which also has a museum of Chinese and Egyptian objects and relics that might surprise you!
The small square in front of the convent offers you one of the most beautiful views of the entire city of Florence.
Everybody knows that Leonardo da Vinci attempted the first flight in history, but just a few people know that it was in Fiesole that the genius first tried out his flying machine. At the crossroads between Via Benedetto da Maiano and Via Fra’ Giovanni da Fiesole, you’ll find Largo Leonardo da Vinci, where you’ll see a commemorative plaque on the wall, recalling the place in which, on the 14th March 1501, the first attempt at flying in history took place. The machine was manouvred by Tommaso Masini, who covered almost 1 Km, starting from the Ceceri mountain nearby.
Article by: C.F. Ottaviani