Fiesole ★★

Fiesole is the Etruscan village next-door, a Tuscan hilltown just a city bus ride from downtown

The town and catehdral tower of Fiesole above Florence
Fiesole and the cathedral tower. (Photo by Carlo Baldacci, Courtesy of the Comune of Fiesole)
You can experience a bit of the Tuscan village good life with just a short ride on Florence's no. 7 bus.

Older than Florence and overlooking it from on high, the Etruscan village of Fiesole has a few sights, cafés on the main square, and best of all, a cool mountain breeze even on the hottest August days.

Most of what people come to Fiesole to do is simply wander the streets for a break from the big city sights and a taste of small town Italy. But, as you stroll, do take the time to pop into a few of the the town's (admittedly modest) sights.

Fiesole's ancient ruins

The Roman Theater in Fiesole
The Roman theater of Fiesole (Photo by Nikater)
Perhaps the biggest sight in Fiesole is the ruins of the Roman theater and baths ★★ (tel. +39-055-596-1293,

The excavated complex that includes a 4th century BC temple, a 1st century BC theater (which hosts summertime concerts under the stars; see "tips" below), a few arches remaining from some AD 1st century baths, and a small museum.

It is open Apr-Sept daily 10am–7pm, Mar and Oct daily 10am–6pm, and Nov-Feb Tues-Mon 10am–2pm.

Vistas and churches

Fiesole's 11th-century Cathedral contains some delicate Mino da Fiesole carvings. The Palazzo Vescovile (Bishop's Palace) nearby contains the Cappella di San Jacopo Maggiore, with a lovely, early 15th-century Coronation of the Virgin fresco by Bicci di Lorenzo.

Make your way up (and I do mean up) Via San Francesco to the tiny terrace of panoramic gardens ★★ overlooking a postcard view of Florence down in the valley. There are usually several people with easels set up under the holm oak trees, capturing the scene in watercolor.

If you continue up the hill from here, you pass on your right the church of Sant'Alessandro, which has a few lithe columns of cipollino marble recycled from ancient Roman buildings.

The steep road ends at the church and friary of San Francesco , which has a Gothic altarpiece painted by Neri di Bicci, and in the nice cloisters the remains of the 3rd century BC Etruscan wall and a small missionary museum containing works you wouldn't necessarily expect in a Tuscan village: statues from ancient Egypt and Ming and Qing vases from China.

Hiking from Fiesole to Florence—The Villas

Free guided hikes!
The tourist office, partnered with local sulutral associations, offers 6–8 thematic guided hikes for free on Sunday mornings.

Each hike lasts 2.5–3 hours, and while a few are one-time-only, most depart every Sunday at 9am from roughly early April through mid-October (though most are May–Sept).

Though they are free, you must book them in advance—by 5pm on the Friday before the hike—at or by calling tel. +39-055-596-1311 or 055-596-1296 between the hours of 10:30am and 12:30pm Mon-Fri.
My favorite way to get back down to Florence from Fiesole is by foot.

You can leave the main piazza on Via Beato Angelico, keeping left at the bend to hike down along cypress-lined Via Vecchia Fiesolana, passing walled gardens.

Most villas in and around Fiesole are open to the public—one at a time on a rotating schedule—Thursdays around 4pm from mid-April though early October. (See for this summer's schedule of villa openings.) You must book a visit by the preceding Monday by calling tel. +39-055-055 weekdays between 9am and noon.

On weekdays you can visit the gardens of Villa Medici, first gate on your left (Mon–Fri 9am–1pm; tel. +39-055-59-164 or 055-59-417); and the gardens at Villa Le Balze at no. 26 (by calling ahead at least two days in advance: tel. +39-055-59-208).

At the hamlet of San Domenico halfway down sits the monastery where Fra' Angelico first took his vows; the Chapter House (ring at no. 4) preserves two of his paintings, with another in the church itself.

Here you can hop the no. 7 bus again to ride back through Florence's uninteresting outskirts to the center.

Tips & links

Tourist info

Via Portigiani 3–5, just off Piazza Mina da Fiesole
tel. +39-055-596-1329


Bus: 7, 45, 47, 329 B
Hop-on/hop-off: Fiesole (B, C)

How long does Fiesole take?

Planning your day: Spend a full day here—or at least a late afternoon—and watch the sun set over Florence from Via San Francesco.

» Florence itineraries

Fiesole tours

Take a guided tour of Fiesole with one of our partners:

How to get to Fiesole

Take Florence city bus no. 7 from Piazza San Marco (a stop officially called "La Pira") to the center of town, Piazza Mino da Fiesole.

Luckily, Piazza San Marco is one end of this bus line in Florence, and Fiesole is the other end, so you don't have to worry about getting on in the right direction—or when to get off.

Use the Firenze Card

The archaeological area of Fiesole is covered by the Firenze Card—free admission, no waiting in line. » more

The Fiesole Summer Festival

Attend a jazz concert by Chik Corea under the stars at the ancient Roman theater, or listen to classical music in the churches of Fiesole, or admire sculpture installations scattered across town, or see an experimental film.

This is the Estate Fiesolana (tel. +39-055-596-1293;, Fiesole's annual summertime arts festival that started in 1911.

The Fiesole countryside by bike

If you prefer to explore Fiesole and the surrounding country roads by bicycle, contact Fiesole Bike on Piazza Mino (tel. +39-345-335-0926,, which offers both bike rentals (€20 per day)—complete with bike trail maps—and escorted bike tours (€50–€200 per person).

Note that you must contact them ahead of time if you want to pick up the bike in Fiesole, as they're open by appointment only.

They also conveniently offer the chance to return the bike in downtown Florence for a modest €5 fee.

The service is available Mon-Fri 9am–1pm and 3:30–7:30pm, Sat 9am–1pm and 4–7pm (closed Saturday in August).


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Tourist info

Via Portigiani 3–5, just off Piazza Mina da Fiesole
tel. +39-055-596-1329


Bus: 7, 45, 47, 329 B
Hop-on/hop-off: Fiesole (B, C)


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