Nestling in a gentlescape dotted with olive, pine and cypress trees, Fiesole offers wonderful views of Florence and cultural attractions that are truly memorable. A visit to Fiesole offers the opportunity to appreciate many works of art but also natural beauties, the quiet tranquillity of the countryside, the discreet fascination of its villas and the pleasures of its olive oil and wine.
The magic of the landscape, described and depicted over the centuries by painters, writers, poets and artists of all kinds, has weathered time and still casts a spell on even the most distracted tourist. From the summit of the hill of San Francesco, there are superb views of Florence. To the west lies the Mugnone Valley with Monte Morello and the Via Bolognese in the distance. Here the landscape is more rugged and severe, while in the opposite direction, towards Settignano, it is gentler and more serene, covered with olives and cypresses. Further down is the mouth of the Sambre (described by the Etruscans as the “river of the dead”, and explored and drawn by Leonardo da Vinci), and then the Arno Valley, a habitat for herons, cormorants, kingfishers. In Spring, the hills of Fiesole, with the green hues of its woods, cypresses, olives and vines, and the bluish grey of the local rock, are ablaze with the colours of irises, anemones, roses and a host of orchid varieties that grow spontaneously in these parts; or in Autumn, with those of the saffron crocus or “zima di Firenze”. Over the centuries, Fiesole has succeeded in preserving its views and hills, which have remained unspoilt. In the Middle Ages the ancient street pattern and the churches were used as the basis for the civic, and ecclesiastical organization of the area.
The place names often date back to the Etruscan civilization and to the period of Roman colonization, recalling episodes in ancient and medieval history or manual crafts that have now died out. At crossroads there are often tabernacles of various kinds, signs of religious devotion and features of a social, cultural and environmental nature, built up and consolidated over a number of centuries.
The variety of views is a constant source of surprise, especially for travellers tired of the urban scene. It is worth making a trip to the quarry on Monte Ceceri, now organized into a historic park, in order to gain an idea of the scale of this extractive activity. Pietra serena was of fundamental importance for the prestigious architecture and decor of the Renaissance, and was used extensively for innumerable items of both artistic and everyday nature (paving stones, stairs, door frames, shelves, fountains, fireplaces, benches, basins, revestment, etc.) throughout the Florence area and in many Italian and foreign cities.
villas and gardens
Villa Le Balze
Villa di Maiano
Villa I Tatti