Where to eat and drink in Fiesole

A foodie’s guide to the hilltop town

Phoebe Hunt
September 25, 2020 - 14:54

High in the hills overlooking Florence, Fiesole takes on mystical appeal to those living in the city. A degree cooler, lush and verdant, the sleepy Etruscan town and its surrounding countryside have lured people away from the grandeur of Florence for centuries. Dante made many a pilgrimage to Fiesole; Gertrude Stein spent summers here; and in A Room with a View, the winding hillside road is the leafy setting that E.M. Forster chose for George and Lucy’s first illicit kiss. Even now, it’s a world apart from the piazzas and streets of Florence.

 

Aside from the crumbling Medici villas and Roman ruins, Fiesole is a much-overlooked culinary destination. From the glamour of Villa San Michele to the candlelit courtyard at Trattoria Le Cave di Maiano, myriad bakeries, wood-clad osterias and bars, things are calmer and somehow taste better up here.

 

 

For the best Italian pastries 

 

Pasticceria Alcedo's tantalising goods

 

 

A friend of a friend sent us on a wild goose chase to find the elusive Pasticceria Alcedo, with specific instructions to try the croissants with chocolate and blackberry jam. We finally spotted it under a tatty yellow awning on via Antonio Gramsci, snaking out of Fiesole’s piazza Meno. Hot and sceptical by the time we arrived, the pastries were worth it. Crumbly almond and pistachio amaretti covered in icing sugar, deep-fried frittelle stuffed with cream, dark chocolate biscotti: everything at Alcedo is outstanding. The family-run business has been delighting locals and day-trippers for over 40 years and has something of a cult following. Pastries are bought by weight, while cheap espresso macchiatos are drunk at the bar. 

 

Pasticceria Alcedo, via Antonio Gramsci 39, Fiesole

 

 

 

For five-star glamour

 

This summer's gourmet picnic at Belmond Villa San Michele

 

 

The crown jewel of Fiesole, Belmond Villa San Michele is a fifteenth-century monastery turned luxury hotel and gardens, designed by the school of Michelangelo. Having reopened in July, the hotel launched a creative picnic hamper aperitivo option to aid social distancing, with goodies and prosecco delivered to the garden in a cute little basket. For something more sophisticated, La Loggia restaurant serves a modern take on Tuscan cuisine, with panoramic views over Florence and the Chianti hills in the distance. If you’re looking to impress, this is the place to go. 

 

Villa San Michele, via Doccia 4, Fiesole / @belmondvillasanmichele

 

 

 

For culinary innovation + olive groves 

 

Pizza at Coquinarius

 

 

On the steep main road up to Fiesole, Coquinarius is a haven of cicadas and hidden terraces slotted into the hillside. There’s an elegant restaurant on the ground floor with local venison carpaccio, stylish swirls of pasta topped with burrata and walnut pesto, and an extensive old-world wine list. On the terrazza above, the newly opened Garden Bar serves pizzas cooked outdoors and music plays as you look down over the olive groves. When in season, the Rosso di Sera pizza with buffalo mozzarella, roasted cherry tomatoes, anchovies and courgette flowers is a winner. 

 

Coquinarius Fiesole, via Mantellini 2, Fiesole / @coquinariusfiesole

 

 

 

For authentic local cuisine

 

The perfect antipasti platter at Le Cave di Maiano

 

 

Anyone who’s spent time in Fiesole will tell you that Le Cave di Maiano is the place to go when it comes to proper Tuscan fare, and will probably mention Francesco, who’s run this trattoria for over 20 years with the infectious charisma you read about in fairy tales. Despite the reputation for excellent steak, start with a generous selection of antipasti, including various seasonal crostini, truffle salami and prosciutto, stracchino e coccoli; a trio of cured ham, fried doughballs and creamy cheese enjoyed in one glorious mouthful, before moving on to some of the best pasta I can remember. Maiano is actually a village just outside Fiesole, but it’s not far from the number 7 bus route, and also an easy taxi journey if you’re not up to the hike after an obscene amount of food. 

 

Le Cave di Maiano, via Cave di Maiano 16, Fiesole / @trattoria.cave.di.maiano

 

 

 

For farm-to-table organic cooking

 

Stunning outdoor setting at Fattoria di Maiano

 

 

Lo Spaccio, the gastronomic heart of the Fattoria di Maiano (a take on a village farm with goats, donkeys and medieval ruins) has recently become an agritourism restaurant. As such, they’re proud to serve only Tuscan products, with most vegetables coming straight from their gardens, and dishes drizzled with their own organic extra-virgin olive oil. The menu changes weekly as crops come into season, and locally cured meats, Tuscan honey, fresh produce and delicious cheeses can all be bought to take away. For something more casual, pick up some ingredients from the farm shop and have a picnic in the historic botanical gardens (the biggest in Italy), opened by Queen Victoria in 1893.

 

Fattoria di Maiano, via Benedetto da Maiano 11, Fiesole / @fattoriadimaiano 

 

 

 

For people watching in the piazza

 

Charm and great food at Vinandro

 

 

Simple and well-priced Tuscan food overlooking Fiesole’s charming piazza Mino is the name of the game at the little Vinandro osteria. In normal times, it’s descended upon by crowds of day-trippers, but thankfully they haven’t removed the standard of the food. Classics include bistecca Fiorentina, pappa al pomodoro, handmade pasta and lampredotto. Afterwards, cross over the piazza for a rooftop cocktail at Terrazza 45, the place for the best views in town. The local atmosphere (and panoramic views from the terrace) make them both worth a visit. 

 

Vinandro, piazza Mino 33, Fiesole / @vinandro_fiesole

 

 

 

How to get to Fiesole

 

A romantic table for two at Belmond Villa San Michele

 

 

The sporadic number 7 bus will take you up from the Santa Maria Novella station in under half an hour, or you can walk through olive groves and windy paths if you’re feeling adventurous.

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