Escaping the boiling heat of Florence’s city center can feel like an absolute necessity when the pavement is hot enough to fry an egg, the streets are packed with tourists, and air conditioning is a rarity. Thankfully, a half hour car ride or trip on the number seven bus will take you to Fiesole, where a breeze blows away the stickiness of the city.
Moving from New York City to Fiesole, I faced quite a shock. A small town with one main piazza, a few restaurants and bars, and the median resident age of 80 years old, I undeniably entered my teenage angst phase and concluded that I resented this small town on the hillside. Four years later, however, I have most definitely come to realize the beauty of Fiesole and its small-town charm, with its rich history, amazing views, divine food and many activities (especially during the summer months) topping the list.
Fiesole offers much more than your average wine and dine.
Many head to Fiesole to savor a lunch or dinner in the fresh air of piazza Mino or at one of the charming local restaurants like Perseus, Vinandro and Piatti e Fagotti. Above all, Fiesole is appreciated for its spectacular views of Florence. Observe the city in its full glory by taking a quick 30-minute hike up Fiesole’s Monte Ceceri (where Leonardo Da Vinci tested his flying machine), surrounded by beautiful greenery and large sandstone quarries dating back to Etruscan times. Another way to enjoy the stunning views from Fiesole while engaging in some physical activity is by bike. Fiesole’s new biking store Fiesole Go offers a handful of tours that allow you to discover small villages, castles, villas, vineyards, olive groves and farms set on the rolling Tuscan hills.
If you don’t fancy spending a hot day hiking or biking, Fiesole has plenty to offer those who prefer a more laidback and less sweaty approach.
The luxurious Villa San Michele, A Belmond Hotel is located beneath from the hilltop and provides a stunning location to enjoy a sophisticated cocktail while gazing at the incredible views from the hotel’s gardens or bar. On July 6 and 7, Villa San Michele hosts classical performances by the Fiesole Music School ensemble followed by an aperitivo, costing 50 euro.
For more music, don’t miss the annual concert series Estate Fiesolana (through September 13) held in Fiesole’s Roman theater. Consisting of magnificent performances with plays, orchestras, bands, dances, and even puppet shows, these events have been pleasing Florentines and Fiesolans over the 76-year history of the cultural showcase. Forming part of the programming is Canadian pianist, actor and producer Hershey Felder with his new production titled Il Quarto Uomo (July 25), looking at the Nazi occupation of the Etruscan hilltop town in August 1944.
Fiesole is undoubtedly a worthwhile day trip to enjoy this summer. Whether that means hiking Monte Ceceri, a bike ride through one of the many olive groves, or simply grabbing a drink at Café Deja Vu in piazza Mino. Over these hot summer months, don’t miss the chance to enjoy one of Fiesole’s many facets, both day and night.