If you have three or more days in Florence, you may want to consider a day trip to Fiesole. Fiesole is small, hilltop village just 5 km east of Florence. It’s easy to get to, has an Ancient Roman theater to checkout, and is still fairly devoid of tourists.
While I was in Florence, I learned about Fiesole from a local woman who worked at the hostel I was staying in. I’d gone to her to seek advice on day trip ideas, and was immediately sold on Fiesole after learning how close it was to the city.
How to get to Fiesole
If you’re staying in Florence, the easiest way to get to Fiesole is to walk to Piazza San Marco and catch bus number 7. The bus stop is located on Via Camillo Cavour on the side of Basilica di San Marco. You can buy a bus ticket from the bus driver for 2.50 euros, but try and have the correct amount of change. In total, the bus ride should take about 30 minutes to get to Fiesole from Piazza San Marco. Once in Fiesole’s main square, it’s a short walk to the main sightseeing locations.
* A bus ticket back to Florence only costs 1.50 euro and can be purchased at a kiosk next to the bus stop in Fiesole’s main square.
What to do in Fiesole
roman theater & archaeological site
The one thing everyone who visits Fiesole should do is visit the Roman Theater and archaeological site. The ruins here are in great condition, surrounded by lush grass, and still somewhat undiscovered by tourists.
The history of Fiesole’s archaeological area starts in 4th century BC, when an Etruscan temple was built. In the 1st century BC, the Romans conquered Fiesole and built a theater and spa. At the end of the 6th century BC, a group called the Lombards added a necropolis. Today, the Roman Theater is the most recognizable of the ruins. I also liked the archways though which are still standing amongst the spa ruins.
Price: 7 euros (5 euros with a student card)
museo civico archeologico + museo bandini
Museo Civico Archeologico is a small museum which houses artifacts from the Roman Theater and archaeological site. It takes about 10-15 to tour. Museo Bandini is another small museum, only this one showcases the art collection of a man named Angiolo Maria Bandini.
Price: 5 euros (3 euros with a student card)
* Tickets for the museums can also be purchased as part of a package with the Roman Theater and archaeological site.
Convento san francesco + Viewpoint
If you walk up the steep street, Via S. Francesco, you’ll be rewarded with a view of Florence, olive trees, and the surrounding Tuscan hillsides. After the viewpoint, you’ll find Convento San Francesco. This is a monastery which dates back to 1399 AD.
Where to eat in Fiesole
The best place to eat in Fiesole (according to Google reviews) is Ristorante La Reggia Degli Etruschi. It’s a little pricier than the restaurants in Fiesole’s main square, but definitely worth it! I ate here when I was in Fiesole and was blown away by the quality of each of the dishes I ordered. Price wise, pasta at Ristorante La Reggia Degli Etruschi starts at 12 euros, and the meat dishes are in the 20+ euro range. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, try the restaurants in Fiesole’s main square, or visit a grocery store in Florence and pack a picnic.
How long to stay in Fiesole
Fiesole is pretty small, and can be explored in about half a day. I got on the bus in Piazza San Marco around 10 am and was back at around 3 pm. This gave me more than enough time to explore the Roman Theatre and archaeological site, eat a nice lunch, and sunbathe at one of the viewpoints.