On Sunday we went on a baby-day-trip up to Fiesole (by which I mean Fiesole only takes about 35ish minutes to get to and all you have to take is a Florence bus). You can see the clock tower of Fiesole up in a valley between two hills from the center of Florence, so it’s really not far. But it is loooovely. Here you see the tower from the piazza in front of it:
And while Fiesole itself is quite nice, with a few bits of Roman ruins, Etruscan walls, and a late Medieval Cathedral (that’s the building in the photo above) with a few Mino da Fiesole (haha! Now it makes total sense!) sculptures inside. But what Fiesole is especially renowned for is it’s views of Florence. There is a little park if you climb up a bit from the center, where they have a few memorials to war veterans, carabinieri who have died while on duty, and a visit/benediction by Pope John Paul II in 1986, and from which you can see ALL of Florence spreading out below you:
It is easy to forget how BIG of a city Florence actually is, but luckily a jaunt up to Fiesole provides that perspective for you. Fiesole is quiet, and peaceful, and likely because it does take a bus to get up there, not wholly overrun by tourists (though a few tour buses do come up, they usually only stay for 10 minutes for pictures then depart). We wandered a bit, had an AWESOME lunch (if you ever see the word “burrata” on a menu in Italy, order it, whatever it is), browsed at the book market that was taking place in the central piazza, decided the 10euro entrance fee into the Roman amphitheater/ruins was too steep, and so we enjoyed this view for free instead:
Fiesole is perfect and I am excited to go back when it won’t be so ungodly hot. During the leisurely bus ride back down into Florence we decided to go check out Piazzale Michelangelo, which is renowned for its views of the city from the opposite side of the Arno (and has a truly spectacular true-to-size bronze David that is just about the
most ridiculous greatest thing ever). Piazzale Michelangelo is recommended in all the guidebooks for its stunning views like this one:
But what the guidebooks fail to mention (and I am being deathly serious when I write this) is that Piazzale Michelangelo is a PARKING LOT. It’a a big ol’ tree-less parking lot with no shade, no vegetation, nowhere to sit and everything (aside the view) to be grumpy about. The picture below gives you a sense of it being a parking lot, but trust me, the space for cars (probably room for hundreds) is significantly larger than shown here:
I don’t get it. I honestly do not understand. I know the view is beautiful, but why would anybody want to hang out here?! Especially, especially, when the gorgeous Romanesque church of San Miniato al Monte is just a 10 minute walk further up the hill, which is a lovely spot, with even more spectacular views! I’ll take Fiesole (or San Miniato al Monte) any day.