The Etruscans surrendered to Rome in the 5th century BC, but in the hills north of Florence their legend survives. This picturesque area supported the original Etruscan empire, founded in the 7th century BC, and impressive ruins litter the surrounding countryside.
Local buses make the 20-minute trip to Fiesole’s main piazza, where it’s a short walk to the archaeological park and several interesting churches.
Must-do: Explore Etruscan relics in the archaeological park and trek up nearby Via di San Francesco for spectacular views of Florence, a Franciscan friary and 9th century church.
A Diary Extract…
The sun continues to shine and we catch the local number 7 bus to Fiesole, just north of the city. Apparently, much of this area is rich in Roman and Etruscan ruins and many archaeological sites can be explored.
At the fascinating archaeological park Karen found some relics in the rubble of the 2000-year old Roman amphitheatre, finally declaring them to be rusty nails discarded by workmen building the tearooms. My favourite is a series of 400BC Etruscan columns hidden in a small grove of bushes.
Bronze Age relics fascinate me and the museum here is one of the best we’ve seen – wonderful ceramics, bronzes and jewellery providing windows into a different world.
What would happen if we were forced to live as our ancestors did? Some societies even had flush toilets back then, some still haven’t got them today! How did they make such beautiful bronzes or know how to build amazing temples that would last 2,000 years? Is civilisation any smarter today? What will people think of our civilisation in 2,000 years? If there’s anything left. Guns for cooking pots, I reckon. Melt ‘em all down!
(Wow! Take a pill Dave, you’re on holidays mate.)
In Piazza Garibaldi we dined on crisp calzones, green salad and views of hilly countryside dotted with white-walled villas and a patchwork of fields. Karen was having a church-free day and found a secondhand Levi’s shop, so I climbed nearby Via San Francesco for a look at the little 9th century church of Sant’ Alessandro.
"This must be the world’s steepest street," I’m thinking, when I meet two 70-plus guys smoking and carrying their groceries home. I must be out of shape, either that or I need to start smoking.
Karen sat on a stone wall, taking pictures and sketching the view of Florence, spread out below in a palette of Tuscan hues gleaming in the afternoon light. She’d made a new friend, a black cat from one of the houses that purred approval while she drew.
In the end Karen ran out of film and light, but the changing mood of the city as a diving sun coloured the landscape rose, then orange, was special. Remember Via San Francesco in Fiesole for sunset views – steep, but worth it. Think of it as penance for all that gelato.