San Francesco ★ MONASTERY/MUSEUM -- The ancient high-point of the Etruscan and Roman town is now occupied by a tiny church and monastery. The 14th-century church has been largely overhauled, but at the end of a small nave hung with devotional works—Piero di Cosimo and Cenni di Francesco are both represented—is a fine “Crucifixion and Saints” altarpiece by Neri di Bicci. Off the cloisters is a quirky little Ethnographic Museum, stuffed with objects picked up by Franciscan missionaries, including an Egyptian mummy and Chinese jade and ceramics. Entrance to the church’s painted, vaulted crypt is through the museum.
To reach San Francesco, you will need to climb a sharp hill. Pause close to the top where there is a little balcony with perhaps the best view ★★★ of Florence, and the wine hills of the Chianti beyond.
Via San Francesco (off Piazza Mino). (tel) 055-59-175. Free admission. Daily 9am–noon and 3–5pm (7pm in summer). Bus: 7.
Teatro Romano (Roman Theater) ★ RUINS -- Fiesole’s archaeological area is romantically overgrown with grasses, amid which sit sections of column, broken friezes, and other remnants of the ancient world. It is also dramatically sited, terraced into a hill with views over the olive groves and forests north of Florence.
Beyond the Roman Theater ★ (which seated 1,500 in its day) to the right, recognizable by its three rebuilt arches, are the remains of the 1st-century a.d. baths. In Roman times, the baths were a place where all social classes mixed, but the sexes were kept strictly apart. Near the arches is a little cement balcony over the far edge of the archaeological park. From it, you get a good look at the best stretch that remains of the 4th-century b.c. Etruscan city walls. At the other end of the park from the baths are the floor and steps of a 1st-century b.c. Roman Temple built on top of a 4th-century b.c. Etruscan one dedicated to Minerva. To the left are oblong Lombard tombs from the 7th century a.d., when this part of Fiesole was a necropolis.
Via Portigiani 1. (tel) 055-596-1293. For admission and hours, see “Fiesole Essentials,” above. Bus: 7.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.