Many travel blogs and articles talk about the importance of traveling alone. So, this morning when I woke up, I decided to test their theories. One of the lovely advisors at my university abroad wrote a “Florence Bucket List” and under the ‘Hidden Gems’ section is said to take a trip to Fiesole. Now, I hadn’t even heard of this town before this morning and suddenly I found myself completely compelled to go there. I had the day free and figured what better time than the present.
Fiesole is a small Tuscan town located a few miles north of Florence. And they mean it when they say north, as it is up in the hills. I thankfully have a bus stop two blocks from my apartment, and for a 2.40 euro ticket round trip and a 25 minute ride I arrived. I had read a very brief article about the highlights of the town, but still did not know much at all about it. Stepping off the bus was a real ‘now what’ moment. The center square is like the rest of the town – small. Upon taking a lap around it, I happened on a sign that pointed towards a panoramic view. I hiked up the hill to discover a view of Florence from above. The weather was unfortunately cloudy with a bit of rain, so the visibility was not ideal, but the view was breathtaking regardless.
There are three tourist stops in the small town of Fiesole. They are the Roman ruins, the Archeological museum, and the Bandini gallery. Luckily, you can buy a combination ticket for all three, and if you have a student ID like I did then you get the discounted price of 8 euro. The perk of visiting on a day in March with subpar weather is that you get the either place to yourself. I skipped around the ruins listening to the new Ed Sheeran album, and stopped on the stage of the amphitheater to test the acoustics by singing Phantom of the Opera.
The museum offered a close up look at all the finding from the ruins themselves, including several tombs that sent shivers up my spine. Trust me, seeing a centuries old skeleton of a warlord in his original grave while you are in a dark empty museum on a rainy day will make you think you’re in the plot line of the next blockbuster horror film. I quickly exited and moved on to a much more comforting topic that I’m more familiar with: paintings of Jesus. The Bandini gallery is quite small, but I hid inside from the brief spell of hard rain, so it had its perks.
The best part of my day I would have to say was my meal at Perseus Fiesolano. This restaurant drew me in with the promise of a lunch special featuring lasagna. The waiter offered a kind smile and conversation when he realized I was eating alone, and even threw in free dessert and coffee. I sat at my little corner table watching the rain and conversing with those around me. I chatted with a professor from Georgetown who knows my programs director, a couple who shared a steak larger than my head, a pair of ladies in colorful scarves, and two elderly couples on a double date (who had a little dog that would bark if I didn’t scratch his ears). The lasagna was flavorful, and the dessert was as lovely as it was mysterious.
This sleepy town sparked my appreciation for Tuscan life. The city is a massive contrast from Florence even while being just a bus ride away; without crowds or gypsies or souvenir shops. I would like to visit again on a sunny day, and perhaps visit the churches that were closed on this Saturday afternoon. The feeling of wandering around alone made me think of myself as Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun… expect with more clouds and less of a romcom plotline.
Julia I love reading about all your adventures and being able to view Florence with you! Andrew will be there before you know it. I am excited for him to see the many places. Take care we miss you!