Travel With a Small Dog to Fiesole, Tuscany in Italy!
The bipeds are big fans of the DK Eyewitness Travel books. Mostly because true to their advertising – they show you rather than just tell you about things. Another huge benefit is that they also have wonderful suggested walking tours for each city or town. These come complete with map, detailed route and fun information about each site. But they do not talk about travel to Fiesole with a small dog. BUT the book for Florence had 4 such walks and one of them, surprisingly wasn’t in Florence itself but just just just on the outskirts up high in the hills. A small sleepy town called Fiesole .
To get there you simply hop on bus number 7 (public bus) from Piazza di San Marco and get off at the last stop after a 30 minute drive past some spectacular villas. Perhaps Fiesole is considered part of Florence as a suburb? Either way, we were thrilled that we could so easily access this tiny town.
It is best to choose a day that is sunny. These are not hard to find in Tuscany but we mention it only because the activities in Fiesole are mostly outdoors. If you are lucky, go the day after it has rained when the smog has been washed away because Fiesole has some breathtaking views of the city of Florence .
You’ll get dropped off at the main square called Piazza Mino da Fiesole where you will find the prerequisite Duomo (San Romolo) with its massive belltower. The bare Romanesque interior has columns which are topped with reused Roman capitals. Talk about recycling! From there we walked up to the square to the 14th century Palazo Comunale. Here the bronze statue of King Emanuele II and Garibaldi called Incontro di teano is found. Returning to the Church, we took the first street to the right and went down Via Dupre to the Roman Theatre .
Now what is amazing and fun about this site is that finally there was an exception to the “no dogs in museums” rule! It is an open air museum, and I had to stay on the marked path but other than that – I was allowed inside and for free no less! I had such a good time! I saw the Etruscan and Roman archeological remains that had been excavated in 1870. I even ran up and down the steps of the Teatro; the roman theater that still hosts events and festivals. The tiers of stone can hold a whopping 3,000 people and the acoustics are perfect. Mom does theatre and she was very impressed.
I was even allowed inside the Museo Faesulanum. It was built later in 1912 and I loved what I found inside (I was in my sling so I was at the right height to see everything!). I saw all the finds from the site from the bronze age onwards. I saw coins, jewelry, ceramics and lovely marble sculptures – mostly busts. I overheard the bipeds say that the museum itself is remarkable since it is a copy of the 1st century roman temple that you can still find as part of the complex … well the remains of it anyway. I couldn’t help but wonder … how did they know what it had looked like enough to rebuild it?!
I can no longer recall our exact trajectory from that point on. All I know is that we ended up following the loveliest road up towards the 15th century Church of San Francesco . We saw the most breath taking views of Florence and Fiesole itself.
The Franciscan monks still live at the cloister next to the Church and here too I was snuck in. We saw the museum they have of all the things the monks have brought back from their trips. A lot of things from China and Egypt in particular – even a mummy! Talk about a souvenir! We saw a monk feed the little gold fish in a pond and frankly it was all very peaceful and lovely.
We walked back towards the square using some tiny paths and roads and had fun getting a little “lost” in the quaint village. Crossing the square we saw the smallest gas station ever and stopped at the Toucan for amazing hot chocolate and fabulous gelato (all home made from scratch), before catching the #7 bus back to Florence.
In review: Fiesole is absolutely, hands down one of the most dog friendly places we have ever come across. It is also one of the loveliest afternoons we spent while on our vacation. It was quiet, inexpensive and absolutely delightful. Stop for lunch on one of the sun drenched terraces; enjoy the views of Florence and the Tuscan country side, breath in the scent of olive and fig trees … dream of buying a little place and staying forever. Whatever you do – don’t miss this little gem.