Area Archeologica di Fiesole

Monday 9 December 2019. It took a little more time than it should have to get to Fiesole from the centre of Florence on that cold, overcast day in early December. We had walked from our loft apartment in Oltrarno to Piazza San Marco, a leisurely stroll across town, from where we expected bus number 7 to Fiesole to depart. But when 30 minutes later the bus had not yet arrived, we resorted to the terminus near Santa Maria Novella railway station and caught one from there. The rain began in earnest as the bus wended its way through Florence – along Via Camillo Cavour, past Piazza San Marco (where was the bus earlier?), through Piazza della Libertà, and up into the green hills to Fiesole, arriving, after a short but enjoyable 30 minutes, at Piazza Mino. Upon alighting we were thankful for the umbrellas we had so prudently packed. Deploying them now and donning raincoats, we set out for the object of our visit, the Area Archeologica di Fiesole, a small Etrusco-Romano-Lombard site located just around the corner from the piazza. Although the partly-reconstructed Roman theatre is without doubt the principal attraction, the Etrusco-Roman temple is interesting too, as are the Roman baths. Most exciting of all, however, is the Lombard necropolis, although to the untrained eye it resembles nothing more than an assemblage of stones. But you know it’s there. All the while the rain was easing off, and had stopped entirely by the time we entered the somewhat idiosyncratic but still excellent Civic Archaeological Museum, which alone would have made a visit to Fiesole worthwhile. The many Etruscan, Roman and Lombard artefacts were marvellous enough, but really fascinating were the recreated Lombard burials, based on those excavated in the necropolis and elsewhere in Fiesole. These were located in the new wing of the building. As diverting as the ancient Lombards were, however, the youngest Handel soon decided he’d had enough, so we exited the Area Archeologica altogether and went to see the Etruscan wall demarcating the site’s northern boundary. It was difficult to tell to what extent the wall has been reconstructed, but it certainly looked ancient. It is said to date from the 4th century BCE. On our return to Piazza Mino to catch bus number 7 back to the city of the Medici, we came across a series of painted gas meter covers, featuring rural and urban scenes in miniature – a nice civic touch.

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