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fortezza da basso

Very near the city but with a character all of its own is Fiesole, high on the hill overlooking Florence and with a wonderful panoramic view.

convento di san francesco fiesole

Unlike Florence, Fiesole was founded by the Etruscans, and preserves both Etruscan and Roman remains in its huge Archaeological Area. Also of great historical interest are the Romanesque cathedral of San Romolo, with its typical tower-shaped campanile, the Palazzo Vescovile (Bishops’ Palace) founded in the 11th century and reconstructed in the 17th, and the very ancient church of Santa Maria Primerana, built on Etruscan foundations. 
A classic walk to take is the one to the ancient acropolis, en route for which you will find the basilica of Sant’Alessandro, which now houses exhibitions, together with its church and monastery, and the Missionary Museum of San Francesco. The natural beauty of its surroundings make Fiesole the starting point for excursions on foot towards Monte Ceceri or the Caldine hills.
To the south of the historic centre, near the town of Galluzzo, you find the Certosa (Charterhouse). Of 14th-century origin, with its stern, fortress-like appearance, the Certosa is to this day the seat of the Cistercian Order. Your visit includes the chief rooms of the monastery and the Pinacoteca (picture gallery), containing important works realized over the centuries.
Also not to be missed are the Medici villas lying between Florence and Sesto Fiorentino, Villa La Petraia and Villa di Castello. Villa La Petraia is dominated by a great tower and surrounded by a terraced Italian garden. Behind the villa is a large park in the Romantic style, an extension dating from the 19th century. During the period when Florence was the capital of Italy this villa was also the residence of the Savoias. A pleasant walk then brings you to Villa di Castello, which has a fine Italian garden with an abundance of citrus trees and rare plants. This garden is also worth a visit on account of the “Grotta degli animali” with its playful fountains, a real treasure dating from the Medici period. The imposing villa itself is the seat of the renowned Accademia della Crusca.
All Medici Villas of Tuscany have recently become UNESCO World heritage.


Published: 4/4/2016

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