Fiesole and it is a city extremely close to Florence that is full of splendid villas and monuments in particular from the Renaissance and the Middle Ages. Also the glorious past of Rome is tangible, in particular thanks to the wonderful and well preserved theatre that is still used today for concerts and spectacles, and thanks also to the Baths.
History of Fiesole
First of all Fiesole was important as a great city in the internal Etruria, since VI century B.C. It was positioned in a strategic place to control the Etruscans communication routes.
The city was allied with Rome since the III century but maintained its independence, until 90 B.C. when it was destroyed by Cato when Fiesole fought against Rome in the Social war. Then the city was reconstructed and transformed in a typical roman city, and it was an important center in the final part of Catilina’s conjures, in 63 B.C.
Then it maintained a condition of prosperity during the imperial age until the invasion of the Goths and Ostrogoths, and then it underwent a destiny common to the roman cities of the area, when it was conquered by the Lombards, and this fact reduced the importance of the city, that came back to greatness in Renaissance.
The archaeological area of Fiesole
Roman Fiesole is well represented by the important lasting monuments; in particular three of them are the main ones. First of all the theatre, built between the I century B.C. and the I century A.D. is one of the first signs of the re edification of the Etruscan city, transformed according to the Roman style, and proofs the level of empowering of the city in these years.
The romans were not used to build theatres until I century B.C. because before they made buildings only for practical purpose and did not considered spaces meant only of entertainment, as theatres. The fact that in Fiesole a theatre was built so soon it is a proof of the prestige of this city.
The construction followed the Greek model, and the semicircular cavea is set on a hill. In Severe age the theatre was restored and embellished, and this is a factor that influenced the excellent state of preservation of the theatre now, but there is also the contribution of restoration works. The upper part of the cavea is now lost, but the lower part is preserved and also there are the steps of access, the parodos, the orchestra, the pulpitum and the proscenium.
This condition created the possibilities for the theatre to be used today for spectacles and events. The restoration works in XIX century, when it was rediscovered (even if at least a part of the remains have been always visible, because in the middle ages people were fascinated by this place and called it “hole of fairies”) included a part of reconstruction of the left area of the cavea, and this is why it is fully preserved.
The roman bath Fiesole
Besides the theatre there are the important baths, built in I century B.C. and restored in Adrian age.
It preserves part of the access staircase and the monumental portico, the division of the typical spaces of the roman baths: the frigidarium (that was separated from the other rooms with three arches now visible, but they were reconstructed during the restoration in XIX century the calidarium (of which you can see well the pool and the remains of the warming system with elevated pavement and part of the furnaces reconstructed) and the tepidarium in the middle of them.
At last the third main monument in the archaeological area is a temple with different layers of construction corresponding to the different historical phases of Fiesole.
The oldest layer is from an Etruscan temple, and on it was build an Hellenistic temple, and at last a roman temple dedicated to Minerva. From the Etruscan phase now there is nothing visible, the Hellenistic one preserves an altar at the bottom of a staircase, the naos and two lateral rooms.
The most recent roman construction has a better state of preservation and included the remains of the oldest construction, but has a bigger staircase and added a portico with a colonnade
Imagine copyright: By I, Sailko, CC BY 2.5.
November-February: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (closed on Tuesdays)
March 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
April- September 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
October 10 a.m. 6-p.m.
Full ticket: 7, 00 € - Reduced ticket 5, 00 € (kids between 7 and 18 years old, university students, groups of more than 10 people)
Free entrance for kids under 6 year’s old, accompanying people for groups, guides and journalist with identification card
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE CARD:
FOUNDATION: VI century B.C.
DECLINE: V century A.D.
CIVILISATION: Etruscans, Romans
DISCOVERY: XIX century
How to get to Fiesole
By car: Is easy to get to Fiesole from Florence that is only 9 km away. If you exit the city in direction north east, take via Bolognese and then via Salvati/ SR302 in direction Via della Badia dei Roccettini/SP53 and then proceed following the street signs to Fiesole, your destination.
By Bus: It is possible to take from the Florence bus station , the bus 302A for 3 stops to “Libertà” and then change with bus 7 in direction Fiesole Piazza Mino (18 stops) and get off there. The stop it is only 3 minutes by foot away from the archaeological area, and the duration of the route is less than 30 minutes.