Tuesday, 30 May 2017


When the heat of Florence gets too much it's nice to be able to escape to the surrounding hills.  Walking up to Piazza San Marco if you wait and catch the number 7 bus for a mere 1 euro 20 (2.40 return) you'll be whisked up into the surrounding green of Fiesole in a matter of minutes (I've put what will hopefully be a useful photo of the timetable below). The small village is famous for its incredible Roman ruins and beautiful views over the city.

It's also famous for being at the heart of E.M. Forster's A Room with a View (one of the most famous books to be set in Florence) as it's near Fiesole where the protagonist Lucy Honeychurch is kissed by George Emerson in a poppy and barley field overlooking Florence. It's also mentioned in one of the first pieces of wisdom she's offered when she arrives in Florence by Mr. Beebe:
“Don’t neglect the country round,” his advice concluded. “The first fine afternoon drive up to Fiesole, and round by Settignano, or something of that sort.” 
I'm ashamed to think that I'm encouraging you to become the very people that Mr. Eager despises (who seems like the voice of Forster himself here):
Sometimes as I take tea in their beautiful grounds I hear, over the wall, the electric tram squealing up the new road with its loads of hot, dusty, unintelligent tourists who are going to ‘do’ Fiesole in an hour in order that they may say they have been there, and I think—think—I think how little they think what lies so near them.
However I have confidence you'll want to visit Fiesole again, and linger for far longer than an hour, and with the bus there's really no excuse to not head up to the hills once every now and then. I'm determined to explore further afield. Forster describes the countryside and ruins around Fiesole beautifully:
A hollow like a great amphitheatre, full of terraced steps and misty olives, now lay between them and the heights of Fiesole, and the road, still following its curve, was about to sweep on to a promontory which stood out in the plain.
These photos were taken from the small memorial garden on the way up the hill to the magical San Francesco Monastery. If this view is the 'hackneyed view' that is discarded by Mr. Eager then I'm certainly eager to see what the other hills around Florence hold in store! 
I am about to venture a suggestion. Would you and Miss Honeychurch be disposed to join me in a drive some day this week—a drive in the hills? We might go up by Fiesole and back by Settignano. There is a point on that road where we could get down and have an hour’s ramble on the hillside. The view thence of Florence is most beautiful—far better than the hackneyed view of Fiesole. 

For those attempting to take the bus here's the timetable: