As we try to do during our first visit to all major cities, we took an On-and-Off Bus tour of Florence. Those tours allow us to get the lay of the land and decide what we want to further explore. In this case, because Florence’s Old Town is small and vehicle-free, we waited until after we had explored that part of the city before wandering out. It was a good choice.

The bus meandered around the outskirts of the city and along the countryside, with the usual “on/off” stops. We only stopped twice: at Piazzale Michaelangelo, and in the hillside town of Fiesole.

The Piazzale offers a magnificent, not-to-be missed view of the Old Town and surrounding area.

Zoomed view of El Duomo

Zoomed view of Ponte Vecchio from Piazzale Michaelangelo

Lifesize copy of Michaelangelo’s “David” in the Piazzale–almost as good as seeing the real thing, without having to stand in line

A portion of the original city wall near the Piazzale

Fiesole is a commune of the Metropolitan City of Florence. Eight  kilometers away, it is on a scenic height overlooking Florence and the Tuscan countryside. Rich in Italian history, Fiesole has been considered a getaway for the upper class since the 14th century.

The views on the way up are fabulous and the center of town is pleasant and inviting. The day that we stopped, there was an open market in a little park in the middle of town. The vendors were pleasant, and their goods were all local and mostly handmade. Definitely a place for us to return to and explore further.

Tuscan home on the hillside next to the little park.

View of Florence from the park. We had some gelato in a little outdoor restaurant overlooking this and watched locals greet each other–made us wish we could speak Italian and join in.

We returned “home” with a renewed interest in Florence and its surrounds.

NEXT: A Tuscany wine tour


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