Fiesole in the rain

More rain on Monday and more of it. But that doesn’t stop us.

We started the week with a visit to the huge Mercato Centrale to buy ingredients for Lynn’s dinner later in the evening. Vegetables from our favorite vegetable lady–6 euros, including at least a dozen huge mushrooms when Lynn only needed six (one euro for all of them). And two heirloom tomatoes that she insisted Lynn had to have for salad, plus a huge stem of basil and an equally large one of parsley. I guarantee the parsley in Lynn’s herb garden at home never gets a quarter of this size.

Then cheese, another flavor of pecorino. Another 6 euros.

Then wine, of course, three bottles of local juice that totaled a bit more than 30 euros.

And finally the main course, two huge chicken quarters, which the butcher whacked apart in one mighty blow separating the thighs and legs–3.20 euros. No kidding. We spent twice as much on the vegetables as the meat.

We went home to the apartment to put the food away, then walked back out in light rain to Piazza San Marco (the one in Florence not Venice) to catch the 7 bus to Fiesole. For 1.2 euros per person each way we enjoyed a scenic ride north up the hills overlooking Florence, past grand villas with names etched in stone, massive iron gates, private roads and huge cypress trees to screen them from the gaze of plebian bus passengers like us. In about twenty minutes we arrived in the little town of Fiesole, population about 14,000.

There is not much there in Fiesole, to be truthful. A little central piazzale and a road that leads to the panoramic look back to Florence. Luckily, the rain had stopped, so we worked our way up the fairly steep slope, accompanied by two or three other couples with the same intent.

The gas meters in the homes along the road to the panoramic view are all painted with scenes from Fiesole.
The gas meters in the homes along the road to the panoramic view are all painted with scenes from Fiesole.

The scenic view is not marked, but it’s pretty evident. And it’s pretty scenic, even under gray, gloomy, low clouds. Florence is a pretty city whose landmarks stand out even at a distance on a gray day with no shadows for definition. The Duomo is unmistakable, looming so much larger over every other church and structure in the old city. And we could make out some of the other major landmarks like San Lorenzo and even Santa Maria Novella at the train station.

Florence spread out in the valley below Fiesole. When the sun shines, it is a work of Renaissance art.
Florence spread out in the valley below Fiesole. When the sun shines, the city seen from above is a work of Renaissance art.

We came, we looked, we walked down. We visited the church on the side of the square, San Francesco, a stately Romanesque building consecrated in 1028. Think about that–San Francesco will celebrate its millennium in just a few years. Incredibly, the church is a cathedral, as Fiesole, population 14,000, has its own bishop.

The town fathers erected a plaque confirming the 1946 vote overwhelmingly approving a republic over restoration of the monarchy.
The local leaders erected a plaque on the wall of the town hall confirming for all time the 1946 vote overwhelmingly approving establishment of a republic over restoration of the monarchy.

Almost flipping a coin, we decided to eat lunch in Fiesosle rather than take the bus back into town, so we popped into Cafe Deja Vu, where the proprietor pointed out the day’s specials, plated and covered in plastic wrap under the counter. Breaking all the rules I just laid out a few blog entries ago, Lynn ordered the tortellini, and I had the veal cutlets in a tomato sauce with vegetables served over cous cous. And I have to say, both choices were quite good.

And it rained some more, this time harder, while we enjoyed lunch and our glasses of vino. By the time the rain slacked, we were ready for the bus trip back down the hill and a quick visit to the grocery store onthe ay home.

Wouldn’t you know it–while we were in the grocery store, it started to rain again, this time harder than ever. We jumped through the rain across the street to wait out the shower in the collonaded arcade of the Accademia dei Fiorenza. Yes, that Accademia. Actually, this was the art school by that name that is adjacent to and part of the same building that houses the famous museum displaying Michelangelo’s David and a few other works of his. We huddled together with the students and faculty for about ten minutes before the shower passed, then walked briskly back home through the residual drizzle, feeling very much touched by history and art.


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