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Fiesole, a charming village perched above Florence, makes a seductive hilltop retreat from the culture-saturated Renaissance capital. Especially in summer, it’s popular with Florentines, who escape the heat for strolling and dining in the cooling hills. Fiesole’s magic is its setting, surrounded by olive groves and patrician villas. Even if the Etruscans and Romans chose the site for military reasons, they, too, appreciated its pastoral views, overlooking the valleys of the Arno and the Mugnone. The settlement was founded by the Etruscans in around the 8th century BC but then evolved into a Roman military colony. Most sites are clustered around Piazza Mino da Fiesole, the main square, from Fiesole Cathedral to the remains of the Roman Theatre and Etruscan ruins nearby. During the 15th century Fiesole became a city suburb where wealthy Florentines built villas. Today, a villa on the slopes of Fiesole’s verdant hill is a sought-after address.

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