Fiesole and Ristorante I’Polpa – perfect retreats from crowded Florence

View down the hillside below Fiesole

View down the hillside below Fiesole

Fiesole, with green space and Tuscan villas, is on a hill a few miles outside Florence.   Calm and straight-forward it lets the mind breathe again after the density of its famous neighbour.

We visited Fiesole with an art student from the city below.  For six months she had been immersed in statues, drawings and all the glories of Florence, but when we met her what she longed for … was grass.

In Fiesole we found it.

Faint view from Fiesole of:  la famosa cupola del Duomo di Firenze

Faint view from Fiesole of: la famosa cupola del Duomo di Firenze

It took us about fifteen minutes by car to reach Fiesole from the centre of Florence.

I’d first heard about the town from the blog Travelling Italy with Lyn and I knew it had what we all needed – urgent relief from art hotspots packed with tourists.

Fiesole did not let us down.  Just the drive up through the lush vegetation to the main piazza seemed to calm the soul.

It was easy to see why first the Etruscans, then the Romans, and much later the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, felt so at home here.

House that the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright stayed at in Fiesole in 1910

House that the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright stayed at in Fiesole in 1910

In the end we visited Fiesole twice – once on our way into Florence when the whole area seemed to have been swallowed by a soggy cloud; and again on our way out when the sun shone on Fiesole but a veil still clung over Florence.

Found on a wall in Fiesole: an artist's impression of the Duomo di Firenze as often seen from Fiesole

Found on a wall in Fiesole: an artist’s impression of the Duomo di Firenze as often seen from Fiesole

On our second visit, with its sunshine and miles of views, we bumped into a restaurant that served us a perfect lunch for a cold November day.

The meal was at the Ristorante I’Polpa – one of the few places open.  We only discovered it because we spotted its menu by an open doorway which we then peered through to try to make out what we’d find without stepping over the threshold.

View through to the tables in Ristorante I'Polpa in Fiesole

View through to the tables in Ristorante I’Polpa in Fiesole

The photograph above shows what we saw – it was warm and inviting and there was an instant welcome even though we were on the outside edge of the traditional lunch hour.

That was how it began and that was what it felt like throughout the meal.

We were in the hands of an accomplished family, with mum in the kitchen and younger members of the family front of house.

Ristorante I'Polpa Fiesole

Ristorante I’Polpa Fiesole

I had the satisfying ‘zuppa di farro‘ and we were all shameless with the homemade focaccia, served helpfully in a basket that refilled itself.

Everything felt just right.  The family was friendly and the food fresh and tasty – there were no gimics, no flattery – just steaming dishes delivered well.  It was excellent value.

If you find yourself hungry and in Fiesole Ristorante I’Polpa is definitely worth looking up.

Ristorante I'Polpa Fiesole

Ristorante I’Polpa Fiesole

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2015

4 thoughts on “Fiesole and Ristorante I’Polpa – perfect retreats from crowded Florence

  1. Hi Georgie. Fiesole is a breath of fresh air and a nice escape from Florence. Glad you enjoyed and thank you for letting me know and the mention Lyn

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