February 25, 2016

Florence 2.0 and Fiesole

Most countries in Europe are part of something called the Schengen agreement. In a nutshell, Schengen allows citizens in participating countries to travel freely between borders without the passport checks that would’ve existed a few decades ago.

As an American, I can also move freely between those same borders, but only for a maximum of 90 days within a 180 period. If I want to stay longer, I have to obtain a special visa. Typically, RTW travelers will spend 90 days in the Schengen area, then go somewhere else for 90 days until they can return.

What that means is … the moment I entered Europe, the Schengen clock started ticking. If I want to visit a lot of countries, I have to budget my time so I’m not dawdling too long in one place.

But I’ve found that Italy is a place where I really want to dawdle.

Especially Florence. When I left Rome and headed back north, I wanted to spend a little more time in Florence and also explore more of the surrounding area — and places like Fiesole!

Just 20 minutes from Piazza San Marco on bus number 7, Fiesole is a little town that sits high above Florence. It has an ancient Roman theater and remains of Roman baths. You can also climb up a HUGE (!!!) hill to visit the Monastery of San Francesco.

I managed to see all three before the warm weather turned cold and rainy. I snapped one last photo from the summit near the monastery before making a mad dash downhill to catch the bus back to Florence.

It’s very exciting to have a steady stream of new experiences and to change cities on a frequent basis. But it’s also nice to return to a place that feels cozy and familiar and like a surrogate home away from home. That’s what Florence feels like to me, and being able to savor that experience for just a little while longer is a Schengen sacrifice I’m happy — and fortunate — to make!

Here are some of my Fiesole photos…