(Fiesole) N. Etruria, Italy.
town on the hill that dominates Florence. With the exception of the geographers (Plin. 3.52
; Ptol. 3.1.43), it
is rarely mentioned in the literary sources, and does not
even appear in the Itineraria. It is mentioned for the first
time in connection with the Gallic invasion in 225 B.C.
(Polyb. 2.25); then by Polybios (3.80.82) and by Livy
) during the second Punic war when Hannibal's
army camped in the fertile Fiesole countryside. From
that time on, the citations increase.
Fiesole participated in the social war and was devastated in 90 B.C. by Lucius Porcius Cato (Florus, Ep
Later on, the victorious Sulla established a colony of veterans there (Cic. Cat
. 3.14; Sall. Cat
. 28). The Fiesolani
revolted in 78 B.C.; and in 63 took part in Catiline's conspiracy (Sall. Cat
. 24.27.30; App. BCiv
The few fragments that survive from the archaic period
indicate that the area must already have been inhabited
in the Early Iron Age. The city must have developed at
a much later period, even though certain stretches of the
encircling wall on the upper part of the hill of S. Francesco and near Borgunto seem to date from the 5th c.
B.C., while the major part of the wall dates from the 3d c.
B.C. Various building techniques, with some stretches in
polygonal work, confirm that the wall was built in stages
with some rebuilding in the Roman period.
Inside the walls, which extend for ca. 3 km, the most
significant building yet excavated is a temple dedicated
to a healing divinity, constructed with separate annexes
probably for the use of pilgrims. The temple has a peculiar plan, consisting of a cella against the far wall and
two lateral wings. The entrance between two columns
was reached by a stepped ramp. Excavations in progress
in the area immediately in front of the temple have
brought to light the altar belonging to the Etruscan temple, a drain from the same period, and another at a lower
level from an earlier period (5th to 4th c. B.C.). This suggests an urban system preceding the Hellenistic. The
necropolis, with chambered tombs, in the area called
Bargellino to the N of the wall, contains no funerary
material earlier than the 3d c. B.C. In the fields around
Fiesole nevertheless several stelai have been found that
date as far back as the 6th c. B.C. They come from isolated tombs, often far apart. Near the Villa Marchi, inside the Etruscan wall on the slope that overlooks Florence, a shrine was found with a votive stipe that offers a
rich sampling of small bronzes.
Fiesole was at its height under Augustus. To this time,
according to the latest stratigraphic tests, belong the
theater, the baths, and perhaps the rebuilding of the
Etruscan temple, destroyed by fire at the beginning of
the 1st c. B.C. and reconstructed with its annexes at a
higher level with a slightly amplified plan.
The central part of the cavea of the theater rests
against the hill while the lateral sections are carried by
vaults. The theater must have been refurbished during
the Roman Imperial age, as can be seen from the plaques
on the pulpitum, which show noticeable stylistic and
chronological discrepancies. Since the Fiesole hillside is
made up of sloping terraces, the forum was probably in
the modern Piazza Mino da Fiesole where, at a more
elevated position, the Capitolium must have been under
the present church of S. Maria Primerana. The theater,
of several levels, linked the forum and the buildings in
front on the lower terrace built against the wall, the temple, and the baths. The latter have a very simple plan
with natatoria at the entrance, then the tepidarium
flanked by two apoditeria, to the right the caldarium, and
to the left the frigidarium with the swimming pool. Behind the caldarium are two earthenware furnaces. The
water for the baths came from Montereggi, where the
beginning of the Roman aqueduct has been traced. The
baths show rebuilding during the Imperial epoch up until
the Severian age.
Numerous barbarian tombs have been found during
excavation in the archaeological zone. Fiesole again appears in the histories at the beginning of the 5th c. when
Stilicone defeated the Goths under Radagaiso near Fiesole (Oros. 7.37), and in 539 when Fiesole was occupied
by Belisarius (Procop. Goth
. 2.23, 24, 27). Under Pope
Gelasius I (492-96) a notice of an episcopus faesulanus
shows that Christianity had already reached Fiesole.
“Faesulae” in PW
with biblio. (G. Maetzke); A. De Agostino, NSc
180ff. Per la necropoli: G. Maetzke, NSc
Per l'ara: F. Castagnoli, BullComm
77 (1959-60) p. IIII
P. Bocci, St. Etruschi
29 (1960) 421ff; id., NSc
P. BOCCI PACINI