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By The Way
Detours with locals. Travel tips you can trust.
The hamlet of Settignano.
The hamlet of Settignano.

A guide to local favorites in Settignano

The hamlet of Settignano.
The hamlet of Settignano.
  • By Vicky Hallett
  • Photos by Simone Donati
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So you want to take a day trip that won’t take all day? Here’s an idea: Board the #10 bus in San Marco and 25 minutes later, you’ll emerge in a tiny hilltop village. This is Settignano, a place with history, artistic importance and tasty eats, plus rarely trafficked streets perfect for idyllic strolls through the olive grove-dotted countryside. It’s calmer than its more famous neighbor Fiesole, which you can also reach by bus. Intrepid hikers can attempt to tackle the rugged, not-super-well-marked trail that connects the two.

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Piazza Niccolò Tommaseo
The bus line ends right in the middle of Settignano at this diminutive piazza that’s named for Niccolò Tommaseo, a prominent 19th-century Italian writer who spent his final years in a nearby villa. Say hi to his statue, which stands guard over a fountain. And don’t confuse him with Settignano’s most famous son, Renaissance sculptor Desiderio da Settignano.
Piazza Niccolò Tommaseo, 50135 Settignano FI, Italy
Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta
Heavy wooden doors open to reveal a church that’s more intimate than opulent. But there’s still plenty to admire, including a majolica of Mary and Jesus from the workshop of Andrea della Robbia and a dimly lit painting of the Last Supper. The bell tower that pops up above makes this the most recognizable feature in the Settignano skyline.
Piazza Nicolò Tommaseo, 18, 50135 Firenze FI, Italy
La Bottega di Settignano
Fruit piled in crates beckons potential picnickers to this rustic market, where you can buy bread, cheese, meat and a selection of hot prepared dishes, including hearty soups and stuffed veggies. Green wooden bookcases are stocked with shelf stable items like jumbo olives and artisanal cookies. Can’t wait to chow down? A few tables are out back.
Piazza Niccolo’ Tommaseo 10/R, 50135 Settignano, Florence, Italy
Caffe Desiderio
This wine bar asks the tough questions, starting with, “inside or outside?” Diners rightfully agonize over the inventive menu featuring items like cauliflower cream with crispy mortadella, sous-vide suckling pig belly and guinea fowl scented with cider. Then they have to contend with the encyclopedic wine list, which conveniently offers pours by the glass and ¼ liter if you’d like to create a DIY flight.
Piazza Niccolò Tommaseo, 5R, 50135 Firenze FI, Italy
Villa Gamberaia gardens
Back in 1904, Edith Wharton wrote that this property combines “almost every typical excellence of the old Italian gardens.” Hike 15 minutes from Piazza Tommaseo, pay the $22 admission fee and you’ll see she was right — soaring hedges frame water features, sculptures and citrus trees, an endless bowling green makes way for wild woods and ornate rockwork walls burst with flowers.
Via del Rossellino, 72, 50135 Firenze FI, Italy
Piazza Desiderio
From this panoramic viewpoint you can see all of Florence, then sample some nearby hiking trails. Follow the stairs down toward Via dei Ceci and Via Vecchia di Settignano for a 15-minute hike to Ponte a Mensola. Or go right on Via Feliceto for a more ambitious route that snakes behind Villa Morghen and cuts north along trails once used by the area’s stone cutters.
Piazza Desiderio, 50135 Settignano FI, Italy
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Vicky Hallett
Vicky moved to Florence with her family in 2015. The hot, humid summers remind her of home in Washington, D.C. — only without the air conditioning. The rest of the year, she’s grateful for the Tuscan sun.
Simone Donati
Simone is a contributing photographer to The Washington Post based in Florence and Bari.