Piazzale Michelangelo

Enjoy panoramic views across all of Florence with a visit to Piazzale Michelangelo. Created in honour of Michelangelo, one of Florence’s best-loved Renaissance artists, you can admire bronze copies of some of his most well-known statues here. But the main reason you’ll want to go is for the famous view of the river and city, which is laid out before you with the hills beyond. It’s free to visit and, thanks to the jaw-dropping vista, it’s a must-do during your trip to Florence.

The best photo opportunity in Florence

 Arriving at the Piazzale Michelangelo, you’ll find plenty of places to sit and enjoy the spectacular view. From here you can see many of the major Florence landmarks clearly, including the cathedral with its beautiful red-tiled dome, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Palazzo Vecchio. Keen photographers will also appreciate the panoramic observation point. Make sure you take your phone or your camera so you can get what is considered the best shot of the city.

Then don’t forget to turn around. The monument of David with Italian Cypress, the epitome of the Tuscan landscape, growing on the hillside behind is just as beautiful.

History

The view of Florence may be timeless, but the Piazzale is a relatively new addition to the city. Local architect Poggi created  it during the major restructuring of the city’s walls in 1869 to showcase copies of Michelangelo’s best-loved masterpieces. Poggi also designed the monument base and the neo-classical loggia, a covered building originally intended as an outside gallery, which is now a café and restaurant.

Things to do

In the centre of Piazzale Michelangelo stands a copy of the artist’s most famous work, and symbol of Florence, David.  Representing David before his fight with the mighty Goliath, the original marble statue is in the Galleria dell’ Academia.

As the Piazzale draws a large number of tourists, you’ll find plenty of stalls selling souvenirs and take-away food. Or sit outside at the loggia bar and restaurant and soak up the atmosphere with a cappuccino in your hand.

After enjoying the view, take a five-minute walk to San Miniato al Monte. This beautiful monastery, dating back to the 11th century, sells honey and liqueur made by the monks, making it a great place to buy alternative souvenirs. It’s also worth taking a walk through the cemetery, where you’ll discover a number of impressive ornamental tombs.

The Bardini Garden is also nearby. It’s not as large or well known as the Boboli Garden, but is a beautiful spot for quiet reflection. The landscape is varied with a rose garden, a wooded area, a grotto, fountains, and a grand central Baroque staircase. The café in the garden offers a welcome stop for a break and also has beautiful views of the city.

Finding it

The Piazzale Michelangelo is located across the River Arno from the main historic centre of Florence. It’s a popular spot for visitors, so you’ll find the brown and white tourist signs leading the way. Bear in mind that it’s also referred to as Piazzale Michelangiolo, so don’t be confused if you come across signs or maps with this spelling variation.

Getting there

The Piazzale is around a 20-minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio or Pitti Palace. There is a choice of different walking routes going up to the viewing point. One of the best ways to reach Piazzale Michelangelo is by walking up the hill from Piazza Poggi. Alternatively, start at the Uffizi and enjoy the views over the city along the way or take the longer and more challenging route via Fort Belvedere. If you walk from the gateway at Porta San Miniato gateway, there’s a great shortcut heading up the hill, going past a beautiful rose garden before arriving at the top.

As you’d expect, getting to this viewpoint requires walking up some hills. Luckily, unlike many of the other landmarks in the centre of Florence, there are plenty of alternatives to walking. Take bus number 12 or 13 from the main train station for a direct trip up to the Piazzale, which will take around 30 minutes and also stops near the Pitti Palace. Alternatively, you can take a taxi from around the city or if you’ve hired a car there are car parking spaces nearby.

Piazzale Michelangelo is a beautiful place to see the sun go down, so visit in the evening for unforgettable views of the city as the daylight fades. But don’t leave it too late, as the lookout closes at 7pm every day.