So, you’re planning to visit Florence, and you’re seeing all these incredible panoramic shots of the city – they overlook the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, the Arno River, and the hills beyond. Do you have to hire a helicopter to get your own photos like that? Not in Florence you don’t – you just need to make your way up to the Piazzale Michelangelo.
The Piazzale Michelangelo (pronounced pee-ahtz-ZAH-lay) is a big public square (notice the word “piazza” in there) that sits atop a hill above the Oltrarno neighborhood, on the opposite side of the river from the Duomo. This isn’t one of those Italian piazzas that’s beautiful to look at, or that’s lined with cute (though overpriced) cafes – this is a place you come for the view.
Built in 1869, this piazza is dedicated to Michelangelo and features replicas of some of his famous sculptures – including a large bronze David standing in the center of the square. The bulk of the square itself functions as a car park, so it’s decidedly un-romantic looking at first approach, but you’ve got to get beyond the parking lot ambience to get to the good parts.
The view offered from the Piazzale Michelangelo of Florence below is spectacular in just about any weather – when I last visited, a storm was blowing through, and although it was cold and a little wet, the clouds and the light were beautiful. In nicer weather, this is a prime location for couples to share a moment together in which they pretend they’re alone but are in fact under the watchful gaze of, well, everyone else who isn’t coupled.
There’s usually at least one food cart in the Piazzale Michelangelo, along with several vendors selling touristy souvenirs, but visiting the piazza itself is free. It’s particularly popular at sunset, when the colors of the setting sun illuminate the red rooves of the city below. Expect to see lots of snogging as it gets darker.
So, is Piazzale the most romantic piazza in Florence? Well, that’s clearly debatable. But it is an excellent place to hang out for awhile with your sweetie (or without), and it boasts perhaps the most beautiful view in the city.
As an aside, in addition to the general caution which I’d urge if you have any issues with public displays of affection, I’d also like to take this moment to send a special message to all the ladies out there who are in the habit (as is the fashion these days) of wearing lower-than-low rise jeans. I’m sure they look fantastic on you – I have no issue with you wearing them. I just want to remind you that when you sit down, the view from behind may not always be so pleasant.
Really, no one wants that in their vacation photos, do they? Please, girls, do us all a favor and pull your shirt down in back a bit. Many thanks.
This Geobeats video gives a nice overview of the Piazzale Michelangelo:
Getting to Piazzale Michelangelo
You can walk, drive or ride the bus up to the piazza. I’m way too out of shape to walk up that hill, so I took the bus. It’s either bus #12 or #13 (they run the same route, just in opposite directions), both of which leave from the train station. Remember which bus number you take up, because you’ll want to take the same one down in order to see the full circular route.
Photo by: Aljaž Vidmar