Best Views in Florence
For those picture perfect postcard views of Florence, you need to go up! There are two vistas and two (wait, make that three!) towers/domes you will want to climb. So put on your sneakers and do some calf exercises, because you are about to feel the burn!
1. Piazzale Michelangelo
Those famous shots of Florence, with the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio? Those are usually taken from Piazzale Michelangelo. What is a piazzale? It’s like a piazza (a square) but with one side open.
Be forewarned: You won’t be the only one here. Particularly as sunset approaches, people camp out on the steps, having a glass of wine, some pizza, and possibly a snog. Sunset is absolutely golden. You will need to arrive around two hours prior for a primo viewing spot. The steps are good for relaxing, but my preferred spot is standing at the corner where the two sides of balcony meet. It has some absolutely fantastic views of the Duomo, the Arno River, and the Ponte Vecchio.
If crowds aren’t your thing, then aim for before 10am–that’s before most of the cruise ship daytrippers and tour groups descend upon the city. Once on a Sunday morning, I felt like I had the piazzale to myself. From the Ponte Vecchio in central Florence, it’s about a 20 minute walk. Make your way up the scenic steps of the Scalea del Monte alle Croci to get to the piazzale.
2. San Miniato al Monte
Speaking of crowds, to avoid them altogether, all you need to do is go up a little bit higher. Near Piazzale Michelangelo is San Miniato al Monte, a historic one thousand year old church.
Here you have good views of the Duomo and main sykline, but less views of the Arno. It’s peaceful and relaxing. Give yourself time to tour the historic church and cemetery.
3. and 4. Duomo and the Campanile
I hope you’re not scared of heights, but no visit to Florence is complete with a Duomo tour. People are often surprised: The facade of the Duomo is so ornate, but the interior – minus the dome – is rather plain. The real star however is the 463 step climb to the top of the cupola. You have to hoof it all the way; there is no elevator. Warning: If you’re claustrophobic and scared of heights, this probably isn’t for you. However, you’ll be treated to outstanding views of the terra-cotta roofs of Florence and the surrounding countryside.
But you work here is isn’t done yet! I also recommend climbing the Duomo’s campanile, or bell tower. This one is 414 steps. Again, no elevator. Yes, your calves might be killing you, but the reason to climb the campanile is because you can get some outstanding pictures of the Duomo.
5. Palazzo Vecchio
The Palazzo Vecchio, literally “old palace,” is the seat of Florence’s government and was, at one time, home to the Medici family. It’s sumptuous and ornate and worth your time. Make sure you get a ticket that includes admission to the tower. At the top, you have a perfect vista of the Duomo.
If you’re a photography lover, I recommend all five. If you’re in a rush, definitely do Piazzale Michelangelo and the classic climb to the Duomo cupola.
Below are pics from the vantage points described above. For more Italy pics, check out my Flickr album.