Piazzale Michelangelo seemed like one of Florence’s “secret” treasures, off on a distant hilltop on the other side of the river, and surely with less of a spotlight than some of Florence’s other famous attractions, but I had to admit it was quite well-known. It was featured on an episode of “Married to Jonas” on the E! Network, for goodness sake!
There are busses that can get you to the piazza (#12 or #13 from the Historic Center) or you can, of course, drive if you have a car (the piazza is, in actuality, just a large parking lot with a few, after all), but I wanted to walk. Everyone looked at me strangely when I asked directions at my hotel and then again on the street, reminding me that there was a bus that went up there, didn’t I know that? Yes, I knew that. Just point me to the stairs, please…
I crossed the river and turned left, walking down alongside the river till I got to Piazza Giuseppi Poggi. Turning right, away from the river, I climbed the path up to Piazzale Michelangelo.
At the end of it, the “climb” wasn’t really much of a climb at all. A steep-ish street (nothing like those of Varenna or even the small Umbrian or Tuscan hill towns) led to a wide staircase (which felt like flat ground after the stairs of Bologna’s walk to San Luca – or any one Italy’s bell towers, for that matter!). At the end of the staircase, the piazza was up a few more stairs to my left. That was it. Easy-peasy.
The piazza was designed by Giuseppe Poggi in 1869, when Florence was the capitol of Italy and the entire city was getting a makeover. Poggi originally intended the building that sits behind the piazza (I mean, parking lot) to be a museum, but instead today it houses a very lovely (read: expensive) restaurant. A lovely and less formal caffè sit outside of it, along with several bars that offer lively aperitivi on the edges of the piazza.
I was there, unfortunately, during a rather overcast, foggy, rainy week. Generally, I don’t mind that sort of weather, but it does put a bit of a damper on pictures…
Nothing could really ruin that view, though!
On one side of the balcony overlooking Florence, there’s a sign depicting the skyline and pointing out notable buildings. Super-duper-handy!
The square is packed with tourists 24/7, but it’s not all the tourists’ fault. Granted, I walked up on my own during the afternoon, but that evening I made a new friend who insisted on driving me up to “the best view of Florence”. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I had just been there four hours before. :/ We popped into a bar for an aperitivo and he stood there wondering why I wasn’t snapping pictures – so of course I quickly raised my camera and behaved like a good little tourist.
The view of Florence at night is stunning! The lights twinkle along the river and the churches of Florence glow with a heavenly (er, electrical) light.
There’s a rose garden accessible from the road directly below the balcony that I, unfortunately. missed, that incorporates some lovely modern statues into the view of the Florentine skyline.
Also just a short distance away from Piazzale Michelangelo is quite possibly one of the churches that has impacted me the most during all my travels in Italy, but I’ll have to get to San Miniato al Monte in another post (such a tease, I know!).