Soaking in the quaintly romantic ambiance of Florence from its open cityscape is an experience you simply can’t miss. No matter the time of day, Piazzale Michelangelo treats you to a postcard-worthy view of this ancient city. This incredible observation point is popular with tourists and locals alike. Don’t hesitate, find out how to get to Piazzale Michelangelo, and climb up there! Turn your attention away from the gathering of tacky souvenir stalls, and immerse yourself in Florence’s history laid out in a skyline with Brunelleschi’s Duomo looming in the background.
When you visit at sunset, you will be able to watch as the twilight slowly descends on this vibrant town and flickering golden lights illuminate its quaint facade. At this point, people all around you will ready their cameras and iPhones, eager to capture the playful beauty of shifting colors. For a moment, everything grows strangely quiet while Florence dances between darkness and light.
People often mistakenly assume that this piazza is as old as Florence or even designed by Michelangelo himself. In fact, Piazzale Michelangelo is a rather “recent” addition to monumental Florence; at least compared to the rest of its mostly-medieval gems and treasures. This poetically scenic Florentine piazza is a work of architect Giuseppe Poggi who designed and supervised its construction in 1869. It sits on a hill south of the historic city center, in the artisan Oltrarno district. The construction of the piazza was part of the redevelopment of the district in the period of so-called "Risanamento" or the "Renovation" of the city's neighborhoods when Florence, for a brief moment, became the capital of Italy.
Poggi created the piazza as a salute to the great works of Michelangelo. Hence, it features bronze replicas of the master’s greatest works including a bronze copy of the imposing Statue of David and the four allegories from the Medici Chapel in San Lorenzo. Once the terrace was complete, Poggi continued to design the hillside building with a loggia. It was intended to become a museum of Michelangelo's works. However, the building never had the chance to serve its original purpose. Instead, it’s home to a restaurant, La Loggia, which comprises a coffee bar and a panoramic terrace. One of Poggi's most outstanding achievements in this project is the Viale dei Colli - an eight-kilometers long street which winds up the hill of San Miniato, leading you all the way to Piazzale.
Today, the square bustles with vendors and street artists, tourists, and locals. There is not a day in a year when the piazza wouldn’t welcome eager observers, thirsty for a magnificent sunset view.
Tip: Don’t be startled to see the name of the square written as Piazzale Michelangiolo. This is likely a footprint of the archaic Florentine pronunciation. You will see this spelling on street or the brown-white signs indicating historic landmarks.
From the Florence city center, you can reach the square by foot, public transport, or even a car. However, if it's in your power, we strongly recommend taking a walk to make the most of the experience.
From downtown Florence, you can walk up to the Piazzale on foot:
If walking is not your thing, you can reach it by bus number 12 (from Boboli Gardens) or 13 (from Ponte Niccolò) or the flashy red two-level sightseeing bus.
Getting up there by car is quite easy, simply following the road signs or your GPS. Parking, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. You can find parking spots at:
Once you are done taking in the view - or before you even start - you can explore some of the other landmarks nearby.
The Abbey of San Miniato al Monte sits on a hilltop, even higher than Piazzale Michelangelo. It was constructed between the 11th and 13th century. The facade of the abbey features a combination of white and green marble geometric patterns quite similar to that of Santa Croce church in the city center. The interior is Romanesque and quite rich in decor. It comprises of three naves, elevated presbytery, and crypt.
If you are looking for a less crowded place to contemplate the skyline of Florence, the tiny church square offers you just that!
At the foot of the hill, under Piazzale Michelangelo, stands Bardini Museum. The building of the museum was restored by Stefano Bardini towards the end of the 18tth century.
Who was Bardini?
He was an Italian collector and connoisseur. In fact, he carried a nickname “the Prince of Art Dealers.” His large and eclectic collection includes paintings, sculptures, furniture, ceramics, tapestries and even pieces of Florence’s historic city center. This is not a museum that centers around a single masterpiece but rather a collection of mixed artifacts, antiques, and oddities not even many Florentines know about.
Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the unquestionable must-sees Florence has to offer. Don’t hesitate and venture on a morning, afternoon or evening stroll up and indulge in the enchantingly quaint ambiance of this Renaissance city.