The Magical Florence Skyline
Florence seen from above is a singular experience. Not just a perfect photo opportunity, but a moment of wonder. You are looking at the city that gave birth to incredible artists, amazing scientists and an enthralling history of discovery and power that has filled novels and movie theaters.
No matter what time of day, you will find that Piazzale Michelangelo truly offers a stupendous lookout over Florence. Don't be surprised if you also see it written as Piazzale Michelangiolo, this is from the archaic Florentine pronunciation and most definitely the one you see on street signs or the brown and white signs that indicate historic landmarks. In any case, however you spell it, it is one site that should not be missed. It may be a classic tourist stop, but it never fails to capture the heart and imagination of those who follow the path to the very top.
Not as Old as David
Many mistakenly believe that this piazza existed since the birth of Florence or that it was designed by Michelangelo. Actually it is a rather recent addition to the list of monuments in Florence, created in 1869 by Florentine architect Giuseppe Poggi, as part of major restructuring of the city walls in 1869.
Poggi's sumptuous terrace is typical 19th century design intended as a showcase for Michelangelo's masterpieces (at least copies). Poggi designed a monument base dedicated to Michelangelo, where copies of Michelangelo's works, including the David and the Medici Chapel sculptures from San Lorenzo, would be displayed. When the terrace was finished, Poggi also designed the hillside building behind it with a loggia as a museum for Michelangelo's works. However, the building never fulfilled its original purpose and houses the restaurant La Loggia, featuring both a coffee bar (everyday from 10 am - midnight) and full fledged restaurant with panoramic terrace (12-11pm).
Today, the piazza is filled with tourists, vendors, and a bronze replica of Michelangelo's David. (The original is displayed at the Accademia Gallery museum). In 2016, the piazza was restructured to emphasize the simple beauty of its spaces and give guests an opportunity to enjoy a peaceful setting above Florence (getting rid of most of the parking spaces that had taken over the piazza).
How to Get to Piazzale Michelangelo
If you're in downtown Florence, you can walk up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. You can also take the bus or if you have a car, drive up there!
It can be reached by taking either bus 12 or 13 from the center or the red two-level sightseeing tour bus. It can also be reached by foot, climbing up from Piazza Poggi found at the base of the hill upon which Piazzale Michelangelo sits.
You can also follow the shady via Michelangelo from Piazza Ferruccio for 1km or the 3km hike from Porta Romana/exit of Boboli Gardens along viale Machiavelli/via Galileo (both are frequently used by joggers) to get to the Piazzale.
Another panoramic, historic walking route is to start at the Porta San Miniato near with the infamous icon/bar "il Rifrullo", and climb up via Scalea del Monte alle Croci and Scalinata del Monte alle Croci... it's short and follows the footsteps of Dante.
Here's a map showing where it is, the various ways to get there and the best spots for taking photographs... as well as other practical details. Zoom in to see all of the info!
View Getting to Piazzale Michelangelo in a larger map
Where to Park if you are driving
In front of the Piazza there are 72 spots dedicated to a paid car parking lot (1 Euro for the first hour and 2 Euros for every hour after, or portion thereof). Paid hours are everyday (including holidays, from 8 am to midnight). There is parking along the street going up to the Piazzale, near the Iris Garden and shady (paid) parking can be found on the road to San Miniato (via delle Porte Sante).
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