Is Piazzale Michelangelo worth visiting?
It most definitely is if you want to see the very best view of Florence!
What and where is Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is a large public open-air terrace that rises atop a hilly slope on the southern bank of the Arno river, slightly southeast of Florence’s main historic center. Its outstanding position and spaciousness make for spectacular vistas of the skyline of Florence, including the Arno river with its bridges, palaces, and churches, and naturally the Duomo, with its red-tiled dome.
History of Piazzale Michelangelo
This amazing vantage point was built in 1869 when architect Giuseppe Poggi was entrusted with re-designing Florence’s urban layout. It was at that time that the riverside promenades called “lungarni” were built, along with the ample Viali di Circonvallazione, which now host most of the city’s traffic flow, around the 14th-century town center. Poggi also decided to have a scenic road built above the southern bank of the Arno, in the direction of the roads that lead to Siena and Chianti, and have a panoramic terrace constructed on top of it.
So that’s how Piazzale Michelangelo came to be, and why we can enjoy it today!
The amazing skyline of Florence
Whether you’re in Florence for 1 day, a week, or a year, enjoy it you should, because the view is truly nothing short of incredible. From Piazzale Michelangelo, you can see the sinuous shape of the Arno gleaming below, embraced by the red-tiled rooftops, and the shape of the Ponte Vecchio and other bridges mirrored by the river’s surface. You can get great photos of Arnolfo’s Tower and the Duomo. Plus, there’s a copy of Michelangelo’s David right in the middle, so if you don’t get to the Accademia, where the original is housed, you can see it here (and even take your picture with David, which you can’t do in the museum!)
What to do in Piazzale Michelangelo
One of the best things about Piazzale Michelangelo is that it’s open to the public and accessible to all free of charge. This means you can choose whether to go in the morning, afternoon, or evening. You can visit the Piazzale, as Florentines call it familiarly, on your own or take a guided tour. If you go on your own, the best things to do are lose yourself in the view gazing at the Arno, take photos, and… guess-identify as many of the landmarks below as you can manage! Alternatively, you could book a guided tour, and have a professional guide fill you in on the sights and history.
Guided tours of Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is an amazing viewpoint, so innumerable tours include it in their stops. Among these, there’s one I’d really like to suggest: an E-bike tour that includes biking through the city center and Oltrarno and seeing the main landmarks, as well as Piazzale Michelangelo, all led by a professional guide. I discovered it the first time I came to Florence and had a lot of fun. It’s planned and handled by a local company called Florencetown, if you’re interested you can see the details here.
The sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo
One thing you certainly shouldn’t miss is watching the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo: the Arno river reflects the sky, which turns pink, and orange, and then wonderfully blue, and the colors spread onto the palaces and buildings like magic. It’s simply enchanting.
Piazzale Michelangelo cafés and restaurants
You can enjoy the sunset leaning on the stone parapet, or you can have a drink, a snack, or even a meal at one of the nearby cafés and restaurants. Those located closest to the Piazzale Michelangelo, and with the best views of Florence are:
- Chalet Il Boschetto – a simple, but welcoming, sandwich shop. You can eat in or order a beer and sandwich to go.
- Terrazze Michelangelo – a stylish pizzeria-restaurant-nightclub immersed in the verdant gardens that surround the Piazzale Michelangelo offering al fresco and indoor seating, aperitivi, lunch, dinner, and after-dinner drinks (with music).
- La Loggia – iconic dining venue and café. The premises date back to the 1800s and are quite sumptuous, and it’s right across the street from the terraced viewpoint. Great if you want to treat yourself to something “fancy”.