The most beautiful viewpoints in Florence

5 min · 30 May 2023

The most beautiful viewpoints in Florence

Florence, as you know, is a splendid city from any angle, but if you want to have a truly unforgettable experience, we recommend admiring it from above: you will be totally captivated by its immense beauty. There are numerous viewpoints with enchanting views of the city. Some are famous and popular, others are less known but no less interesting.

But what are the most beautiful viewpoints in Florence? Although there are many, we have selected six that are not to be missed.

Piazzale Michelangelo

The most famous and photographed panorama is certainly the one you can enjoy from Piazzale Michelangelo. Because, as Pieraccioni sang: ‘Florence is small… e vista da i’ Piazzale la pare una bambina, vestito a carnevale’. It is a large panoramic terrace on a hill south of the Arno and the historic centre of Florence. The Piazzale, named after one of the greatest artists in the history of art, was built in the second half of the 19th century to a design by the Florentine architect Giuseppe Poggi. The view, reproduced on countless postcards, sweeps from Forte Belvedere to Santa Croce. We suggest you go there at sunset: the view will literally leave you speechless.

Basilica of San Miniato al Monte

Another marvellous view of Florence can be admired from the forecourt of the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte, located in one of the highest places in the city, near Piazzale Michelangelo. Dedicated to the first Florentine martyr, it is considered one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Tuscany. The basilica, built between the 11th and 13th centuries, is an authentic masterpiece both outside and inside. It also contains numerous treasures of great value, including: the Chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal; Spinello Aretino’s frescoes in the sacristy; and Paolo Uccello’s precious cycle of frescoes adorning the upper cloister.

Forte Belvedere

The Fortress of Santa Maria in San Giorgio del Belvedere, better known as Forte Belvedere, offers another unparalleled view of Florence and in particular of the ring of hills surrounding the city. It is not by chance that it is called Belvedere. The fort, located on the top of the Boboli hill, is, together with the Fortezza da Basso, one of Florence’s two fortresses. It was built in the late 16th century according to the designs of Bernardo Buontalenti, one of the most emblematic artists of Mannerist art. Inside is the elegant Palazzina di Belvedere, probably designed by Bartolomeo Ammannati. Very popular during the summer, it is the venue for exhibitions and aperitifs.

Tower of Arnolfo

Another famous Florentine viewpoint is the 95-metre-high Torre di Arnolfo, the tower of Palazzo Vecchio, which towers over the city. Erected in the early 14th century, probably to a design by Arnolfo di Cambio, it represents the best synthesis of 14th-century civil architecture in the city. Inside the tower, a stone staircase of 223 steps leads to the top level, from which one can enjoy a spectacular view of Florence. A small curiosity: going up the stairs, one can see a small cell, called the Alberghetto, where Cosimo il Vecchio and Girolamo Savonarola, among others, were imprisoned.

Brunelleschi’s Dome

Also not to be missed is the magnificent 360° view of the city from Brunelleschi’s Dome, one of the most famous Italian monuments in the world and one of the symbols of Florence, the Renaissance and humanism in general. The splendid dome, soaring proudly into the Florentine sky at 116 metres high, was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in the first half of the 15th century. There are no lifts and the path to the top is tiring (over 400 steps) but once you reach it, you will not regret it. Inside the dome you can also admire the enchanting frescoes, painted between 1572 and 1579 by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari.

Parnassus Gardens

Inside the famous Giardino dell’Orticoltura (Horticultural Garden) on Via Vittorio Emanuele are the Orti del Parnaso (with access from Via Trento), a small green area with a splendid panoramic terrace from which you can enjoy an unusual view of the city. They are also known as ‘the gardens of the dragon’ because of a curious statue-fountain in the shape of a snake or dragon that resembles those of Antoni Gaudí at the Parc Güell in Barcelona. At the heart of the Horticulture Garden is the Tepidarium del Roster, a stunning and enormous glass and wrought-iron greenhouse created by Giacomo Roster that lights up at nightfall.

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