Florence doesn’t have many high buildings, so if you want to enjoy some good panoramic views the best choice is to climb to some of the hills that surround the city. So we went to Piazzale Michelangelo and to the Basilica of San Miniato, where we could see the city from a bird’s eye view.
This square is at a hill on the outskirts of the city, in a beautiful area surrounded by gardens and forests. It’s dedicated to Michelangelo and it even has a replica of the statue of David. It would go unnoticed was it not because it’s the viewpoint of Florence. It has several balconies divided in two levels which show the best views of the city.
From this place you can see the domes and roofs of the main buildings in Florence: the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, Santa Croce and Ponte Vecchio, and also the Arno River surrounding the city.
Apart from that, the square is a huge parking area where lots and lots of tourists try to park their cars. There are also some food (hot dog and pizza) and souvenir stands.
We were there twice, at day and night. We were in the End of the Year in order to see the fireworks from a privileged position.
GPS coordinates: 43.76292, 11.264993
More information: Piazzale Michelangelo
Basilica of San Miniato
The Basilica of San Miniato al Monte is very close to Piazzale Michelangelo. The construction of the actual basilica dates from early XI century. It was built above the ruins of an old oratory from the IV century. The lower part of the façade is decorated with a beautiful arch and the upper part has a mosaic from XII century with a scene of Christ between the Virgin and San Miniato. The basilica has a bell tower from XV century which was damaged during the siege of Florence in 1530.
The basilica first belonged to the Benedictine monks and after 1373 it belonged to the Olivetan friars. Inside the temple you’ll see a good example of Romanic Florentine architecture: it has a tripartite structure with a carved wooden ceiling. The floor in the middle of the basilica has marble mosaics which represent the signs of the zodiac.The walls still keep some fragments of fresco paintings from XIII and XIV centuries. The crypt is a huge space closed by a forged iron gate with a shrine from XI century where the bones of San Miniato are preserved. The apse has a great mosaic which shows the blessing of Christ, with the Virgin and the saints.
At the right of the church there is the Episcopal Palace (1295-1320), which was the old summer residence for the bishops of Florence. Later it became a convent, a hospital and the site for the Jesuits.
GPS coordinates: 43.759689, 11.264703
More information: Basilica of San Miniato al Monte