Florence on Foot: To the Hills for the Best Views
There’s more to Florence than art and museums, and once you’re done exploring the historic center, why not head to the hills for some beautiful views of the city.
Take the splendid Viale dei Colli, easily reached along the Arno river. This elegant avenue was built between 1865 and 1870 to embellish the city during its brief time as the capital of Italy. Lined with beautiful houses, the road climbs along the side of the hill between rows of pine trees and cypresses.
Your first stop is the Giardino delle Rose (Rose Garden), created in 1865 by the same architect who designed the Viale dei Colli, Giuseppe Poggi. It features about 400 varieties of roses and is the site of the first great view of Florence you’ll enjoy on this walking itinerary.
Continue on to Piazzale Michelangelo, which is right above the Rose Garden. Piazzale Michelangelo is world-famous famous for the spectacular view over Florence. You’ll be able to see, from right to left: Santa Croce, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Campanile, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio; in the distance, the Apennine mountains.
Take the main road that departs Piazzale Michelangelo to reach San Miniato al Monte, one of the most beautiful examples of Romanesque-Florentine architecture in the city. Located on one of the highest points in the city, it will reward you with a picture-perfect view of Florence. To the left, you’ll see the hill where the Boboli Gardens stand, overlooked by the Forte Belvedere, the largest fortress in Florence built to protect the Pitti Palace and the Oltrarno area.
Don’t stop outside, walk up the staircase and make sure you visit the inside of the basilica dedicated to St. Miniato, venerated as the first Christian martyr of Florence. The choir is raised on a platform above the crypt, which is quite unusual. There is an adjoining Benedictine monastery, with a store selling infusions, honey and liqueurs made by the monks.