Florence from above
View points for admiring the city’s beauty in all its glory.
The beauty of Florence enchants every one of its visitors, though the best way to enjoy its spellbinding charm is surely from above: from the sky, you’ll get a view of the entire city, from its churches to palaces and towers – marvels arranged like a Renaissance painting.
The most famous and photographed panorama is certainly the view from Piazzale Michelangelo. Yet besides this evocative spot, Florence vaunts a number of varied and fascinating locations for enjoying the city from the sky.
The towers and the Dome
What’s the first step to admiring Florence from above?
It’s obvious ... go up! The historic center features a number of sky-high locations, as many of the city’s historic buildings evolved vertically through time.
Head to Arnolfo’s Tower, the lookout tower of Palazzo Vecchio, which features 223 steps: the climb takes a bit of work but the priceless view from the top is absolutely worth the effort.
You can also climb to the top of two structures in the Santa Maria del Fiore complex: Brunelleschi’s Dome or Giotto’s Bell Tower.
Both can be visited using the Opera del Duomo Museum ticket or using your Firenzecard (keep in mind that reservations are required to climb Brunelleschi’s Dome). At the top, Florence’s terracotta roofs will appear within arm’s reach: it’s a truly indescribable experience!
In the summertime, don’t miss the gem with a unique view of the city: the Torre di San Niccolò located in its namesake neighborhood in the Oltrarno area. The tower can be visited by booking a guided tour (available from June to September).
If you’re looking for a bird’s-eye view of the entire Florentine skyline, then you’ll have to hop a bit outside the city center, though not as much as you’d think.
The Oltrarno area vaunts several zones for enjoying breathtaking views of the city. They’re all far enough away to enjoy the wide-stretching cityscape, yet close enough to still make out the city’s details.
First and foremost, you’ll find the beautiful terrace inside the Bardini Gardens (costa S. Giorgio, 2), flanked by a café-bar and its famous wisteria overhanging (to enjoy it in full bloom, visit between April and May).
The view from here is fittingly known as the picturesque “postcard” view of Florence.
Don’t miss the view from the Kaffehaus or the Giardino del Cavaliere inside the Boboli Gardens, or the slightly hidden but dreamlike views from Florence’s Rose Garden (be sure to visit the garden in April and May when the roses are in bloom).
Last but not least, check out the panorama from the Forte di Belvedere garden (via di S. Leonardo, 1, only open for temporary exhibitions), whose name, meaning ‘beautiful viewpoint,’ says it all!
The surrounding hills
Florence is located in an incredible part of Tuscany, especially given its surrounding hills.
You’ll find nearby hills south of the Arno River, but you’ll also find hilltop treasures north and east of the city.
These spots may clock a farther distance from town but they boast incredible views overlooking the entire valley and its architectural wonders.
Head to the hill of Settignano to enjoy a jaw-dropping view: this beautiful village is located only few kilometers from Florence’s center.
Among its many wonders, this town was home to Telemaco Signorini, one of the most important painters of the macchiaioli painting tradition.
You can also venture to the hills of Careggi, an area dotted with striking villas found on long tree-lined avenues, including one that belonged to the Medici family.
Alternatively, you can opt for the age-old Acropolis in Fiesole located in the town’s highest point where today you’ll find the Convent of San Francesco.
A little further away (and even higher up), there’s another vista point not to be missed: that of Monte Morello. From here you’ll notice a tiny Florence in the landscape, though its beauty never fails to enchant even from a distance.