Florence is made for strolling, one afternoon we did just that – strolling from piazza to piazza, following our noses and soaking up the atmosphere and buzz of this incredible city.
We found many lovely squares, after the Piazza del Duomo, the Piazza della Signoria comes a close second in my list of favourites. Having decided to skip the Uffizzi on this trip – time constraints and a non-art appreciative son were contributing factors – we did feel the need to view it from outside. The exterior is as glorious as the art it contains.
Uffizi gazing done we carried on to the Piazza della Signoria. A special square, not least because soaring above you are a host of famous sculptures including a reproduction of Michelangelo’s David. The original stood here for over three hundred years but now, for protection from the elements, it is in the Academia Museum. Son was impressed by David but was not capable of containing his small boy sniggers!
I love the history of the square – long a gathering place, it has seen political rallies, festivals and in the 15th century the infamous Bonfire of the Vanities. Florentines were encouraged to burn their mirrors, books, games, wigs, paintings and other symbols of decadent religion. We strolled from statue to statue taking in the beautiful Renaissance artwork.
The square was full of people and life by day, I liked this but my favourite time was after dark. The masses of tourists (mostly) dispersed, at twilight there were musicians playing, people strolling and you could get closer to the sculptures without any jostling. The whole square had a gentler, softer air and a different atmosphere. We just had to make sure Son avoided eye contact with a few pesky hawkers lurking at the corners – the only slight negative.
Piazza Michelangelo is another must-see. We started at the river, passed through Porta San Niccolo and strolled up to this piazza. More steps and a bit of a climb but worth it – views like never before. The square itself is not so great – every coach stops here, it is rammed with souvenir sellers, cars, buses and just not appealing. We turned our backs on the square and took in the panorama.
This is what Piazza Michelangelo is all about – the magnificent skyline of Florence dominated by that amazing cathedral dome. Not hard to see why this inspired more than one Renaissance master.
A bit distant from the main tourist sights – a 30 minute walk and quite a few steps but a small price to pay for a vista like this. Unmissable.