As much as we’ve enjoyed our last couple of stays at the Hotel Brunelleschi, I have to admit that we’ve never had a classic “room with a view” in Florence. However, this never really bothered us since Firenze is a city that’s meant to be experienced by walking the streets and not by gazing out of a hotel room window.
A logical first place to catch the “view” that we were seeking was the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Just around the corner from the hotel, this Florence Cathedral is popularly known simply as Il Duomo. Of course, once we arrived at the church, we were confronted with lines that seemed to go on forever. I’m sure the views from the top of the Duomo’s iconic dome would be great. However, we also didn’t want to spend half our day waiting in line.
As an alternative, we decided to head out across the Arno river to the Piazzale Michelangelo. This square features a bronze copy of its namesake sculptor’s statue of David. However, the true draw of this popular vantage point is the panoramic view of Florence.
Of course, a lot of other travelers will have the same idea, so be prepared for a bit of a carnival-like (at times honky-tonk) environment with numerous food, drink and souvenir vendors scattered about. In addition, make sure you bring a hat and some sunscreen since there aren’t a lot of shaded areas that offer relief from the sun.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere of the area is festive and offers some great people-watching opportunities. One place to take a break is VIP’s Bar which offers outdoor seating and a prime location for taking in the views.
This venue is best suited for a cold drink, ice cream or some coffee. Although I wouldn’t build my evening meal round the VIP Bar, I would try to time a pre-dinner visit so that you could enjoy the sunset over Florence.
You also discover views in some unexpected places. For example, last summer we attended a music concert at theOrsanmichele. This church was used as a chapel by the city’s powerful trade and craft guilds during the 13th and 14th centuries. The concert took place in the museum located on the church’s upper floors. During the intermission, we wandered about and enjoyed some wonderful nighttime views of Il Duomo.
Finally, after soaking in the atmosphere of the lively Piazza della Signoria, another copy of the Michelangelo’s David (the original was moved to the Accademia Gallery in 1873) caught our attention and drew us towards the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio.
This large fortress-turned-palace served as the city’s town hall and housed the Signoria, or ruling body, of the Republic of Florence during the Medieval and Renaissance periods.
We opted for an entrance ticket that provided us admission to both the palace museum as well as the building’s Tower. As we made our way up the structure’s stone steps, we caught some peaks of the view outside.
At the top, we were rewarded for our climb with a postcard-worthy view of Il Duomo.
Before, my vertigo kicked in, my Partner F and I took a moment to wave at our fellow travelers atop the Duomo’s dome. Although those folks probably had to wait significantly longer in line than we did, I’ll have to admit that we were ALL pretty fortunate to be able to enjoy the views of the beautiful city laid out at our feet.
How about you? Do you have any suggestions for places to take in the view while in Florence?