04 Aug A Walk to the Piazzale Michelangelo
Every evening, Italians from the largest cities to the smallest villages participate in the social event of the day, the passeggiata, or “Little Walk.” They wear their Sunday best, strolling sloooowly and savoring life; wanting to see and be seen. On a recent trip to Florence, Italy, I had a little adventure that I dubbed the “anti-passeggiata.”
Having studied abroad in this glorious Renaissance-spawning city six years before, I came back to Firenze on a pilgrimage to visit the one place in the city that I always wanted to go, but that I just couldn’t seem to squeeze in during my four month stay. I yearned to go to the Piazzale Michelangelo, which boasts the best views of Florence and the Arno Valley from high up above the city.
While there are busses that go to the Piazza (Numbers 12 and 13), I wanted to walk my way up so that I could really experience the view. I wanted to deserve it. So, on my last day in Florence, I did what any self-respecting Americani tourist would do; I got up early, put on my tennis shoes, packed my Flip camera and ran out to start the day with an “anti-passeggiata.”
The walk starts in the historic Oltrarno district, past artisans and beautiful old churches. After 10 minutes of walking along the Arno, I was surprised to be the only tourist in a sea of locals and I felt like I was in a whole different Firenze. With a right-hand turn onto the Via San Miniato, I was on my way up-up-up the steep stairs that lead to the Piazzale Michelangelo.
Along the way, I discovered the Giardino Giapponese, a Japanese rose garden which is a great mid-way resting spot with beautiful views, a tranquil atmosphere and water fountains to soothe the thirsty traveler.
After on final set of stairs, I reached my destination. Needless to say it was absolutely worth the hike. The views are incredible! In one panoramic view, you can see the best of all that Florence has to offer, from the iconic landmarks like the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio, to the Tuscan countryside.