What to do with free time in Florence... Springtime Spirit in Piazzale Michelangelo

Posted by Guest Blogger on 4/19/2013
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Italy, Europe, Travel

Written by Alyssa Stein

Florence Pano

A Creative Writing major in college, I worked as an intern with the writing staff of Tauck's Creative Department this past January. I am currently spending a semester abroad in Florence, and wanted to share my experiences as a Florence “insider” for ideas on what to do with free time in this fantastic city that I’ve come to love!

Florence DavidAs the days grow longer and warmer, the city of Florence comes together in a united sense of spirit. The beginning of primavera has brought an entirely new camaraderie to Florence, one I hadn’t previously seen in my three months studying here so far. During the first week of spring, everybody was enjoying the sunshine. Italians, often known for wearing their winter coats until the early summer months, began shedding their layers; students and tourists alike immediately flocked to outdoor destinations that the cold, rainy weather of earlier months had prevented them from enjoying. I found my way up to Piazzale Michelangelo on the first nice day of spring.

Home to one of the most famous replicas of Michelangelo’s David, Piazzale Michelangelo is a square set atop a hill on the Oltrarno side of Florence. It offers beautiful panoramic views of Florence’s incomparable cityscape, from its Renaissance center to beyond the city limits and out into the famous Tuscan countryside. The square attracts students, tourists, and locals alike. On the way up to the square, you’ll find a lovely Japanese rose garden; at the top of the site, on one of the highest points in the city, sits the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, a historic Romanesque church built in the 11th century.

When I embarked on my journey up to Piazzale Michelangelo, I first stopped at the rose gardens; although it was a gorgeous day, the gardens were nearly empty. The roses were beginning to bloom, so I found a seat on a bamboo bench close by and took in the fresh scents of spring. After meditating awhile and scribbling in my notebook, I continued onward through the open grass-covered park where friends, couples, and families were enjoying picnics and bathing under the sun, and eventually found my way up to the main square. Once there, I was in awe; I could not believe that I could see the top of the Duomo from my vantage point high above Florence. I saw a city rich in Renaissance splendor from a perspective I would have not otherwise seen.

Florence View2On my way back down, I decided to have a little picnic of my own, settling in the grassy park with un panino and a glass of wine. I vowed that another day, as the weather continued to embody the spirit of springtime in Florence, I would plan a proper picnic there, with a red-checkered tablecloth and all. The Italian spirit of food and friendship, coupled with the magnificent scenery and warm, inviting weather, would make this spot a perfect place to picnic.

Although I have only one month left of my semester abroad, I am planning on spending the rest of my afternoons at Piazzale Michelangelo. As Italy enters its busiest time of year, I encourage everyone who can to do the same; when you have some free time in Florence, this is a spot that you simply cannot miss. The full beauty and spirit of the city come together here, creating an enriching Italian experience that you would forever regret not having!

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