How To Find The Best Sunset Spot In Florence

Have you ever wondered where travelers go to get those amazing, panoramic views of Florence? Where they take the postcard-like photos with the Duomo, the Campanile and the tower of Palazzo Vecchio standing out majestically against the beautiful backdrop of the city with the Arno river cutting through it? It just so happens that this place is the best spot in all of Florence to watch the sunset.

View of Florence at sunset

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Florence City View

 

If you are in Florence at the end of the afternoon I recommend taking the 30 minute walk from the heart of town up to Piazzale Michelangelo. Plan to arrive half an hour before sunset so that you have time to look around, take in the views, and get some great photos.

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Late afternoon, Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Alternatively, spend the late afternoon in Piazzale Michelangelo and then wander back down the hill and onto one of the bridges and catch the setting sun as it meets the Arno. It is such a beautiful sight – you will remember it forever!

Florence Sunset

Sunset on the Arno River

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What Is Piazzale Micheangelo?

This is a square dedicated to the famous sculptor and painter. It has bronze copies of his work including the David. But perhaps more importantly it has the most beautiful, sweeping views of the city.

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Where Is Piazzale Michelangelo?

Michelangelo’s Square is across the river from the Duomo in the Oltrano district, perched up on the hill.

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

How To get To Piazzale Michelangelo

There are several ways to get up to Piazzale Michelangelo. My favorite is to walk. If you cross over to the south side of the Arno at any of the bridges you can walk parallel to the river (there are signs from Ponte Vecchio) heading upstream towards the Torre San Niccolo’, an old tower that was once part of the medieval city walls. It is easily spotted jutting up above the rooftops.

Once you reach the tower you are actually directly under the piazza. You will see the staircases working their way up the hill into the park. Be prepared for some significant thigh burning as you head up there, but on the bright side you are earning dessert! (Or burning off a hearty Florentine lunch…) Once you get to the top you will cross the street, take a small staircase and you will be in the piazza!

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Another walking option is from the Porta San Miniato. Go through the gateway and take a short but steep street to the beautiful old stone steps that will take you past the entrance to the rose garden and into the piazza.

Whichever walking route you take, make sure you keep looking behind you as the panorama of Florence comes into view! Take the other route back down when you are done, so that you can experience both.

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If the walk seems like too much (there are a ton of stairs) another option is to take the bus. From the train station you can take the number 12 or 13 bus, which you will find by the taxi stand. You will need to buy your bus ticket at the tabaccheria first.

The Hop On Hop Off bus goes to Piazzale Michelangelo too.

Not in the mood for walking or taking a bus? It is a quick taxi ride up to the piazza.

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9 Reasons Why You Should Visit Florence In December

Florence-Winter

 

 

I absolutely love Florence.

I spend time there every year, and every time I’m there it’s as though it was the first time – it never loses its magic.

Last year I was there twice leading private tours (The Glam Italia Tours), but then I snuck back by myself for a little vacation in December and fell in love with the city all over again.

 

Florence-Night

 

Florence is spectacular any time of the year, but December is just sensational.

 

 9  Reasons why you should visit Florence in December

1. The Tourists Are Gone.

 

Santa-Maria-Novella-Florence
December mornings in Santa Maria Novella

 

I try to avoid Florence during the busy tourist months of July and August, but during the spring and the fall there are still throngs of enthusiasts getting themselves some map time in the middle of the sidewalks, cluttering up the view of the statues, generally getting in the way.

 

Piazza-della-signoria
Piazza della Signoria in December

 

December gives you a whole new city. The streets are wide open and clear, you can stroll all over town and not have to move to avoid a tour bus full of people walking down the street. You own Florence in December – the city is yours.

 

Ponte-Vecchio-Florence
Strolling Ponte Vecchio

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2. The Prices Go Down.

Take out the tourists and the cost of everything goes down. There are deals to be had in all the stores, restaurant prices go down, accommodation costs less. Even the airfares are reasonable.

It’s fantastic.

HP Commission

 

3. The Lines Evaporate.

 

palazzo-vecchio
Palazzo Vecchio museum in December. Not a tourist in sight!

 

No matter what you want to see, there are no lines and no crowds.

In December everywhere I went including the Palazzo Vecchio and the Ufizzi there were no tourists in sight. This meant I had the museums and art galleries all to myself. There was no wall of people to try and see through, everything was there just for me.

 

David-Florence
Looking down on David from the Palazzo tower

 

I was able to view the greatest works of Renaissance art from up close, then step back, take in all the angles, and not have a single soul get in my way.

 

view-from-palazzo-vecchio-tower
Looking down at the statues outside the Uffizi from the Palazzo vecchio tower

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4. People Are Even More Friendly.

 

Without mindless throngs of rude tourists being demanding, criticizing, and no doubt just being plain annoying, the locals can focus on you when you are there in December. They have more time to chat, have space to tell you about interesting things to do, can linger over coffee or a glass of wine and give you so much more quality time.

5. Christmas Is Amazing In Florence.

 

Florence-Christmas
The Corsa at night

 

Santa doesn’t show up in Italy.  Christmas is about Jesus.

Christmas-In-Florence
Precepe outside Santa Maria Dei Fiore

 

Regardless of your religious beliefs it is so refreshing to walk around at night and see all the gorgeous lights, with no sleigh bells jingle-ing ring-ting-tingle-ing too.

Florence-night-december

 

No elves, no Ho Ho Ho, no candy canes. It feels so authentic and so legitimate.

Walking in and out of stores you aren’t assaulted by looped cheesey Christmas carols or made-for-Christmas wares. The Christmas season runs from around December 8th until January 6th, and the stores start running end of year sales with discounts ranging from 30% to 70% – and who doesn’t want amazing Italian clothes and shoes at 70% off??

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Florence-christmas
walking back to my apartment at night

Florence is a gorgeous city to walk around anytime, but the golden evenings with holiday lights are just beautiful.

Palazzo-Vecchio-Night
Palazzo Vecchio by nght

6. The German Market.

 

Piazza Santa Croce becomes a German market in December. Stalls selling wooden German toys sit next to knick knack stalls, Sicilian marzipan stalls share walls with vendors selling hot German sausages. There are all kinds of European foods available, hot drinks and cold beer. It smells wonderful and it is particularly lovely to stroll around at night.

7. The Sunsets Come Sooner.

 

arno-florence-night
Hazy December evening in Florence

 

As much as I just love those long, soft, summer evenings in Florence, sitting up at Piazzale Michelangelo watching the sun set over the Arno, I also love bundling up for the December chill in the late afternoon and catching the sun setting for the evening at 5 or 6 pm. It’s wickedly romantic!

 

8. The Food.

 

The food in Italy is pretty fantastic at any time of year, but there is something so divine about spending the afternoon out and about in the cold afternoon air and then wandering into some little restaurant filled with happy, boisterous locals and sitting down to a bowl of Tuscan tomato and basil soup and a big fat glass of local red wine under the gaze of a wall of frescos painted 600 years ago. (much more enjoyable without the crowds of tourists during the summer!)

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9. The Hazy Mornings And Afternoons.

 

Florence-December

 

I probably wouldn’t enjoy the grey spells if I actually lived there, but as a guest I found them completely beguiling. Wandering through Florence and  surrounding Tuscany, looking at the castles rising up through the fog, looking out the train windows at fields bathed in grey mist you discover a whole new Italian romance. It’s so beautiful.

Santa Maria dei fiori-december

 Winter cappuccinos in the piazza on a grey morning before the sun breaks through are sensational.

I’m a little heartbroken that I couldn’t be there this year in December, but I’m planning on going back for a pre-Christmas visit next Year. Florence in December is just fabulous. You might just want to add it to your bucket list.

Bonus Content

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Click here for my Secret Florence PDF! 

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