Piazzas in Florence are hubs for life in the Birthplace of the Renaissance. Centers for socializing, shopping and eating, many piazzas in Florence are also outdoor art galleries. Each piazza has its own distinct personality. Ranging from expansive to cozy, and bohemian to extravagant, here is a guide to the five best piazzas in Florence.
Piazza della Signoria
The Piazza della Signoria is home to one of Florence’s most imporant landmarks, Palazzo Vecchio. Palazzo Vecchio dates back to the time of the Medici Family‘s rule during the Renaissance; it still serves as Florence’s city hall. Palazzo Vecchio, or the Old Palace, defines the Florence skyline with it’s tall tower. Piazza della Signoria is home to several classic Florentine sculptures, including a copy of Michelangelo’s David. Many people pose in front of this copy thinking it’s the real sculpture, but don’t be fooled! Head over to the Galleria della Accademia to see the real statue. The Uffizi Gallery, a must-see collection that includes work from Michelangelo, Leonardo, Caravaggio and Botticelli, is also in this area.
Piazza SS Annunziata
One of the lesser-known piazzas in Florence, Piazza SS Annunziata is a few minutes from the Duomo. Brunelleschi, the Duomo’s architect, performed much of the design work in the beautiful square. A large statue of Ferdinand I and his horse stands in the piazza. On one side of the piazza is the Santissima Annunziata church, the piazza’s namesake. There’s also the Spedali degli Innocenti, an eerie orphanage from the 15th century that now serves as a museum. Large outdoor markets and festivals take place here, including a chocolate festival in March.
Piazza Santa Maria Novella
Walk through one of the striped archways near the Santa Maria Novella train station and find yourself in the Santa Maria Novella Piazza. The piazza is named after the Santa Maria Novella church, a building with intense and majestic Gothic beauty. One of the largest and most green piazzas in Florence, the Santa Maria Novella Piazza feels like a park. Explore the Museo Novecento in the piazza for a look at some contemporary Florentine art, or pick a bench and soak up the piazza’s charm. If you’ve worked up an appetite, pop inside the Mercato Centrale for some mouth-watering food. The market is only a few minutes away by foot.
Piazza Santo Spirito
Florence is often criticized for it’s high levels of tourism. Of course, locals don’t hang out at the the city’s sightseeing hotspots. Cross the Arno River heading South to escape the congested parts of Florence and lounge in the tree-lined Piazza Santo Spirito. Dominated by the last masterpiece of Brunelleschi, the Basilica of Santo Spirito, the square is home to small local markets, antique fairs and sidewalk cafes. Grab an Aperol Spritz and some snacks and take in the lively, artistic environment.
Piazzale Michelangelo is every traveler’s favorite piazza for one reason: the spectacular views of Florence. There’s another copy of Michelangelo’s David in the piazza, now green from rust. The sunset over Florence makes the climb up to the piazza worthwhile. Florence seen from above is a singular experience. Look out over the city that gave birth to the artists and thinks who shaped Western civilization. Savor this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
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