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Piazza Signoria to San Miniato

Museums, piazzas, cafes, churches, and a serious hike affording incredible city views
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Unknown
Length: 2.5 miles
Duration: Unknown
Family Friendly

Overview:  This is a full experience taking you from the popular city center across the Arno river and up into the nearby hillside on Florence's ... more »

Tips:  Wear comfortable shoes and clothes for the significant walk and trek up the hill.

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Points of Interest

We're going to start our walk in Piazza della Signoria at Cafe Rivoire (open from 8 am, closed Mondays), one of the city's oldest and most famous cafes and the perfect spot to enjoy cappuccino and a pastry or, in winter, one of their famous hot chocolates.

It's tempting to stand at the counter with the locals but I think as visitors you're more... More

Look out for the living statues that are usually here, strange human sculptures fully coated in gold or silver that are able to remain as still as a piece of Michelangelo carved marble for hours on end. Walk through the courtyard passed the people queuing for entry to the Uffizi; hopefully you've pre-booked your tickets for later in the day or... More

3. Società Canottieri Firenze

From here you will get your first glimpse of your final destination today, the triangular shaped, horizontal striped church of San Miniato al Monte, perched high on a hill to your left. To your right you will see the rear side of the Ponte Vecchio and the modern buildings on the opposite bank adjacent to it. The medieval buildings on both sides ... More

With the Ponte Vecchio behind us, let's walk along the narrow pavement passed the ever-growing collection of padlocks on a long metal chain. I lucchetti d'amore, they have been placed here by couples to symbolise locking in their love, toss the key in the river and hopefully they'll be locked together forever.

On a very much different note, on ... More

A little further on is Piazza Mentana with the popular Hotel Balestri.

6. Ponte alle Grazie

Now we come to Ponte alle Grazie, the current bridge replaces the original (built in 1237) that was blown up in 1944. A short detour to the left will take us to the Museo Horne, a house that was the home of English art historian Herbert Horne and is now open to the public (small entry fee).

Museo Horne is a house that was the home of English art historian Herbert Horne and is now open to the public (small entry fee). In addition to a fine collection of paintings and furniture, you get a good feel for what it must have been like to live in a Renaissance palazzo, albeit one that was carefully modernised over the years, check out in... More

8. Crossing the Arno river

We cross the bridge, taking in first the great view of the Ponte Vecchio, and then cross the street (careful of the traffic) to enjoy the sweeping vistas eastwards to the distant Alpe di San di San Benedetto. The towering hillsides, often snow-capped in winter, can appear as a seductive retreat on a stifling hot summer's day. Ahead of us to our ... More

We arrive on the south bank of the Arno at Piazza de' Mozzi where, if time allows, enjoy the quiet of another small museum, the Museo Bardini which, like the Horne, is a treasure trove of privately collected works of art, furniture and musical instruments albeit in a more modern palazzo built towards the end of the 19th century.

10. Piazza Demidoff

Stroll eastwards along the narrow pavement of the Lungarno Serristori dodging between fellow pedestrians and joggers and shortly on the right we'll come to the shady gardens of the Piazza Demidoff, one of my personal favourite private corners of the city and a popular haunt of the city's dog walkers (not all of whom scoop!). The square is named... More

Cross through the gardens keeping the deep ochre facade of the hotel Silla on your right - another good option to stay next time - and the gorgeous similar coloured walls of the Palazzo Serristori on your left.

12. The church of San Niccolò oltrarno

The narrow street takes you to the right passed small stores like the old-fashioned electrical shop catering for the local community. At the tee junction, turn left and immediately on your left you'll see the parish church of San Niccolò, one of so many seldom visited Florentine churches that are often architectural treasures in their own ... More

Now cross the road to Via San Miniato with the cafe/restaurant Il Rifrullo on your left, the perfect place to stop for a drink or something to eat with a pretty garden too for al fresco dining when the weather permits.

Ahead you will see a stretch of the original city walls dissected by the Porta di San Miniato. During the catastrophic floods of... More

14. Junction to the Summit

The climb now starts in earnest but take it slowly, keeping as much as possible to the shady side of the street. You pass a pretty plant shop where the tempting array of imaginatively displayed herbs and flowers often spills out onto the pavement. Shortly, the road forks giving you two options to the summit; to the right, the narrow lane of... More

15. Viale Galileo & Summit View

Continue up the hill until you come to the wide Viale Galileo where the almost spiritual solitude of the streets you've just enjoyed is rudely broken by the roar of tour buses and crowds of people flocking to and from Piazzale Michelangelo. It's crowded with coaches, cars and people alike plus it's a souvenir stall holder's paradise but it is... More

Piazzale Michelangelo isn't a place to linger. Take your photographs, maybe buy an ice cream and then return back the way you came before turning left up the broad stairs beneath a canopy of umbrella pines to the church of San Salvatore al Monte.

17. Church of San Salvatore al Monte

The San Salvatore al Monte is a church of simple design by Cronoca and christened by Michelangelo "la bella villanella" (pretty country maid). (Bear in mind that, at the time, this area would have been very much considered the countryside proper.) Many people tend to head straight on to San Miniato so you'll possibly have this charming... More

It's quite a climb up the steep steps that cut through the cemetery so take it easy, stopping when you want to take in the wonderful view of the city behind you. Soon you'll come out on the gravelled terrace and the gracious facade of this lovely Romanesque church will appear immediately in front of you.

You'll want to stop to recover your... More