Exploring Florence Italy
Three Routes to See More of Florence
Exploring Florence Italy on foot is easy as the many of the historic sites are clustered together. If you have time, it is rewarding to expand your search further abroad. Below are three routes that I followed while in Florence. The first is a route to explore many of the well know sites. The second heads west along the Arno River. The third crosses the Arno, climbs a hill, and provides amazing scenery.
A pedestrian only area stretches from the Palazzo Medici to the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchia. In addition to the above sites, you will can also visit the Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio, and the Church of Orsanmichele. Our Florence Italy Photo Tour post has wonderful photos of this section of town. Click here for route map.
Along the Arno River
The Arno River has been the life blood of Florence’s trade since ancient times. From our hotel, Hotel Spadai, to the Ponte Vecchia (old bridge), it was less than a kilometer. The Ponte Vecchia has been home to jewelry merchants since medieval times. I like to cross the bridge in the morning before the crowds arrive. After crossing the bridge, head west. Then, cross back over the next bridge, the Ponte Santa Trinita. Great views of the Ponte Vecchia are seen from here.
Heading back west along the Arno another kilometer takes you to the Parco delle Cascine. On the way, you will pass the U.S. Consulate. The heavily armed soldiers guarding it do not like their pictures taken.
Parco delle Cascine is Florence’s largest green space. For running, the park is great. Otherwise, the park is nice but adds up to four miles to your route. My favorite part of the part is the central, pedestrian only path.
It is shaded and is the most secluded and scenic section. Finally, follow either side of the river back to the Ponte Vecchia. Click here for Arno River route.
Hills to the South
If time permits, exploring Florence Italy is not complete without heading into the hills to the south of the Arno for spectacular views. This is by far the most ambitious route. It makes a great run. It would also be great by bicycle or Vespa. The south side of the Arno is where da Vinci and Michelangelo lived. Cristiano, our Florence at Night tour guide called this area the Beverly Hills of Florence.
There are short cuts to the best views, but here is the grand tour. Head west along the Arno River again. Just before you enter Parco delle Cascine, cross the river on SS67. After this, go straight through the Piazza Taddeo Gaddi and follow the main road up the hill. Soon, the views became amazing, overlooking the Giardino Torrigiani.
At the Porta Romano, veer to the left at the round about and follow Viale Machiavelli. The name of this road soon changes to Viale Galileo. While exploring, if you see a park and/or stairs, go take a look for some nice views. Next, you come to the Abbrazia di San Miniato, a beautiful 11th century hilltop church. This is definitely worth a look!
The highlight of the trek comes next, the Piazzale Michelangelo. Here you will find the best views of Florence. It is not to be missed. After taking in the amazing views, continue along your route. Here, the road again changes names to Viale Michelangeliolo. Finally, when you come to the Arno River, head back east. Stay on the south side. The views across to Florence are nice, and the ancient watchtower of the city wall at the Piazza Giuseppi Poggi is worth a look. Click here for Southern Hills route (with park included for runners). Cross back over the Arno on the Ponte Vecchia.
When Exploring Florence Italy, there is so much to see. Following these routes will give you a wonderful, thorough tour.