Snap and Go: These Are Florence’s Top Spots for PhotosBy Lavinia Pisani
For budding photogs and photo lovers, a single trip may result in thousands of images, thanks to the ease of digital photography. In the thick of Instagram culture, it’s even kinda fair to ask, “If you didn’t post a pic, did the trip even happen?” Of course, we kid, but when you’re in a historic city as extraordinary as Florence, you’ll want to capture its best angles.
Here’s where to start.
This panoramic piazza hardly needs an introduction; it’s the first stop for visitors hoping to immortalize the city’s skyline in postcard-perfect pics. From this overlook, you’ll see sprawling before you the city’s iconic architecture, including Santa Croce’s tower, il Duomo, il Campanile, Palazzo Vecchio and Ponte Vecchio. Pro tip: Visit at sunset when the light is oh, so perfect.
After enjoying a 180-degree view at the piazza, snap some shots from a tighter angle. The Arno River, which winds through the city center, offers plenty of opportunities to test your creativity and eye, especially when it comes to capturing reflections of the colorful facades doubling-up on the water’s surface.
Santa Croce District
Details, details, details. Wander the city’s narrow Via San Giuseppe and its surroundings with a keen eye and your camera ready. Forget about using any map and simply follow your gut; the images you will capture of the traditional leather shops, market stalls and people walking are going to be pretty singular.
The key to any strong photo collection is originality. No one wants to see the same formats and perspectives over and over again, so after shooting some street candids, climb to the top of the city’s Duomo — the massive dome of Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, designed by the great Filippo Brunelleschi.
Leave your fear of heights behind because the view from here opens up to a dizzying sea of terra-cotta rooftops. Of course, this vista will keep you photo-happy for a good while.
Forte di Belvedere
Standing on top of Santa Maria del Fiore offers plenty of opportunities to frame the tiniest of details characterizing the rooftop dome’s red tiles; still, you’ll likely want to also capture Brunelleschi’s masterpiece from farther away. The secret here is to head to Forte di Belvedere, next to Boboli Gardens, for a crystal-clear view over the cathedral.
Who doesn’t want a picture taken on the famed Ponte Vecchio? Head there only if you don’t mind hordes of tourists crowding your photos. Alternatively, skip the crowds and visit other nearby bridges, like Ponte Santa Trinita or Ponte alla Carraia. Capturing the view from these peaceful perches will make for an unforgettable experience — and photograph.
Rising high above the Florentine skyline, the Palazzo Vecchio tower is a must-capture shot. Head to Piazza della Signoria at sunrise, when you’ll find fewer people, as well as dramatic light. This will make your shot really pop; though, honestly, the Palazzo, with its glorious fountains and statues, always gives reasons to press the shutter.
Locals will tell you the gardens and museum at Villa Bardini are some of their favorite scenic spots from which to contemplate and appreciate their city’s overwhelming beauty. Stretching across four hectares of woods, gardens and fruit orchards, this 17th-century villa is more than a photo op: It also serves as a cultural center and social gathering spot for anyone passionate about art.
Piazza della Repubblica
If you are obsessed with street photography, the merry-go-round of Piazza della Repubblica will earn your full attention on any given late afternoon. Head there when daylight switches to dusk, and the carousel lights click on, to capture the effect on the bustling piazza. Walk past cafés and local vendors, and don’t forget to simply sit back and watch life go by.
Last but not least, any bird’s-eye view of the city will work really well in your Florence photo collection. Consider venturing outside of the city center to Fiesole (about a 30-minute drive), a tiny town tucked into the hills nearly 1,000 feet above Florence. The view from there is particularly romantic and allows you to step outside the hustle and bustle of everyday Florentine life.
Or cap off a day well spent with a sunset cocktail at SE·STO on Arno, the rooftop bar of The Westin Excelsior, where you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the river and city as its evening lights twinkle to life.