The Most Beautiful Sunset I’ve Ever Seen

Everything in this country has been beautiful so far, but the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo was truly something special.

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Overlooking Florence from the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte.

The Insider’s Florence: Savor Florence food tour ended late in the afternoon last Saturday, leaving us an open evening to explore the city on our own. It was the perfect opportunity to climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo.

Piazzale Michelangelo is about a 30 minute trek uphill from the city center, depending on how fast you want to go. The views make the hike so incredibly worth it though, and the walk up is quite beautiful too.

My friends and I timed our hike so that we reached the top in time for a special experience. Each night, monks of the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte sing a Mass in Gregorian chant. We’d heard that it was beautiful, and that it was something that we should try to do at least once while we were here in Italy, but we had no idea how true each of these statements were.

We made our way through the giant main church to a sub-level set slightly below the larger nave. It was dimly lit and felt very ritualistic, to be honest. That shouldn’t have been a surprise, given that all church services are technically rituals, but it was still interesting to see it like that. I’ve never considered my home church services to be rituals, just a normal part of Sunday mornings. Seeing somebody else’s “normal” introduced me to a new perspective on my own.

We stayed through Mass and then for a few extra minutes after to explore the church and take in the experience.

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The sub-level where Mass was held.
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Main nave from the second level.
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Huge organ near the apse.
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One last look from the back of the church.

After taking one last look from the back of the church, we stepped outside into a scene of a different kind of beauty. The whole city lay ahead of us – and since we were on a mostly northern facing hill, we could see it all. The Bell Tower, Palazzo Vecchio, and of course, the Duomo atop Santa Maria del Fiore – the whole city in its Renaissance-aged glory.

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The Florence skyline – featuring the city’s most famous monuments.
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A look back at the facade of the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte.

We weren’t the only ones  enjoying the views either. Several couples had picked that spot to take their wedding photos. Talk about the most romantic city in the world.

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The perfect place for wedding photos!

It was now nearing sunset, and we wanted to cross “sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo” off our Florence bucket lists. We headed down the hill (the church sits slightly above the Piazzale) to our desired vantage point and faced west.

I should note that I’m big fan of sunsets. I’ve always loved climbing up to someplace cool (usually a nearby mountain) to see them. Because of this, I’ve sought out a lot of sunsets in my life. This one from Piazzale Michelangelo was by far my favorite.

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At first we were worried that the clouds would hide the sunset. Turns out they only made it better!
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Just look at those colors!

It started to get dark after the sun disappeared behind the hill. It was also just about dinner time. (And though it had taken a few hours – we’d finally worked up an appetite after our earlier food tour.) So, although bit reluctantly, we made our way down from the piazzale and toward the city. Not before taking in the sparkling city at night, though.

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The Basilica of Santa Croce, Duomo, Bell Tower, and Palazzo Vecchio were all lit up once the sun went down.
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The Arno River sparkled at night.
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Santa Maria del Fiore from a little farther down the hill.

We ended the night at a restaurant near the bottom of the hill. My pasta was delicious, of course. It was the perfect end to a perfect night.

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The perfect end to a perfect night.

 

Gelato Count: 22

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