“Runner’s high” is a phenomenon that has been explained to me time and again. I have yet to experience it and remain dubious of its existence. However, if you want to talk walker’s high–Meg and I are there! If you’re new to Florence for Free, you should know that our very favorite way to explore the city is on foot. Our own walks have been known to last the whole day, but here at FFF we condense our favorites into easy routes for you.
Today we’re headed up and out of the city center for a stroll along the southern hillside of Florence, on the beautiful Via di San Leonardo. We will explore from Forte Belvedere to San Miniato al Monte. The walk is an easy hour and despite a few hills, makes for a simple and stunning passeggiata.
So lace up those sneakers (yes sneakers!) and head to the tiny Piazza di Santa Maria Soprarno, in the Oltrarno just south of the river.
Here you will be faced with a fork in the road heading east: the basic Via dei Bardi to your left or the magical winding Costa dei Magnoli to your right. When in doubt (and for the sake of this walk), always choose the magical winding road. Get that rear in gear and head up the beautiful (butt-burning) hill.
At the crest of the hill, you will find Forte Belvedere, an historic 16th-century Medici fort (and the wedding grounds of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West). Take a moment to catch your breath and explore the grounds of the imposing fort.
After you’ve checked out the belvedere, continue straight on the Via di San Leonardo. Here the cobblestone street is defined by old stone walls on either side of you. The quaint road is perfect for pictures, but it’s a bit scary when a fiat flies by. Have your eyes and ears open as you’ll need to hop on the 6-inch sidewalk and hug that stone wall when a car comes around the corner.
Let the cobblestone road lead you to the church of San Leonardo. This parish church has been serving the lovely and quaint community since the 11th century. Continue down the winding via, passing colorful country homes and glimpses of the olive groves between them.
If you can resist the urge to knock on the door of one of these beautiful homes to make an offer, continue on until the quaint Via di San Leonardo meets the much busier Viale Galileo. Take a left onto the wide road. Not only does the road open up, but the views through the olive groves looking down to Florence below do as well.
Feet hurting from trotting on all that cobblestone yet? Of course not, because you took our advice and wore your sneakers! You’ll need them for the final destination on your walk–our favorite spot in all of Florence–the church of San Miniato al Monte.
For the most breathtaking view of the journey, venture up the grand stone staircase to the church above. If you take this walk during the day, we insist you poke behind the backside of the church and explore the cemetery.
After you’ve strolled the cemetery, explored the Romanesque church and kicked up your feet while enjoying the postcard-perfect view of Florence, you can pat yourself on the back for completing another FFF-approved city stroll. Now where’s the pizza?
The completion of the walk at San Miniato al Monte makes this a veritable must for being in Florence… and the cemetery is really amazing, truly memorable and also touching, seeing a small part of the history of Florence right there.
I always stay in the Oltrarno and have done this walk or parts of it several times. It is one of my favourite areas in Firenze. I love the cemetery at San Miniato and have taken some amazing photos there.. It’s too bad this isn’t on most people’s ‘to do’ list! Ciao, Cristina
we agree, Cristina! it’s simply beautiful. we also happen to be kind of obsessed with san miniato – the cemetery in particular. we would love to see your photos!
[…] tour and it was quite a bit pricier and nowadays I’d just prefer headphones. – This lovely walk up to Forte di Belvedere where there is a fantastic exhibit called “Human” on through September 2015 from […]