After visiting Santa Croce on our last day in Florence, we still had a packed day of exploring ahead of us. It was early enough in the morning for us to go do something before lunch, so we walked over Ponte all Grazie into San Niccolò. Through the local neighborhood and up the hill leading to Piazzale Michelangelo, we found Giardino delle Rose, the Rose Gardens of Florence.
The gardens can be easily missed to most people passing by, and this was actually my first time visiting even after all my time spent in Florence. The roses are tricky to find with multiple different entrances and with it being hidden below the touristy area of Piazzale Michelangelo. We entered the gardens to find lots of people relaxing with blankets laid out on the grass, taking in the sun, and enjoying the day. The roses were not in bloom yet, but the gardens were overflowing with robust greenery and amazing views of the city. (Minus the ugly crane in all my shots of the Duomo.)
We found a shaded spot, already exhausted, and laid down in the grass.
We walked all throughout the gardens and discovered the Japanese rose section, a small koi pond, and a lovely look out over the city situated right below Piazzale Michelangelo. It’s the perfect spot for snapping pictures and avoiding the touristy crowds above. So we hung out there for a while, undisturbed, listening to the birds chirping and the bustling sounds of Florence on a spring day.
After the gardens, we made a quick pit stop at Piazzale Michelangelo and then ventured up to the very top of the hill to San Miniato al Monte. San Miniato is a unique church that most times goes unnoticed unless you truly seek it out. It soars over all of Florence, standing at one of the highest points in the city with the most spectacular view. But if you just visit for the view… that’s a real shame because this church is extraordinarily special.
The interior of San Miniato is quite interesting, with an intriguing layout and two floors, unlike any other church in Florence. You may also notice a casual monk walking about when you visit, and if you’re lucky and catch it at the right time you may even hear the Gregorian chants of the monks. But the most amazing thing about San Miniato is the enormous cemetery that spans the grounds. I knew of the small cemetery that is visible from the front, but I had never explored behind the church prior. I was in utter shock when we discovered how large it really was, and couldn’t believe I had never known about the treasure. It was a never ending maze of tombstones, shrines, and mausoleums.
It took us quite some time to walk about the cemetery grounds, as we were both excited that we found something new to explore. By the time we finished up it was 3pm, and we had definitely missed out on lunch! Hungry, we sought out some good eats in San Niccolo and landed at Bevo Vino, which I definitely recommend! It was delicious.
Our final day in Florence was definitely well spent. We headed back for a quick gelato, a nap, and geared up for our last dinner in Florence.