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Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square) is a famous square with a magnificent panoramic view of Florence, Italy, and is a popular tourist destination in the Oltrarno district of the city. The famous view from this observation point overlooking the city has been reproduced on countless postcards and snapshots over the years.
It was built in 1869 and designed by architect Giuseppe Poggi on a hill just south of the historic center, during the redevelopment of the left bank of the Arno (the South side of the river). At that time, Florence was the capital of Italy and the whole city was involved in an urban renewal, the so-called "Risanamento" or the "Rebirth" of the city's middle class. Lungarni (riverside walkways; "lungarno", singular) were built on the riversides. On the right bank, the fourteenth-century walls were removed and turned into the Viali di Circonvallazione referencing the French "boulevard" design, six lanes wide and lined with trees. On the left bank winding up the hill of San Miniato the Viale dei Colli was built, a tree-lined street over 8 kilometers long ending at the Piazzale Michelangelo which was built as a terrace with a panoramic view of the city. The news of the rapid construction of this undertaking has been described in detail by the Italian journalist Peter Ferrigno (known under the name of Yorick).
The square, dedicated to the great Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo, has copies of some of his works found elsewhere in Florence: the David and the four allegories of the Medici Chapel of San Lorenzo. These copies are made of bronze, while the originals are all in white marble. The monument was brought up by nine pairs of oxen on 25 June 1873.
Poggi designed the loggia in the neoclassical style that dominates the whole terrace, which today houses a panoramic restaurant. Originally it was supposed to house a museum of works by Michelangelo, never realized. In the wall of the balcony, under the loggia, there is an epigraph in capital letters referring to his work: The Florentine architect Giuseppe Poggi turned this into his monument in MCMXI.
The panorama embraces the heart of Florence from Forte Belvedere to Santa Croce, across the lungarni and the bridges crossing the Arno, including the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, the Bargello and the octagonal bell tower of the Badia Fiorentina. Beyond the view of the city itself are the hills of Settignano and Fiesole.
The Piazzale Michelangelo can be accessed by car along the tree-lined Viale Michelangelo, constructed at the same time, or by walking the stairs or going up the ramps from the Piazza Giuseppe Poggi, also known as the "Poggi Ramps" in the district of San Niccolò.
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