Piazzale Michelangelo is situated at a few minutes walking from the historical Porta a San Niccolò (Gate at San Niccolò) located in Piazza Poggi, in the immediacy of the celebrated Boboli Gardens.
Porta a San Niccoló is the sole gate in Florence, which medieval defensive far above the ground tower (1327 ca.) remained intact during the siege of Florence (1529-1530).
Its construction is attributed to the eminent Tuscan painter, sculptor and architect Andrea Orcagna (byname of Andrea di Cione di Arcangelo, 1308 ca.-1368).
Afterwards, the gate was accurately restored and set down as remarkable monument in the currently named Piazza Poggi.
Piazzale Michelangelo stands as a huge panoramic terrace perched over the south bank of the Arno River, from where visitors will marvel at the incredible views of Florence, such as the Duomo, its majestic green Cupola and the splendid Campanile overlooking the city, as well as the ones of the Arno Valley, surrounded by enchanting green slopping hills.
In 1864 the talented Florentine architect and engineer Giuseppe Poggi (1811-1901) was commissioned from the Florentine municipal authorities to design the new town-planning of Florence, as the city had been nominated capital city of the Kingdom of Italy (1865-1870).
That ambitious project also included the amazing Piazzale Michelangelo and the prolongation of the most important circular boulevards coming from up to the hills to the south of Florence.
Giuseppe Poggi, believed as the main Italian city-planner of the 19th century, was born in the bosom of a well-known Florentine family of intellectuals, being in possession of both a refined artistic taste and a higher technique dominion.
Poggi rebuilt or restored as well several Renaissance art palazzi (palaces) in Florence like Palazzo della Gherardesca, Villa Favard and Palazzo Gondi, among others.
When the principal walls of the historical centre of the, by then, capital city of Italy had been demolished, he conducted the work of the Viali della Circonvallazione (circular boulevards) flanked by beautiful new Renaissance art buildings, designing as well some fine squares like Piazza Cavour (currently called Piazza della Libertà) and Piazza della Beccaria
In Piazzale Donatello, Giuseppe Poggi enlarged the historical Protestant Cemetery in Florence, shaped like an oval, known as well as the English Cemetery, because the major part of the tombs there placed belonged to English people who resided and died in Florence, like the one of the Stibbert family; the ones of the renowned poets Arthur Hugh Clough and Elizabeth Barret Browning, or the one of the two last descendants of William Shakespeare, Beatrice Shakespeare and Claude Shakespeare Clench.
Poggi surrounded the wonderful Romantic art Cemetery by exquisite artists’ studios who, in the second half of the 19th century, used to work there inspired by the silent beauty of the elegant sacred milieu. Among them, the most noted is probably the one which pertained to the celebrated Florentine painter Michele Gordigiani (1830-1909).
Piazzale Michelangelo and the English Cemetery are both considered Poggi’s masterworks in Florence.
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Oltrarno Side of Florence
The Cathedrals : Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, Cappella Brancacci, Santo Spirito
Main Monuments : Palazzo Pitti, Piazzale Michelangelo, Ponte Vecchio
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