Plein air painting spots in & around Florence
Ponte Vecchio by Amy Florence Moseley
It’s not difficult to find a charming building or romantic spot in Florence that will capture your imagination and inspire you to set up an easel, but in case you’re a little pushed for time to explore, here’s a quick guide which should satisfy your artistic cravings.
Before you start painting, however, here are a couple of tips which will make your experience more enjoyable. First: try to avoid the crowds by painting at odd hours of the day or by venturing out of the city centre. Otherwise be prepared for tourists getting in the way and often taking it upon themselves to critique your work. Second: avoid the heat of the day by going out early when the light is soft or in the evening for some sunset or nocturne painting. Third: always set up in the shade.
In Florence there are plenty of lovely locations, but the problem is that during the summertime it’s incredibly hot. You will need shade and you don't want to set up somewhere where you'll be crushed by crowds. For example, drawing some of the stunning statues at the Loggia by the Uffizi in the Winter would be a much better option than in the Summer when it's peak tourist season. An alternative during the Summer months would be sketching at Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, where you can usually find a nice shady spot on the steps (and one of my favourite sandwich shops right on the corner if you need a break!).
If you’re keen to start painting straight away regardless of the season, here’s a list of our favourite locations:
San Miniato Church
This is the Church located above Piazzale michelangelo, which offers spectacular views of the City. It also avoids the mass of people in the Piazza below, while offering plenty of space to set up your easel. The walk up there will leave you out of breath, but trust me when I say the view is worth it. Also, the Church itself is stunning inside and if you plan your trip well and manage to get there for sunset you can hear the monks singing, a very inspiring accompaniment to your painting!
Parco delle Cascine
If you walk along the river, in either direction, and start to head out of the city you will find plenty of picturesque parks and paths, ideal for painting in. Cascine is particularly beautiful; it’s Florence’s biggest park and due to it’s vast space offers plenty of quiet and shady spaces, and interesting viewpoints to help you create a good composition.
Giardino di Boboli (Boboli Gardens)
Although you have to pay entry at the Pitti Palace to get into the Boboli Gardens, and there can be a lot of people around, it’s worth it. Despite it’s popularity, there are so many secret little paths running through and around the gardens that it’s not too difficult finding a spot just for you. However don’t forget to treat it as a museum rather than a park, and be careful with all of your belongings. It’s also worth checking out the roads that run past the Boboli, between Porta Romana and Piazzale Michelangelo (such as viale Machiavelli and viale Galilei) here you’ll find some lovely, quiet parks which offer views of the City and are ideal for setting up a canvas and painting in relative peace.
Boboli Kaffehaus, Amy Florence Moseley
If you decide to head outside of the city don’t miss:
Settignano and Fiesole
If you’re feeling energetic there is a lovely hiking trail which runs between the two towns. If you take a bus to Settignano, its a 6km hike to Fiesole from there, with an unlimited amount of plein air spots to enjoy on the way. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and lots of water!
El Fuego, Tanvi Pathare
Villa Gamberaia, Settignano
If you decide to stay in Settignano then make sure to visit the gardens of this stunning seventeenth-century Villa. You can’t help but feel inspired in this garden of cyprus trees, statues, charming fountains and
ponds, all surrounded by olive groves and of course, the typically beautiful Tuscan view.
Landscape painting workshops with Art Escape Italy in 2016:
Painting the Summer Landscape with Maureen Hyde, August 21-28
The Figure in the Landscape with Maureen Hyde, September 18-30
Painting the Tuscan Landscape with Amy Florence Moseley, October 2-14
Painting the Autumn Landscape with Tanvi Pathare, October 21-28
Santa Croce, Tanvi Pathare