Florence and its treasures

24 May 2021 Beautiful Italy

Florence is one of the most romantic and enchanting cities in Italy. Unsurprisingly, the entire city centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Few cities are so packed with extraordinary art and architecture masterpieces at every turn. Florence has hardly changed since the Renaissance and its narrow cobbled streets are lined with elegant 15th- and 16th-century palazzi, fresco-decorated churches, marble basilicas and world-class art museums. Florence is renowned as one of the most cultural and historical cities in the world. Allow yourself to be swept away into the Renaissance as you are surrounded by beautifully preserved and architecturally perfect historical buildings. During ancient history, Florence was once a Roman city and then developed into a thriving medieval commune. It is hailed as the birthplace of the Renaissance movement, and throughout the 12th, 15th and 16th centuries, was one of the most important cities of the world. Notable residents of Florence included Machiavelli, Lorenzo Medici, Dante, Michelangelo, Donatello, Galileo and Raphael.

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Church of Santa Maria Novella

Right in front of train main station is the Church of Santa Maria Novella, with similar design to both the Duomo and the Basilica of Santa Croce. A fine example of Renaissance architecture using polychrome and white marbles to create a striking front facade. Whilst the exterior and surrounding Piazza are magnificent, the interior is a true marvel. Contained within the church is a myriad of chapels dedicated to wealthy and prominent Florentine families during the Renaissance era. Detailed frescos cover the walls and ceilings and the church contains artwork from famous artists including Botticelli and Ghiberti.

Palazzo Strozzi

While you are walking towards Oltrearno district, you will problably pass one of the most representatuve Florentine Reinasance Palace, Palazzo Strozzi.  Wealthy and powerful Florentine families were constantly striving to best their neighbor – and many architectural legacies they left us  can credit their existence because one family wanted their house to be bigger than other mansions.  This would be why we have buildings like Pitti Palace and Palazzo Strozzi. The Strozzi family, undoubtedly one of the richest Florentine families until it was exiled from Florence in 1434.

Oltrearno

Crossing one the old Florence bridge, you will reach Oltrearno district, a more “intimate” area of Florence, and in many ways feels like a small town.

You will breath a lot of history and art heritage, monuments, museums, churches, palaces, parks: Pitti Palace, Santo Spirito Square,Boboli Gardens, but also handcraft shops, artisan workshops, mosaic-makers, wood carvers, gilders, goldsmiths carrying on a century-old tradition of both spirit and working methods.

Located on the Southern Banks of the River Arno, the Palazzo Pitti has stood since the 1400’s as a fine example of Renaissance architecture.  A grand square sits at the front of the palace and frames the symmetrical front facade perfectly. Although once home to Italian royalty and powerful families such as the Medici’s, the palace now stands as the largest museum complex in Florence.

Ponte Vecchio

Florence is full of famous buildings and the Ponte Vecchio is one of Florence’s landmarks and certainly the most photographed bridge in the city.  History records the bridge as early as 996 but its true origin is unclear. It was built at the narrowest point of the Arno and is the only remaining one with houses and shops on it. Once at the midpoint, the bridge opens up and you are rewarded with fantastic views down the river Arno.

Something important was built on top of shops: the Vasari Corridor. This “secret” passageway, built by Vasari for Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici in 1565, linked Palazzo Vecchio to Pitti Palace. In 1593, the jewelry stores  were brought to the bridge on command of Ferdinando, the Medici heir who thought that the previous tenants – butchers – smelled too bad to have their shops right below his corridor.

Galleria degli Uffizi

The building itself is a marvel and the inner courtyard features a series of intricate columns and arches that are adorned with marble statues.

Galleria degli uffizi is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the western world. The Renaissance masterpieces that you will find are quite unique and one of a kind. Inside the museum there is an immense collection of Renaissance Art from artists such as Botticelli, Da Vinci, Titian and Raphael.

Piazza della Signoria, Loggia de’ Lanzi and Palazzo Vecchio

Secondly only to the Piazza del Duomo, Piazza della Signoria is just as important and contains a myriad of buildings and classical art.
The main structure of the Piazza is the magnificent Palazzo Vecchio with its huge clock tower and fantastic statues of David.  Palazzo della Signoria in Florence, known as Palazzo Vecchio, has stood for over seven centuries in the heart of the city as a symbol of civic power. Whilst the Duomo is the most important religious building,  Palazzo Vecchio is the most importance administrative building in Florence..

Possibly the most renowned and well-known sculptures in the world, due to its fantastic detail and unwavering accuracy of depicting the human form, the Statue of David is a magnificent piece of renaissance art created by the legendary artist Michelangelo. The original statue can be found in the Galleria dell’Accademia and a replica stands proudly at the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio. 

To the left of the palace is the wonderful fountain of Neptune, and to the right is the Loggia dei Lanzi, a  unique example of an open-air sculpture gallery containing antique and refined Renaissance art. With its wide arches, it opens to Piazza della Signoria, adjoining the Uffizi Gallery, and features beautiful sculptures including Perseus, Menelaus and Patroclus,  made by artist like Giambologna and Benvenuto Cellini.

Brunelleschi’s Dome

Climbing the Duomo, with the huge cupola by Filippo Brunelleschi, is one of the most breathtaking experiences you can have in the centre of Florence. From there you can dominate the whole city and have a unique view. But, beware! The steps to get on top are 463, pretty challenging even for the trained ones!Florence Cathedral

Located in the centre of the old city, the Duomo stands out for miles and creates an imposing sight amongst the other medieval buildings. The exterior and front facade of the Cathedral are monumental – covered in white marble and red, pink and green polychrome designs; the colour and style is breathtaking.

Although the interior of the cathedral is quite bare in contrast, it still speaks of grandeur and has several interesting pieces such as the large clock face and the magnificent Last Judgement fresco that covers the underside of the dome.

Giotto’s bell tower and Baptistery of St. John

Many people believe that Giotto’s Campanile is connected to the Duomo however it is a separate building in its own right. This structure is a true masterpiece of Gothic architecture and is one of the most renowned designs in the city. Split into five distinct levels, the exterior of the tower features polychrome marble decoration that is also present on the Duomo in brilliant green and pink colours. A plethora of sculptures, artwork and decorated panels cover the tower and it is a true masterpiece of Renaissance art.

Completing the trio of buildings associated with the Cathedral of Florence, the Baptistery sits in front of the main facade of the Duomo. One of the oldest buildings in the city, the Baptistery exterior features the wonderful “Florentine” design that is similar to both the Duomo and Giotto’s Campanile.
The three sets of bronze doors are of particular interest and depict various religious scenes and human virtues. Inside the Baptistery, a stunning golden Byzantine style fresco covers the ceiling and upper walls and depicts the last judgement and other stories from the Bible and Genesis.