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(Since October 9th, 2012)
Florence: an open-air museum, a mainstay in Italy history, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1982, the cradle of Italian language, one of the most famous catwalks in the world, chosen destination of millions of tourists from all over the world, centre of one of the most renown regions in Italian food and wine tradition... what else?
The importance of Florence, originally a Roman city, in Italian and European history dates back to the Middle Ages, when the city was the centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time. It is worldwide considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, so much as to be called "the Athens of the Middle Ages." A chaotic political history, with periods under the rule of the powerful de'Medici family and several religious and republican revolutions, ended with Florence being elected as capital of the newly established Kingdom of Italy, from 1865 to 1870.
The city centre is the perfect portrait of the huge historic heritage that Florence holds: the crossroads in Piazza Repubblica is the ancient Roman "quadrilatero", the narrow streets are still vital since the Medieval period, the fabulous and rich buildings and interiors recall the splendors of the 16th century, up to the most recent buildings and shopping streets.
In Florence people can enrich their mind and soul, visiting and living the uncountable churches and museums, all telling the story of the city and of Italy, under every aspect. Here the Italian language was born from the worldwide admired pen of Dante and other major poets and writers who created Italian literature throughout the centuries; here tourist can admire sculpture and paintings by artists who opened the path for European art, such as Michelangelo and Donatello; here the main Italian architects worked to realize their most amazing masterpieces; every year the most famous fashion designers choose Florence to show the previews of their collections; every year millions of tourist elect Florence as destination for their holidays; and here, every day, Florence citizens work to make history and culture still live and to make their city unforgettable to visitors.
The historic city centre features many touristic hot spots.
Santa Maria del Fiore
The construction of this Gothic cathedral begun in 1296; in 1436 Brunelleschi completed it with the world famous dome. The inside of the cathedral is entirely frescoed with masterpieces by Vasari and Zuccari.
To the right of the cathedral rises the Bell Tower designed by Giotto in 1334. The square tower is covered with red, green and white marble inlays, decorated with panels and carvings, and made graceful by double- and triple-windows.
Opposite to the Cathedral stands the green and white marble Baptistery of San Giovanni (1128), a masterpiece of Florentine Romanesque architecture, with its splendid bronze doors (including the Door of Paradise).
The adjecent Museo dell'Opera del Duomo houses artworks from Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery and the Campanile, including sculptures that had been made for the cathedral facade.
More info at www.operaduomo.firenze.it
This Franciscan basilica contains countless artworks, including Giotto's famous frescoes in the Peruzzi and Bardi chapels, and it is universally famous as the final resting place of several great Italians.
More info at www.santacroceopera.it/en/default.aspx
Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria
Palazzo Vecchio now houses the town hall and a museum. The building dates back to the 13th century, when it was the ducal residence.
The Loggia della Signoria or "Loggia dei Lanzi", with several marble statues, overlooks the square with the famous Fontana del Nettuno by Ammannati.
More info at www.museicivicifiorentini.it/palazzovecchio
Uffizi Gallery, Corridoio Vasariano and Ponte Vecchio
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the greatest museums in Italy and the world. Founded in 1581 by Francesco I de' Medici, who collected numerous artworks in the building designed by Vasari, its treasures include nowadays masterpieces by Italian and foreign artists from 13th to 18th century such as Cimabue, Giotto, Masaccio, Beato Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Piero della Francesca, Raffaello, Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer, Goya and many others.
The Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano) that connects the Uffizi Gallery with the Pitti Palace hosts a rich collection of self-portraits by past and present artists.
This corridor runs in the upper part of the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in the city, with its many jewelry shops.
More info at www.polomuseale.firenze.it/en/musei/?m=uffizi
Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens
This palace was commissioned by Luca Pitti in 1448 and it was enlarged in 1549 when ownership passed to the Medici family. It was the seat of the Lorraine dynasty and, when Florence was capital of Italy, of the Court of Savoia. Today it houses several museums and galleries the most important of which is the Palatine Gallery (with the private collections of the Grand Dukes, with masterpieces by Tiziano, Giorgione, Raffaello, and Rubens), the Gallery of Modern Art, the Silver Museum, the Costume Gallery, the Carriage Museum, the Porcelain Museum, the Royal Apartments and the Apartment of the Duchess of Aosta.
One of the most beautiful Italian gardens extends on the Boboli hill between the Pitti Palace and Forte Belvedere, which dominates the gardens and the entire city
More info at www.polomuseale.firenze.it/musei/?m=palazzopitti
Santa Maria Novella
The church and its green and white marble facade (by L.B. Alberti) construction was begun by Dominican friars in 1246, and then completed in 1360. The inside is decorated with frescoes and masterpieces by Masaccio, Giotto and Brunelleschi. Not to be missed the adjacent museum and cloister.
More info at www.chiesasantamarianovella.it/en
Built between 1446 and 1451, Palazzo Rucellai is one of the mainstays of architecture in Florentine Renaissance.
More info at www.palazzorucellai.it
One of the finest expressions of Renaissance architecture.
Galleria dell'accademia delle belle arti
The Gallery is particularly famous for its sculptures by Michelangelo: the Prisoners, the St.Matthew and, especially, the statue of David which was transferred here, to the specially designed tribune, from Piazza della Signoria in 1873. In the adjacent rooms, which were part of two former convents, important works of art were collected here in the 19th century from the Academy of Design, the Academy of Fine Arts and from suppressed convents.
Piazzale Michelangelo and church of San Miniato al Monte
Splendid panoramic view form Piazzale Michelangelo. You can find detailed information at http://www.visitflorence.com/florence-monuments/piazzale-michelangelo.html.
Once at the Pizzale Michelangelo you can not miss a visit to San Miniato al Monte. It is a wonderful Romanesque church.
Give a look at the following web sites:
More info about Florence museums, itineraries and sightseeing tours are available at the following websites:
Please note that some sites allow on-line booking (http://www.florence-museum.com/booking.php). For some of them, such as Uffizi Gallery and Vasari Corridor, it is advisable to book several weeks in advance.
Key dates (2013)