TOURISM IN THE CHIANTI

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Guide to Florence


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My tricks for Florence

Florence

A visit to Florence (Firenze) is a must for any art lover. UNESCO estimates that 60% of the world's most important artworks are in Italy, with over half of them located in Florence. Situated in the northwest of Italy, surrounded by the wine-growing hills of Chianti, the city attracts rapture and frustration in equal proportions. Few can dismiss the image of Brunelleschi's cathedral dome bursting through the morning mist - a terracotta balloon hovering above the medieval rooftops. But once the visitor drops down to street level, the profusion of traffic, tourists and touts can remove all sense of tranquillity. It seems every building holds a masterpiece, demanding attention and often gobbling up funds. The streets are narrow and dark, enclosed on either side by granite palaces, and even the open spaces are crowded with babbling tour groups.

Often called the cradle of the Renaissance, Florence owes much of her wealth to the Middle Ages. Banking became big business on the back of the city's profitable wool trade and, in 1235, Florence minted the florin, the first gold coin to become standard currency across Europe. In their turn, these bankers commissioned some of the finest art and architecture in the city. The names Strozzi, Rucellai and Pitti can be found all over Florence, but it was the Medici family - who led the city for over 300 years off and on - that nurtured the greatest flowering of Renaissance art. The paintings of Botticelli, the sculptures of Michelangelo and the rusticated palaces of Michelozzo all flourished under their rule.

Then, as now, most of the action in Florence took place between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria, the city's civic heart. Here, in the historic centre, Dante - forefather of the Italian language - first glimpsed his muse, Beatrice. Here, the Florentine Republic rose and fell. And here, Savonarola's Bonfire of the Vanities blazed. Florence, for all her timeless charm, is no stranger to destruction. In 1944, all her bridges, save the Ponte Vecchio, were bombed by the Germans in an attempt to stall the advance of the allies. In 1966, the banks of the River Arno burst, flooding the city with her muddied waters and devastating homes and artwork. Most recently, in 1993, a bomb exploded near the Uffizi Gallery ripping through the museum's interior and claiming several lives. That said, the only violence most tourists are likely to witness is during the medieval football match on June 24 - Florence's patron saint day - when petty wrangles can spill onto the pitch.

It is best to avoid the peak summer months of July and August when the weather can be unbearably sticky and the prospect of trailing around museums becomes unappealing. Early autumn, when the countryside glows with mellow fruitfulness, is the best time to visit, avoiding the heat and the queues and capitalising on the soft light, empty streets and the abundance of wild mushrooms and just-pressed olive oil.

Localization

Florence (Italian: Firenze) is the capital city of both Firenze province and the Tuscany region of central Italy; it lies on the Arno River at the foot of the Apennines. The population of the city is 402,316 (1991). It has an average temperature of 11 deg C (53 deg F) and receives about 735 mm (29 in) of rainfall annually. Florence's modern importance is in large part a result of the great outburst of artistic and architectural activity that occurred there from the 13th to the 15th century. The city's cultural treasures have made tourism the mainstay of the economy. Since the late 19th century, large residential and manufacturing districts have sprung up around the old city core. Florence is famous for its gold and silver jewelry, leatherwork, high-fashion clothing, shoes, ornamental glass, and furniture. Wine, olive oil, and precision instruments are other notable products. The city is on Italy's north-south railroad line and is therefore an important rail center. The Artistic Heritage of Florence Florence attracts well over 1 million tourists annually, many of them from the United States, who are drawn to the numerous monuments and museums. Many of the best known architectural treasures are religious buildings, notably the Baptistery of San Giovanni (c.1000), considered the oldest building in the city, and San Miniato, another fine Romanesque church. The bronze-relief baptistery doors, designed by Lorenzo GHIBERTI, were constructed in the first half of the 15th century. The bell tower of the Gothic cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore was designed by GIOTTO. The cathedral--which contains the Florence Pieta (c.1546-50), a sculptural masterpiece by MICHELANGELO-- was begun in 1294 and consecrated in 1436. The dome was designed (c.1420) by Filippo BRUNELLESCHI. Brunelleschi also originally designed the Ospedale degli Innocenti, whose wide arches are decorated with glazed terra-cottas by Luca della Robbia (see DELLA ROBBIA family). Not far from the cathedral is the Medici parish church of San Lorenzo. Michelangelo constructed one of the church's Medici chapels, and it contains magnificent sculptures he made for the tombs of Giuliano and Lorenzo. The 13th-century Franciscan church of Santa Croce--its interior decorated by Giotto, CIMABUE, DONATELLO, Brunelleschi, and others--has a MICHELOZZO designed Medici chapel in which Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Rossini are buried. The Piazzadella Signoria contains the PALAZZO VECCHIO, built in the 14th century as the seat of Florentine government, and the Loggia dei Lanzi. It was redecorated two centuries later when the Medicis added open-air sculpture galleries and beautiful fountains. The BARGELLO, which also dates from the 14th century, is now a state museum. The enormous PITTI PALACE (begun 1458) was the official home of the king when Florence was Italy's capital (1865-70). The noted Boboli Gardens are behind the palace. Florence has about 40 art museums, which house the works of such masters as Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Donatello, Ghiberti, Luca della Robbia, Michelangelo, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, and Rubens. The Pitti and the UFFIZI, originally the office building of the Medici grand dukes, hold two of the world's greatest collections of medieval and Renaissance art. The city's national library and state archives house incomparable manuscript collections.

History


Originally Etruscan, then Roman (until the 5th century), Gothic, Byzantine, and Lombard, Florence reached its peak of economic, political, and cultural splendor between the 13th and 16th centuries. Commercial power developed in earnest after Florence became a free commune in 1115. Ripped by civil strife until the late 13th century, Florence nevertheless flourished as a trade and industrial center. It was ruled by an oligarchy of merchants and bankers and gradually attained supremacy over the surrounding area. In 1348 more than 60% of the nearly 100,000 inhabitants were killed by the Black Death (BUBONIC PLAGUE), temporarily halting the city's growth. Three hundred years of domination by the MEDICI family began in 1434 with Cosimo (1389-1464). Medici control, largely the result of financial power and political skill, was interrupted by the revolution of 1494-98, led by the Dominican religious reformer Girolamo SAVONAROLA. In 1527, Emperor CHARLES V restored the Medici, and Alessandro (c.1510-1537) became the first duke of Tuscany. Cosimo I (1519-74), who was created the first grand duke in 1569, brought almost all of Tuscany under his rule. The grand duchy was ruled by the house of Habsburg-Lorraine after the Medici line died out in 1737. Tuscany was annexed to the new kingdom of Italy in 1861, and Florence was made the capital of the kingdom in 1865. After the capital was moved (1871) to Rome, the city declined. Threatened for centuries by flooding from the Arno River, the city was devastated by a 1966 inundation. Supported by contributions from all over the world, experts worked for years to salvage the city's art treasures.

 

 

 
PITTI: MUSEUM OF MUSEUMS

Inside it many museums find their home: the Silver Museum, the Palatina Gallery, the real Apartments, the Modern Art Gallery, the Carriage Museum, the Porcelain Museum and the open-air museum of the Boboli Gardens.
It was built around the middle of the XV century by the Florentine banker Luca di Buonaccorso Pitti who gave the commission to Filippo Brunelleschi. The project was then realized by his pupil Luca Fancelli. Originally the palace was of a cubic shape, composed of three doors and 7 windows, corresponding to the Renaissance ideal of symmetric harmony.

The palace remained unfinished until 1550, when Cosimo I Medici and his wife Eleonora of Toledo bought the palace to transform it into a residence for the Grand Duke. Bartolomeo Ammannati was the great architect to make the modifications most relevant, like those to close the lateral doors with "kneeling" windows and to create the monumental courtyard that everyday fills with thousands of visitors. Many changes have been made with the passing of power, many of said transformations being in the Lorena period.

VISITING PALAZZO PITTI

The Medici, who purchased the building a century later, commisioned Bartolomeo Ammannati (1558-1570) to enlarge it following one of Brunellischi's design. Ammannati transformed two side doors into ground-floor windows, lengthened the facade, and created the most beautiful of Renaissance courtyards, the Cortile dell' Ammannati, in the interior of the Palazzo. In 1783 the Duke of Lorraine added the so-called "rond˛", the beautiful side wing which juts out into the square (on the right). A second wing (on the left) was added in the nineteenth century.

Inside the Palazzo is the Galleria Palatina, containing works by Titian, Raphael, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Andrea del Sarto, Filippo Lippi, Perugino, Velazquez, van Dyck, and Rubens. The Galleria d'Arte Moderna contains a good selection of Italian paintings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including works by the Macchiaioli, a nineteenth-century school of Tuscan painters whose works were characterized by "macchie" or spots. The Museo degli Argenti displays silver, gold, stone, glass, and crystalware, as well as precious china.

The Collezione Contini-Bonacossi is located in the Palazzina della Meridiana. It contains works by Duccio da Boninsegna, Goya, and Veronese. Also located in the Palazzina is the Galleria del Costume, with rotating exhibits of clothing from different periods. In the right wing of the Palazzo is the Museo delle Carrozze containing coaches from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Behind the Palazzo lie the famous Boboli Gardens, a vast and splendid Italian-style public gardens which reflect, the taste of the high Renaissance period (masses of trees treated as architecture, lawns, grottos, fountains, etc.).The Palazzo is also the site for temporary exhibitions.

Opening Hours:
Galleria Palatina - 9:00 - 19:00 Tues-Sat; 9:00 -14:00 Sun. Phone (055)2388614
Galleria d'Arte Moderna- 8:00 - 14:00 daily; Closed on te 1st , 3rd and 5th Mon AND 2nd & 4th Sun of each month. Phone (055)2388616
Museo degli Argenti- 8:00 - 14:00 daily; Closed on te 1st , 3rd and 5th Mon AND 2nd & 4th Sun of each month.Phone (055)2388709.
Galleria del Costume- Could still be closed for renovations.

Situated in the first great square in the area that the Florentines call "Diladdarno" - beyond the Arno - , Palazzo Pitti dominates uncontested by a small hill at the feet of Boboli.
Its construction was commissioned, in the second half of the 15th century, by the banker Luca Bonaccorso Pitti to Filippo Brunelleschi, but the project is presently ascribed to Luca Fancelli who created and began building the first palace outside the walls of the city. The palace has had a long history of works of construction and of extensions which have lasted about four centuries.

The first version of Palazzo Pitti had smaller body dimensions compared to the present one. It consisted of two floors covered with rusticated stone ashlars. The architectural Renaissance style, austere and balanced, was enriched by classical elements from the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders. The following extensions gave the Palace its present appearance. Around 1550 the Grand-Duke Cosimo I de' Medici purchased it to become the residence of the family and in 1558 he commissioned the works of refinement to Bartolomeo Ammannati who included large windows in the fašade, called inginocchiate, and created the porticoed courtyard. The construction and the creation of the great garden, named Boboli from the homonymous hill, were commissioned to Niccol˛ Tribolo.

In 1565 the Grand-Duke wanted the construction of a corridor for the family so they could walk to piazza della Signoria avoiding dangers of attacks. The project was commissioned to Vasari. In 1618 the works continued under the direction of Giulio da Parigi who extended the building with other two buildings with two floors. There were further adjustments in 1640 with Alfonso da Parigi whose direction gave the palace its present length. But what we can admire today is the result of the following changes brought on by the Lorena who completed the fašade adding the two lateral "rond˛" which stretch the palace towards the square almost wanting to embrace it.
It was the Grand-Duke Ferdinando II who had the halls of entertainment of the summertime residence decorated, on the ground floor, and of the winter residence at the first floor for his coming up wedding with Vittoria della Rovere. Artists of great fame were summoned such as Giovanni da Sangiovanni and Pietro da Cortona whose works contributed to render the palace an absolute royal palace. The last body part added to the building was the palazzina della Meridiana, in neo-classical style, commissioned at the end of the 18th century to Gaspare Maria Paoletti and Pasquale Poccianti by Pietro Leopoldo.
Palazzo Pitti, which through time assumed different functions, is today the seat of important museums ( Silvers, Chinawares, Costumes, Carriages, Gallery of Modern Art, Garden of Boboli) through which it is possible to visit its halls, the displays of the court and the splendour of a faraway epoch which managed to pass down faithful and unchanged through history.

Info:
Palazzo Pitti: Piazza Pitti
Closed on Mondays
Admission: ú 8000 the Modern Art Gallery (Galleria d'Arte Moderna) and the Costume Gallery (Galleria del Costume); ú 4000 the Museum of Silver (Museo degli Argenti); ú 4000 the Museum of Chinaware (Museo delle Porcellane) and the Boboli Garden (Giardino di Boboli).
Phone: 055/2388710

 

 

MUSEO NAZIONALE DEL BARGELLO

This building was the first monumental public building of the council, which was the seat of the PodestÓ, (the chief magistrate) and in the sixteenth century became a prison (from which it acquired its current name, from the chief of police, the bargello, which means "sbirro"), and in 1865 a superb collection of sculpture from the Florentine Renaissance and an assembly of small renaissance bronzes was installed, including works of art by Michelangelo, Donatello, Cellini and Gianbologna.
The Courtyard
The walls of the courtyard, where executions were once held, are decorated with the armorial symbol of the PodestÓ, which held its seat here, and with sculptures from the sixteenth century, including the "l'Oceano" by Gianbologna which was once found at the Boboli gardens. On the ground floor, there are works of art by Michelangelo, Cellini and Giambologna, including his "Mercurio".
On the first floor in the Salone del Consiglio, characterised by its high ceiling and which was once the tribunal hall, you can find works by Donatello, including his famous David in bronze and his St. Giorgio, carved for and once found on the external walls of the Orsanmichele.
The second floor
There are many glazed terrecotte by della Robbia including the "Busto di fanciullo" by Andrea della Robbia. There is also an exhibition of Italian medals and a stupendous collection of small Renaissance bronzes. The Sala delle Armi contains fascinating medieval ivories and armoury and weapons.
Opening Hours:
Museum- 8:30-14:00 daily; Closed on the 2nd and 4th Monday AND 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month.
Location: Via del Proconsolo, Phone: 055-238 8606

 
MUSEUM OF THE SILVERS
in Palazzo Pitti

The Museum of the Grand ducal Treasure or of the Silvers, occupies the left wing of Palazzo Pitti, the summertime residence of the Medici court. Established in the 19th century, it is presently directed by Dr. Marilena Mosco. The 25 fascinating rooms exhort the visitor to a careful study of the precious collections. Most of the objects come from the famous Treasure of Saltsburg, which was brought to Florence by Ferdinando III di Lorena, while the hard stone vases belong to the collections of Pietro and Lorenzo de Medici.

The route begins from the Room of Luca Pitti, which hosts 8 Medici busts and the genealogic tree of the Medici Family. You, therefore, enter the Room frescoed by Giovanni da San Giovanni.

The third is Lorenzo's Room or the Dark Room, which contains a few objects, which belonged to Lorenzo de Medici. Through the small Chapel you enter the three big Rooms of Representation, the only rooms which were frescoed and used to host the visitors of the Grand-dukes.

Continuing with the Room of the Ivories, which come from the war spoils consequent to the siege of Coburgo and the Room of Ivories and Shrines from the chapel of Palazzo Pitti. A secret stairway leads to the first floor, the heart of the treasure of the Museum: the Rooms of the Cameos and of the Jewels which belonged to Anna Maria Luisa de Medici. The two following rooms contain the treasure of Saltsburg.

Through the small Lodge, you reach the Oriental Room and the Room of the Chinese and Japanese chinaware, which lead you to the Room of the Donations and the Room of the plaster casts of big silver plates. Returning to the ground floor you'll find the precious collection of ambers and, at last, the Room of the Hard stones.


Information:
Museo degli Argenti (Museum of Silvers)
Piazza Pitti
Opening hours: 8:30 am - 1:50 pm
Closing days: Mondays; the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month
Admission: ú 4000
Phone number: 055/2388710, 2388709

THE DUOMO AND THE BAPTISTERY

The Duomo is the centre of the Florence attraction. It is portrayed in every postcard, book, painting that advertises Florence. It is about 8 minutes walk from the station and it stands tall adjacent to the Baptistery and the Companile. The colour of the two buildings contrasts giving the frescic image that tells of the Florentine culture and art. It is by no doubt Brunelleschi's best work ever and no other architect all over Italy has been able to match his talent. No other building stands higher than the Duomo which was first designed in 1294 by Arnolfo di Cambio who died eight years later leaving the design to a number other architects who finished designing Arnolfo's dream but could not figure out how to build such a long dome (142 feet from the ground). Fillippo Brunelleschi came to the rescue and manage to construct this marvellous Dome that has become the largest Church in the Catholic world. If you stand a few metres away from any side of the dome and look up, the whole structure will seem to be falling on you. This gives an idea of how high it is.

The exterior is covered in marble walls which are a mixture of white ( from Carrara), green (from Prato), and red(from Maremma).The interior is quite bare and cold compared to the warm exterior. The Duome is one of the capacious churches in the world which once capacitated a congregation of 10 000 people in one of Savonarola's preaching about the Renaissance Florence. On the west wall, there are three stained glass windows designed by Ghiberti and a hube clock which was decorated with four heads of prophets by Paolo Uccelo in 1443. On the left Aisle has a pair of memorials of mercenary commanders (condottieri).

The major work of the Duomo,by size, is the fresco of the 'Last Judgement' by Vasari. These are painted on the entire roof and offers a spectacular atmosphere when one climbs the Duomo's roof top to get the view of the entire city. The Duomo's view cannot even compare to the Empire State Building's view of the New York City. Ascending the dome is another incomparable experience for those still physically fit. Climbing 463 step could be tiring but is by far not boring since the structure of the dome can be examined while climbing to the top. When you reach the top you can see Florence in its beauty while relaxing in the chairs provided.

The Museum of the Duomo (Museo dell' Opera del Duomo) is located between the baptistery and the campanile and keeps all the exteriors of the Duomo, Campanile and the Baptistry that needed to be kept away.
The Baptistery
This is one of the oldest buildings in Florence which was initially the city's cathedral before the Reparata. The three sets of guilded bronze doors of the Baptistery were Lorenzo Dhiberti's and others' way of giving Florence a voice about the deliverance of plague. These doors have made the building very significant hence they are worth talking about.
The doors on the north and east are Lorenzo's celebrated works which show scenes of the Life of the Messiah, the Evangelists, and the Doctors of the church. The east doors frames have beautiful statuettes of prophets and Sibyls (women prophets) and have earned being called "The doors of Paradise" by the great Michelangelo.This building illustrates the relationship between Florence and the Rome world with Rome being the destined land. The interior of this building is just as beautiful as the exterior. The walls are covered in marble and ancient Roman columns lay below a blazing mosaic ceiling. In the centre, there is an empty octagon marking the alta where children born in the past year were baptised on New Year's eve. To the right of the altar, there is tomb of the antipope John XXIII by Donatello and his pupil Michelozzo.

Opening Hours:
Dome: 10:00 - 17:00 , Mon-Sat, 13:00-15:00 Sundays and Religious Holidays
Church: Times vary according to type of services held.
Baptistery - 13:30 - 18:30 Mon-Sat; 8:30-13:30 Sun,Closed on Easter Sunday.

THE PERSEUS

Benvenuto Cellini, the creator of the Perseus, was trained as a goldsmith. The beautiful salt-cellar of Francesco I, today in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, is one famous example of his rare and highly refined compositional immagination, symbolic of an elegant and precious mannerism.

Completed in 1540-43, the salt-cellar shows Cellini's debt to Florentine sculpture in his adopting of monumental schemes for refined decorative needs, which he learned from the Fontainebleau school. Before the Perseus, Cellini experimented with the larger sculptural format of bronze with the Nymph, today in the Louvre. According to the critics, however, the real masterpieces of his stylistic and intellectual virtuosity are the Perseus, created in 1545-54 for the Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria, and the bust of Cosimo I (today in the Bargello).
It would be impossible to understand completely the great Perseus without first analyzing the salt-cellar, since it would not be apparent that the basic idea of the Perseus-Medusa group was the realization in clay of a triumph for the table, like the salt-cellar, the source of its characteristics of elegance and formal refinement.
The preparatory phase of the Perseus, a masterpiece of Florentine Sixteenth century art, is visible today in two models, one in wax and the other in gold-plated bronze, both preserved in the Bargello. The goal of the two models was two-fold, as both a guide to follow in the realization of the full-scale work and as a model to obtain the approval of the work's patron, Cosimo I.
The final phase was the pouring of the bronze and Cellini writes in his famous autobiography (1558-66) that during this phase there were so many problems and incidents after forcing himself to work for so many hours that his physical strength "could resist no longer," so much so that he was stricken with "a fever as great as the world has never seen."

THE BOBOLI GARDEN:

tiket for the Boboli garden in Florence

 

Let's start our tour. After entering into the cortile dell'Ammannati the steps lead to the left. Pass the gate that separates us from the Giardino di Madama (a garden dedicated to the grand-duchess Giovanna d'Austria). Here, there is the grotta delle Capre created by Bernardo Buontalenti. Moving ahead there is a representative statue Giove, by Baccio Bandinelli,and, two statues of prisoners of the II century. Then we encounter the small fountain of the so-called Bacchino, a funny statue, sculpted by Valerio Cioli in 1560, that depicts the dwarf Morgante on top of a turtle. The dwarf was the joker of Cosimo the First's court. This statue is a copy. Reasons of conservational character don't permit the exposition 'en plein air' of this work.

Going down the small street, we arrive in front of a magnificent grotta del Buontalenti. The architect in 1569 was succeeded to Bartolomeo Ammannati, under whom the amphitheater was constructed.
Buontalenti had the title of 'engineer of the gardens', he was the architect of Francesco I Medici and for this family he realized also the complesso di Pratolino.

The grotta (1583-88) offers to the visitor a vestibule with columns, that at the ends have two niches that host respectively Cerere and Apollo, sculpted by Baccio Bandinelli.
The main theme to which the first grotta aspires is the mutation of matter, the original chaos, the harmony of creatures. In the first grotta from the magma emerge pastors and their flocks. The iconographic theme is taken also from the fresco by Bernardino Poccetti. At the four angles the substitutions of Michelangelo's prisons have substituted the admirable originals now at the Galleria dell'Accademia.

The second grotta is placed at the center with the presence of a group in marble Paride e Elena, created by Vincenzo de' Rossi in 1560. The third environment has at the center a delicious fountain (1570 c.) made by Giambologna, where four satirists insult Venus who, after leaving the bathroom, looks superior and disinterested.

Turn back towards the amphitheater, a place that was once used for theatrical shows and feasts. Climbing one can arrive at the fontana del Nettuno by Stoldo Lorenzi (1565-68). Walking toward the path at left it is possible to arrive at the Kaffeehaus, pavilion covered with a dome, realized by Zanobi del Rosso in 1776, under Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena. On the last step, leaving from the amphitheater, passing by the fontana di Nettuno, you can admire the great statue of the Abbondanza, in honor of Giovanna d'Austria, wife of Francesco I Medici, started by Giambologna in 1608. The statue, was later completed in 1937 by Pietro Tacca (to be admired, passing by piazza Santissima Annunziata, are his two fountains) and Sebastiano Salvini. Turning right you arrive at the Giardino del Cavaliere.

After having climbed the winding staircase, you arrive at the Fontana delle Scimmie (XVI-XVII century) and at the Casino named "del cavaliere". The casino was desired by Cosimo III, around the year 1700, as a relaxing area for his son Gian Gastone. During the period of Lorenzo this small palazzo was transformed by Giuseppe del Rosso and since 1973 hosts a porcelain museum. Going down, you arrive at the Prato dell'Uccellare.

Following ahead, you arrive at the Viottolone. Here you note, at the beginning, two statues of Heroes in assault. The one on the right is a copy by Astogitone, of the bronzing group of the Athenian sculptors Kritios and Nesiotes (477 a. C.). At the central intersection there are the statue di G. B. Caccini and on the lower right, Ermete con Dioniso bambino, from the original by Policleto.

Before Piazzale dell'Isolotto, there's a last group of sculptors: those from the Gioco del Saccomazzone by Romolo del Tadda and the Pentolaccia by G. B. Capezzuoli. Under the grand-dukes Cosimo II and Ferdinando II, Giulio and Alfonso Parigi created, from 1618, the large elliptical bath with a central island, populating it with statues of mythological and fantastic figures.
At the center of the island they transported the fontana dell'Oceano that at the beginning was situated at the center of the amphitheater. It was realized by Giambologna in 1576, for Francesco I. The original statue that depicts the Ocean is now at the Museo del Bargello. The three figures that represent the three rivers, the Nile, the Ganges and the Euphrates look at each other around the Ocean.
After the Prato delle Colonne, called this for the two columns of pink granite at the top hold vases of white marble, you arrive at the Rond˛ where we observe the Perseo by Vincenzo Danti. Under this is a roman sarcophagus with the Fatiche di Ercole. Al the end of the visit we can admire the palazzina della Meridiana that hosts the gallery of costumes. Arriving at the terrace of the amphitheater, the visit is concluded. During this trip attention must be given to the century old plants that make marvelous frames for man's art.

   

the dreamed tiket for the Accademia Gallery, the price to see the David of Michelangelo !

PALAZZO STROZZI

The architecture of Florence has always been a way to create art. Walking the city streets it is in fact not rare to bump into its splendid monumental palazzi. History tells us of the "war" that nobles and rich merchants waged to build the most imposing and beautiful palazzo, which gave form to the one of the most charming urban landscapes in the world. At a distance of centuries it is difficult to judge, but one of the most beautiful of these palazzi is certainly Palazzo Strozzi. Property of the INA, today it is possible to visit thanks to the important exhibits that are held there.

Located between the piazza of the same name and via Tornabuoni, Palazzo Strozzi is one of the symbols of Renaissance architecture. Its creation was the idea of Filippo Strozzi "the elder" who charged Benedetto da Maiano with planning a family residence that would be the envy of the Florentine nobility. Construction began in 1489 and was directed by Simone del Pollaiolo, called il Cronaca.

Today the palazzo seems a fortress in the heart of the city. On a rectangular base there are two floors plus the ground floor, each divided by linear cornices. One of its principle characteristics is the fidelity with which the canons of 15th century architecture have been respected in the realization of the fašade: symmetrical and linear, in stone blocks that are coarse and rough-hewn on the ground floor and become progressively finer with each higher floor. On the opposite sides, on piazza Strozzi and via Tornabuoni, the imposing entrances are surrounded by rectangular windows. The two upper stories are characterized by two-part windows, whose arch contrasts with the linearity of the architecture. Inside the arch is the stem of the Strozzi family.

The palace interior first viewed by the courtyard designed by il Cronaca. With porticos on all four sides, it is enclosed by arches with stone frames that rest on columns with stylized leaf capitals. On the ground floor it is also possible to see the splendid surroundings of Sala Ferri, which contains the Gabinetto Viesseuxand the rich library of the Institute for Renaissance Studies. The decorations of the first floor were designed by Pietro Berti and today form the background for the important exhibits that the Palazzo holds. The first floor is open only for exhibits, but the ground floor is always open.

Info:
Palazzo Strozzi, Piazza Strozzi
Gabinetto Viesseux ( Sala Ferri) and courtyard
Open Monday-Saturday, 9:30-13:00
Tel. 055/288342

PALAZZO MEDICI RICCARDI

Palazzo Medici Riccardi is found along the refined and elegant via Cavour. It's one of the largest and most important renaissance palaces in Florence. It's dual name is due to a long and articulated story. The first owners were the Medici. Its construction, in fact, goes back to 1444 and was strongly desired by Cosimo il Vecchio who hired the admired project director Michelozzo di Bartolomeo. Only in 1659 it was acquired by the Riccardi family, that wanted to give it a certain touch with works of amplification and decorations.

In 1814, the palazzo was acquired by the royal family Lorena that relegated it to administrative offices. When Florence was the capital of Italy, it occupied an important role in which it was the seat of the Internal Ministry. In 1871 it changed hands again, owned by the City of Florence that, after long works destined it, once again, to administrative offices. The palace's architecture has all the characteristics of renaissance canons: linear but imposing prospect, a non-square design, the design in stone that is large and awkward on the first floor and becomes softer on higher floors until it becomes flat, the strong frame supported by decorated shelves.

On the firs floor the facade is occupied by imposing entrance doors, many of which were walled in time and substituted with large windows. The perimeter of the palace is lined with stone benches. The facade on upper floors, divided by linear frames, is surrounded by windows and other decorations. In the corners of the building there are still placed the coat-of-arms of the families Medici and Riccardi. The beautiful and important main frame is held up by shelves that work also as decorations. The insides are rich and varied.

The first floor offers two beautiful courtyards: the first was constructed by Michelozzo. The portico rests on Corinthian columns on which there are the Medicean coat-of-.arms. The second is practically an outdoor museum. The trees, in fact, are decorative scenery for the classically styled statues. On the first floor you can enter the Cappella dei Magi. A vast and refined environment in which a gaze loses itself among the frescoes and other structures that provoke extraordinary reactions. The frescoes in the Cappella are by Benozzo Gozzoli and have been object of a long and involved restoration that has given them back their great splendor.

From the staircase on the first floor is the entrance to the offices of the Prefecture and the Provincial Administration. From via dei Ginori an imposing door that is the entrance to the Biblioteca Riccardiana named for the collector Riccardo Riccardi, lover of manuscripts and books about Florence. Palazzo Medici Riccardi, today, is the seat of the Prefecture and the Province of Florence, and often art exhibitions.

Info:
Palazzo Medici Riccardi, via Cavour
Cappella dei Magi:
Closed: Wednesday
Hours: 09:00/ 19:00
Entrance: ú 8000
Biblioteca Riccardiana:
Hours: Monday- Saturday 08:00/ 1:45; Thursday, 08:00/ 5:45
Tel. 055/290833

THE UFFIZI PALACE

Intended by Cosimo I around the middle of the 16th century, the Uffizi Palace was designed by Giorgio Vasari. In order to realize the project, Vasari had many houses that surrounded the area demolished. Its construction also included the church of San Pier Scheraggio, which was reserved to worshipping until 1743. The purpose of the extraordinary building was to host the thirteen Magistratures or Uffizi, where the Palace later received its name from, at the time located in different seats. When Vasari died, the building of the Uffizi Palace was entrusted to Buontalenti and Alfonso Parigi.
The construction of the Teatro Mediceo, inside the palace, belongs to Buontalenti. Built for Francesco I in 1586, the Theatre was, afterwards, destined to other uses: it was, in fact, the seat of the Senate when Florence was the capital of Italy. In the building, moreover, many laboratories reserved to artisan and artistic productions were built, which were reserved to the environments of the palace.

The building has an unusual horseshoe shape: it's formed by two parallel buildings united by a passageway. The two floors of the building stand over a portico sustained by two pillars and decorated by niches, where the statues of Florentines who distinguished themselves from the Middle Ages until the 19th century are placed.
Today the Uffizi Palace is one of the most important art galleries in the world: the Uffizi Gallery. In 1993 the Palace was involved in the bombing attack at the Accademia dei Gergofili, but in no time it was brought back to its original splendour.


Info:
Palazzo degli Uffizi, Loggiato degli Uffizi, 6 - (Uffizi Palace, Uffizi Portico,6)
Opening hours: 08:15 am/ 6:50 pm
Closed on Mondays
For information call: 055/ 23885

NEPTUNE'S FOUNTAIN OR "BIANCONE" OF FLORENCE

It is not possible to admire many monumental fountains on the streets of Florence's historical center, but the Fontana del Nettuno, known also as "Biancone", is surely the most beautiful and suggestive. It is possible to admire this fountain in Piazza della Signoria, on the left side of Palazzo Vecchio. The giant in white marble (from which its nickname, Biancone) represents Neptune, the sea god, surrounded by tritons, sea divinities and satyrs.

The Fontana del Nettuno, admired also as a sculpture, depicts a mythological scene that make a great effect upon the spectator: the giant, in fact, seems to show his power and dominate the piazza coming out of the waters pulled by the force of four horses. The bronze figures on each side reproduce the Fluvial Allegories: the oceanic divinity Doride, her daughter Teti and two sea goddesses flanked by satyrs.

Desired by Cosimo I (it has been said, because of his passion for the sea), it was commissioned to Bartolomeo Ammannati and to the Giambologna. According to some historical records the figure of Neptune reproduces the face of Cosimo I, but it is not certain. The sculptural group owes its fame to the composite scenography and to the strong material contrast: the white marble of Neptune and the horses and the bronze of the Allegories.
The monument is one of the symbols of Piazza della Signoria, a rich and decorated theatre of which it is an important part. A few years ago it was victim of vandalism, but the minimal damage in no way diminished its monumental beauty.


Info:
Fontana del Nettuno
Piazza della Signoria

THE ANTIQUE TOWN DOORS OF FLORENCE

In ancient times Florence was surrounded by the Walls that enclosed and protected her. The only access ways to the city were the imposing Town Doors. Stationed in the squares of the city, they are actual bastions which, today, represent precious monuments that history has managed to hand down to us and which we offer you in a brief itinerary.

PortadiSan Miniato: It's the gate that is the furthest from the historical centre and it can be reached travelling along via San Miniato from Piazza Poggi. It dates back to the 14th century, but has been perfectly kept. The communication trench is sustained by arches.

Porta di San Niccol˛: Situated in Piazza Poggi, it was a strategic position for the defence of the city. The structure, very high, was erected in 1324 on three floors with overlapping arches, communication trenches and internal stairs. Inside one can see a fresco of the 15th century of the Madonna, Child and Saints.

Porta San Giorgio: It can be reached from Piazzale Michelangelo, travelling along via San Leonardo or from the area of Ponte Vecchio, ascending Costa San Giorgio. It was a part of the antique walls of the city. Well kept, it presents a bas-relief which features San Giorgio killing a dragon, it belongs to the 15th century and a fresco of the 15th century of the Madonna on the throne with the Child and the Saints Leonardo and Giorgio by Lorenzo Bicci.

Porta San Frediano: It is ascribed to Andrea da Pisano and was build in 1324 in the circle of the 14 century walls. It still presents the original doors covered by iron nails and a marble coat of arms of the Medici Family. It can be reached travelling along via Pisana towards the Historical Centre.

Porta Romana: Built in 1330 to become a part of the last circle of the urban walls, it's the largest and best kept gate of the city. It has maintained the original iron doors and the Medici Family coat of arms and a marble plaque. It presents the original covered communication trench and a 15th century fresco. It is located at the end of Viale del Poggio Imperiale and Viale Galilei and introduces you in via Romana towards the Historical Centre.

Porta al Prato: It is situated along viale Fratelli Rosselli and viale Belfiore. It is one of the most antique gates of the city and dates back to 1285. In 1526 it was lowered; it contains a fresco of the Madonna with the Child and Saints ascribed to Michele di Ridolfo.

Porta San Gallo: Situated on the viali (driveways) at the level of Piazza della LibertÓ, it was built in 1285. It is one of the most antique gates and it treasures a fresco which represents a Madonna with the Child and Saints ascribed to Michele di Ridolfo.

Porta alla Croce: It is located in Piazza Beccaria. Little is known of this gate. Inside you can see a fresco featuring a Madonna with the Child and the Saints ascribed to Michele di Ridolfo. On one side there's a memorial plaque for the fallen and a small fountain.

Porta de' Medici: It is situated near the Church of San Salvatore al Monte on the Piazzale Michelangelo and it treasures a coat of arms of the Medici Family. Next to it there's la Porta del Soccorso (the Gate of Rescue) about which nothing is known.

AN ITINERARY OF ABSOLUTE BEAUTY

Starting from Florence train station we head towards the Duomo. Behind which, at no. 9, is the Museo dell'Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, a museum which contains many works of art, amongst which many items which originated from the Battistero, the Duomo and the Campanile. On the first floor, by taking the first flight of stairs, you arrive at the mezzanine level in front of a hall where there is the marble statue of the PietÓ (1550-c.1553), which is the second statue of the same subject, completed years after the first statue was created for San Pietro, found in the Vatican.
From the Duomo, moving on to the Palazzo Vecchio by walking a few hundred metres along the Via dei Calzaiuoli. On the first floor in the Salone dei Cinquecento, the production line murals were executed after the failure of one of Italy's most decorative projects: Lenardo and Michelangelo were commissioned by Pier Soderini (1512) to paint frescoes on either side of the hall: to Leonardo, the Battle of Anghiari (1440) and to Michelangelo, the battle of Cascina (1364), however, these were never completed. Michelangelo's Genio della Vittoria (Victory), situated on the centre of the wall facing the entance door, was completed by between 1533 and1534 for the tomb of Pope Giulio II Della Rovere. This work of art remained in the artists workshop at via Mozza and was mentioned in a letter written by Vasari, dated 10th March 1564. It features the body of a young man, who has killed an old bearded man.
From the Palazzo Vecchio to the Galleria degli Uffizi, which is a really short journey. In room 25 of the gallery, you can find the only example of his completed easel painting held in Florence, which can assuredly be attributed to him. The Tondo Doni or the Sacred Family with San Giovannino was post-dated to 1506, the date of the findings at Rome of Laocoonte from which this artist inspired Michelangelo for the nude pose behind San Guiseppe.
In the Museo Nazionale del Bargello it is possible to become ecstatic when faced with four works of art by Michelangelo: Tondo Pitti, a work of art completed in the same year as the David and the Tondo Doni (approx. 1504); Bacco, one of the artists first roman sculptures, commissioned by the Banker Jacopo Galli (1496-97); David-Apollo, with its evocative melancholic spirit and Bruto, completed after the assassination of Lorenzino Medici, who himself was the killer of the Duke Alessandro (1536).
Nearby, is the Casa Buonarroti at Via Ghibellina, no. 70 which was built by his great nephew, Michelangelo il Giovane, in the same location of three house that the artist bought and lived in between 1516 and 1525. It is a place loaded with artistic and biographic memories in connection to the artist.
You must visit the Galleria dell'Accademia for the following works of art: Prigioni, San Matteo, David and PietÓ di Palestrina, as well as the Sagrestia Nuova of the Cappelle Medicee and the scalone and the vestibolo of the Biblioteca Laurenziana (Library). The latter are the most famous and renowned works of art held in Florence.
We strongly recommend that this descriptive map is used to deepen the actual knowledge of this great artist.

the David of Michelangelo in the Galleria dell'Accademia

Info:
MUSEO DELL'OPERA DI SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE
Piazza Duomo, 9
Tel. 055 2302885
Opening hours: Summer 9.00-18.50; Winter. 9.00-18.20
Closed Sunday
Entrance fee Lit. 5.000
Closed due to works
PALAZZO VECCHIO AND DISTRICT MONUMENTS
Piazza Signoria,
Tel. 055 2768325
Opening hours 9.00-19.00
Thursday. 9.00-14.00
Entrance fee Lit.10.000
GALLERIA DEGLI UFFIZI
Loggiato degli Uffizi, 6
Tel. 055 23885
Opening hours 8.30 - 21.00
Sat.8.30 - 24.00
Sun. 8.30 -20.00
Closed Monday
Entrance fee Lit.12.000
SAN LORENZO and Biblioteca Mediceo Laurenziana (Library)
Opening hours 9.00 - 14.00
CAPPELLE MEDICEE
Piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini
Tel. 055 2388602
Opening hours: from Tuesday to Saturday 8.30 - 17.00
Sunday 8.30 - 13.50
Closed on Monday
Open 1st, 3rd, 5th Sunday and 2nd, 4th Monday of the month
Entrance fee Lit.10.000
GALLERIA DELL'ACCADEMIA
Via Ricasoli, 60
Tel. 055 2388609
Opening hours 8.30 - 21.00
Saturday 8.30 - 24.00
Sunday 8.30 - 20.00
Closed on Monday
Entrance fee Lit.12.000
MUSEO NAZIONALE DEL BARGELLO
Via del Proconsolo, 4
Tel. 055 2388606
Opening hours 8.30 - 13.50
Closed on Monday
Open 2nd, 4th Sunday of the month
1st, 3rd, 5th Monday of the month
Entrance fee Lit. 8.000
CASA BUONARROTI
Via Ghibellina, 70
Tel. 055 241752
Opening hours : 9.30-13.30
Closed Tuesday
Entrance fee Lit. 12.000
Reductions Lit. 8.000

THE BRIDGES OF FLORENCE

In addition to being roads that connect the various parts of the city, the bridges of Florence are real works of art in the open air. All of them have a long and complicated history made up of damage due to the flooding of the Arno and all of them, with the exception of the symbol of the city, the Ponte Vecchio, were destroyed by the Germans when they retreated from the advancing Allied army in 1944. Here is their history.

Ponte Vecchio: It is the most famous bridge of Florence, the symbol of the city. Renown for the goldsmiths' shops that give it an even more romantic appearance, it was built in 1345 by Taddeo Gaddi and Neri di Fioravanti to substitute the ancient Roman bridge that had been destroyed many times by the flooding of the Arno. Its place in history was made even more secure when it was the only bridge that the Germans spared in their 1944 retreat. It is made of three arches and hosts a bust of Benvenuto Cellini by Raffaello Romanelli, and is crossed by Vasari's corridor.

Ponte alle Grazie: This bridge was built in 1957 according to a plan by Giovanni Michelucci and other important architects to replace the old Ponte di Rubaconte from 1237, last rebuilt in 1876.

Ponte di San Niccol˛: This bridge has a very interesting story. It was built in 1890 to replace the bridge named after San Ferdinando, which was from 1835. In 1939, after falling down several times, it was rebuilt in iron; the bridge we see today was built on a plan by Riccardo Morandi and completed in 1949.

Ponte da Verrazzano: This bridge was built in 1965 by C. Damerini, L. Savioli and V. Scalesse and is the newest bridge across the Arno; it connects the southern part of the city.

Ponte di Santa Trinita: In its long and complex history, this bridge has seen many collapses due to flooding of the Arno. The wood original was built in 1252. It was later replaced by one in stone, which collapsed in 1333. It was then rebuilt by Taddeo Gaddi, but this bridge too collapsed in 1557. Cosimo I ordered Ammannati to plan a new bridge; at the four corners are statues of the seasons put into place in 1628. It was destroyed by the Germans in 1944 and reconstructed in 1952 by R. Gizdulich.

Ponte alla Carraia: The 1218 original was destroyed by a flood in 1274 and was rebuilt, but it collapsed again in 1304 (according to legend, due to the weight of a crowd that was watching a spectacle). Its replacement was also destroyed in 1333 and again in 1557. Mommissioned by Cosimo I, a new bridge was built by Ammannati which lasted until the German retreat. Today's bridge is from 1948 on a design by E. Fagiuoli.

Ponte alla Vittoria: The original was called Ponte San Leopoldo and was ordered by Grandduke Leopold. Ruined in 1925, it was replaced by another which was destroyed by the Germans in 1944. Today's Ponte alla Vittoria is from 1946.

DOMENICO BIGORDI CALLED IL GHIRLANDAIO

Domenico Bigordi (1449-94), called the Ghirlandaio because his father, goldsmith, made ghirlande, or decorative jewelry pieces, for the noble women of Florence. He became the preferred painter of the families closely connected to the Medici and the characteristics of his painting can be reassumed in is sensitive movements like those of Flemish painting and those of classic models. Let's start our itinerary to discover his masterpieces.

This itinerary begins from the Church of Santa Maria Novella, then continues with the Church of Ognissanti and with Santa Trinita.
It, therefore, ends with the Museum of Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery, the Museum of San Marco and the Gallery of the Spedale degli Innocenti.

To complete the discovery of the works by Domenico Ghirlandaio you must move out into the surroundings of Florence to the Church of Sant'Andrea at San Donnino (bus 35) and the Church of Sant'Andrea at Cercina (bus 43).

 

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Let's cut a track: (Where do you want to go)
Start point (To the first page-Index)
Introduction (To the Introduction)
Who am I (Presentation)
The Chianti Region (Secret and famous treasure)
Excursions (My excursions on the land)
Accomodations (Where you can stay)