Florence Renaissance

3 days in Florence, Italy

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by @travaaguides


21st August 2018
Here is a guide to 3 days of visiting the main monuments of Florence. See the Cathedral, the Uffizi Gallery (museum), the Gallery of the Academy (with the original statue of David by Michelangelo), the Old Bridge, Santa Maria Novella church, Piazza della Signoria with the Town Hall (the heart of the medieval city), Pitti Palace, the Bargello Museum, the splendid cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto's bell tower and the baptistery, and many more beautiful places of art and treasures of the Italian renaissance!
Palazzo Vecchio
The day begins in Piazza della Signoria. In the morning you can visit the museum of Palazzo Vecchio, one of the city's symbols. Today, in addition to being a town hall with the office of the Mayor and the various municipal counters, it is largely used as a museum that includes magnificent halls where valuable works of art and great historical value are exhibited.
Salone dei Cinquecento
Inside, there is the famous Salone dei Cinquecento (Fivehundred Hall), an impressive space with a length of 54 meters and a width of 23. On the walls you can see great frescoes that describe the victorious battles of Florence against Pisa and Siena. The beautiful ceiling, with 39 panels painted by Vasari and his students, tells the most significant episodes of Cosimo I de 'Medici's life.
Church and Museum of Orsanmichele
Then, continuing towards Via Calzaiuoli, you can see the church of Orsanmichele. This church is one of the most original in the whole city of Florence. It is located opposite the Palazzo dell'Arte della Lana, not far from both Palazzo Vecchio and the cathedral of Santa Maria in Fiore. The most important element of the Orsanmichele church is the fourteen tabernacles that open onto the exterior facades. The tabernacles were decorated between the fifteenth and sixteenth century and each one houses a statue depicting the patron saint of the corporation. Within the structure, with a rectangular plan, striking the gaze are the stained-glass windows that enrich some trifore and represent the stories and miracles of the Virgin.
Via dei Calzaiuoli
Walking along Via Calzaiuoli you will arrive in Piazza del Duomo. Here you can not miss the cathedral and the splendid baptistery.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
The construction of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (by Brunelleschi), like for most churches of such size, has lasted several centuries, and is one of the largest in Europe. Begun in 1296, the cathedral was consecrated in 1436. Particular attention is paid to the stained-glass windows of the cathedral all designed by genes of art such as Donatello, Ghiberti, Andrea del Castagno, Paolo Uccello.
Giotto's Bell Tower
The bell tower by the famous Giotto is the bell tower of the cathedral and its construction is consistent with the church. If you wish, go up to Giotto's bell tower or the cathedral dome to enjoy a breathtaking view across the city.
The Baptistery of St. John
The Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery of St. John) is one of the many architectural wonders in Florence. The architectural work is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, San Giovanni Battista, and is located in front of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. One of the greatest peculiarities of the baptistery is its somewhat original 8-sided form. The Baptistery of Florence is especially famous for its 3 bronze doors, of immense historical and artistic value: the Porta Sud by Andrea Pisano, which is the oldest one (1330), depicts the life of John the Baptist through 28 set-ups; The Porta Nord by Lorenzo Ghiberti (1401), depicts the life and passion of Christ, the four evangelists and the four "fathers of the church"; The Porta Est, always by Lorenzo Ghiberti (1424) depicting some Scenes from the Old Testament. The entrance to the cathedral is free, while the baptistery is at a charge, but is worth seeing it.
Uffizi Gallery
In the afternoon you can spend 3-4 hours to visit the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most important and beautiful museums in Italy. The Uffizi is one of the most prestigious art galleries in Italy and around the world, with a wealth of invaluable and enormous works of art. In addition to the exhibited works, hundreds of other works are preserved in the archives of the museum. The building was completed and transformed in 1574 by Duke Francesco I de 'Medici in a private art gallery. To see, divided into over 45 halls, many works that, starting from 1200, arrive to the contemporary period. Leonardo da Vinci's genius is also represented here in the room nr. 15 where you can admires his splendid Annunciation. About Michelangelo, in room nr. 25 we find some of his works including the famous Tondo Doni. The presence of some of the most famous names in the history of Italian art makes Uffizi one of the most visited museums in Italy and beyond.
Ponte Vecchio
After visiting the museum, go towards the Arno river and enjoy the view over Ponte Vecchio.
Vasari Corridor
Above Ponte Vecchio you can see a part of the beautiful Vasari Corridor. This corridor, built in 1565 by Giorgio Vasari, just goes over the goldsmith shops that are currently on the sides of the bridge. The Vasari corridor is an elevated route that connects two of the most important Florentine buildings, Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti. The time taken by the great architect Giorgio Vasari - from which he takes the name - to have it is miraculous: in only five months it was possible to connect those two centers of power with a corridor of nearly one kilometer. The path of the Vasaria corridor begins at Palazzo Vecchio and arrives at the Uffizi by crossing a raised bridge of Via della Ninna; then follow the path of the galleries located on the top floor, climb out of the Uffizi with a bow, cross the Lungarno degli Archibusieri and then turn over Ponte Vecchio, crossing the river Arno. One of the most beautiful panoramas of Florence is definitely what you can enjoy from the Vasari corridor in the section on the Ponte Vecchio.
Piazza San Marco
The second day starts at Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) and from here you can go to the Accademia Gallery to admire Michelangelo's David and beyond.
San Marco Museum
Visit the San Marco Museum, which is next to the church; here you can admire the beautiful frescoes by Beato Angelico.
Accademia Gallery
The Accademia Gallery is one of the most visited museums in Florence, thanks to the most famous Michelangelo sculpture, David, which in 1873 was moved from the Piazza della Signoria to the Gallery, in order to preserve it. In Piazza della Signoria, however, there is an exact copy of the famous opera. The gallery is also well-known for the presence of other sculptures by Michelangelo, known all over the world: the four Prigioni and San Matteo
Opificio delle Pietre Dure
Close to the Academy you will find the Opificio delle Pietre Dure (a small precious museum, perhaps less well-known than others, but absolutely to see!). This museum is inserted in the context of an institute that operates under the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, in the field of restoration and preservation of works of art. The Opificio with its peculiarity of the work of hard stones dates back to 1588, the year it was founded by the will of Grand Duke Ferdinando I de 'Medici. Its activity continues in the present with the special task of restoring and preserving national architectural, artistic and archaeological goods. The workshops of the Opificio are the point of reference for the restorers coming from all over the world. It is a center of great specialization in the restoration sector that manages to combine tradition and new technologies in a wise way. In addition, it is home to a School of Higher Education and Study which, started in 1978, collects numerous Italian and foreign students.
Mercato di San Lorenzo
After visiting these museums, take a break, staying in San Lorenzo area, perhaps among the market stalls in San Lorenzo.
Riccardi Medici Palace
In the afternoon you reach Piazza San Lorenzo where you will visit Palazzo Medici Riccardi with the small chapel decorated by Benozzo Gozzoli.
Cappelle Medicee
Then, continue to San Lorenzo and visit the Medicean Chapels, officially called "Museum of the Medici Chapels", which form part of the famous Basilica of San Lorenzo; in particular they are found after the apse and are the burial site of many members of the Medici family who had always considered this church as their parish.
Santa Maria Novella
If you still have the strength for another museum, walk to the majestic Santa Maria Novella church and stay in the area for dinner and enjoy the evening. The Santa Maria Novella church is located in the same square near the train station bearing its name. The church, built between the 13th and the 14th centuries by Fra Jacopo Talenti (also the bell tower), is a superb example of an Italian gothic whose marble façade is dark white and dark green
Museo Casa di Dante
The family of Dante Alighieri lived in the historic center of Florence, between the church of San Martino and the Piazza dei Donati. Since the original building had been lost, the City of Florence had restored some medieval houses by architect Giuseppe Castellucci in 1911, initially for office use. Since 1950, the Fiorentina Union worked to create a museum dedicated to Dante Alighieri, opening it in May 1965. The Museum is arranged on three floors, along a path that aims to understand the historical and social context in which the Divine Comedy was made.
Cappella Brancacci
Dedicate the third day of your vacation to the visit of the Oltrarno, on the left bank of the River Arno. Start with the Brancacci Chapel and its wonderful frescoes by Masaccio.
Pitti Palace
Immediately after you can visit Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Garden. Palazzo Pitti has 5 different museums inside, plus Boboli Garden: you can not visit them all at once. Decide what you like and see it calmly, spending some time in the garden to relax after 2 intense days of tour. If you are planning to visit part of Palazzo Pitti then you can spend here the rest of the day. Palazzo Pitti, an unmistakable masterpiece of the Florentine Renaissance, as well as the beauties more closely linked to its structure (such as the Boboli Garden, the Cave of Moses, the Artichoke Fountain, the Teatro Rondò di Bacco, the Fonte del Leone and the splendid Piazza dei Pitti) has an incomparable museums location. In fact, there are many exhibitions within Palazzo Pitti, and each of them offers extraordinary paths among a myriad of masterpieces of all ages: the Monumental Apartments, the Palatine Gallery, the Costume Gallery, the Granduchi Gallery, the Silver Museum, the Museum Porcelain and Carriage Museum. The Monumental Apartments consist of fourteen rooms that were part of the Medici family residence. The Palatine Gallery, mainly centered on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, is the Granduchi Gallery and is one of the most important art galleries in Italy.
Galleria D'Arte Moderna
The Gallery of Modern Art is home to some of the masterpieces of Italian painting and sculpture between the end of the eighteenth and twentieth centuries.
Galleria del Costume
In the Costume Gallery there is a collection of over six thousand pieces: antique clothes, theater costumes and cinema, accessories and so on. Here you can trace a true story of Italian fashion.
The Boboli Gardens
Boboli gardens is the park on the back of Palazzo Pitti, the residence of the Medici family. It is a large green space that extends over 45,000 square meters and is a wonderful example of an Italian garden for which the Florentines can enjoy free of charge (they must show an identity document to attest the residence), while the entrance of the tourists are on payment.
Forte di Belvedere
The Giardini, in which you must "climb" Boboli hill in order to reach the Forte di Belvedere, were born in the Renaissance era when the Medici bought the palace from the Pitti family; During the course of the centuries new portions and statues, buildings, water lilies, fountains and ponds were added to create the amazing view you see today.
San Miniato Church
Once you have finished the tour of the museums, go back to Ponte Vecchio but instead to cross it turn right and follow Via dei Bardi to San Niccolò street. You will arrive at the door of San Miniato church along the ancient walls (with some remains). The Church of San Miniato at the Mount of Florence is located in the highest part of the city, overlooking it, and is one of the many examples of Romanesque style in Tuscany. Particular is also the church bell tower, restored after the damage suffered in 1499 during some works. Beside the Church there is also the Monastery, which is worth visiting for its beauty and its peculiarities. Just outside the Church of San Miniato, there is also the Monumental Cemetery.
Piazzale Michelangelo
Finally, do not forget to go on the hill over Florence to see a wonderful view over the city from the Michelangelo's Balcony. From Piazzale Michelangelo there is in fact the most beautiful sight of Florence!
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