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Explore Florence and its region

To discover Florence, one of the cities that everyone wants to visit at least once in their lifetime, a city beloved and sung by the greatest poets in the world and long the mecca of intellectuals, artists, travellers, and adventurers.
Pleasant itineraries winding through the streets, squares, churches, and museums of the historical centre of Florence, historical memories, legend, and atmospheres that for centuries have enchanted those who visit this marvellous land of light and art.

In a continuous succession of green and fertile hills, the territory is incredibly varied and rich in colours. Florence is a city situated on the plain of the Arno, but wedged between the hills that made it famous, surrounded by towns, villages, and landscapes suspended between medieval atmospheres and the splendours of the Renaissance.

                                            Visit Florence in 24 hours

0003-al_panorama24 hours in Florence: the city is worth rather more, but you can at least get some idea of it.
With a single day at your disposal you will want to see the chief monuments and walk around the “heart” of the city centre. You start with Piazza del Duomo, facing the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, begun by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296 but only in 1436 crowned with the masterpiece of Filippo Brunelleschi. His Cupola (dome) is the symbol of Florence, a daring and majestic structure from the top of which you will get a wonderful panoramic view of the city, and also of the interior of the cathedral.
Beside the façade stands another giant, Giotto’s campanile (bell tower), slender and many-coloured, also affording a fine view if the city. Opposite the façade of the Duomo is the more ancient Baptistery of St John, with its famous bronze doors by Ghiberti and Andrea Pisano.
If you follow the animated Via dei Calzaiuoli you soon reach Piazza della Signoria, the political heart of Florence. Here rises the late 13th-century Palazzo della Signoria or Palazzo Vecchio, which is the seat of the Commune of Florence as well as being a museum. Entering the inner courtyard you will notice the fountain of the putto by Verrochio and frescoes by Vasari. Flanking the piazza is the 14th-century Loggia dei Lanzi, in which there are such world-renowned statues as Benvenuto Cellini’s Perseus and the Rape of the Sabines by Giambologna.
Adjoining Palazzo Vecchio is the imposing pile of the Uffizi, designed by Vasari in the 16th century as the seat of the Chancellery of the ruling Medici family, and now one of the most important museums in the world. The Gallery houses paintings ranging from the primitives (Cimabue, Giotto) to the Mannerist period, and is a complete compendium of Renaissance painting including works by Botticelli, Filippo Lippi, Paolo Uccello, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. A visit to the Gallery requires several hours, so if you do not have the time continue on foot towards the nearby Ponte Vecchio. One of the symbols of the city, the bridge has survived the ravages of war and the flooding of the Arno, and ever since 1500 has been home to famous goldsmiths’ shops. 24_ore-02After crossing the bridge you are in “Oltrarno”, beyond the Arno, a very important matter in Florence. Of the four historical quarters of Florence, three (San Giovanni, Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce, are on “this” side of the Arno, and only one, Santo Spirito, on the other. The road straight ahead from the Ponte Vecchio brings you to Piazza Pitti, dominated by the majestic façade of Palazzo Pitti. Of 15th-century origin, it was bought by Eleonora, wife of Cosimo I, and became the new archducal palace of the Medici, who had previously resided in Palazzo della Signoria. It was enlarged and enhanced with a marvellous park, the Boboli Gardens. Palazzo Pitti is the seat of numerous museums, and the garden itself is one of them. If you still have time you should make for Piazza Santa Spirito: you will enjoy the lively atmosphere of this part of the city. It is home to numerous crafts, and has a genuine spirit of its own. Piazza Santo Spirito itself, one of the few city squares with trees in it, is surrounded by fine palaces in addition to the church, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in 1444. Besides the linear purity of its architecture, the building contains important works o

                                            Visit Florence in 48 hours

0022-al_chiesa_di_santa_maria_novellaIf you have two days to visit Florence you can take in a larger area. You can follow this route even in one day if you want to see something different, or if you have already spent a little time in the city.
Not far from the train station of Santa Maria Novella, a masterpiece of 20th-century rationalist architecture, stands the basilica after which it is named. Santa Maria Novella is the 13th-century church of the Dominican Order, with a fine façade in green and white marble. The Gothic interior is very beautiful, with numerous frescoes and masterpieces of Renaissance art. Attached to it is the museum of the same name. Through narrow, picturesque alleys you reach Via Tornabuoni, the most fashionable shopping street in Florence, onto which backs the great Palazzo Strozzi. Commissioned from Benedetto da Maiano by Filippo Strozzi, it is one of the outstanding Renaissance buildings in the city. Its many fine rooms play host to a succession of art exhibitions, while the ample courtyard of the Palace is always open. Going on our way to Piazza della Repubblica we find ourselves in what was the heart of Florence in Roman times, though the present piazza is the result of 19th-century town planning. Returning to Piazza del Duomo and crossing it, straight ahead in Via Martelli you will soon find on your left another great Renaissance building, Palazzo Medici Riccardi. Cosimo “il Vecchio” de’ Medici commissioned it from Michelozzo in the mid-15th century. In fact the Medici left their mark on this whole area of the city. This Palazzo, which is the seat of the Province of Florence, is also a museum with splendidly decorated rooms and the wonderful Chapel frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli. If you have no time for a visit you should at least take a look at the courtyard. 48_ore-02Two places with close ties to this Palace are the nearby church of San Lorenzo and the Monastery of San Marco. San Lorenzo was the family church of the Medici family. In its present form it was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, and is a superlatively pure example of Renaissance architecture. The façade has remained unfinished, while the interior contains numerous masterpieces of the art of painting. The church is surrounded by other notable places, such as the Biblioteca Mediceo Laurenziana and the Medici Chapels, including the Old Sacristy, another masterpiece by Michelangelo. The whole area is enlivened by day with a colourful market of clothing and accessories, which is very popular with tourists.
Returning to Palazzo Medici and continuing along Via Cavour you reach Piazza San Marco, one side of which is occupied by the church and monastery of San Marco. The monastery (of the Dominicans of Fiesole) was an active intellectual centre in the city, with Cosimo il Vecchio investing generously in its enlargement and embellishment. The Museum housed in the monastery is remarkable for the Renaissance frescoes of Beato Angelico, while the Library is a masterwork of Michelozzo.
Just off Piazza San Marco is the Galleria dell’Accademia, one of the most frequented of Florentine museums because it contains Michelangelo’s celebrated David. Yet the museum also houses other interesting sculptures by the same artist and a fine range of Tuscan paintings from the 13th to the 16th century. Continuing on our way we come to the Piazza Santissima Annuziata, surrounded by building with porticos, the most important being the Spedale degli Innocenti, the work of Filippo Brunelleschi. Originally intended for the acceptance and care of abandoned children, as early as 1440 it contained a museum and has many rooms of great artistic interest. The church of the Santissima Annunziata was built in the mid 13th century for the Servite Order; the interior has frescoes by Andrea del Sarto, Franciabigio, Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino.
48_ore-03To the left of the church, at the corner of Via Capponi, is the entrance to the Museo Archeologico, with a vastly important collection of Etruscan, Roman and above all Egyptian findings. Your visit to the museum takes you also into the beautiful garden, in which Etruscan tombs have been reconstructed.







Visit Florence in 72 hours opa

If you are in Florence for several days, or have been here before, we offer some suggestions for learning even more,
At the back end of Piazza del Duomo you will find the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. This contains all the works brought from the cathedral itself, such as parts of the original façade, or the sculptures done for it, including Donatello’s wooden Magdalene and Michelangelo’s Pietà.
Following Via del Proconsolo you come to Palazzo Nonfinito, which as its name implies is an unfinished work, designed by Buontalenti. It houses the interesting Anthropology section of the Museo di Storia Naturale. A little further on is the 13th-century Palazzo del Bargello, seat of the “Capitano del Popolo” (commander of the militia), a building of stern aspect now a National Museum containing some of the most important sculpture of the Italian Renaissance. Here you find Donatello and Ghiberti, Michelangelo, Cellini and Giambologna. Nearby is Piazza San Firenze, with the Baroque building at present (though not for long) the seat of the Law-courts, after which through narrow alleys that follow the perimeter of a Roman amphitheatre you emerge into the grandiose space of Piazza Santa Croce. 72_ore-02You really should find time to visit this Franciscan basilica, built in the 13th and 14th centuries. The façade is 19th century, but the Gothic interior is memorable for Giotto’s frescoes and for the tombs of some of the chief glories of Italy, including Ugo Foscolo, Galileo, Michelangelo and Rossini. In addition to the church you might visit the Museo dell’Opera, with Brunelleschi’s lovely Pazzi Chapel.
Heading straight for the Arno by way of Via de’ Benci, on your left you will find the Renaissance Palazzo Horne, seat of the museum of this name, in which paintings and furniture recreate the atmosphere of a renaissance home. Crossing the river by Ponte delle Grazie you find the Museo Bardini, the workshop home of an antiquarian who collected numerous works of art. A climb up the steep, picturesque Costa Scarpuccia and Costa San Giorgio brings you to one of the most spectacular places in Florence, the Forte Belvedere. Built to designs by Buontalenti in the last decade of the 16th century, it is a fortified villa which dominates the city, affording one of the finest views over Florence. The fort houses the Della Ragione collection of 20th-century paintings.
72_ore-03A pleasant walk in the shade of the trees of the Viale dei Colli takes you to the Romanesque basilica of San Miniato al Monte. The green and white marble façade is typically Florentine, and the geometric patterns are repeated in the light and airy interior. The forecourt of the church also provides a fine view, as does the nearby Piazzale Michelangelo, a favourite spot with tourists.
You are now overlooking the quarter known as Oltrarno, and your experience of this part of the city should be completed by a visit to Santa Maria del Carmine, where the Cappella Brancacci contains the famous frescoes by Masaccio, Masolino and Filippino Lippi.




                                            Around Florence

1794d-mpVery near the city but with a character all of its own is Fiesole, high on the hilloverlooking Florence and with a wonderful panoramic view.
Unlike Florence, Fiesole was founded by the Etruscans, and preserves both Etruscan and Roman remains in its huge Archaeological Area. Also of great historical interest are the Romanesque cathedral of San Romolo, with its typical tower-shaped campanile, the Palazzo Vescovile (Bishops’ Palace) founded in the 11th century and reconstructed in the 17th, and the very ancient church of Santa Maria Primerana, built on Etruscan foundations.
A classic walk to take is the one to the ancient acropolis, en route for which you will find the basilica of Sant’Alessandro, which now houses exhibitions, together with its church and monastery, and the Missionary Museum of San Francesco. The natural beauty of its surroundings make Fiesole the starting point for excursions on foot towards Monte Ceceri or the Caldine hills.certosa_del_galluzzo

To the south of the historic centre, near the town of Galluzzo, you find the Certosa (Charterhouse). Of 14th-century origin, with its stern, fortress-like appearance, the Certosa is to this day the seat of the Cistercian Order. Your visit includes the chief rooms of the monastery and the Pinacoteca (picture gallery), containing important works realized over the centuries.

Also not to be missed are the Medici villas lying between Florence and Sesto Fiorentino, Villa La Petraia and Villa di Castello. Villa La Petraia is dominated by a great tower and surrounded by a terraced Italian garden. Behind the villa is a large park in villa_la_petraiathe Romantic style, an extension dating from the 19th century. During the period when Florence was the capital of Italy this villa was also the residence of the Savoias. A pleasant walk then brings you to Villa di Castello, which has a fine Italian garden with an abundance of citrus trees and rare plants. This garden is also worth a visit on account of the “Grotta degli animali” with its playful fountains, a real treasure dating from the Medici period. The imposing villa itself is the seat of the renowned Accademia della Crusca.


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