Florence Things to Do Tips by paoseo
Florence Things to Do: 2,099 reviews and 3,655 photos
For centuries this building was the political heart of Florence. It was founded in 1299 as headquarter of Priori delle Arti.The facade, so austere and smart dates back to that period, with its characteristic battlemented tower based on the facade. In XVth century it was seat of Signoria (that gave this name to the building), in 1540, during he period of Cosimo I of Medici it was the house of the gran-ducal family. Vasari changed it in luxurious palace with the beauty of the Salone dei Cinquecento, the precious cabinet of Francesco I and with frescos of Eleonora's room and Elements' room.
The first pic and the last 2 were taken in the "Salone of 500" that is the biggest and the most important of Old Palace. Its measures:lenghts, 54 metres;width,23; height, 18 metres. It was built in 1494 by Simone del Pollaiolo, aka the Cronaca, on commission of Girolamo Savonarola. The monk from Ferrara in that period was the Prince of Florence, and created a Commitee of 500 or Maggior Consiglio, formed by 500 citizens, in order to spread the decisional power among citizens (so wasn't easy for only one holding the power). The Hall has a lacunar ceiling (see pic) and is very spartan, without any decorations. With Cosimo I, the Hall wasn't thought as the place where the power of Republic is celebrated but as the place where the duke welcomed ambassadors and citizens. Vasari made the Hall shorter and higher of about 7 metres.
On walls there are 6 scenes of Cosimo's triumphs above Pisa and Siena and also six statues representing "The labours of Hercules" (see first pic). On the wall at south there is the famous"Il genio della Vittoria" (1533-1534) that Michelangelo did for the grave of pope Giulio II.
Address: Signoria Square
Directions: It is open: during the week:9am-7pm; on Thursdays and Holidays:9am-2pm;
Tickets:full ticket € 6,00; with discount : € 4,50
Family (4 people ) € 14,00
Family (5 people )€ 16,00
Phone: 055 2768465
It's impossible not to walk on Ponte Vecchio and appreciate the view of the river Arno kissed by the sun!And also to enjoy all sellers with their stuff displayed along the bridge.
It's between Lungarno Acciaoli and Via Guicciardini and it's the oldest bridge which crosses the Arno at its widest point. It dates back to Roman times(when it was made of wood) and has often been re-built.
After the flooding of 1333 it was re-constructed with a double row of shops(this time in stone), passing from a defencive type of architecture to the actual public one. In 1565 the east-facing Vasariano Corridor above the shops was built and the back-shops were added in the seventeenth century giving the bridge its actual structure.
The bridge, that consists of three segmental arches, has always hosted shops and merchants (legend says this was originally due to a tax exemption), which displayed their goods on tables after authorisation of the Bargello (a sort of a lord mayor, a magistrate and a police authority). It's said that the economic concept of bankruptcy originated here: when a merchant could not pay his debts, the table on which he sold his wares (the "banco") was physically broken ("rotto") by soldiers, and this practice was called "bancorotto" (broken table; possibly it can come from "banca rotta" which means "broken bank"). Not having a table anymore, the merchant was not able to sell anything.
In order to connect the Palazzo Vecchio (Florence's town hall) with the Palazzo Pitti, in 1565 Cosimo I de Medici had Giorgio Vasari build the famous "Vasari corridor" above it. To enforce the prestige of the bridge, in 1593 he prohibited butchers from selling there; their place was immediately taken by gold merchants.
During World War II, the Ponte Vecchio was not destroyed by Germans during their retreat of August 4, 1944, unlike all other bridges in Florence. This was allegedly because of an express order by Hitler. Access to Ponte Vecchio was, however, obstructed by the destruction of the buildings at both ends.
Address: Next to Uffizi
From the crypt with the tumbs of some of Medici's family a stairs takes you to the Cappella dei Principi, the Medici's family gran dukes' mausoleum. The first project was changed by Buontalenti. The Chapel is a vast octagonal room all covered with dark marbles and semiprecious stones.
All around, on the walls there are the armorial bearings of sixteen tuscan cities.
Lean against walls there are the six monumental sarcophagus of gran dukes Ferdinando II, Cosimo II, Ferdinando I, Cosimo I, Francesco I e Cosimo III.
It's a pity that the view of this room is partially covered by tents for many restorations that will last ahead.
A corridor links the Chapel to the New Sacresty, called so to destinguish it from the Brunelleschi's Sacristy.
Michelangelo started building it in the 1521, and in the 1524 he had already made the vault, but works slowed down cause the expultion of the Family in 1527 and the siege of Florence.
With the Michelangelo departure from Florence in 1534 the work remained unfinished:Michelangelo finished only Lorenzo's Sepulchre, duke of Urbino,and the one of Giuliano of Nemours.
On its Sepulchre, the statue of Giuliano is portraied with cuirass, as a man of action. At his feet there are the 2 allegories of Night and Day. The Night, is surrounded by symbols of the dark and the sleep and is smoother than the other one that was left unfinished on purpose.
In front of this Sepulchre there is the one of Lorenzo of Urbino. His figure is shown in a thoughtful position, in contraposition of the other one. At his feet there are the Dawn and the Dusk. The first one is portraied as she has just awoken up with a bitter expression on her face, with all the anxiety of facing a new day; the other one is portraied as left in a painful inertia.All 4 allegories were thought as imagines of the destructive strenght of the time.
Since it's not allowed taking picture these 2 pics are not mine but I borrowed from a web site.
Address: Piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini
Directions: It's on the back of the Basilica of San Lorenzo.If you look the main facade, walk along the church on the right till the end of the building. there you'll find the entrance
It's always open 8.15am-1.50pm
The ticket is about 6,00 euro
Phone: 055 294883
S.Lorenzo contains masterpieces by Donatello, including the sarcophagus of the Martelli family, and the two bronze pulpits. The sarcophagus, in the form of a wickerwork basket, was commissioned by Roberto Martelli around 1464, for the family chapel located between the left transept and the nave.The arches were mounted on columns and set up on either side of the nave, near the transept, where they are still to be seen. The sculptures forming the left-hand pulpit represent scenes from the Passion and Death of Christ. The right-hand pulpit shows in a single scene, divided by symbolic doorways, the Descent into Hell, the Resurrection and the Ascension. The cycle is completed by individual panels showing the Maries at the Tomb and the Martyrdom of St Laurence. Among the numerous paintings that adorn the altars and chapels of the church, tempering with their bright colors the austere whites and greys of the architecture, we notice unusual iconographical features in the Annunciation in the Martelli chapel, painted by Filippo Lippi around 1420. The small square-planned building, surmounted by a hemispherical dome, in a synthetic and effective expression of the early-renaissance aesthetic. It has a scarsella or miniature apse, also squarred-planned and vaulted. It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and finished in 1428. The sculptural decoration was, for the most part, executed by Donatello between 1428 and 1432. The string-course cornice has a frieze with alternating cherubim and seraphim of polychrome terracotta in red, blue and gold. The roundels in the sprandels of the cupola have scenes from the Life of St John the Evangelist, done in a vey low relief, in stucco painted in pale tones of cream, brick-red and blue. Donatello completed the decoration above the string-course cornice with four roundels placed in the lunettes, showing the Four Evangelists, also in polychrome stucco, but in more traditional style with brighter colors and higher relief.
The Basilica di San Lorenzo (Basilica of St Lawrence) is one of the largest churches of Florence situated at the centre of the city’s main market district. It was consecrated in 393 and is one of the many churches that claims to be the oldest in Florence. For three hundred years it was the city's cathedral before eventually losing the status to Santa Reparata. It was also the parish church of the Medici family. In 1419, Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici offered to finance a new church to replace the Romanesque building. Brunelleschi was commissioned to design it. The Medicis gave large amounts of money, but to this day nobody has financed a façade. Pope Leo X, a member of the Medici family, had given Michelangelo the commission to design a facade in white Carrara marble in 1518. He made a wooden model, that shows how he adjusted the classical proportions of the facade, drawn to scale after the ideal proportions of the human body, to the greater height of the nave . The campanile dates from 1740.
The Renaissance interior is huge, cool and airy and is lined with chapels. Opening off the north transept is the Old Sacristy, the oldest part of the present church, which contains the tombs of several members of the Medici family. It was the only part of the church completed in Brunelleschi's lifetime. Opposite it in the south transept is the New Sacristy begun in 1520 by Michelangelo, who also designed the Medici tombs within.
We can however recognise at San Lorenzo all the elements of renaissance architecture, that are here employed for the first time in a large-scale religious building. We enter an architectural space conceived in the modern manner, with total legibility of construction.
The legibility of the architectural space, based on the alternation of grey and white, the mathematical and geometrical proportions between the various portions of the building, and the diffused lighting which creates no areas of deep shadow, confer on the architectural space of S. Lorenzo and exceptional harmonious beauty.
Address: Piazza San Lorenzo
Directions: It is next the main market
It is open 10am-5.30pm; during the church cerimonies it's not allowed to visit the church
Ticket: 2,50 euro
This second pair of doors were so good that the Florentines decided to commission Ghiberti, now at the height of his career, with the execution of yet another set of doors to place at the north entrance. These doors took 27 years to complete (1425-1452), but the result was so outstanding (even Michelangelo said that they were "worthy of Paradise"), that they were hung on the east side, in the place of honour, and Ghiberti's first set of doors was moved to the north entrance (where they can still be seen today).
Their structure is completely different: the panels are reduced to 10, five to each door, and are surrounded by a continuous sequence of small heads, floral motifs and niches which, in their turn, contain small statues of Prophets and Sybils.
Ghiberti followed it by inserting more than one episode in each panel, using daring but coherent perspective solutions. Its secret lies in the perspective, by that time a law of expression, evoking skies, distant woodlands, buildings, groups of figures and personalities that project sharply outwards and are sculpted in what is almost high relief. The Doors of Paradise thus become Ghiberti's masterpiece and unified all his skill as a goldsmith and sculptor, for the gold highlights he used created wonderful perspective and pictorial effects, giving it a precious finish that was also an integral part of the composition.
The 3 doors to the Baptistery open onto the east, north and southern sides of the square. The main one is placed on the eastern side, facing the Cathedral, with the the apse and the altar in the interior of San Giovanni behind it.
Andrea Pisano, was the first artist to work here and only took seven years (1330-1336) to complete his pair of doors. Andrea divided the two doors into 28 compartments or panels (14 to each door), surrounded by a frame of rosettes and lions' heads. The interior of panels, framed with the typical Gothic "polylobate" surround, contains 20 episodes from the life of the Baptist, and 8 figures of Virtues in the lower part. Each composition is well constructed, with a close relationship between figures and background, while the rythm of the narrative is constant and contained. This is therefore a "classical" and not a Gothic vision of the narrative.
The new doors remained here until 1401 when was announced a competition for a second pair of doors; these were again for the east side, replacing the previous ones, which were to be moved to the south side, where they can still be seen today (the present entrance into the Baptistery). The subject was the Sacrifice of Isaac. The competition was won by Ghiberti, whose work was still partly Gothic in style and therefore easier to understand.The contract for the execution of the work was signed on November 1403 but the doors were to take Ghiberti and his workshop twenty years to complete: they were finally hung in the east entrance in 1424, replacing the doors by Andrea Pisano. The structure of the door was like the earlier one: 28 panels surrounded by the usual "polylobate" Gothic frame which was placed inside a square decorated with plant motifs. The only variation was that the lions' heads were substituted by those of the Prophets. The small head in the centre of the left-hand door portrays Ghiberti himself. 20 panels illustrate scenes from the life of Christ, while the remaining 8 contain the Evangelists and the Fathers of the Church.
The origins of the temple dedicated to St. John the Baptist, later patron saint of the city, are still uncertain, even if many sources referred it to Roman times . Several sarcophagi have in fact been found in this area, today in the Museum of the Opera del Duomo, as was the famous statue of Mars, which mediaeval chronacles tell us stood at the entrance to Ponte Vecchio. Excavations carried out in this century have in fact discovered remains of Roman constructions underneath the Baptistery and the Cathedral, built in the north-eastern area of the first ring of walls. The foundations of the first Baptistery of San Giovanni, dated from 4th-5th century circa, was certainly built on top of these ancient buildings. Its octagonal shape, the two lower orders, the attic and the springer of the cupola (in other words its basic architectural structure), date from the early Christian construction, which was possibly altered or completed in the early decades of the 7th century during the Longobard rule.
The eight segments of the cupola had certainly been completed by then as well as the semicircular apse which was added on the west side to contain the altar: the three doors opened on the other three sides. The external revestment of the Baptistery was started also in this period (mid 12th century) : this masterpiece of white Carrara and green Prato marble inlay, geometrically designed in a harmonious classical style to cover the original sandstone, already shows signs of the search for spatial delimitation that was to lead to the perspective of the Renaissance. The final result was to become a prototype for Romanesque architecture in the city and used as a model by Leon Battista Alberti when he started work on the completion of the facade of Santa Maria Novella in 1470. The eight corner ribs decorated with strong green and white stripes (originally in grey stone) were instead more typical of the Romanesque style in use at Lucca, Pisa and Pistoia. I'll speak about the doors in another tip.
Address: Piazza San Giovanni
Directions: It is in front of Duomo
Facade of Duomo
The first episcopal church of Florence was the basilica of Saint Lawrence 'outside the walls', consecrated by Saint Ambrose of Milan in 394. The next one was the Basilica of Santa Reparata, Martyr, built in the 5th or 6th century. In 1412 the new name of Santa Maria del Fiore (Our Lady of the Flower, or 'of Florence') was officially assigned to the magnificent church that by then had arisen on the remains of the earlier basilica.Santa Maria del Fiore was finally consecrated on 1436, by Pope Eugenius IV.
In the last decades of the 13th century, the Florentine government decided to build a new cathedral, because the old duomo, dedicated to Santa Reparata, next to the now "lovely" Saint John's seemed "very crude". Thus the dream of an enormous church, far bigger than the cathedrals of Pisa and Siena, the rival Tuscan cities, was born. Florence wanted her Duomo to be grander in size and in exterior adornment. And like most of Europe's gothic cathedrals, the new Florence Duomo was dedicated to the Madonna. The Cathedral we see today is the result of 170 years of work. The first stone of the facade was laid on September 8, 1296, under the direction of Arnolfo di Cambio. Arnolfo's design was subjected to numerous modifications. The most obvious are visible on the church's sides, where the first four windows are narrower and closer together than those toward the east, which are part of an enlargement of the plan due to Francesco Talenti in charge of construction after the mid-14th century. The radiating eastern chapels were finished in the early 1400s, and the gigantic dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi was completed in just 16 years, from 1418 to 1434. The lantern, designed by Brunelleschi, was built after his death (1446), and the gilt copper ball and cross by Verrocchio, containing holy relics, were set in place in 1466. The last part of Santa Maria del Fiore to be finished was the facade, done between 1871 and 1887 to Emilio De Fabris' design.
Address: Piazza Duomo - 50122 Firenze
Phone: +39(055)294514 (Sacristy)
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