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According to the history facts, de Medici allowed Jews to settled at Firenze before 1.400 and granted them at once many rights and privilegues. The favorable attitude towards the Jews seems to have changed in 1472, for during the plague raging in that year all Jews were expelled.
Under Lorenzo the Magnificent de Medici, Florence became the center of art and science and Jews also took part in this splendid life of the Renaissance. The lived mostly in the Via dei Giudei beyond the Arno. The Pope, however, demanded for the Jews to be enclosed in the Ghetto. In 1570 some streets not far from the Duomo, in the lowest and dampest part of the city were assigned to the Jews and closed by the gates. However, the anti-Jews laws were never as strictly enforced in Florence as elswhere. The wealthy Jews were permitted to live outside the ghetto.
The Column of Justice
Piazza Santa Trinita, named after the church Santa Trinita, is unusual square because it has triangular plan. It is one of those spot which could be easilly missed among all attractions which Florence is offering, almost kind of "off the beatten road" place. The easiest way to reach it is from the Ponte Trinita, taking direction of Via Tornabuoni.
It is rather small but very charming square full of interesting buildings all around it. The central position of the square is occupied by the Column of Justice, which originates from the Baths of Caracalla. The column was a gift to Cosimo I de Medici by Pope Pius IV and was used in 1565 to commemorate the Battle of Montemurlo.
Besides the Basilica of Santa Trinita, there are three very interesting palaces on the square, Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni, Palazzo Spini Feroni and Palazzo Buondelmonti.
Basilica di Santa Trinita
Basilica di Santa Trinita is the mother church of the Vallumbrosan Order of monks, founded in 1092 by a Florentine nobleman. The church is famous for its Sassetti Chapel containing frescoes from Domenico Ghirlandaio who is one of the most estimated frescoe painters of all times. His frescoes are ranked as the masterworks among 15th century paintings.
The basilica was constructed in 1258-1280 but multiple reconstructions occured later on. The 17th century wooden doors were carved to recall saints of the Vallumbrosan order.
The Santa Trinita Maesta by Cimabue was once at the high altar of the church, now exibited at the Uffizi Gallery.
Address: Via Tornabuoni
Piazza Santa Croce
Piazza Santa Croce is one of the main sity squares, located in between Piazza della Signoria and National Central Library, and is takes its name by the Basilica of Santa Croce which overlooking the square.
I was in particularly attracted by palazzo dell'Antella. It is medieval palace enlarged in the 16th century. The painted decorations on its facade consists of a series of panels with allegorical representations. At the centre of the building is the bust of Cosimo II de Medici.
Directions: Maybe 200 or 300 hundred meters after Piazza della Signoria, in direction of east.
Basilica di Santa Croce (the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan church if Florence but also known as teh Temple of Italian Glories. It is the burial place of some of the most famous Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiaveli and Rossini.
Actually, the basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world and its most notable features are its sixten chapels decorated by Giotto and his pupils. The construction of the church begun in 1294 and its floorplan is an Egyptian or Tau cross, which is symbol of St. Francis.
The main cloister houses the Capella dei Pazzi and was designed by Brunelleschi, same as the dome of the Duomo. The design is rigorously simple and uandorned. Brunelleschi also built the inner cloister.
Address: Piazza Santa Croce
Piazzale Michelangelo was designed in 1869 by Florentine architect Giuseppe Poggi who's idea was to built the huge terrace dedicated to Michelangelo where copies of his most important works would be displayed. Poggi also designed hillside building with the loggia as museum for Michelangelo's works but this project was never realized, that building is now a restaurant. In fact, the only realized idea by Poggi is the bronze copy of David which occupying the central position of the square.
Piazzale Michelangelo offers magnificent panoramic views of Florence and the Arno valley and is very popular spot with locals and tourists.
Address: Piazelle Michelangelo
Directions: Take bus 12 or 13 (12 is faster) from the train station. Or cross the river and enjoy the 20 minute walk (followed by a steep stair climb) from the center of town.
The church of San Lorenzo is the oldest in the city, consecrated by San Ambroggio in 393. It was rebuilt along Romanesque lines in 1060. The present building, however, dates from 1423 and was designed by great Brunelleschi. The simple bare facade lasks the marble covering, designed by Michelangelo but never carried out. The internal facade, also designed by Michelangelo, is comprised of three doors between two pilasters with garlands of oak and laurel, and a balcony on two corinthian columns. There are number of outstanding works of art inside the church by Filippo Lippi, Donatello, Andrea del Verrochio and many others. The most valuable, however, is the Old Sacristy built by Brunelleschi between 1419 and 1428. It was built before the church and is the first example of Renaissance architecture of Brunelleschi.
The huge complex of Medici Chapels, containing the Medici family tombs, is attached to the back of the church. The interior is octagonal in plan, entirely lined with semiprecious stone and marble in Baroque style.
Address: Piazza San Lorenzo
Ponte Santa Trinita
Ponte Santa Trinita is real masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and often called "the most beautiful bridge in the world". The bridge was built in 1252 when Lamberto Frescoboldi sponsored the building of a new wooden bridge to join Via Tornabuoni with the other bank of the river Arno. The bridge collapsed in 1259 and was replaced by a stone bridge. The new stone bridge was again completely destroyed in the floods of 1333 and 1557., and Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici commissioned Bartolomeo Ammannati with a building of new more resistent bridge. In 1570 the new more elegant bridge was finished. In 1608 the Four Season statues are set at the entrances to the bridge; Spring, by Pietro Francavilla and Summer, by Cacini on the side towards the city. On the opposite side are Autumn, also by Cacini, and Winter by Taddeo Landini.
Palazzo Medici - Riccardi
Palazzo Medici - Riccardi begun in 1444 by Michelozzo di Bartolommeo and was eongated in the 17th century by the Riccardi family. The palace was originaly built as a home for Cosimo Vecchio (the Older). It rusticated front facade appearence almost like an fortress.
In 1489, Filippo Strozzi commisioned Benedetto da Maiano to built this palace but it was completed by Simone del Pallaiolo, better known as Cronaca. Palazzo Strozzi is probably the best example of Renaissance private architecture, with facade built in the bugnato style.
In 1999 the palace was acquired by the State in order to housed prestigious institutions, such as Instituto Nazionale del Rinascimento.
Address: Piazza Strozzi
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