Florence – the paradise for lovers

Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and a true paradise for lovers of art and architecture. Considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence was the workplace of some of the most famous masters such as Giotto di Bondone, Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello Bardi, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Raphael Sanzio. Florence is also the birthplace of Dante Alighieri. The greatest poets of all time! 

Although the city of Florence was founded as a military settlement during the Roman Empire (c. 59 BC), the area is known to have been inhabited as early as the 7th and 6th centuries BC. by the Etruscans. Unfortunately, few archaeological remains from this period remain today.

By the end of the Middle Ages, Florence had developed into one of Europe’s most important centers of culture, art and commerce. And this development strengthened from his first half of the fifteenth century, when the Medici family came to power. 

The Medici family was a family of bankers and politicians who ruled Florence and Tuscany for over 300 years. In addition to dominating and influencing administrative and economic affairs, the Medici family was also the patron of countless architects, poets, painters, sculptors and musicians.

After the fall of the Medici family in 1737, Tuscany became part of the Austrian monarchy. She was annexed by France in 1807, but it was seven years later that things changed with the downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1861 Tuscany became part of the Kingdom of Italy and from 1865 he until 1871 Florence was its capital. 

Did you know that the Historic Center of Florence was part of Italy’s third set of inscriptions on the UNESCO World Heritage List? This 5th session of the World Heritage Committee took place in Paris (France), between December 13th and 17th, 1982.

Nowadays, Italy is the country in the world with the most UNESCO sites:
it has fifty-eight heritage assets (both cultural and natural) inscribed on the world list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization!

The city of Florence is served by Florence-Peretola Airport (FLR), which has several connections to other major European cities – making it an even more attractive tourist destination for international travelers. And if you’re already in Italy, then you can reach Florence by train, bus, or car!

  • Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

When consecrated in 1436, the Basilica of St. Mary of the Flowers was the largest cathedral in Europe and one of the first Renaissance cathedrals. Among the distinguishing elements stands out the magnificent brick dome (designed by Filippo Brunelleschi from 1420 to his 1436). And, of course, the three-tone exterior cladding idealized by Arnolfo di Cambio: white Carrara marble, green Prato marble and red Siena marble. 

  • Giotto’s Campanile

Giotto’s Campanile is the approximately 85-meter-tall bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. In my opinion, one of the best things to do in Florence is climb over 400 steps and enjoy the panoramic view of Piazza Duomo. Like Florence’s Duomo, Giotto’s Campanile was built with the same polychrome marble from Tuscany. The design was done by Giotto di Bondone and work began on him in 1334, but the artist died three years after him, leaving only time to complete the base of the tower.

The project therefore passed into the hands of Andrea Pisano, who took over the ideas and original concept of his predecessor. However, due to the plague pandemic, construction had to be stopped, and when it resumed in the late 1340s, Francesco Tarenti was already overseeing the work. Giotto’s Campanile was completed in 1359 and is now considered a masterpiece of Florentine Gothic style. One of his most interesting details are dozens of decorative statues and reliefs. However, the original is kept in the Duomo Museum for conservation purposes and has been replaced by a replica.

Giotto’s Campanile is open daily from 8am.

  • San Giovanni Cathedral

The Baptistery of San Giovanni is his third and final monument in Piazza del Duomo (and Piazza San Giovanni) that I have included in this “Three Days in Florence Itinerary”. Interestingly, this church is his one of the oldest in Florence and its origins date back to his 4th century.

The “baptistery” (or “baptistry”), as the name suggests, is where Christian baptisms are performed and can be integrated into a church. Although the construction of the octagonal religious structure you can see now didn’t finish until the 16th century, it was dedicated in 1059.

The Baptistery of Saint John is renowned for its three sets of bronze doors, which were designed by Andrea Pisano and Lorenzo Ghiberti (the latter is the creator of the “Porte del Paradiso”—the name Michelangelo gave to the doors facing the cathedral). It also has a white and green marble exterior. The original specimens are on display in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo and have enormous dimensions and are lavishly embellished with relief sculptures!

  • Villa Vecchia

The Palazzo Vecchio, which was constructed between the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century, has served as Florence’s government building for more than 700 years.

Giambologna Fontana del Nettuno created the bronze statue “Statua Equestre di Cosimo I de’ Medici,” which features a core sculpture by Bartolomeo Ammannati called “Ercole e Caco” made of marble.

A bronze statue of “Giuditta and Oloferne” by Donatello is also available; the original can be seen in the Sala dei Gigli of the Palazzo Vecchio. Michelangelo created a marble sculpture called “David” that is a copy of the original work of art that is housed in the Galleria dell’Accademia. Arnolfo di Cambio created the Palazzo Vecchio with the intention of housing the Signoria di Firenze, or the city’s magistrates and government.

The Medici Family moved into the freshly constructed Palazzo Pitti in 1565, when the term “Old Palace” was first used. The Giorgio Vasari-designed corridor that connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti, passing by landmarks like the Galleria degli Uffizi and the Ponte Vecchio, is also from this era. Daily hours for the Palazzo Vecchio Museum are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Thursdays it closes at 2 p.m.). The same hours apply for Torre di Arnolfo, except it shuts at 5 PM on Friday through Wednesday. Tickets for the Civic Museum of Florence can be purchased online for 12.5 euros for adults and 10 euros for visitors aged 18 to 25 and students.

  • Uffizi Museum

To bring together the city’s dispersed magistrates in Florence, Cosimo I commissioned Giorgio Vasari to construct an administrative structure (the Uffizi Palace, or “Palace”) in 1560. The Signoria Palace, which is located across the street, is where his “real” plan was to directly manage them. One of the finest museums in contemporary history, the Uffizi Gallery began welcomed visitors in 1765. But it wasn’t until roughly a century later that it was formally recognised as a “museum.” He is now not only one of Florence’s most visited tourist destinations, but also one of the world’s most popular museums.

In addition to being one of Florence’s tourist attractions, the Ponte Vecchio is also very popular with the ‘wealthier’ visitors. This is because the deck of the bridge houses many luxury shops, most of which are jewelry stores.

  • Accademia Gallery

The Gallery of the Accademia in Florence (or Academy Gallery of Florence) is one of Italy’s most important museums, with works from the early 14th century to his late 19th century.

The Accademia Gallery was founded in his 1874 by Emperor Leopold II (then Grand Duke of Tuscany) with the aim of promoting art education and direct contact between students and works of art.

Here, in addition to the “David” (Michelangelo’s masterpiece), you can admire numerous paintings and sculptures by other Tuscan artists, especially those of the Renaissance. 2001 saw the opening of a collection of instruments by Nicola Amati, Antonio Stradivari and Bartolomeo Cristofori.

The Accademia Gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 6pm. Admission is the same as the Uffizi Gallery, with an additional €4 if purchased on the official website of the Florence Regional Gallery.

  • Palazzo Medici Riccardi

The construction of the palace was commissioned by Cosimo de Medici (founder of a powerful dynasty) in his 1444 and was supervised by the architect Michelozzo Michelozzi. However, in 1494, when the Medici were exiled from the city, the family home was confiscated by the Republic of Fiorentina.

In 1659, after the return of the Medici to power, Ferdinand II de Medici sold his mansion to the Marquis de Gabriel Riccardi. And this other banker quickly changed the architectural structure and decorative elements to extend and modernize the castle in baroque style.

Palazzo Medici Riccardi is open daily (except Wednesdays) from 9 AM to 7 PM. 7 euros (adults), 4 euros (18-25 years old and students), free (under 18 years old). San Lorenzo Cathedral.

San Marco, Santissima Annunziata, San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce, San Miniato al Monte and the ancient Basilica of Santa Reparata.

On this site he had a small church founded in the late 4th century, but the history of the current cathedral dates back to his 15th century. Designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, the works began in 1419 and he continued until 1460, already under the direction of the Florentine architect Antonio Manetti.  

The ticket price is €5 (adults) or €3.50 (children and adolescents from 5 to 18 years and over 65 years old).

  • Central market of Florence

If you think you can write an itinerary for an Italian city without mentioning food, think again. The Florentine Market doesn’t have as much historical significance as the other monuments in this article, but it’s one of the best places in Florence to sample delicious Tuscan and Italian cuisine.

Interestingly, Florence’s Central Market was designed by Giuseppe Mengoni (the same architect who designed Milan’s famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II). The steel and glass building was built in 1874 by him, but its current appearance is the result of a lengthy renovation campaign to mark his 140th anniversary (2004).

The Florence Central Market is open daily from 10am to 12pm. There are numerous food stalls on the ground floor and restaurants, taverns, pizzerias, ice cream parlors, cafes and bars on the upper floors. I tried the “Panini al Tartufo” at Luciano Savini’s Il Tartufo and I have to admit it was divine.

  • Santa Croce Cathedral

Dedicate your last day in Florence to Oltrarno (the district on the south bank of the Arno), but there is another must-see on the north bank.

Santa Croce Cathedral. This monument in Piazza Santa Croce is a veritable ‘Temple of the Italian Masters’. After all, famous people such as Lorenzo Ghiberti, Niccolo Machiavelli, Michelangelo Buonarotti, Galileo Galilei and Gioacchino Rossini are buried here.

The history of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross dates back to his 1294, and its design is believed to be by Arnolfo di Cambio. The church was consecrated in his 1442, but construction work continued over the centuries. In the mid-19th century, several chapels were added and a bell tower was built. Today, this church is the largest Franciscan church in the world. 

The Cathedral of Santa Croce is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9am. Tickets cost €8 (adults), €6 (ages 12-17 and students). If you prefer, you can purchase tickets in advance on the official website of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

  • Pitti Palace

When you leave the Basilica of Santa Croce and head for the Pitti Palace, be sure to cross the Arno River via the Ponte Alle Grazie. That way you get a panoramic view of the Ponte Vecchio bridge. As far as is known, the Pitti Palace was built by Filippo Brunelleschi in 1458 for the Florentine banker Luca his Pitti.

However, the building only gained its ‘fame’ when it became the official residence of the Medici family a century after they decided to leave Palazzo Vecchio.

  • Giardino di Boboli

The Palazzo Pitti may be the largest museum complex in Florence, but the Giardino di Boboli is second to none in terms of sheer size and spectacularity! Designed by the Medici family behind their “new” official residence, this set of gardens originated the concept of “Giardino all’italiana” (that is, “Italian Garden”) and became a model for other European courts. The Boboli Gardens are decorated with dozens of classical and Renaissance statues, man-made caves and monumental fountains. In addition, the Boboli Amphitheater (with the Egyptian obelisk), the Coffee House (one of the few examples of Tuscan Rococo architecture) and the Lemon House (built by Zanovidel Rosso between 1777 and his 1777 ) are separated by other structures. 78).

Giardino di Boboli is open daily from 8am. Tickets cost €6 (adults) or €2 (he youths aged 18-25 who are citizens of the European Union) and can be purchased on the official website of the Florence Regional Museum. Piazzale Michelangelo

Watching the sunset over the historic center of this Italian city from Piazzale Michelangelo is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful (and one of the most amazing) things to do in Florence. Designed by architect Giuseppe Poggi in 1869, the square offers some of the best panoramic views I have seen in my travels in Europe. 

The history of Piazzale Michelangelo dates back to the days when Florence was the capital of Italy and much of the city was being renovated. Dedicated to the genius of painting, sculpture, and architecture, this large terrace houses replicas of his work (including a bronze statue of ‘David’) and a Renaissance loggia that has been converted into a restaurant.  

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