|One of the world’s most famous cities, the cradle of European art, Florence is situated at a point where the Arno valley is surrounded by green hills which make its territory unique. Florence keeps within its churches, museums and palaces priceless treasures together with the history of its people and its architecture – today recognised as a world heritage site – from the Middle ages to the Renaissance, and until the 19th century when Florence was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. |
Like many other cities renowned for their character and culture, Florence must first be visited and then experienced. Therefore, it’s important to follow an itinerary which takes in the monuments and the most famous sights, but we suggest that you stroll - with eyes wide open – through the narrow alleys of the city centre, maybe stopping for a typical “panino” with tripe or lampredotto in the Central Market and then a visit to a street wine bar. Then perhaps some shopping in some of the increasingly rare local artisans’ shops which the wise traveller will certainly be able to find.
. . . for typical areas/streets in the city neighbourhoods:per zone/strade tipiche nei Quartieri della città: Arco di S Pierino, Piazza dei Ciompi, Mercato di S. Ambrogio, Via/Piazza Santo Spirito and Via Maggio, Scalinata to Piazzale Michelangelo from Porta San Niccolò, Forte Belvedere, Mercato Centrale/piazza San Lorenzo.
. . . for local dishes: mixed boiled meats and tripe (from the street mongers); inzimino, fricassee, zuppa inglese (dessert with custard and chocolate sauce)
.. . . for shopping for local goods: embroidery and braids, second-hand shops, local craft goods (Borgo Albizi), glassware, pottery, knives…
ITINERARY in the historic centre for tourists staying in the Santa Croce neighbourhood (Firenze Centro Appartamenti) or who come to Florence from the Chicche di Greve in Chianti:
From Piazza Piave and/or Lungarno della Zecca (good for parking) follow Via San Giuseppe to Piazza Santa Croce. The basilica, built in the Gothic style at the end of the 13th century, was probably designed by Arnolfo di Cambio and is considered to be Italy’s most beautiful gothic Church. Inside there are very important works of art and the monumental tombs of Italian cultural icons such as Michelangelo and Machiavelli. There are paintings by Giotto and Cimabue and glazed teracottas by Luca della Robbia. From Borgo de’ Greci you reach Piazza della Signoria, the power centre of Medici Florence where you can admire the Palazzo Vecchio (1296 – 1340 ) the home of the Medici family until Cosimo I decided to move to Palazzo Pitti. The state rooms, among which is the Salone del Cinquecento are well worth a visit. To the left of the entrance stands the Fountain of Neptune which dates from the second half of the sixteenth century and is composed of a group of bronze statues of sea gods and satyrs around the colossal marble statue of Neptune which the Florentines call “il Biancone”. Palazzo Vecchio is the starting point of the gallery which Cosimo dei Medici commissioned Vasari to build in 1564 in order to reach his new residence. Vasari built an elevated structure which passed through the offices (Uffizi) and over the houses, churches and shops of the Ponte Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti. Today it is still the world’s most famous art gallery - the Uffizi which really needs a whole day’s visit.
Taking Via dei Cerchi and crossing the ancient Via della Condotta will bring you to Via Santa Margherita where you can see Dante’s house, home of the great poet of the Divine Comedy. Then take Via dello Studio, crossing over Via del Corso, which together with Borgo degli Albizi with their interesting shops, merits a visit, and you’ll reach Piazza del Duomo.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore was built between 1296 and the end of the 14th century and the works were directed by Arnolfo di Cambio, Giotto, Talenti. The dome, designed by Brunelleschi and frescoed by Vasari and Zuccari, was closed in 1436. The Baptistery, built on the remains of an ancient, paleochristian edifice, was consecrated in 1059. It was Florence’s first cathedral and for its shape and colours it is considered to be one of the best examples of romanesque architecture in Tuscany. The bell tower is testimony to the presence of gothic architecture in Florence; it is 82 m high, it was commenced by Giotto in1334 and completed by Talenti in 1359.
We can continue along Via Ricasoli as far as the Galleria dell’Accademia which houses some of Michelangelo’s greatest masterpieces.
Returning to Piazza San Giovanni (Duomo), we come to Via Roma and we can then rest for a moment in Piazza della Republica, perhaps sitting down at one of the famous Caffè-Concerto. Then we can continue along Via Calimala and at the crossroads with Via Porta Rossa we can pause at the Loggia del Porcellino; then along Via Por Santa Maria to the Ponte Vecchio. We can walk along the Lungarni Archibugieri, Diaz and delle Grazie, admiring the bridges over the Arno and the gentle hills on the opposite bank until we return to where we started
Ask us to reserve your visits to the most important museums; Galleria degli Uffizi, Accademia, Medici Chapels. We’ll be happy to help you organise these visits because without a reservation you’ll waste a lot of time standing in long queues!