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The essential art guide for Florence. We cover Florence Museums, Florence Galleries and Florence Architecture. Whether you are interested in Florence Sculptures, Classical Art or Modern Contemporary Art or you would like to visit the most note-worthy Florence squares and Florence churches...
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» Classical Florence Art Galleries, Modern Florence Art Galleries
» Florence Churches, Florence Buildings, Florence Squares, Other Architecture

Florence Churches

Name: Chiesa and Museo di Orsanmichele

Type: ancient 'civic' church and museum
Address: Via dell'Arte della Lana, 1; 055-23885.
Note: the uniqueness of this monument is its origins and history. It used to be a wheat warehouse in the Medieval Ages, it became a wheat market, then it hosted civic and religious activities, and later became a religious temple. The structure and the sculptures and decorations remind us of the transformations that coexist harmoniously.

Name: Basilica di San Miniato al Monte

Type: Romanic church
Address: Via Monte alle Croci; 055 2342731.
Note: the beauty of this church is its Florentine Romanic style, which has been intact since its origins between the year 1000 and the 1200.

Name: Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore (il Duomo)

Type: Florence's Cathedral
Address: Piazza Duomo
Note: 'duomo' comes from 'domus', home and 'cattedrale' comes from 'cattedra', symbolizing the working place of the minister of God. The name of Florence's cathedral is the second name that was given to the church. The original church was built a few hundred years A.D. under the name of Santa Reparata, Florence's saint martyr. However, in the 1200's it was decided to enlarge it significantly in order to give it the importance it deserved in the city and to give Florence a better image of power towards its neighbouring cities. The church was then called Santa Maria del Fiore in honour of the Virgin Mary and her flower (Jesus Christ). During the Renaissance new elements were added and finally in the XIX century the facade was finished; that is why the facade is so different from the more sober and classic interiors and sides. The striking interiors are such for the elegant sobriety of the structure, which is purely Medieval-Renaissance style. The 'cupola del Brunelleschi', dome, is a wonderful work of art and engineering. The perfectly balanced structure which sustains the dome is extraordinary.

Name: Basilica di San Lorenzo

Type: basilica
Address: Piazza San Lorenzo; 055-214042 (Opera Medicea Laurenziana).
Note: this is one of the oldest and most important churches of Florence and had been protected by the Medicis since the beginning of this family name in Florence. The basilica was renovated by Brunellschi, and new features were added by Michelangelo. The peculiarity of this church is its facade: it is plain stone and for different reasons (even after a project by Michelangelo) it has remained like that. The Medici Chapels, built in later times, are worth it to visit too: the sculptures are pure Michelangelo: for example the women, strong, big feminine figures.

Name: Basilica di Santa Croce

Type: basilica
Address: Piazza Santa Croce; 055-2466105.
Note: this beautiful church, its square and the surrounding district almost seem to be a microcosm inside the city: that is the feeling this area of the city gives Since the beginnings of the church, actually, there had always been a special bond between the friars and the people, the church was also financed by the rich families of the area. Today, besides the beauty of this church, which outlines the piazza (this is one of the monuments of the world which has provoked the 'Stendhal syndrome'), what attracts is the important and admirable personalities who are buried here, such as Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo Galilei

Florence buildings

Name: Palazzo Strozzi

Type: Renaissance palazzo
Address: Piazza Strozzi; 055-277661 /277640
Note: this palazzo is one of the most important Renaissance palazzi in the city and is the fruit of the strong will of Filippo Strozzi to overcome the power and glory of the Medici family by building a greater and larger structure, which, at the same time, would resemble the Medici palace. At present, the palazzo hosts such events as fairs and important art exhibitions.

Name: Casa di Dante

Type: medieval tower-house / museum
Address: Via S. Margherita, 1; 055-219416
Note: the museum is inside a structure which includes different medieval houses, as the Torre dei Giuochi and closet or the Torre della Castagna.

Name: Bargello

Type: former political, civic and justice building
Address: Via del Proconsolo, 4; 055-2388606.
Note: this palazzo is particularly interesting, because we can immagine that many historical and political events and human situations took place here. In the beginning it was the headquarters of the Podest, in the XIV century. Under the Medici's it became the headquarters of the Consiglio di Giustizia (Council of Justice), first, and then of the Giudici di Ruota. Later, the Bargello, the Chief of the Guards, was in charge of arresting and condemning people inside this building and it remained a prison for more than three centuries and the cells were then moved to the Murate. It was later, in the XIX century, that the original structure was recovered, includine the famous portrait of Dante, which is said to be the most similar to the real Dante

Name: Palazzo Vecchio

Address: Piazza della Signoria, 1; 055-2625961.
Note: it hosts the Municipality offices. Since the beginning in the XII century it has been a public offices building: the Signoria (city council) with the Priori, the Gonfaloniere di Giustizia (Head of Justice); then rooms of public officers, as Machiavelli when he was the Secretary of the Republic, of city councils, like the Cinquecento (five-hundred of the members) of Savonarola, of the Captain of Justice; and also the residence and public offices of the Medici family, who named it Palazzo Vecchio later, when they moved to Palazzo Pitti Each of the numerous rooms has a story and beautiful works of art: Studiolo di Francesco I, Appartamenti degli Elementi (the natural Elements apartments), Terrazza di Saturno (from this terrasse there is a beautiful view on Piazzale Michelangelo and surrounding areas), Sala di Ercole, Sala di Cibele, Sala di Cerere, Sala Verde (green room, for the color of the walls; here is a small door which leads to the Corridoio Vasariano), Sala delle Sabine, Sala da Pranzo, Sala di Penelope, Camera Privata di Eleonora (private rooms of Eleonora da Toledo), Sala dell'Udienza (the ladies waited here to be received by Eleonora), Cappella della Signoria (here Savonarola prayed for his last time before being burnt alive at Piazza della Signoria), Sala dell'Orologio, Stanza del Guardaroba (wardrobe room, where all the precious objects were kept), Vecchia Cancelleria (the small studio of Machiavelli), Studio (from here, Cosimo I 'spied' his officers) One of the most interesting elements of Palazzo Vecchio is the coats of arms of the city, located under the arches on the top of the Palazzo: each coat of arm represents a political period of Florence.

Name: Palazzo Capponi delle Rovinate

Type: family palazzo
Address: Via de' Bardi, 36.
Note: this palazzo has been owned by the Capponi family since the 1400's, after the death of its original owner and the one who built it, Niccolo da Uzzano. 'Delle Rovinate', added to the family name of the palazzo, means 'of the ruins', because the ground of the area has different levels and there were dwellings from terrain erosion. The Capponi family lives here and in two of the ground floor rooms are the original NiccolÚ da Uzzano's apartments, beautifully frescoed and hosting today the luxury travel agency The World is Mine (055-2347663; www.theworldismine.it).

Name: Palazzo Rucellai

Type: Renaissance palazzo
Address: Via della Vigna Nuova, 18;
Note: this is another important Renaissance palazzo, with the name of the family who built and owned it, the Rucellai. The importance of the palazzo structure is that it was built by master architect Leon Battista Alberti, who believed more in structural harmony and classic characteristics than in luxurious decoration. The peculiarity of the family name is that it derives from the 'oricello' (archil) a plant used to fix a special violet colour on textiles, the ancient family trade

Name: Palazzo Corsini

Type: family palazzo / art gallery
Address: Via del Parione, 11; 055-218994.
Note: the family name is a synonym of important banking business in the past centuries, which permitted the family, whose origins are Florentine from the Middle Ages, to gain much success in Rome and abroad; their nobility reached the title of princes.

Name: Palazzo Pitti

Type: Renaissance family palazzo / art galleries and museums
Address: Piazza Pitti, 1; 055-2388615.
Note: , the palazzo takes the name from merchant and banker Luca Pitti, who, like Filippo Strozzi, considered the Medici's as rivals and wanted his home to be more striking, bigger and more beautiful than Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Via Larga. The rivalry between the Pitti's and the Medici's is already part of a tradition in Florence. However, facts tell us that after Luca Pitti's death, the palazzo remained in the family until Eleonora da Toledo, spouse of Cosimo I de' Medici acquired it, and the palazzo inevitably passed to the hands of the Medici family. It is in this new phase of the Pitti Palace history that the Corridoio Vasariano (by Vasari) was built, in order to allow the family to move from the Palazzo Vecchio to their residence without the need of a security staff. Thanks to the Medici living Oltrarno, this area of Florence reacquired a special social importance. The palazzo remained in the Medici family until the official end of the family as a political power, and since Anna Luisa in the XVIII it was already in part a public art collection; it passed to the Lorenas, then to the Savoias and it is now property of the government and transformed into galleries and museums.

Name: Palazzo Medici-Riccardi

Type: former Medici residence / gallery, rooms and museum
Address: Via Cavour, 1, corner with Via Gori; 055-2760340.
Note: Via Larga is the former name of Via Cavour, because it was a wide street. And here was built the Medici palazzo, where such important figures as Cosimo Il Vecchio, who had it built, and Lorenzo Il Magnifico, exercised their magnificence in all the aspects of the city life: from the political, to the social, the artistic and philosophic Here, in this sober palazzo, built by Michelozzo (Michelangelo would have made it too magnificent), young artists as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raffaello, were forged by the humanistic view of the family and their entourage. Here took place the philosophic meetings of the neoplatonic club with humanists Poliziano and Pico della Mirandola, among others and here Lorenzo il Magnifico described in a few words the way of life of 'carpe diem'. Moreover, the palazzo still owns important works by Paolo Uccello, Botticelli, Verrocchio, Pollaiolo and Ghirlandaio; there also was the famous David by Donatello, which now is at the Bargello, and collections of objects in precious stones, crystal and ivories We particularly love Benozzo Gozzoli's Cavalcata dei Magi, a large painting depicting the entire family of the time with other important social and political figures in a religious occasion: the portraits, the clothes, the features, the details are very realistic. Later, the remaining descendants of the Medici family move to a more central location, Palazzo della Signoria and then to the Oltrarno. The palazzo is now the headquarters of the Prefecture.

Florence squares

Name: Piazzale Michelangelo

Type: panoramic square
Note: the Piazzale is a large open terrace-like square with classic decorations built in honour of the great Renaissance artist. The striking feature of the Piazzale is certainly the view of Florence: from Forte Belvedere, Santa Croce, the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, the Bargello, to Fiesole, on the hills opposite the Piazzale, and in the city again the bridges The Viale Michelangelo is one of the ways to get to the Piazzale while another is that from the area of San NiccolÚ, more characteristic for those who like to walk among city houses, through small streets and stairways (the monumental Rampe)

Name: Piazza della Signoria

Type: Palazzo Vecchio (or della Signoria) piazza
Note: the beauty of this square is that it is lined by works of art, such as Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi, and a little further the Uffizi Galleries can be seen; it is almost always full of people, especially during the day, but the square contains them well and it is a pleasure to walk through it.

Name: Piazza Pitti

Type: Palazzo Pitti piazza
Note: open and unadorned, in function and as a complement to the Palazzo

Name: Piazza del Carmine

Type: Oltrarno square
Note: we like this square, which had in the beginning and through the centuries a strong religious significance, because here one can still breathe the district life, almost as it was centuries ago. The name derives from the Carmelitan friars. Noawadays it has a functional but not appealing parking lot in its centre and there is one of the most crowded pubs of Florence..the Dolce Vita.

Name: Piazza Santo Spirito

Type: Oltrarno square
Note: this is one of the most interesting squares of Florence: lively, very district-like everyday life; there is always some crafts market and other special products; the streets near it are full of artisan workshops and the nightlife is also pretty intense, because the square has different restaurants and pubs.

Name: Piazza Duomo

Type: the main piazza of Florence, hosting the city Cathedral (Duomo)
Note: very crowded but striking for the Duomo and the Battistero. In the Medieval Ages the Battistero was the most important church of the city. Later, in order to create the Duomo, several buildings around the piazza had to be destroyed, among which were those of the Bischeri family

Name: Piazza della Repubblica

Type: ancient Roman Forum / later market and ghetto square
Note: the piazza has always been the real centre of the city, that is why the Roman forum was built here. Later in time it became the commercial centre of the city, while Piazza Signoria was the political and Piazza del Duomo the religious one. During that phase, the main market of the city was located here. When a new market was then made where it is now, at the Loggia del Porcellino, it was called Piazza del Mercato Vecchio and there was also the ghetto, where people of other religions and socially discriminated were obliged to live. The square is now relatively quiet and surrounded by chic bars and shops and the loggia on one side.

Name: Piazza Santa Maria Novella

Note: a regular and beautiful square in front of the equally beautiful Church. This church was crowded for centuries, first because the Dominicans preached here, but then because different city events, activities and feasts took place here, such as the famous Calcio, which then remained only at Piazza Santa Croce, and the Palio dei Cocchi, horse races

Other Florence Architecture

Name: Giardino delle Rose

Type: rose garden
Address: Viale Giuseppe Poggi, 2; 055-2342426 / 055-2625342.
Note: this garden has 1000 varieties of roses!... and can be visited by the public on the month of blossoming: May.

Name: Giardino dell'Iris

Type: iris garden
Address: Piazzale Michelangelo; 055-483112 (Societ‡ Italiana dell'Iris)
Note: this garden hosts more than one thousand varieties of irises, which come all out of the original white and violet flower it can be visited on May, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturday to Sunday.

Name: Boboli Garden

Type: Pitti Palace gardens
Address: Palazzo Pitti Piazza Pitti, 1; 055-218741.
Note: a large, beautifully ornamented and constructed garde nit is the most important and known garden in Florence, which went through different changes throughout the centuries but still keeps its important spaces and elements, such as: Grotta del Buontalenti, Bacino dell'Isola, Palazzina della Meridiana, the space which once hosted a labyrinth and is now an outdoor theatre. Florentines come here to relax, to enjoy the company of friends, to take a walk hand in hand, to admire the beauty and breathe the freshness of the air.

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