Imagine a Medieval city untouched during many centuries, imagine winding allies, imposing piazze, magnificent churches and renaissance palaces packed with masterpieces by Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael and Donatello.
Then imagine to be here...this is Florence
The ancient religious heart of the city always crowded with Florentines and tourists and dominated by the huge Cattedrale, at the time of construction (1296) the largest church in the world, crowned in 1436 by the majestic Brunelleschi's Dome symbol of the power of the Renaissance Florence.
A few steps from the cathedral stands the amazing bell tower designed by Giotto and one of the oldest buildings in Florence, the Baptistery, with its golden Gate of Paradise and its shining mosaics.
If you want to have a complete visit of the Duomo area don't forget to climb the 463 steps to reach the top of the dome and pay a visit to the little museum to see the last statue byMichelangelo : a touching Pieta made for his own tomb.
Piazza della Signoria
The political center, home to the imposing Palazzo Vecchio ,the town hall since 1294.The piazza is considered an open air museum because of the many statues present commissioned by the Medici family in the Renaissance and carved byDonatello,Giambologna, Cellini and many others. Until 1864 there was also Michelangelo's David (today at the Accademia museum for safe keeping) and in it's place today stands a replica guarding the entrance of the palace and its precious courtyard.
To cross the oldest bridge of Florence (1345) that has survived through the World War II and several floods is one of the unmissable experiences of your visit.
Where in the Middle Ages there were butchers and fishermen, today you will find 44 jeweleries hanging on the river, and above them, the private passage of the Medici family :the Vasarian corridor.
The Accademia created by the Medici was the first art school in the world and in here artists can still learn or improve their artistic skills. The Galleria dell'Accademia next door, provide sculptures and other masterpieces as models for the art students and among the many masterpieces stands Michelangelo's David; moved here in 1873 for safe keeping and surrounded by many other statues that will inspire you as it did with generations of artists...
Far from the crowd of the Michelangelo's room and forgotten by the majority of visitors you will be amazed by the Medici's collection of musical instruments and among them you will stand in front of the oldest piano in the world.
The massive building of the Uffizi was commissioned by Cosimo I Medici in 1559 to gather all the offices of the duchy of Tuscany. Today it houses one of the most important art collection in the world. In 1589 the son of Cosimo, Francesco, decided to move the art collection of the family to the top floor of the building...
It was the beginning of the Uffizi museum, today the oldest museum in the world (1589) and one of the most important. The three corridors are lined with Roman and Greek statues and in its beautiful frescoed rooms are housed paintings by Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Titian, Giotto, Caravaggio, Botticelli and many others.
The medieval town hall of Florence where Cosimo de'Medici and Eleonora lived with the famous room of Cinquecento and the splendid frescoed rooms commissioned by Cosimo.
Be amazed by painted mythological stories, frescoed saints, study rooms, secret passages and the hall of geographical maps.
The Pitti palace
The Medici residence for over two centuries, bought and enlarged by Cosimo de'Medici for his family together with the Boboli garden designed for his wife Eleonora.
Visit the Palatine Gallery, hosting an amazing collection of paintings by Raphael, Titian and Caravaggio, on display in the rooms where the Medici lived, received guests and organized parties or be amazed by the vases, jewels and other precious objects that belonged to the family.
The complex of Santa Maria Novella
The seat of the Dominican friars in one of the most beautiful Florentine churches with the chapels frescoed by Masaccio, Filippino Lippi, Ghirlandaio, Orcagna and Giotto. Then be amazed by the extravagant frescoes by Paolo Uccello in the Green Cloister, the Spanish chapel, the oldest view of the cathedral's Dome and an amazing chemistry from 1612.
The hill of San Miniato
The atmosphere of the Middle Ages permeating the church of San Miniato with its frescoes, zodiacs and the Renaissance tomb of the cardinal of Portugal...
Next to the church, at the top of the hill and surrounded by Michelangelo's bastion there is the cemetery of Porte Sante (Holy Doors) where illustrious modern Italians are buried:Coveri, Spadolini, Collodi (Pinocchio's writer) and where you can enjoy the most beautiful and unknown view of Florence.
The complex of San Lorenzo
The Medici district: the amazing church of San Lorenzo designed by Brunelleschi for theMedici, the old Renaissance sacristy and the last work by Donatello.
And hidden behind the main altar, the mausoleum of the Medici family decorated with mosaics of semi precious hard stones and hosting my favorite works by Michelangelo: the night, day, dawn and dusk made for the tomb of his friend Lorenzo Medici.
Around the corner is the Medici palace, where Michelangelo and Lorenzo lived together with many other geniuses and had their private chapel decorated with a beautifulprocession of the Magi.
The Bargello palace
The Bargello, first seat of government then prison and today museum.
It houses a superb collection of Florentine Renaissance statues including numerous pieces by Donatello, Giambologna, Cellini, Michelangelo and the first Renaissance work ever made.
A must-see if you like statues or decorative arts like ivories,cameos or other goldsmith's works from the roman period to the 17th century.
The church of Santa Croce
The medieval Franciscan church became a very important burial place in the renaissance period and today visitors from all over the world come to pay homage to the graves ofMichelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Rossini and many others...
And before leaving they still have time to be amazed by the chapels frescoed by Giotto, the refectory with the oldest Last Supper in Florence and the perfect architecture of the Pazzi Chapel.
The convent of San Marco
Restored by the Medici in 1437 and decorated by the great painter Beato Angelico who lived in the convent.
Enjoy the spirituality of the paintings in the cloister, in the pilgrim’s hospice and in the 44 small monastic cells and then relax in the pleasing architecture of the Renaissance library or in front of the last supper painted by the teacher of Michelangelo: Domenico Ghirlandaio.
The Davanzati Palace
Curious to know how a noble Florentine family lived in the middle ages?
Then this is the place for you! The palace, tapestries, frescoes and even the furniture come from that period.
You will know the history of the family and you will see how they defended their properties using trapdoors and other incredible tricks.
Beyond the Arno river there is far less tourists,many artisans, workshops and hidden gems; this is Oltrarno.
The first highlight is the church of Santo Spirito, considered the perfect creation ofBrunelleschi, where Michelangelo came to dissect cadavers and carved an amazing wooden crucifix when he was only a teenager.
A few minutes walk from there is one of the most important places for art history: TheBrancacci chapel.
The first Renaissance frescoes in the world painted by Masaccio that inspired generations of painters, will definitely amaze you.