Things to Do in Florence - page 2
The city’s first basilica, Santa Maria Novella is one of Florence’s most beautiful and important churches. With a striking Gothic-Renaissance facade, interior chapels housing artistic masterpieces, and Dominican cloisters, the basilica is one of the top sights in Tuscany’s capital city.
To get a glimpse into the sumptuous life of Florence’s wealthy and powerful Medici family during the Renaissance, look no further than Medici Riccardi Palace (Palazzo Medici Riccardi). Designed by Michelozzo in the mid-15th century for Cosimo de' Medici, the palace is considered a masterpiece of early Renaissance architecture.
The Medici Chapels, tucked into the 15th-century Basilica di San Lorenzo in Florence’s historic center, are home to two of Michelangelo’s famous sculptural masterpieces. Built as mausoleums for members of the Medici family, the Medici Chapels include New Sacristy and the larger Chapel of the Princes.
Set in Florence’s historic Galleria Michelangelo, the Leonardo da Vinci Museum (Museo Leonardo da Vinci) is home to more than 50 working models of the artist’s machines, as well as a collection of anatomical models. Learn about the life and work of Italy’s iconic luminary with a video documentary and hands-on, interactive displays.
The historic and happening Oltrarno, which sits on the opposite side of the Arno River from the Duomo, the Uffizi, and the Accademia, is one of Florence’s most dynamic neighborhoods. Home to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, the quarter is also known for its artisan workshops, restaurants and wine bars, and nightlife.
In a city known for its Renaissance architecture, the Gothic-style Orsanmichele Church and Museum is a standout. With ornate doors and windows, some of the oldest stained glass in Florence, and statues by Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Della Robbia, Nanni di Banco, and Donatello, this little-known landmark is worth a visit.
A bit of a misnomer, the Dante House Museum(Museo Casa di Dante) was never the 13th-century Italian poet Dante Alighieri's residence. Instead, this small museum is home to reproductions of early manuscripts of his magnum opus,The Divine Comedy, and other engaging exhibits that re-create Dante's life and times.
Pass through the arched entrance of Florence’s stately Pitti Palace and into the serenity of the sweeping Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli), once the private playground of this Renaissance capital’s ruling Medici family. Dating from the 16th century, the Giardino di Boboli is among the earliest examples of formal Italian gardens, commissioned for the wife of Cosimo I de Medici in 1540. The gardens were expanded in the 16th and 17th centuries, and now cover 11 acres (4.4 hectares) of hillside and include a collection of outdoor sculptures dating from ancient Rome through the 17th century, making it a veritable open-air museum.
Located behind Fort Belvedere just steps from the Arno River, Bardini Garden is considered one of Florence’s top lesser-known sights. In addition to a 17th-century villa that houses a museum, café, and terrace with panoramic views of the city, the garden features 10 acres (4 hectares) of pastures, a famed wisteria canopy, and six fountains.
Florence’s central San Lorenzo Market includes two separate markets. One is the Central Market (Mercato Centrale), an indoor food market with a trendy upstairs gourmet food market and stalls selling everything from seasonal produce to Chianti wine and Tuscany's famed olive oil on the ground floor. The other is an outdoor souvenir market that has as many trinkets and affordable souvenirs as leather goods and other Florentine crafts for which the region is known.
More Things to Do in Florence
If Florence is the capital of the Italian Renaissance, the Bargello Museum(Museo Nazionale del Bargello) is the capital of Italian Renaissance sculpture. Housed in the city’s medieval Palazzo del Podestà, the collection includes masterpieces by Cellini, Andrea della Robbia, Luca della Robbia, Michelangelo, Bernini, and Donatello.
With its beautiful grassy expanses and Renaissance basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s Piazza di Santa Maria Novella is beloved by Florentines and visitors alike. The centrally located square, lined with historic townhouses, restaurants, and cafés, has been a popular gathering place for 800 years.
Italy is known for its vibrant outdoor markets, and one of Florence’s liveliest is the Sant’Ambrogio Market (Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio). Here you can enjoy the authentic atmosphere of a traditional Italian food market and make some purchases from the stalls piled high with fresh produce and local specialties.
The historic church of Santo Stefano al Ponte Vecchio is now one of the most beautiful exhibition spaces in the heart of Florence. And with its excellent acoustics, and a blend of Romanesque, Gothic, and baroque architecture, the auditorium is the perfect place to take in a concert or opera.
Florence is a city filled with quaint squares, picturesque landscapes and plenty of old-world architecture that’s ripe with European charm. This is particularly true amid its famous squares, and travelers agree that few are as beautiful as Piazza della Santissima Annunziata.
A massive bronze statue of Ferdinando I de’Medici on horseback stands at the center of the square, with two notably strange fountains on either side. Visitors can relax in the sun and lounge as locals wind through the square on a busy afternoon, or duck into the Santissima Annunziata church, which was built in the 15th century and gave the square its name. Ospedale deli Innocenti—the oldest orphanage on the continent—also flanks the square and offers travelers a unique opportunity to explore the city’s past. Ceramic glazed reliefs of swaddled newborns line the façade and visitors can check out the circular stone where women could leave their unwanted newborns without fear of repercussion.
The Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano), designed by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century, is an elevated medieval passageway connecting Palazzo Vecchio and the Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti), each set on opposite banks of the Arno River in Florence. Snaking through and along many of the city's landmarks, the near-mile-long, elevated walkway was once a secret, used by the Medici family to travel unnoticed through Florence. Today, it is an art gallery, home to Italy’s most important collection of self-portraits. Visitors can admire views over the river from its large windows running over the Ponte Vecchio.
Italian style is famous the world over, and one of the most recognized fashion labels from Italy is Prada. To find this popular designer’s chic bags, shoes, and clothing at discounts of up to 50 percent off retail prices, head to the large Prada outlet (aka Space) just outside of Florence.
Florence’s Loggia dei Lanzi is a 14th-century open-air gallery featuring pieces by Renaissance sculptors Benvenuto Cellini and Giambologna alongside sculptural works from Roman antiquity. Named for the Swiss guards of Cosimo I, the Loggia was a terrace from which the ruling Medici family presided over ceremonies in the Piazza della Signoria.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella (Basilica di Santa Maria Novella) is one of Florence’s most beautiful and—as the city’s first basilica—most important churches. With a striking Gothic-Renaissance facade, interior chapels housing artistic masterpieces, and Dominican cloisters, the church is one of the main sights in Tuscany’s capital city.
Pit yourself against the genius of Leonardo da Vinci at this museum dedicated to the Italian luminary. Alongside dozens of working models of Leonardo’s inventions, a workshop gives you the chance to do some building of your own. With multimedia exhibits and hands-on displays, the Leonardo da Vinci Museum is a fun stop for kids and adults.
One of the grandest Renaissance buildings in Florence, the 15th-century Pitti Palace houses the Palatine Gallery, a collection of over 500 paintings dating from the 15th to the 17th century. The collection features works by Italian masters like Titian, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Pietro da Cortona, and other European painters like Rubens and Velazquez.
Italy is famous for its fashion and design, and some of the world’s most popular luxury clothing and home decor brands come from this stylish country. If you love Italian elegance, visit Tuscany’s Barberino Designer Outlet to shop for designer brands from Italy at a deep discount.
Via Cavour (officially Via Camillo Cavour) is one of the main roads in the historical center of Florence, Italy. It was named in 1861 when two ancient streets, Via Larga and Via San Leopoldo, were joined. Visitors walking down certain sections of the street should look closely for plaques commemorating well-known people who once lived here. At the south end of the street is the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, which was once home to the famous Medici family during the Renaissance. Today it is a museum of art and architecture covering more than 400 years of Florence's history.
Several other museums are located on Via Cavour, such as the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum and the Crime Museum. Along Via Cavour, you will find plenty of hotels, restaurants, and shops as well as apartment buildings. You'll also see the Museum and Convent of San Marco. The road passes through Piazza San Marco as it heads north, eventually meeting up with Piazza della Liberta.
Adjacent Florence’s Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldest known pharmacies in the world. Established in 1221 by Dominican friars, the pharmacy still produces natural and herbal remedies, soaps, and fragrances displayed and sold in the historic shop.
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