Things to Do in Florence - page 3
Palazzo Davanzati is a mansion-turned-museum in Florence that models what life was like in medieval Italy. Built in the 14th century, the palace contains more than 10 rooms beautifully and carefully decorated with period furniture and frescoes, as well as a courtyard and original stone and wood staircases.
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.
Entering the neighborhood of San Frediano means historically passing through the Porta San Frediano, which was once a door to the walled city, leading to one of Florence’s most popular residential areas in the present day. The trendy area has a variety of culture, cuisine, and art that contribute to its cosmopolitan feel. The neighborhood is home to many artisans that have kept their workshops here for decades. It has been compared to the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. Many will cross the bridges on the river from the historic city center to enjoy a greater variety of food and drink in a less expensive price range.
After crossing through the Porta San Frediano, the Chiesa San Frediano in Cestello becomes visible. The 17th century church was built on the site of an older monastery, Santa Maria degli Angeli, which was founded in 1450.
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.
Located within Santa Maria del Carmine Church in Florence’s Oltrarno neighborhood, theBrancacci Chapel (Cappella Brancacci) is one of the city’s most treasured landmarks. The chapel’s walls showcase recently restored frescoes painted in 1424 by Masaccio, who was only 21 at the time. His work is known to locals as the Sistine Chapel of the early Renaissance.
With its massive dome patterned in colorful designs, the Great Synagogue of Florence (Tempio Maggiore) is an architectural marvel and significant synagogue of Italy. Historically Florence has always had a small Jewish community, with the first synagogue dating back to the 13th century. The Great Synagogue, however, was constructed from 1874 to 1882 financed by a local Jewish citizen who sought out to create a synagogue with beauty that would rival the other structures of Florence. Today it is still one of the largest in Europe. There is also a small Jewish museum with relics on display.
The synagogue features influences from both Italian and Islamic traditions. Its oxidized bright green copper roof makes the dome stand out in the city skyline. The interior features striking alternating layers of granite and travertine, with three large arches framing the entrance. Many draw comparisons in style to the Hagia Sofia of Istanbul. Its marble floors, mosaics, hand painted walls, and stained glass windows make this a beautiful space to behold.
Near Florence’s historic center, this eclectic museum contains Wunderkammer-like collections of art and artifacts amassed by 19th-century antiques dealer Frederick Stibbert. Peruse dozens of rooms stuffed with paintings, tapestries, furnishings, and armor.
Framed by forested hills and spread across 70 acres, the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial pays tribute to more than 4,000 American soldiers who lost their lives in wars in Italy. Most of the casualties come from World War II’s Fifth Army, who fought the battles that took place after Rome was captured in 1944. The soldiers buried here fell anywhere from Rome to the Alps. Surrounded by trees of the Tuscan countryside, the grounds are beautifully kept in honor of the fallen soldiers. The many white marble headstones dot the green fields beside the Greve River.
The memorial center beside the cemetery is a multi-denominational church that includes a ‘Wall of the Missing’ for the unknown soldiers whose trace was never found. There is also a monument for peace. It is one of fourteen American cemetery and memorials on foreign soil around the world.
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.
The image of Michelangelo’s David statue (Il Davide di Michelangelo)—one of the world’s best-known works of art—is so ubiquitous in Florence that it's become a symbol of Italy’s Renaissance capital. Carved between 1501 and 1504, then installed at the custom-built Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia) in 1873, the masterpiece symbolizes strength and human beauty.
More Things to Do in Florence
A rock music temple if there ever was one, the Hard Rock brand doesn’t require an introduction; not with 170 establishments worldwide! Both a restaurant, a bar and a museum, this peculiar Florence attraction draws in rock music aficionados thanks to an impressive collection of authentic memorabilia and mouth-watering American-themed menu (something seldom found in all of Italy). Loud rock music, a relaxed atmosphere, original cocktails and humongous quantities of food await at Florence’s most American institution.
Golden records, guitars, costumes and other iconic memorabilia can be found at the restaurant’s two-floor museum. Some of the most popular items include Jimmy Hendrix’s hippie shirt, Diana Ross’ Supremes-era doll, an old Cavern Club membership card (signed by all of the Far Four), a handwritten draft of Prince’s “The Glamorous Life,” Michael Jackson’s rhinestone-bedecked pants, one of Elvis Presley’s red shirts, a bass that belonged to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Runaways’ Lita Ford’s red teddy.
The brand’s most loyal fans will certainly want to stop at the restaurant’s gift shop, where they will be able to extend their pin collection—a popular tradition for Hard Rock fans is to get a guitar-shaped pin every time they visit a new location—with one from Florence.
Florence’s one-of-a-kind Ospedale degi Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents) is the oldest orphanage on the continent and offers travelers the perfect blend of Italian history, Roman artistry, classic architecture and lush gardens. It can only be described as one of the city’s oddest—and most beautiful—attractions. Built during the early 15th century, Ospedale degli Innocenti has served as a center of care for infants and children for more than 500 years and today also operates as a home for some of the nation’s best-known works of art.
In addition to a vast gallery, this historic landmark is also home to open cloisters and plenty of hospital-like rooms, including an infirmary and group dormitories. Travelers can explore the grounds and bear witness to giant frescos that depict scenes from the historic site’s lengthy past. Dozens of brilliantly colored paintings line the galleries and hallways projecting images of religious figures with dozens of children—a nod to the hospital’s original purpose. Travelers say the glazed terra-cotta reliefs of swaddled newborn babies are not to be missed and prove one of Ospedale degi Innocenti’s most unique details.
Commissioned during the height of the Medici family’s reign in 16th-century Florence, Buontalenti Grotto (Grotta del Buontalenti) is the largest grotto in the city. Sculptures of mythical creatures and man-made stalagmites covering its facade and interior make the grotto one of the most popular landmarks in the Boboli Gardens.
This historic Anglican Church in Florence, Italy has English roots — remaining one of three worship centers that form the chaplaincy of the Church of England (the other two are St. Peter’s in Siena and a growing congregation in Bologna.) Built in 1881, it is steeped in local history — part of an old Medici palace, later owned by Machiavelli, and then renovated in neb-renaissance style. It is known as a symbol of Renaissance architecture.
The church often serves the homeless community of Florence and holds mass regularly. It remains a center of Anglo-Catholic religion for the British expat community in Florence. The beautiful interior of the Anglican Church is furthermore a hub of historic art and one of the most celebrated concert venues in Florence with classical performances in music, choral singing, and opera as well as a variety of visiting performers. With only 150 seats, it is an intimate venue to experience a live concert.
This 17th-century villa near Settignano just outside Florence is home to one of the most impressive gardens in Italy, with manicured lawns, lemon and olive groves, and baroque-style fountains and statues. A lush oasis overlooking the Arno Valley, the villa is an ideal quick escape from the crowds and chaos of the city.
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