The values of Florentine Aristocratic Culture
The proposed itinerary is divided into two different routes, each requiring a half day.
Clarification to the reader: the second route contains an anomaly, i.e. Palazzo Corsini, an expression of Baroque architecture tempered with the typical sobriety of Florentine tradition.
The inclusion of this palace, as part of the second route, is added with the purpose of allowing the visitor to compare the Renaissance taste with that of the 1600’s.
- Palazzo Medici Riccardi
- S. Lorenzo
- Laurenzian Library
- Medici’s Chapels
- Via de’ Cerretani
- S. Maria Maggiore
- Piazza Antinori
- Via de’ Tornabuoni
- Strozzi Palace
- Santa Trinita
- S. Trinita Bridge
- Lungarno e Palazzo Corsini
- Piazza e Basilica Ognissanti
- Rucellai Palace
- Piazza Santa Maria Novella
- Santa Maria Novella
- Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy
FIRST ROUTE: from Palace medici-riccardi to Santa Trinita BridgeSpeaking of an historic centre in Florence is of little significance since every monument, every square and every panoramic vista recalls history and art, one can say that the outlined route cover the most famous palaces as well as via de’ Tornabuoni, mostly known for its elegant shops. Don’t hesitate to take the time to visit these paradises or just glimpsing in the display windows it’s a must.
- Medici - Riccardi Palace
- S. Lorenzo
- Laurentian Library
- Medici’s Chapels
- Via de’ Cerretani
- Santa Maria Maggiore
- Antinori’ square
- Via de’ Tornabuoni
- Strozzi Palace
- Santa Trinita Square
- Santa Trinita Bridge
MEDICI - RICCARDI PALACEVia Cavour, 3 (S. Marco)
Opening hours: from Thursday to Tuesday, 9.00 am – 7.00 pm
The first Renaissance palace in Florence, was erected for Cosimo de’ Medici who, in virtue of a shortened political career, or as told by Vasari: more to escape the envy than the cost, denied the project for a princely residence that was proposed by Brunelleschi, and entrusted the palace construction to Michelozzo (1444). From the Medici, the palace passed to the Riccardi and is today the seat of the Prefecture.
The palazzo was extended during the 17th century, it is the first to contain an ashlar sloping from one level to the next, which become progressively lighter and balanced out, in part, by rich moulding. While the ashlar on the ground floor is in the rustic style of the 1300’s, the traditional motif of mullioned windows on the top floors is of new and superior elegance. The closing of the loggia on the angle which houses the two beautiful kneeling windows, dates back to the 1517 and was due to Michelangelo.
The end of the courtyard gives way to the garden, a green space which Michelozzo, architect of the Medicean villas, introduces for the first time in an urban palace.
From the courtyard enter the Museo Mediceo and go up into the chapel frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli in which you will admire the celebrated Adoration of the Magi (many of the figures represented are portraits of the Medici).
BASILICA OF SAN LORENZOSan Lorenzo Square
Opening hours: from Monday to Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Designed by Brunelleschi and upon his death completed by A.Manetti, his pupil, this church is one of the major religious architectural works of the Early Renaissance (1442 – 1446). The façade remained raw, even though a project was designed by of Michelangelo. The inside is divided into three naves with framework in pietra Serena, a coffered ceiling and a beautiful balcony designed by Michelangelo. Among the works of art, the two pergami in bronze, the last works by Donatello and the famous Annunciation by Fillippino Lippi, stand out. From the left transept, enter into the Sacrestia Vecchia, one of the most precious masterpieces of the Renaissance, designed by Brunelleschi and decorated by Donatello (1419 – 1428). From the squared lay-out rises a cube covered by a hemispherical dome. The geometrical construction of spaces is heightened by the contrast between the white masonry and the contours in dark stone. The altar is inserted in a small apse also square. On the left of the entrance the porphyry and bronze sarcophagus, containing the remains of Giovanni e Pietro de’ Medici is due to Andrea Verrocchio,.
LIBRARY LAURENZIANASan Lorenzo Square, 9
Opening hours: from Monday to Saturday 8.30 am –1.30 pm.
This library founded by Cosimo ill Vecchio, is located in a building by Michelangelo (1524 – 1578). The interiors were also designed by Michelangelo, along with the benches, displaying simplicity and rigour, whereas the vestibule and the grand staircase anticipate the Baroque. The most precious and antique miniatures are displayed in the plutei.
Opening hours: 8.15 – 17.00.
CLOSED: every month the 2°and 4° Sunday and the 1°, 3° and 5° Monday.
You enter into a vast crypt and then go up into the Baroque style Princes Chapel. The chapel is an octagonal construction with a dome, covered with marble and hard stone, a work by Nigetti based on the design by Giovanni de’Medici (17th century). The chapel contains the sarcophagi of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany.
A corridor takes you to the Sagrestia Nuova, begun by Michelangelo in 1521 and finished by Vasari and Ammannati around 1555.
The square room, covered by a coffered radial dome, on one side, gives access to an apse, also square, with altar, while on the other side, above a simple sarcophagus, a chest contains the remains of Lorenzo de’ Medici and his brother Giovanni, upon which you find the splendid sculpture Madonna and Child by Michelangelo. The other two sides, house the two highly celebrated Medicean sepulchers, sculpted by Michelangelo prior to his departure from Florence in 1534; i.e. the sepulcher of Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, in a contemplative posture between the figures of Dawn and Dusk, and that of Giuliano Duke of Nemours, represented as a young warrior between the figures of day and night. In the apse, drawings by Michelangelo and his school are displayed.
VIA DE’ CERRETANI AND SANTA MARIA MAGGIOREThis is one of the most animated streets in Florence. Facing it is Santa Maria Maggiore, a reworked Gothic construction from the 1200’s. The somber and severe interior houses frescoes form the 1300’s, while the chapel to the left of the presbyter, preserves a table from the 1200’s with a Madonna in relief.
ANTINORI SQUAREIt’s name is taken from Palazzo Antinori, erected by Guiliano from Maiano between 1461 and 1466, which faces the piazza with it’s sober and noble façade.
VIA DE’ TORNABUONIThis street, so elegant with its shops and meeting places, unwinds till the Arno river. Flanked by palaces dated back from the 15th to the 19th Centuries with high architectural value, among which the Strozzi Palace.
A curious note: on the second foor of a fortress-like palace, at n°2 of this street there is the Ferragamo Museum where are exposed shoes of princess and cinema stars created by this fashion brand in a time span of almost a Century. The entrance is free of charge but reservations are advised. (Phone: 0553360456)
STROZZI PALACEStrozzi Square, 6
Filippo Strozzi started in 1489 a house, “which would carry the fame of his name and that of his family in the whole of Italy”.
The grandeur of the palace is proved by the fact that, in the area fifteen houses had to be destroyed for its construction. Benedetto da Maiano, , started the building which was based on the project by Giuliano da Sangallo, an was later completed by the architect Cronaca to whom we owe the beautiful ledge and the courtyard. The palace rose isolated between four streets, it is a cube of perfect proportions, symbol of equilibrium and fully achieved rationality.
SANTA TRINITA SQUAREIn the centre of the square rises the monolithic column dedicated to Justice, coming from the Caracalla Thermal Bath in Rome, Italy (the statue at the top dates back to 1581).
SANTA TRINITASanta TrinitaSquare
Opening hours: from Monday to Saturday 8.00am – 12.00am and; 2.00pm to 6.00pm; Sunday from 2.00pm to 6.00pm
The baroque facade dated 1594 is the work of Buontalenti. The gothic interior presents three naves on pillars with lancet arches and cross-shaped. The church holds works of the 13th and 14th centuries (painted panels at the altar and frescoes on the walls). The second chapel on the right-hand of the presbytery (Sassetti’s Chapel) is well known for its paintings by Domenico Ghirlandaio. In the second chapel, on the left hand of the presbytery, do visit the grave of Federighi, a splendid piece of marble and glazed terracotta by Luca della Robbia.
SECOND WALK: from the Corsini lungarno to S. Maria NovellaThis is a mixed visit which allows to compare the baroque style of the Corsini palace and the Ognissanti’s Church façade, with the gothic style of the façade of Santa Maria Novella. The grandeur of this portal, columns and the high architrave seems to be held-back by the linearity and the geometrical disposition of marquetry of coloured marble designed by Leon battista Alberti.
- Lungarno Corsini
- Corsini Palace
- Ognissanti Basilica
- Rucellai Palace
- Santa Maria Novella Square
- Santa Maria Novella Basilica
- Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy
LUNGARNO CORSINIIt is the most beautiful section of the lungarni, lined with noble palaces. At the end of the lungarno there is the rebuilt Carraia bridge.
Erected in the second half of the 17th century by the architects Pier Francesco Silvani and Antonio Ferri, it is an harmonious building in which the rich baroque has been tempered and polished by the taste for rigueur typical of Florence.
The only scenographic baroque element of this palace with its accentuated horizontality, is the roof crowned with statues and big vases. The palace houses the Corsini gallery, the richest private collection in Florence.
Via del Parione, 11
Visit upon appointment
Call time from 2.30 pm to 5.30pm
Rooms richly adornated with baroque elements display paintings of florentine school from ‘400 and ‘500 in which the highlights are works of Pontormo, Signorelli, Filippino Lippi, and more works of Italian and foreign artists from ‘600 and ‘700.
The Basilica rises in the homonymous square with its façade designed by Nigetti (1637), of clear baroque style; it is highlightened by the insertion of robbian terracotta. The sleek bell tower is the only remain of the ancient gothic building.
Inside, in the second altar, on the right, where lies the tomb stone of the Vespucci family, you can admire the frescoes by Ghirlandaio.
Through a renaissance cloister, you access to the ancient convent refectory, where on the front wall is the famous fresco Last Supper of Ghirlandaio and on the side walls the frescoes of S. Agostino by Botticelli (1480) and S. Girolamo by Ghirlandaio.
RUCELLAI PALACEVia della Vigna Nuova, 16
Borgo Ognissanti, 42
Opening hours: from Monday to Saturday 7.30am – 12.30am and 3.30pm –7.30pm
THE CENACLE open Monday, Tuesday and Saturday from 9.00am to 12.00am
The works for the construction of this palace, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture, were headed by Bernardo Rossellino based on the project by Leon Battista Alberti. In this building, he realize the architectural rules expressed by himself in the book De re aedificatoria, according to which the artist must express the idea, while execution has to be done by others.
In this work L. B. Alberti reveals himself truly knowledgeable of ancient arts, as revealed by the portals clearly roman in style and the bar featuring a false grid of the ground floor, from where rise slim Doric pilasters.
The façade’s ashlars doesn’t show the real stone cutting, but instead an elegant graphic composition. In the little square facing the palace it is worth admiring the Rucellai loggia with its three arcades (1467).
The S. Paolo’s Loggia, with its elegant arcades on columns also gives on this square. Terracotta medallions by Giovanni della Robbia adorn the front of the loggia, and the Encounter of S. Domenico and S. Francesco by Andrea della Robbia that of the stained glass windows under the porch.
PHARMACY OF SANTA MARIA NOVELLAVia della Scala, 16
Opening hours: from Monday to Friday 9.30am – 7.30pm , Sunday 10.30am – 6.30pm
Inside a chapel of the 14th Century is one of the eldest pharmacy in the world, attributed to the works of Dominicans. When, during the 1200, the Dominicans reached Florence they had to face the problem of respiratory diseases. They hence started to plant herbs for producing medicines and unguents for the monks’ community. These medicines gave them fame and in 1612, they opened a pharmacy. Several rooms still are covered by the original frescoes of 14th Century. As a consequence of Napoleon’s confiscation of Church properties, the pharmacy refurbished and privatized. The rooms highly perfumed, are filled with unguents, lotions, medical herbs that cure diseases ranging from eye strain to cellulite. Several products are still produced according to the Dominicans did, others follows today’s methods, but all of these are packaged with the elegant style that reminds the ancient times.
Not to be forgotten: visit to the Green Room where you can see the production of soaps with apparatuses from the 1800.
Recommendation: for yourselves buy a little bag of potpourri!.
SANTA MARIA NOVELLA BASILICASanta Maria Novella Square
Opening hours: from Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 5.00pm; Sunday 1.00pm – 5.00pm
Santa Maria Novella Cloisters
Santa Maria Novella square, 19
Opening hours: from Saturday to Thursday 9.00am – 2.00pm
This is a gothic buildings complex.
- The Green Cloister (1350): the name come from the frescoes on its walls, produced by several artists of the ‘400 among which the Paolo Uccello’s stand out. The frescoes are now inside the near Refectory Room.
- The Spanish’ Cappellone (14th Century ): the spacious room, built by I. Talenti, shows in the altar one polyptich by B. Gaddi and on the walls, frescoes by Andrea da Firenze.
- The Little Cloister of the Dead: the very suggestive frescoes date back to the 13th Century.
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