This charming bridge is the oldest bridge in Florence; it
was built in 1345 and it was the only bridge to escape destruction in the
World War II. Initially the bridge was occupied by butchers, tanners and
blacksmiths but they were evicted by the Medici duke Ferdinand I in 1593
because of the noise and smell they created. Instead the workshops were
rented to blacksmiths and jewelers which still occupy the bridge today. The
shops seem to be selling everything, from affordable new jewelry to antique
one. On the eastern side of the bridge is the Vasari corridor which was used
by members of the Medici family to move between Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo
Vecchio via Uffizi. The corridor is full of many famous works of art
(unfortunatelly it was closed when we visited Uffizi).
Duomo - Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
This beautiful cathedral which sits right in the heart of
Florence was started in 1296 and completed in 1436, the year when it was
consecrated. The facade was added in the 19th century to completent Giotto's
14th-century Campanile. Part of its great beauty comes from Filippo
Brunelleschi's cupola which was an ingenious engineering achievement at the
time when it was built. The dome can be climbed (463 steps to the top or so
they say). It wasn't easy (especially considering that two hours before we
have climbed the Campanile, 414 steps to the top) but our hard work was
rewarded by superb views of Florence.
Giotto designed this Gothic bell tower in 1334 and it was
completed 22 years later. It is dressed in multicolored Tuscan marble - white,
green and pink. Just 6 euro and 441 steps to the top :-) and you'll get to
enjoy a close view of the Brunelleschi's cupola and great views of the city.
Baptistry (Battistero) - The Interior
This octogonal building in front of the Duomo is one of
Florence's oldest buildings. We were there in May and permanently there was a
huge line in front of the building. I though I will leave Florence without
seeing it. In the last day I tried again, arriving in the Piazza del Duomo
about 15 minutes before the closing time. This time there were only a few
people in line so I bought a ticket. It was really worth it, the 13th century
mosaics which illustrated the Last Judgement are so beautiful. I stayed there
until closing time.
The Doors of the Baptistry
These bronze Renaissance doors were decorated by Lorenzo
Ghiberti who won the commision in a competition. He spent 21 years on the
North Doors and 28 years (from 1424 to 1452) on the East Doors. The panels
depict stories from the Old Testament. The legend is that Michelangelo himself
said they were so beautiful that they could serve as the Gates of Paradise.
The panels on the doors are copies, the originals are now on display in the
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo where they were taken to be protected from the
effects of pollution.
San Miniato al Monte
San Miniato al Monte is a beautiful Romanesque basilica
situated on a green hill above the city. The church was built in the 11th
century over the shrine of the early Christian martyr San Miniato. The facade
has a geometrical design and a mosaic dating from the 13th century of Christ
between the Virgin and San Miniato. The interior has fine frescoes and mosaics.
Santa Maria Novella
This gothic church contains some of the most important works
of art in Florence. It was built by the Dominicans starting in 1246 and
finished in the mid 14th century. The beautiful facade was completed in two
phases, a century apart from one to another but I believe it comes together
just fine. Inside you can see Masaccio's Trinity one of the first works of art
to employ perspective, announcing the arrival of the Renaissance. Look also
for the wooden crucifix by Filippo Brunelleschi and for the beautiful chapels
that line the walls, frescoed by famous Florentine artists.
This beautiful Gothic church dating from the end of the 13th
century contains the tombs of many famous Florentines, notably the tombs of
Michelangelo, Galilei, Ghiberti and Machiavelli. The church also has an
important collection of art which includes frescoes by Giotto and a stunning
crucifix by Donatello. Pass through the courtyard to get to the Museo
dell'Opera di Santa Croce to see the 13th century Triumphal Cross by Cimabue.
The piazza in the front of the church is a good place for taking a break. Rest
on the steps in front of Dante's statue and watch the world go by.
Michelangelo's Tomb inside Santa Croce
As you enter Santa Croce immediately to the right is the
tomb of Michelangelo. The monument was designed by Vasari in 1570 and the
three ladies symbolize Painting, Architecture and Sculpture.
Boboli Gardens started to take shape in 1591 after the
Medici bought Palazzo Pitti. They were modified over the years by different
artists and were finally opened to the public in 1766. The main entrace to the
gardens is through the courtyard of Palazzo Pitti. We took a path lined with
cypress trees and classical statues that opened into a large area with an
artificial lake and the Little Island (L'Isolotto). There were numerous
statues and flowers around. One can rest on one of the benches around the lake
and take in the beauty of the Giardini Boboli.
View from Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is the place where you can see
beautiful views of the city. I had a lot of fun looking towards the city and
trying to identify the places I have visited. The square has a copy of
Watch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo
We got to Piazzale Michelangelo late in the afternoon and
decided to wait for the sunset here. We sat on the stairs and admired the city
and when the sunset came the view was so beautiful. There is an outdoor cafe
where one can sit.