The artistic and cultural patrimony of Florence is amongst the most important in the world. Heart of the Italian renaissance it hosted artists writers and architects such as Dante,Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo,Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Vasari. Florence has never lost its charm and reputation of a city of art and culture. Its Accadamys and Librarys, museums religeous monuments, churches civil constructions and noble palaces are of magnificent beauty.
Florence is the capital of bothe the Province and the Region of Tuscany. Surrounded by the vinyards of the Chianti hills it rises 50 meters above sea livel and extends on both sides of the Arno river. Towards the North,northeast the city meets the hills of Careggi Fiesole and Settignano and to the South towards Arcetri and Bellosguardo. The city was founded in pre-roman times with a regular urbanistic structure and along the banks of the Arno river rise magnificent palaces and bridges. The majority of tourist attractions can be grouped in 6 areas all easily reached by foot, and each area represents the historical center of the city:
Duomo CathedralThis area maintains its medieval atmosphere with its small streets and handcraft shops. The cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori, with Ghibertis baptestry and Giottos bell tower dominate the square. Orsanmichele (first a chamber of commerce and later a chapel) is one of the best examples of 13th century architecture which is a short walk down Via Calzaioli. The Bargello is again a short walk in Via del Proconsolo hosting an inestimable collection of tuscan renaissance sculptures.
Piazza Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi museum Ponte VecchioThe Piazza Signoria was the center of politics, civic and city life, The Palazzo Vecchio surmounts this large square with the Uffizi gallery by its side and the Lanzi loggia with ist copies of famous statues.The Ponte Vecchio connects the Pitti Palace with the Uffizi and houses both antique and new jewellry shops. Piazza Repubblica with its coffe shops and elegant stores is a busy center and close by, This area is famous for its fashion stores and historical bars mostly situated inside 15th century buildings in the Via Ytournabuoni and Via Vignanuova. Palazzo Strozzi is an architectual example of renaissance and home to important cultural institutions such as Visseux.
Santa Croce DistrictThis magnificent church, sitting in the square taking the same name, is a mixture of architectual styles built around a convent which today houses statues and religeous paintings. The church itself houses important historical monuments being the tombs of Michelangelo, Rossini, Macchiavelli, Galileo and artistic tresures like the Donatello and Cimabue crucifix, the Pazzi chapel decorated by Brunelleschi and the Bardi chapel decorated by Giotto.
Santa Maria Novella DistrictThis multicoloured district close to the main train station offersShops, churches and the Marino Marini museum hosting the artists comtemporary sculptures (1901/80) Piazza S. Pancrazio, and the dominating church of Santa Maria Novella with artistic treasures by Masaccio and Giotto.
San Lorenzo and San Marco districtThe Medici family district extends from the Cathedral through Via Martelli (Palace Medici Riccardi) to the Piazza San Marco with its Benedictine Convent and Church, San Lorenzo is behind the Medici Riccardi Palace and houses one of the most colourful and bustling markets in the city, The church of San Lorenzo hosts a magnificent Laurentian library and the Medici Chapel by Michelangelo.
OltrarnoPitti Palace, Santo Spirito, Boboli gardens, Santa Maria del Carmine.
Uffizi galleryThe entrance though its porticoed arches leads you to one of the most importante art collections and the oldest modern art museum in Europe, covering great works of art from medieval through to modern times. Today you can admire over 200 pieces of art by important artists such as Andrea del Castagno, Botticelli, Cimabue, Giotto and Leonardo da Vinci.
Piazza Duomo and CathedralThe Brunelleschi dome dominates the city and defines its profile. The cathedral was built intentionally to represent the largest cristian center, later to be reclaimed by St. Peters in Rome, and took 150 years to be built. To get an extraordinaty view of the city you can climb the 463 steps in the dome or the 414 steps in the bell tower. The baptistry in front of the cathedral entrance was once thought a pagan temple, octagonal in shape it is the oldest building in Florence. Its 5 entrances carry 10 bas-relief in bronze narrating stories from the Old Testament.
Accademy GalleryIn Via Ricasoli on the corner of Santissima Annunziata square is the Accademia gallery housing the magnificent David by Michelangelo together with other great works by this artist. David was honed from one enormous marble block in 1502 when the artist was only 29 years old. David was erected, in size and dimention, to represent the Medici republic.
Bargello National GalleryBuilt between 1255 and 1345 as a prison and torture chamber, the museum was opened to the public in 1865 thanks to contributions received from the Uffizi, the Mint and the State Archives. Today it is one of the worlds most important museums hosting a vast collection of sculptures from florentine rennaisance French ivory and ancient bronze. A special visit should be made to Donatellos room with sketches and proofs of his work by the artist.
Ponte VecchioThe only bridge left intact in 1944 during the Nazi withdrawel. Today the Ponte Vecchio (1345) hosts generation-old jewellry shops since the Tuscan Duke Ferdinando Medici ordered the jewellers to substitute the smelly butchers shops that had adorned the bridge for centuries. Above the shops runs the Vasarian corridor leading from the Uffizi to the Pitti Palace.
Rose GardenOn the hillside of Florence beneath the Piazzale Michelangelo is the rose garden hosting over 350 species of the flower. It was opened to the public in 1895 and offers a beautiful walk and view of the city.
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