North of the Arno, Florence
Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi
Maria Maddalena, a member of the famous Florentine Pazzi family, was canonised in 1669. The 13th century complex of church and Benedictine convent, already remodeled two centuries earlier by Giuliano da Sangallo (1480-1492), was enlarged in her honor, which is why the forecourt of the church is in the harmonious style of the second half of the 15th century while other parts of the church and the convent have Baroque elements. The chapels contain precious works by such 15th and 16th century Tuscan artists as Portelli and Giordano. The refectory is today part of a barracks for the Carabinieri, and Sangallo's cloisters belong to the Liceo Michelangelo.
Address: Borgo Pinti 58, I-50100 Florence, Italy
Opening hours: 9am-12pm, 5pm-7pm
Useful tips: Afternoon hours vary.
Transit: Bus: 6, 8, 19.
Crocifissione del Perugino
In the chapterhouse of the adjoining convent are some of Perugino's finest frescoes (Crocifissione del Perugino), dating from between 1493 and 1496, his most creative period: Christ on the Cross and Mary Magdalene, St Bernard and Mary, St John and St Benedict, Christ on the Cross helping St Bernard. The landscape in the background is clearly Perugino's native Umbria (Perugia).
Refectory of Sant'Apollonia
The former convent of Sant'Apollonia, which was secularised in 1808, then used as a military storehouse and which now houses part of the university, is worth visiting on account of its interesting church and the beautiful cloister with its graceful 15th century columns. The Coenaculum of St Apollonia, the convent's refectory, is now a museum. Previously inaccessible because of the nuns' seclusion, the Benedictine convent's refectory holds Andrea del Castagno's "Last Supper" (c. 1457). This fresco has an important place in Renaissance painting: the accuracy of its perspective and the realistic physical vigour of the figures (especially Jesus and the figure of Judas sitting apart from the others) makes the picture intensely dramatic.Also interesting are, above it, Castagno's "Crucifixion", "Entombment" and "Resurrection" and his two lunettes "Pietà" and "Christ crucified with the Virgin, St John and Saints".
Address: Via XXVII Aprile 1, I-50100 Florence, Italy
Opening hours: 9am-2pm; Closed: Mon
Entrance fee: FREE
Useful tips: Closed on 2nd and 4th Monday, and 1st, 3rd and 5th Sunday of every month.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Transit: Bus: 1, 6, 7, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25.
Piazza della Santissima Annunziata
Adjudged the most beautiful square in Florence, the tone of the spacious Piazza della Santissima Annunziata is set by four buildings of artistic importance - the church of Santissima Annunziata at the top, the portico by Brunelleschi of the foundling hospital, the Spedale degli Innocenti on the right, the colonnades of the Confraternità dei Servi di Maria, the work of Antonio da Sangallo and Baccio d'Agnolo, on the left, and Ammanati's Palazzo Riccardi-Manelli.The statues in the square are the equestrian figure of Grand Duke Ferdinand I, Giambologna's last work, and completed by his pupil Tacca in 1608, and two bronze fountains of sea-creatures, dating from 1629 and the work, with his assistants, of Pietro Tacca, the versatile Carraran sculptor, metalworker and architect.
San Giovanni degli Scolopi
John the Evangelist ranks second in importance after John the Baptist as patron saint of Florence, and it was in his honor that in 1579 the architect Ammanati began to build this church and the adjacent college for the Jesuits opposite the Palazzo Medici. It was not completed, however, until 1661, when the architect was Alfonso Parigi the Younger. With the banishment of the Jesuits from Florence in 1773 the church was handed over to the "Padri Scolopi".The facade and the interior, richly adorned with marble and frescoes, show this to be a church on which no expense was spared.
St Ambrose is one of the oldest churches in Florence. The building was remodeled at the end of the 13th century and restored several times during the following centuries; the neo-Gothic facade was added in 1887. The single-naved church contains the tombs of famous Renaissance artists, including Cronaca (d. 1580), Mino da Fiesole (d. 1484) and Verrocchio (d. 1488). It is furnished with notable paintings and frescoes, among them the "Madonna del Latte" by Nardo di Cione, a triptych by Bicci di Lorenzo and Cosimo Rosselli's fresco of a procession.A marble tabernacle by Mino da Fiesole (1481-1483) in the Cappella del Miracolo (Chapel of the Miracle) depicts the event that gave the chapel its name. In 1230 a priest failed to dry the chalice properly; the next morning, it is said, the wine had turned to blood.
Mosaic Workshops and Museum
There is a long and unique tradition to "Florentine mosaic", as it is called, which consists of semi-precious stones inlaid in stone. Skilled craftsmen were especially in demand for the princes' chapel of San Lorenzo in 1588. They started in shops in the Palazzo degli Uffizi and then after 1796 moved to the Convent of San Niccolò where, chiefly for restoration purposes, this special Florentine craft is still carried on today.Adjoining the studio is a museum full of interesting examples of the art of these consummate craftsmen, as well as their tools and some particularly valuable stones.
The famous painter Raphael designed a palace for Giannozzo Pandolfini, the Bishop of Troia, and Giovanni Francesco and Aristotile da Sangallo put his plans into effect about 1520. The charm of the palace lies in its simple elegance and the perfect expression of elements of the Roman Renaissance. It was originally intended to extend the palace to the right so that the portal would have been in the middle. However under Pope Clement VII, a Medici - his name can be seen next to that of Leo X on the right-hand side - it was obviously decided to leave the building half-finished as you see it today.
Conservatorio Musicale Luigi Cherubini
The Conservatorio, founded in the early 19th century, houses a comprehensive music library and a collection of old musical instruments, including early pianos by the inventor of the pianoforte, Bartolomeo Cristofori, violins by the famous Italian violin-makers Stradivarius and Amati, and musical instruments from ancient Egypt and the Orient.The collection was founded in the early 18th century by Ferdinando, the son of Cosimo III. Cristofori was its curator and was also responsible for the most important acquisitions.
Palazzo Riccardi-Manelli (formerly Palazzo Grifoni)
This imposing palazzo in Piazza della Santissima Annunziata is the seat of the provincial and regional governments of Florence and Tuscany. The three-story building dominates the square, with its fine dignified facade opposite the church of Santissima Annunziata.Ugolino Grifoni, a wealthy official under Grand Duke Cosimo I, commissioned the architect Bartolomeo Ammanati to erect a palace over the top of old houses, a task which he skillfully accomplished between 1557 and 1563. The combination of red brick and predominantly light-gray stone is especially effective.
Rotonda del Brunelleschi (Rotonda di Santa Maria degli Agnoli or Angeli)
The Rotonda di Santa Maria degli Agnoli (or Angeli), also known as Rotonda del Brunelleschi, forms the nucleus of an octagonal church which Brunelleschi (hence the name) began after 1433 for the cloth-merchants' guild but never completed. The Rotonda is thought to be the first Renaissance building to be based on a central plan. In 1936 neighboring buildings were demolished with the result that the Rotonda is now free-standing. It presently contains the Centro Linguistico di Ateneo, which means that as a rule it is not possible to visit the interior.
San Giovanni (Giovannino dei Cavalieri)
The church of San Giovanni(no) dei Cavalieri (the Maltese Knights of St John) changed its name as often as its architects. First it was the Oratory of Mary Magdalene, with a home for "fallen" women (1326), then San Pier Celestino, San Niccolò" (1533) and finally San Giovanni Decallato (St John the Baptist Beheaded) or San Giovanni dei Cavalieri, the patron saint of nuns from Jerusalem who had a convent (with a fine cloister) near the church.Inside is a "Nativity" (1435) by di Lorenzo and a "Coronation of the Virgin" by di Bicci.
Cloister of the Barefoot
The Chiostro dello Scalzo, a graceful cloister with slender columns, was decorated by Andrea del Sarto between 1514 and 1526 for the "Confraternity of St John the Baptist", whose crossbearers used to walk barefoot (scalzo) in processions.The famous frescoes depicting scenes from the life of John the Baptist have been restored several times.The most important frescoes, all monochrome, are the Birth of John the Baptist (1526), the Sermon of St John (1515) and the Dance of Salome (1522).
Loggia di San Paolo
Opposite the church of Santa Maria Novella, on the south side of the square, is the Loggia di San Paolo which was commissioned in 1466 by the head of the Ospedale di San Paolo. It is modeled closely on Brunelleschi's Loggia degli Innocenti (the Porch of the Foundling Hospital). The columns were replaced in 1789. It too is decorated with terracotta medallions by the Florentine artists Andrea and Giovanni della Robbia.
Adjoining the Palazzo Venturi-Ginori is part of the famous Orti Oricellari, the gardens that became the site of the Accademia Platonica (neo-Platonic academy) when Bernardo Rucellai transferred it here in 1498. The Academy was visited by Pope Leo X in 1516 and Emperor Charles V in 1530.In the center of the gardens stands a gigantic statue of Polyphemus (8.4m/27.6ft high) by Antonio Novelli, a pupil of Giambologna.
The Archbishop's Palace was built between 1573 and 1584 by Giovanni Antonio Dosio for Cardinal Alessandro Medici who later became Pope Leo XI, but it was not finally completed until 1735, by Ciurini. During this long period it developed into a mixture of medieval and "modern" elements.In 1895 the whole palace was moved back 50 yards to make room for the city's growing traffic.
Fortezza da Basso (San Giovanni Battista)
The vast five-sided fortress near the main station, today used as a barracks and exhibition building, was designed in 1534 by Antonio Sangallo the Younger and built under the direction of Pier Francesco da Viterbo and Alessandro Vitelli (1534/1535). With this bastion Alessandro de'Medici sought to manifest and consolidate his power after his return to the city.
The Museum "Firenze com'era" was opened in 1903 in the old convent of the Oblates (opposite Santa Maria Nuova) with its fine 15th century cloister. Its paintings, drawings, prints and photographs look back over the development of the city of Florence since the end of the 15th century. It also tells of the everyday life of the Florentines, their various festivals and their great processions.
Address: Via dell'Oriuolo 24, I-50100 Florence, Italy
Opening hours: 9am-2pm; Closed: Thu
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Assumption Day - Christian (Aug 15), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Easter - Christian
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €2.70, Concession or reduced rate €2.00, Child 17 & under €1.00
Transit: Bus: 13, 14, 19, 23.
The Jewish Museum in Florence is located at Via Farini 4.Exhibits include Hebrew ceremonial objects and a number of ancient codices as well as medals and sacred dress.
Address: Via Farini 4, I-50100 Florence, Italy
Opening hours: Jul 1 to Aug 31: 10am-1pm, 2pm-5pm; Closed: Sat
Sep 1 to Jun 30: 10am-1pm, 2pm-4pm; Closed: Fri, Sat
Sep 1 to Jun 30: 10am-1pm, 2pm-4pm; Closed: Fri, Sat
Entrance fee: FREE
San Michelino (San Michele Visdomini)
In the shadow of the cathedral stands the church of San Michelino, the Vicedomini family church (hence the name San Michele Visdomini), which had to make way for the cathedral and was rebuilt a few yards away in the 14th century (renovated in the 17th century).It contains altarpieces by Pontormo ("Holy Family and Saints"), Passignano, Empoli and Poppi.
San Salvi Refectory
Andrea del Sarto's masterpiece, his version of the "Last Supper" in the Cenacolo di San Salvi, is well worth seeing. It is one of the finest early 16th century frescoes in Florence.The gallery in front of the refectory and the refectory itself contain copies of lost works by Andrea del Sarto, as well as other works by Florentine masters. The monastery kitchen with its huge fireplace is also worth a visit.
St Mary the New
Early in the 14th century Florence's old hospital was considerably enlarged and renamed Santa Maria Nuova (St Mary the New). Most of the present spacious building between Via degli Alfani, Via della Pergola, Via Bufalini and Via Sant'Egidio dates from the 17th century. An interesting feature is the clearcut articulation of the loggias overlooking Piazza Santa Maria Nuova.
The "Giardino dei Semplici" was founded in 1545 by Cosimo I for the study of exotic plants. It is the headquarters of the Italian Botanical Society, the "Società Botanica Italiana", and together with the school and the museum forms part of the "Institute of Botany".
Address: Via Micheli 3, I-50100 Florence, Italy
Opening hours: May 1 to Oct 31: 9am-12pm; Closed: Sun, Tue, Thu
Always closed on: Epiphany (3 Kings' Day ) - Christian (Jan 6), New Year's Day (Jan 1), Liberation Day - Italy (Apr 25), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), New Year's Eve (Dec 31), Christmas Eve - Christian (Dec 24), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Easter Monday - Christian
Entrance fee: FREE
Useful tips: Open first Sunday of each month 9:30-12:30
Transit: Bus: 1, 6, 7, 10, 11, 15, 17, 20, 25.
Like the Loggia di Mercato Nuovo the Loggia del Pesce was designed as a freestanding building. The architect was Vasari (1567) and it was originally part of the old market on the present Piazza della Repubblica. It has only stood here on the Piazza dei Ciompi, the site of the flea market, since the end of the 19th century.
The palace on the site of the former Medici gardens was built by Bernardo Buontalenti between 1568 and 1574 for Grand Duke Francesco I de'Medici who had his artist's studios and alchemist laboratories here.Today the building houses the Court of Appeal, the Corte d'Appello.
Geological and Paleontological Museum
North of the Vittorio Emmanuel and the Vittoria Faentina are the regions of Montughi Il Pellegrino and La Pietra.
In 1860 the Scottish officer Fredrick Stibbert began collecting art treasures in the Villa Montughi just outside Florence, then in 1906 he presented them to the city.The collection of antique European and Asian weaponry - suits of armour, helms and swords, sabres, daggers and powder-flasks - is especially interesting; the highpoint in the "Sala della Cavalcata", the Cavalcade Room, is a 16th c. train of 14 knights on horseback and 14 foot-soldiers, complete with weapons and armor.The other exhibits - furniture, paintings, fabrics and other works of art - show the feeling for art and the taste of the collector.
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Map of Florence Attractions
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