|MAIN THINGS TO SEE|
Florence is an important and unique art centre. A tourist must at least see the following:
PIAZZA DEL DUOMO
The Cathedral Square is near the Piazza San Giovanni and together they form an admirable ensemble of art.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (begun in 1296 by the famous architect Arnolfo di Cambio) was built and paid for by the Florentine Republic and the cloth makers' guild. The magnificent Dome by Brunelleschi, which took fourteen years to build, was completed in 1434. Multicolored marble forms the geometrically decorated front; a modern facade has taken the place of the one destroyed at the end of the 16th century.
The Campanile tower is slim and tall. Giotto drew the plans for it and began building it in 1334 but died in 1336. The Campanile was completed at the end of the 14th century; it belongs to the Gothic period but is classical, as emphasized by multicolored marbles.
The Baptistery building is decorated with white and green marble in a quiet and well-balanced Romanesque style. The doors are world famous. The South Door (1300) by Andrea Pisano, is Gothic; above are scenes from the life of St. John the Baptist and below, the eight Christian Virtues, three theological and five cardinal ones.
The North Door by Lorenzo Ghiberti shows scenes from the Life and Passion of Christ. The East Door is the one that Michelangelo declared worthy to be the Gate to Paradise. On it the sculptor Ghiberti recalled the Old Testament with ten scenes.
The artist portrayed himself in one of the medallions. This door, the Gate to Paradise, suffered badly during the 1966 flood, with five of the ten panels dislodged by the flood waters. These have now been restored to their former positions.
She interior of the Baptistery, with its black and white marble and its paving depicting the Signs of the Zodiac is grand and majestic. The dome is covered with magnificent 13th century mosaics.
PIAZZA DELLA SIGNORIA
This was, and still is, the political stage of Florence with a wonderful background formed in part by the Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi.
The many statues make it virtually an open-air museum of sculpture. On the left Is the equestrian statue of Cosimo the Younger by Giovanni da Bologna and the Fountain of Neptune (1576) near a bronze plaque which marks the spot where the monk Savonarola was burnt. In front of the Palazzo Vecchio are the proud Marzocco, or Lion of Florence, leaning on a lily, the famous bronze of Judith and Holophernes by Donatello, a copy of Michelangelo's David and Hercules.
Loggia dei Lanzi - Built at the end of the 14th century, the loggia was the assembly hall and later guardroom of the Lanzi (foot soldiers) of Cosimo the Younger. It contains antique and Renaissance statues, the most important being the wonderful Perseus holding the head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini.
Palazzo Vecchio - The Old Palace's powerful yet graceful mass is dominated by a lofty bell-tower, 94 mts. high. Arnolfo di Cambio built It between 1299 and 1314 in a severe Gothic style complete with battlements, parapet walks and crenellation.
The apartments are lavishly decorated with paintings by Vasari and sculptures by Benedetto da Maiano to the glory of Florence and of the Medici.
THE PONTE VECCHIO is a Florentine landmark. The covered bride is unique in appearance and dates from the 14th century. On each side of the road across the bridge are the gold and silver smiths' shops which have been there since the 16th century. Above the shops is a corridor which links the Uffizi with the Pitti Palace.
The Uffizi Museum is housed in the Renaissance palace which contained the offices (Uffizi) of the Medici administration. Today this is one of the finest museums in the world. The rich collections of drawings, prints and paintings are on the Uffizi: from the 14th century with works by Cimabue, Giotto and Simone Martini to the 15th century with the remarkable Botticelli, Della Francesca, Leonardo Da Vinci, and to the Late Renaissance with paintings by Raphael, Michelangelo, Correggio, etc. Among many other beauties there is also an admirable series of 16th and 17th century works by the Flemish schools.
THE PITTI PALACE AND GALLERY
This imposing palace was built at the end of the 15th century. It contains pictures, works of art and admirable tapestries in the Royal Apartments. There is also a wonderful collection of art in the Palatine Gallery, among other masterpieces there are works by: Filippo Lippi, Titian, Giorgione, Veronese, Van Dyck and Breughel.
CHURCH OF THE HOLY CROSS
Located in one of Florence's oldest squares, the Franciscans' vast Early Renaissance church is paved with tombstones and sumptuous tombs- Michelangelo, Ghiberti, Machiavelli, Galileo, Rossini, and 274 other important Italians are buried in Santa Croce.
This museum contains Florentine primitives and works by Michelangelo, among them the original David.