Things to Do in Florence - page 2
Opened in 1891, Opera del Duomo Museum (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo) houses works and artifacts from Florence’s Duomo Cathedral, including Lorenzo Ghiberti’s original doors for the Baptistery of St. John (Battistero di San Giovanni), Donatello’s Penitent Magdalene statue, and the unfinished Florence Pietà—aka The Deposition—that Michelangelo intended to cover his own tomb.
The Medici Chapels, tucked into the 15th-century Basilica di San Lorenzo in Florence’s historic center, are home to two of Michelangelo’s famous sculptural masterpieces. Built as mausoleums for members of the Medici family, the Medici Chapels include New Sacristy and the larger Chapel of the Princes.
The historic and happening Oltrarno, which sits on the opposite side of the Arno River from the Duomo, the Uffizi, and the Accademia, is one of Florence’s most dynamic neighborhoods. Home to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, the quarter is also known for its artisan workshops, restaurants and wine bars, and nightlife.
Italian style is famous the world over, and one of the most recognized fashion labels from Italy is Prada. To find this popular designer’s chic bags, shoes, and clothing at discounts of up to 50 percent off retail prices, head to the large Prada outlet (aka Space) just outside of Florence.
Sculpted in 1545 by Benvenuto Cellini,Perseus with the Head of Medusa is one of the main attractions in Florence’s Piazza della Signoria. The bronze statue, which depicts the Greek hero Perseus defeating the monster Medusa, is considered to be a great masterpiece of Italian Mannerism.
A bit of a misnomer, the Dante House Museum(Museo Casa di Dante) was never the 13th-century Italian poet Dante Alighieri's residence. Instead, this small museum is home to reproductions of early manuscripts of his magnum opus,The Divine Comedy, and other engaging exhibits that re-create Dante's life and times.
The Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano), designed by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century, is an elevated medieval passageway connecting Palazzo Vecchio and the Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti), each set on opposite banks of the Arno River in Florence. Snaking through and along many of the city's landmarks, the near-mile-long, elevated walkway was once a secret, used by the Medici family to travel unnoticed through Florence. Today, it is an art gallery, home to Italy’s most important collection of self-portraits. Visitors can admire views over the river from its large windows running over the Ponte Vecchio.
If Florence is the capital of the Italian Renaissance, the Bargello Museum(Museo Nazionale del Bargello) is the capital of Italian Renaissance sculpture. Housed in the city’s medieval Palazzo del Podestà, the collection includes masterpieces by Cellini, Andrea della Robbia, Luca della Robbia, Michelangelo, Bernini, and Donatello.
With its beautiful grassy expanses and Renaissance basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s Piazza di Santa Maria Novella is beloved by Florentines and visitors alike. The centrally located square, lined with historic townhouses, restaurants, and cafés, has been a popular gathering place for 800 years.
In pride of place at the center of the busy Piazza della Signoria, the Fountain of Neptune has long been one of Florence’s most memorable landmarks, set against a backdrop of the grand Palazzo Vecchio (Town Hall). Inaugurated in 1565, the striking artwork is the masterpiece of sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati and was commissioned to celebrate the wedding of Francesco I de’ Medici and Johanna of Austria.
The elaborate bronze and marble statue portrays a 5.6-meter-high image of Neptune, the Roman God of the Sea, with the face of Cosimo I de 'Medici, stood on a high pedestal above the water, around which Satyrs and horses frolic. Despite sustaining considerable damage over the years, including losing one of its hands to vandals back in 2005, the statue has now been painstakingly restored and remains a popular meeting place for both locals and tourists.
More Things to Do in Florence
Italy is known for its vibrant outdoor markets, and one of Florence’s liveliest is the Sant’Ambrogio Market (Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio). Here you can enjoy the authentic atmosphere of a traditional Italian food market and make some purchases from the stalls piled high with fresh produce and local specialties.
Florence’s Loggia dei Lanzi is a 14th-century open-air gallery featuring pieces by Renaissance sculptors Benvenuto Cellini and Giambologna alongside sculptural works from Roman antiquity. Named for the Swiss guards of Cosimo I, the Loggia was a terrace from which the ruling Medici family presided over ceremonies in the Piazza della Signoria.
One of the grandest Renaissance buildings in Florence, the 15th-century Pitti Palace houses the Palatine Gallery, a collection of over 500 paintings dating from the 15th to the 17th century. The collection features works by Italian masters like Titian, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Pietro da Cortona, and other European painters like Rubens and Velazquez.
In a city filled with artistic masterpieces, the San Marco Museum (Museo di San Marco) has the distinction of being home to Florence’s largest collection of paintings by Fra Beato Angelico. The 15th-century former monastery is also home to works by Fra Bartolomeo, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Lorenzo Ghiberti.
Adjacent Florence’s Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldest known pharmacies in the world. Established in 1221 by Dominican friars, the pharmacy still produces natural and herbal remedies, soaps, and fragrances displayed and sold in the historic shop.
Via Cavour (officially Via Camillo Cavour) is one of the main roads in the historical center of Florence, Italy. It was named in 1861 when two ancient streets, Via Larga and Via San Leopoldo, were joined. Visitors walking down certain sections of the street should look closely for plaques commemorating well-known people who once lived here. At the south end of the street is the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, which was once home to the famous Medici family during the Renaissance. Today it is a museum of art and architecture covering more than 400 years of Florence's history.
Several other museums are located on Via Cavour, such as the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum and the Crime Museum. Along Via Cavour, you will find plenty of hotels, restaurants, and shops as well as apartment buildings. You'll also see the Museum and Convent of San Marco. The road passes through Piazza San Marco as it heads north, eventually meeting up with Piazza della Liberta.
Pit yourself against the genius of Leonardo da Vinci at this museum dedicated to the Italian luminary. Alongside dozens of working models of Leonardo’s inventions, a workshop gives you the chance to do some building of your own. With multimedia exhibits and hands-on displays, the Leonardo da Vinci Museum is a fun stop for kids and adults.
Florence is a city filled with quaint squares, picturesque landscapes and plenty of old-world architecture that’s ripe with European charm. This is particularly true amid its famous squares, and travelers agree that few are as beautiful as Piazza della Santissima Annunziata.
A massive bronze statue of Ferdinando I de’Medici on horseback stands at the center of the square, with two notably strange fountains on either side. Visitors can relax in the sun and lounge as locals wind through the square on a busy afternoon, or duck into the Santissima Annunziata church, which was built in the 15th century and gave the square its name. Ospedale deli Innocenti—the oldest orphanage on the continent—also flanks the square and offers travelers a unique opportunity to explore the city’s past. Ceramic glazed reliefs of swaddled newborns line the façade and visitors can check out the circular stone where women could leave their unwanted newborns without fear of repercussion.
Science buffs of all ages marvel at the array of historic scientific and mathematical instruments at Florence’s Museo Galileo. Check out barometers, globes, and microscopes dating as far back as the 13th century, as well as a telescope that Galileo used. Engaging hands-on exhibits demonstrate the instruments’ inner workings.
Italy is famous for its fashion and design, and some of the world’s most popular luxury clothing and home decor brands come from this stylish country. If you love Italian elegance, visit Tuscany’s Barberino Designer Outlet to shop for designer brands from Italy at a deep discount.
The historic church of Santo Stefano al Ponte Vecchio is now one of the most beautiful exhibition spaces in the heart of Florence. And with its excellent acoustics, and a blend of Romanesque, Gothic, and baroque architecture, the auditorium is the perfect place to take in a concert or opera.
Gucci Garden, previously known as Gucci Museo, is a Florence museum that showcases nearly a century of history of the designer fashion label. Opened in Piazza della Signoria in 2011 along with a restaurant and bookshop, and reopened in 2018, Gucci Garden showcases everything the luxe brand is known for, from evening gowns to handbags and more.
Dedicated to one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance, the Leonardo da Vinci Museum (Museo Leonardiano di Vinci) is housed in two adjacent buildings—Palazzina Uzielli and Castello dei Conti Guidi—in the historic center of Vinci. The collection features models of Leonardo’s weaponry, clocks, and flying machines, as well as his drawings and notes.
Though Milan is considered Italy’s fashion capital, Florence is home to some of the most historic fashion houses in the country, including shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo. You don’t have to be a fashionista to appreciate the Ferragamo Museum, where the beauty and craftsmanship of the iconic shoes classify them as works of art, rather than simply footwear.
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