Florence, italy - www.aboutflorence.com - HOME | CONTACT | SITEMAP 

Hotels in Florence

icona albergo
Best price guaranteed
Book online, pay at the hotel!


DOWNLOAD San Niccolo'.pdf (971 kb)
back to itineraries in Florence

Ancient Ladder Gonfalon in the Quarter of Santo Spirito Streetwise itineraries between the Ponte Vecchio & the Porta San Niccolo'

Ever since 1343 Florence has been divided into four political-administrate sectors called Quarters: San Giovanni, Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella and Santo Spirito, subdivided in turn into Gonfalons.

Most of what is now the rione or district of San Niccol˛ in Oltrarno was included in the Scala Gonfalon.
The boundaries were the Arno River, between the Ponte Vecchio and the Porta San Niccol˛ (St. Nicholas Gate), the stretch of Arnolfo's old city walls between this gate, the Porta San Miniato and the Porta San Giorgio, Costa di San Giorgio down to Piazza Santa Felicita and the first stretch of Via Guicciardini as far as the Ponte Vecchio. The parishes of the Scala Gonfalon, of considerable administrative importance, were Santa Maria Soprarno (eliminated some time ago), part of Santa Felicita, Santa Lucia de' Magnoli, San Niccol˛ and San Giorgio alla Costa.
With the Ponte Vecchio as your point of departure, walk in the direction of Via Guicciardini, to the delightful Piazza Santa Felicita, particularly lively in summer with outdoor refreshment tables.

Via de' Bardi.Palazzo Capponi delle Rovinate.
Via de' Bardi.Palazzo Capponi
delle Rovinate.

The church of Santa Felicita, built on the site of a late 4th century early Christian basilica, was frequently rebuilt and eventually became the church for the Medici and the House of Lorraine. Members of the family took part in the religious services from the "coretto" or private chapel in Vasari's Corridor, set over the portico on the facade. The architectural clarity of the church today is the result of Fernando Ruggeri's remodeling of 1736. The Capponi family chapel, the first one on the right, was frescoed between 1525 and 1528 by the great Mannerist painter Pontormo with a Deposition that is a triumph of metaphysical light and vivid colors.
From Piazza dei Rossi, alongside the church, continue up to Costa San Giorgio and then descend the steep Rampa delle Coste, to Piazza di Santa Maria Soprarno, across the river from the Uffizi palace.
The imposing Palazzo Tempi, now Bargagli Petrucci, that stands here was built around the end of the 16th century and renovated inside in various periods.
As you continue along the old stretch of Via de' Bardi, with your back to Ponte Vecchio, you are following in the footsteps of Beatrice, Dante's idealized love, who married Simone de' Bardi. On the left (at No.36) is the Palazzo Capponi delle Rovinate, so-called because of the landslides of the hill (rovinate means collapsed or hurtling down). On the wall across from the palazzo a plaque of 1565 refers to the prohibition to build anything more on that side of the street.
Built for Niccol˛ da Uzzano, an outstanding member of the early 15th century Florentine oligarchy, the courtyard seems to be an early work by Brunelleschi (although Vasari mentions a project by Lorenzo di Bicci). In any case the courtyard is considered one of the first examples of Renaissance architecture. No doubts exist however about the identity of the architect of the facade facing onto Lungarno Torrigiani, which was designed between 1872 and 1878 by Giuseppe Poggi.
Further on (at No. 30) is the 15th century Palazzo Larioni de' Bardi, which tradition says was built by Michelozzo. In the courtyard, at the foot of the staircase, is a statue attributed to a Dalmatian sculptor in the circle of Michelozzo. The palazzo stretches out up to the next street number, and then becomes Palazzo Canigiani. This portion of the building was rebuilt around 1838 by the Marquis Tommaso Canigiani de' Cerchi, and is one of the most interesting examples of Florentine neoclassic architecture.

S. Lucia de' Magnoli, detail of the façade.
S. Lucia de' Magnoli, detail of the fašade.

Panorama from Costa Scarpuccia.
Panorama from Costa Scarpuccia.

Porta S.Giorgio.

Porta S.Giorgio.

Costa de' Magnoli.
Costa de' Magnoli.
The church of Santa Lucia de' Magnoli stands next to this palace. Originally a hospice for pilgrims managed by the ecclesiastical congregation of Cluny, it became a parish church sometime in the late 14th century. Included among its guests was St. Francis of Assisi, whose brief stay in 1211 is mentioned in a plaque on the wall opposite the church. Inside are works by Jacopo del Sellaio, Ambrogio Lorenzetti and other artists; Niccol˛ da Uzzano, who died in 1432, is buried at the foot of the high altar. One of the most important panel paintings by Domenico Veneziano, the Saint Lucy Altarpiece, now in the Uffizi, came from here. The church was rebuilt in its present form in 1732 and also has a chapel which is precisely the same size as the "Holy House of the Virgin" in the cathedral of Loreto.

On the corner, a bit further on, is a unique tabernacle with "the smallest art gallery in the world". Turning right, we climb up Costa Scarpuccia as far as the church of San Giorgio or "of the Holy Spirit", now the Romanian Orthodox Church. Rebuilt in its present form in the early 18th century by Giovan Battista Foggini, it houses works by Foggini, by Alessandro Gherardini, Vincenzo Dandini and Passignano. On the right of the church is the entrance to the former convent, now army barracks.
If you wish to continue to Forte Belvedere, Via San Leonardo and Arcetri will take you to itinerary A.
The best way to return towards Via de' Bardi, is to take the down stretch of Costa de' Magnoli, passing through a small arch and down a few steps, to Via del Canneto, one of the truly authentic corners of old Florence. From Costa Scarpuccia continue along Via de' Bardi: on the right is the 13th century Palazzo de' Mozzi, with a vast park behind which stretches up to the old walls at the top of the hill. Turn left for the Bardini Museum, built by the antiquarian Stefano Bardini for his collections and then donated to the City of Florence. Among others, the museum contains sculpture and paintings by Tino di Camaino, Donatello, Antonio del Pollaiolo, Tintoretto and Tiepolo, as well as numerous examples of goldsmith work, furniture, musical instruments, arms and armor and carpets.
Opposite is the Palazzo Torrigiani - Del Nero, built by Baccio d'Agnolo around the middle of the 16th century, of which a good view can be had from the Torrigiani Gardens, on the Lungarno of the same name.

Continue along Via San Niccol˛ with its pure geometrical elegance. Imposing palazzi of the old Florentine aristocratic families line both sides, housing numerous important artisan workshops. The parish church of San Niccol˛ in Oltrarno still has its original Gothic structures inside, with side altars in the style of Vasari. In the sacristy, a 15th century shrine attributed to Michelozzo frames a fine fresco of the same period. Among the other works in the church, some salvaged after the flood of 1966, are numerous paintings by Poppi, Empoli, Taddeo di Bartolo. Of interest too is the Romanesque crypt, currently visible by going down a few steps in the adjacent wine cellar.
After leaving the church, continue to Arnolfo's Porta di San Miniato on the right, the heart of the San Niccol˛ district. The gate, carried off by the flood of 1966, was then restored and has recently been put back in place. This corner of Florence, celebrated by artists and writers, is one of the most popular meeting places, especially in summer.

Pass beyond the Porta di San Miniato and climb the steep slope to reach the churches of San Salvatore al Monte and San Miniato following itinerary B.

The last stretch of Via San Niccol˛ is characterized by a series of buildings which furnish an excellent idea of what the old houses of the Florentine "popolo minuto", or working classes, looked like.
At the end of the street stands the massive 14th century gateway or Porta di San Niccol˛ which overlooks Piazza Giuseppe Poggi. Attributed to Andrea Orcagna, it still has its original tower of 1327 and was the only one not to be "cut down" during the siege of Florence in 1529. It was later restored and left as a monument in the middle of the new square designed by the architect after whom it is named. A large stela by Gi˛ Pomodoro (1997) pays homage to Galileo Galilei, the great scientist and astronomer.

Via del Canneto.
Via del Canneto.

From Piazza Poggi continue up the flights of steps of San Niccol˛, and itinerary C takes you straight to Piazzale Michelangolo.
On the banks of the Arno, in the park on the site of the old mills, stands the Friendship Stela, created by Galeazzo Auzzi in 1976 in remembrance of the "Angels of mud", those young people who were volunteers in helping the city dig itself out after the flood of November 4, 1966.
Go back towards the Ponte Vecchio along Lungarno Serristori. Casa Siviero, once the residence of the plenipotentiary minister Rodolfo Siviero, charged with recovering the works of art stolen during World War II, stands at the beginning of the Lungarno and has been opened to the public. The small building designed by Poggi is managed by the Association of Friends of Florentine Museums, and contains an interesting collection of paintings, furnishings of various kinds, and objects of great artistic value.

The next stop is Piazza Demidoff. The monument in the center of the square is by Lorenzo Bartolini (1870) and honors the eminent Russian noble Nicola Demidoff, who left his mark in the history of Florence and in particular that of San Niccol˛ in the 19th century. Overlooking the Arno and the piazza is Palazzo Serristori, where famous personages such as JÚr˘me and Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's brothers, sojourned.
In Via de' Renai, on the lowest side of the square, is the coffee bar of the famous film Amici Miei.
Continue along Lungarno Serristori, and turn into Lungarno Torrigiani at the Ponte alle Grazie. The park here was opened to the public at the end of the 19th century and in the early 1900s the Evangelical Lutheran church was built here in neoclassic Venetian style.

We suggest that you walk along all of Lungarno Torrigiani and the more recent stretch of Via de' Bardi, rebuilt after World War II. In returning to the point of departure of your walk, a picture of the very heart of the old city and of Ponte Vecchio, which has marked the history of Florence throughout the centuries, will keep you company.

a room in the Museo Bardini.
a room in the Museo Bardini.

Itinerary A: Fort Belvedere, Via San Leonardo and Arcetri.
As you climb up once more on your left along Costa San Giorgio you will pass in front of the house (nos. 17/19) which once belonged to Galileo. After the old Porta San Giorgio, continue up for a fine view of Florence from the ramparts of the Forte Belvedere, built by Bernardo Buontalenti at the end of the 16th century for Ferdinando I de' Medici.
Continue into the countryside along the narrow and enchanting Via San Leonardo, which offers one of the loveliest walks outside the city gates, between the "walled" city and the pleasant hills around. The Florentine headquarters of John Hopkins University, the church of San Matteo in Arcetri, the studio of the famous Florentine painter Ottone Rosai and the Florentine house of Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky are all located along Via San Leonardo. Upon reaching Viale dei Colli, a right turn takes you towards Piazzale Galileo with the monument to Daniele Manin, hero of the Italian Risorgimento, while, turning left, a walk along Viale Galileo leads to the Basilica of S. Miniato al Monte and Piazzale Michelangelo. Continuing straight along Via S. Leonardo, takes you up between enclosed walls and fine groups of houses to Arcetri, where Galileo Galilei died.
Itinerary B: San Salvatore al Monte and San Miniato.
Admiring the ancient walls built to protect the quarter of San Niccol˛, climb up along the staircase marked by the Stations of the Cross to the top of the "Monte fiorentino". Mentioned by Dante, this site is connected to St. John Gualberto, founder of the Vallombrosan monastic order, who along the road spared the life of the man who killed his brother. A tabernacle is set to commemorate the event.
After crossing the boulevard at the beginning of Piazzale Michelangelo, you reach the Franciscan church of San Salvatore, known as "al Monte alle Croci", a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. We continue on towards the cemetery of the Porte Sante and the basilica of San Miniato al Monte, the most striking example of Florentine Romanesque. The panorama from the church square is unforgettable.

the monument to Nicola Demidoff.
the monument to Nicola Demidoff.

mapItinerary C: the Rampe and Piazzale Michelangelo.
From Piazza Giuseppe Poggi climb up towards Piazzale Michelangelo along the Rampe, the flights of steps designed by the same architect who completely transformed the hill between 1867 and 1876, when Florence was the capital of Italy. The scenic system of structures supports the spacious terrace of Piazzale Michelangelo and consolidates the slopes of the hill of San Miniato. Wandering around from basins to fountains, pausing in the shade of age-old trees, the varied panorama of Florence opens out below in all its splendor. The monument erected to Michelangelo, a must for every tourist, stands at the center of the Piazzale, dominating the city and the surrounding hills.
All those on their way to Piazzale Michelangelo or Forte Belvedere for the marvelous views of the city these sites afford, pass through San Niccol˛, that part of the city which flanks the left bank of the Arno, on the slopes of the hills of San Miniato and Arcetri.
This itinerary is an invitation to the tourist about to climb up the steep slope of Costa San Giorgio or the harmonious 19th century flights of steps of the Rampe to pause for a while in the streets and squares of San Niccol˛. They will be rewarded with an artistic ensemble of outstanding monuments, still for the most part little known, and nooks and corners of a cross section of the oldest and most authentic Florence.
This suggestion also holds for the Florentines who, just for once, should forget they are in a hurry, and turn their eyes to palaces, monuments, works of art which have every right to be included in the extraordinary patrimony of the city.

This Page Is Valid XHTML 1.1! This document validates as CSS!
© Copyright: About Florence - your tourist guide to Florence
Webdesign and SEO by Web Marketing Team - P.I 05622420486