MONUMENTS in Florence
PALAZZO VECCHIO (old palace) is the most important civil building in the city of Florence. The construction, drafted by Arnolfo di Cambio, was begun in 1299. Initially it was the seat of the Priors of Art and of the Signoria. Temporarily it was housed by the Grand Ducal family under Cosimo I de' Medici before their transfer to Palazzo Pitti. It was in this period (1550-65) that Vasari transformed it, sumptuously redecorating the newly reconstructed interiors for the palace's dule roles as the seat of government and official residence of the ruling family. The entire palace is a museum, especially the so-called "Monumental Quarters". It is worth seeing the "Salone dei Cinquecento, the study of Francesco I de' Medici, the room of the Elements and the Hall of the Lilies. The Loggia dei Lanzi overlooks the big square Piazza della Signoria in front of the palace; there are several important statues, including "Perseus"by Cellini and "the Rape of the Sabine Women" by Giambologna.
THE "PITTI PALACE"
Palazzo Pitti was built in the middle of the '400s by Luca Fancelli, funded by Luca Pitti, who wanted to show his power in front of the Family of Medici by building a magnificent Palace.
In 1549, when the Pitti Family fell into misfortune, Cosimo I de' Medici bought the Palace and Palazzo Pitti became the Medici Family residence.
The Palace was further enlarged by the architect/sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati and has remained unchanged since the 1600s.
The Pitti Palace rises on a large semicircular square. Today it houses many important Florentine museums, such as: the Palatina Gallery (with Raffaello, Andrea del Sarto, Caravaggio, Bronzino masterpieces and more), the Silver Museum, the Modern Art Gallery and the Costumes Gallery.
The Pitti Palace is famous also for its gardens: the Boboli gardens, which were constructed in 1549 by Bartolomeo Ammannati and later expanded by Bernardo Buontalenti, on demand of Cosimo I.
The Gallery is called “Palatina” because it is located in the “Palazzo” of the ruling family, the imposing Pitti Palace, royal residence of the Medici, of the Lorraine and lastly of the Savoy dynasty. The collection of paintings, arranged in rooms sumptuously decorated with baroque stuccoes and frescoes, is a rare and precious example of a private princely gallery.
Opening Days: From Tuesday to Sunday
Opening Hours: From 8.15 to 18.50
Price: from EUR €21,20 per person
Guided Visit (Palatina Gallery + Old Bridge + Signoria Square) - Price per person: Starting from EUR €48,20 per person
Guided Visit - Price per group: Starting from EUR €270
The CATHEDRAL ("Duomo") is dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore and is of typical Italian Gothic architecture. The present building was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio (1245-1302), one of the greatest architect/sculptors of his age. Finished around 1367 it was completely covered with coloured marble like the earlier Baptistery, earlier Baptistery, although the uncompleted facade was given its covering in the nineteenth century.
In contrast with structure's taut Gothic style, which is completely different from medieval buildings north of the Alps, there are several classic and important works of art. Of primary importance are the two frescoes on the right-hand wall showing the equestrian monuments of the "condottieri" (generals) by Paolo Uccello (1436) and Andrea del Castagno (1456).
Many of the sculptures from the Duomo are now kept in the Museum of the "Opera del Duomo" but others are still in place, such as the lunettes by Luca della Robbia above the doors of the Sacristy or the bronze door of the Mass Sacristy and the great Pietà by Michelangelo. The splendid stained glass windows should not be forgotten, mainly executed from 1434-1445 to the designs of such important artists as Donatello, Andrea del Castagno and Paolo Uccello. Also notable are the wooden inlays of the Sacristy cupboards to the designs of Brunelleschi, Antonio Del Pollaiolo and others.
Filippo Brunelleschi started in 1420 with the construction of the CUPOLA. The diameter of the inner span (m. 41.50) is close to the maximum limit for any kind of masonry dome. Instead of re-using usual methods, Brunelleschi invented a technique based on his knowledge of the Roman's "way of building," which he put at the service of a new concept and new kinds of technical, cultural, aesthetic problems, involved in the realization of the cupola. Basically, the construction of the dome depended on the use of a building technique capable of avoiding any dangerous discontinuity in the 27,000 tons of masonry. The cupola was thus built as a self supporting growing form. The dome is surprisingly modern: in this double shell, the lighter exterior cupola protects the inner cupola from the elements, while the two work together thanks to the powerful connecting ribs. Completed in 1436, the Cupola is the most characteristic feature of the Florentine skyline, symbolising a great cultural tradition and the city's civic awareness. The interior celing of the Cupola was painted by Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) and Federico Zuccari (c. 1540-1609) with a huge fresco representing the Last Judgement.
THE "CAMPANILE DI GIOTTO"
Campanile di Giotto in Florence
The "Cupolone" or huge dome, along with the cathedral bell-tower, remains to be known as the "CAMPANILE DI GIOTTO" and provides the most striking feature of any view of the city. Althoug Giotto, the famous painter and architect, designed the tower, only the lowest part had been completed at his death in 1337. Work was continued under Andrea Pisano (c. 1290-1349) and completed under the eye of Francesco Talenti (active 1325-1369), by repeating the decorative style of marble relieved by windows.
THE BASILICA OF SAN LORENZO
Consecrated by St. Ambrose in 393, it is the oldest church in the city. It was then rebuilt in the Romanesque style in 1060. The present building dates to 1423and was designed and built by Brunelleschi. In rebuilding the basilica, Brunelleschi proposed his new type of church to decidedly classicize and flood the building with light therefore creating a distinct architectural clarity (unlike its predicessor's mystical 'half light'). It is absolutely regular, symmetrical and continuous in its orchestration. Inside there are works by Rosso Fiorentino, Desiderio da Settignano, Donatello and Bronzino. The church is flanked by the splendid square-shaped Old Sacristy by Brunelleschi and the New Sacristy by Michelangelo which houses the Medici family tombs, the so called 'Medici Chapels'. To the left of the church is the Laurentian Library, also designed by Michelangelo, by order of the Medici family who wanted a place to conserve their fine collection of books, papyri and manuscripts. Not far from the San Lorenzo complex is the Central Market, a fine example of late 19th century steel and glass architecture.
THE "CAPPELLE MEDICEE"
The MEDICI CHAPELS form part of the monumental complex of San Lorenzo. The church of San Lorenzo was the official church of the Medici, becoming their mausoleum. The project for a family tomb was conceived in 1520 when Michelangelo began work on the New Sacristy. It was above all Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, future Pope Clement VII who wished to erect a mausoleum for certain members of his family, Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano, and Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino and Giuliano, Duke of Nemours. Michelangelo worked on the sculptures of the sarcophagi until 1533, but the only ones actually completed were the statues of the Dukes Lorenzo and Giuliano, the allegories of Dawn and Dusk, Night and Day and the group of Madonna and Child placed above the sarcophagus of the two "magnifici" and flanked by Saints Cosmas and Damian. As a result of the complex history of the chapel and its elaborate symbolism, many interpretations have been made of its sculptures. The poses of the two principal figures are said to represent the Active and Contemplative lives while the famous statues on the sarcophagi probably refer to the conditions and phases of human life. The tombs also refer to the liberation of the soul after death, a philosophical concept closely linked with Michelangelo's own spirituality.
Behind the church of San Lorenzo, the Medici Chapels Museum consists of the Medici Crypt, the Chapel of the Princes and Michelangelo’s New Sacristy.
Along with the sculptural and architectural decorations, the museum displays the Treasure of the San Lorenzo Basilica, great examples of Renaissance and Baroque goldsmith’s art. The architecture and the sculptural decoration, including funerary monuments of members of the Medici family, were designed and begun by Michelangelo before he went to Rome.
"SAN MINIATO AL MONTE"
The SAN MINIATO AL MONTE church is one of the finest examples of Tuscan Romanesque architecture, built between the 11th and 13th centuries. The typical facade in white and green marble is decorated by fine arcading and has a 12th-century mosaic of Christ between the Madonna and St. Miniato. In the interior, the altar preserves the bones of St. Miniato. The raised presbytery is of great beauty with its pulpit and and its choir with fine inlaid wooden choir stalls. The Sacristy is frescoed by Spinello Aretino with the sixteen stories of the legend of St. Benedict. The Chapel of St. James, or "Cardinal of Portugal" is decorated with five splendid roundels by Luca della Robbia. The Chapel of the Crucifix was designed by Michelozzo and decorated by Luca della Robbia. To the right of the church is the Bishop's Palace, ancient summer residence of the bishops of Florence which then became a convent, a hospital and a Jesuit house. From its front steps you have a nice view on the ochre-colored town. The church figures prominently in Brian de Palma's thriller "Obsession" (1976, with Geneviève Bujold and Cliff Robertson).