The array of sights to visit in Florence goes on and on. One may ask is the entire city a huge museum? Besides being a culturally rich city, taking a simple stroll along the plaza and streets in the historic center is appealing and confirms the answer to a resounding ‘Yes.’ The top tourist attractions in Florence will just whet the appetite to discover even more in the city of Italian Renaissance.
Basilica di San Lorenzo
The Basilica di San Lorenzo is the largest of Renaissance-style churches of Florence. The property was consecrated in 393 by St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan and its completion occurred in the 15th Century and was touch by the hands of several architects, including the leading Renaissance architect of the time, Filippo Brunelleschi. The New Sacristy was under Michelangelo supervision, and the church’s completion done by Antonio Manetti in 1461. The facade of this church was never completed, giving it a striking, rustic appearance. Some of the notable works of art include the two bronze pulpits by Donatello, ‘Marriage of the Virgin’ by Fiorentino and Bronzino’s fresco ‘The Martyrdom of St Lawrence’ and Pietro Annigoni’s ‘Saint Joseph and Christ in the Workshop.’
Fortezza da Basso
This fortress is well known for being of great historical value, to the extent that it is still being used for both exhibits and trade shows to this day. The architecture from the 16th century perfectly encapsulates the themes and designs of the Renaissance. The citadel’s function was to be a shield in the case of an invasion to protect the citizens of Florence. Luckily, the supposed invasion never occurred. One of the myths surrounding this fortress is that there is an enormous series of tunnels underground. These tunnels are located near the galley and are said to connect to the rest of the city. An excavation is currently being held to see if they do indeed lead throughout Renaissance Florence underground.
This museum has been a keystone of the great masters of artists in Italy for centuries, such as Botticelli, Perugino, Filippino and Bronzino, among numerous others. It is separated into galleries by periods and artists. The Hall of the Colossus hosts the infamous marble sculpture of ‘Rape of the Sabine Women’ by Giambologna. However, the number one attraction that the tourists flock to at the Accademia is Michelangelo’s ‘David,’ considered by art aficionados as perhaps the greatest marble sculpture created. Explore the museum at an easy pace and explore other exhibits that are music and opera related. The Accademia houses the Grand Ducal collection of forty instruments once belonging to the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory.
Outside the 14th-century palazzo in Piazza della Signoria, a more recent museum stands in the heart of Florence. With a more 20th Century tone, it home of the very first designs of innovative leather goods in 1921 by Gucci. Hundreds of the company’s archives are on display in multi-media, actual originals and other memorabilia details the famed accessory and fashion house brand’s rich heritage. The permanent exhibition spans three floors with the museum´s journey based in themes from the design house’s early beginnings to its ‘logo-mania’ and even a Gucci designed limited edition vintage auto.
This grand palace is one of the most important and beautiful structures in all of Florence. The building dominated the Piazza della Signoria and was first constructed in the 12th century. It sits on top of the ancient theater of the Roman colony from 1AD and the ruins are exposed in a lower level. The palace was originally used as the ruling Medici family’s home while they lorded over the area for eight centuries. In 1872, it was partially converted into both a museum and the town hall. It holds a wide variety of artwork, ranging from frescos to sculptures to tapestries that depict Biblical scenes. A Medieval fortress, “Torre di Arnolfo” (tower) and restored private chambers of the original owners are open to explore.
The position of Ponte Vecchio once contained another bridge as the only crossing over the Arno River. After a flood in 1345, the original bridge was destroyed, and the current bridge was rebuilt. Ponte Vecchio is well known for its iconic three segmented arches. In fact, the bridge is one of the most photographed bridges in the world and after its opening, there were shops dotting the entire extension of the bridge that included butchers, fish market, jewelers and tanners. Today, fine jewelry shops mark the edges of the bridge. The best picture perfect opportunities of the bridge are at night when the illumination of the street lights turns the bridge into a more magical moment.
Santa Maria del Fiore
Santa Maria del Fiore Basilica (St. Mary of the Flowers) is a stunning cathedral that is recognizable by its iconic egg-shaped red cupola. Designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, the masonry dome can be reached on foot by climbing its 463 steps, and boasts a bird’s eye view of the cathedral and entire city. With nearly 600 years of artworks within, including Giorgio Vasari’s frescoes, stained glass, mosaics and bronze statues; it is the outside of the Gothic-style basilica heightens enthusiasm with its decorative mix of color in pink, white and green. Some say over time the pink may have been red and faded in time, thus claiming the structure’s hues symbolize the Italian flag.
Unanimously decided by visitors as a top tourist attraction in Florence, the Uffizi Gallery is considered one of the world’s notable art museums located near to the Piazza della Signoria. The building first served as a palace to the city magistrates, the Medici family, who were the patrons behind the Basilica di San Lorenzo. After the family had relinquished their control in Florence, the building became an art museum of mostly Renaissance era art in 1765. The museum houses an extensive collection created by some of the most influential Italian artists in the world. Works by the Italian masters, such as Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Titian are all displayed here
The impressive palaces and piazzas in Florence are spectacular to behold, and the city definably equals one huge open air museum. The top tourist attractions in Florence are a treasure to appreciate and will quickly become a memory maker.