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S. Maria Novella

S. Maria Novella
S. Maria Novella Florence Tuscany tourism

Santa Maria Novella is one of the first Florentine Basilicas. Its name comes from the substitution of a preceding IX century oratory dedicated to Santa Maria delle Vigne. From 1221, when the entire area was acquired by the Domenican order, they started building the new church under the management of Iacopo Talenti and it was then to become the new, sumptuous seat of the powerful, monastic order.
The Basilica facade is a Renaissance art masterpiece. Here Alberti, framing this first fascia of the mid Trecento in the duotone of the general drawing (strong reference to the XI century Baptistery) used the Renaissance principles, that he himself had codified, of architecture as application of a regular design, ordered by mathematical and geometrical rules. Here architecture is considered a scenario of elements organized in a ratio of balance and harmony, to be looked at as if it were a painting.
Alberti integrates the existing facade fascia into a Roman temple design and invents two side volutes connecting the upper, new and lower parts. Amongst other things, this was a useful way to hide the sloping roof over the side naves. Under the tympanum you can see writing in large letters with the name of Giovanni Paolo Rucellai, the rich Renaissance merchant who financed the completion of the work (unfinished for lack of money) and assigned said work to Alberti.
Inside, the Basilica has one of the early Renaissance masterpieces: the magnificent Trinity done by Masaccio between 1425 and 1427, just before the frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Carmine. In a daringly innovative perspective design reproducing a chapel as though it were an extension to the church architecture, Masaccio inserted the imposing figures of Father and Son on the cross. Further forward, to the sides, the Virgin and St John, while in the forefront you see the fresco donor, a member of the Lenzi family, in a Gonfalonier costume (the highest civil position in the Commune of Florence), kneeling with his wife. Just a bit further down there's a skeleton on a tomb with the inscription: 'I am what you were and you will be what I am', alluding to the frailty of life.

 
The Museum and Monumental Cloisters
of s. Maria Novella
Cloisters of s. Maria Novella Florence Tuscany tourism

The monumental complex of the cloister, considered an extraordinary example of Italian Gothic architecture, was begun around 1340 by Fra’ Sisto and Fra’ Ristoro.
The first cloister on the right of the doorway is the so-called Chiostro Verde (Green cloister) with strong yet harmonious proportions. It takes its name from the frescoes originally painted in "green clay" by many artists of early 15th century including Paolo Uccello (1397-1475), one of the greatest Florentine Renaissance masters, who painted here some of his best works like the Flood and the Sacrifice of Noah.
The cloister gives access to the Refectory (and from here to the Large Cloister decorated at the end of the 16th century) and to the Cappellone degli Spagnoli. In the 16th century this was the chapter house and was given this name because of meetings held in this location by the Spanish followers of Eleonora da Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I. This large section of the building still preserves the complex frescoes by Andrea di Bonaiuto (mid-14th century), which exalt the work of the Dominicans, to whom the church belonged. The fresco representing the Church militant features the cathedral in the background or rather the original project of Arnolfo for the Cathedral of Florence.
The Chiostro Verde also gives access to the Chiostrino dei Morti and the Strozzi Chapel, decorated with 14th century frescoes.

Ognissanti
Ognissanti Florence Tuscany tourism

The church of "Ognissanti" (All Saints), one of the first Baroque churches in Florence, dates back to a 13th century building but was completely renovated in the 16th and 17th centuries. Restoration work had to be carried out in 1872 and after the flood of 1966.
The main features of the exterior are the glazed terracotta relief "Coronation of the Virgin with Saints", ascribed to both Giovanni della Robbia and Benedetto Buglioni, and the Romanesque Campanile. Inside, at the second altar on the right, are Domenico Ghirlandaio's "Madonna della Misericordia" (Madonna of the Protecting Cloakd, 1470), and a fresco with a Pietà by Domenico and Davide Ghirlandaio (1472). The sacristy contains a painting on wood of "Christ Crucified" in the style of Giotto and a fresco of the Crucifixion by Taddeo Gaddi.
The Cenacolo of Ghirlandaio: The large refectory of the church of Ognissanti is located between the first and second cloister of the old convent of the Umiliati (Humiliated). The room on the opposite wall gives access to a splendid stone door in pietra serena, with two basins, built in 1480, on each side. The niches are decorated with two frescoes referring to water: Sarah at Jacob's pit and Moses who makes water gush from the rock, two 17th century works by Giuseppe Romei.
The central fresco, which entirely covers the wall (8.10 x 4 m), is the work of Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494), who produced with this work one of the best examples of his art, representing a serene yet dramatic episode of the Last Supper: The apostles are painted in the moment in which Jesus announces that one of them will betray him. Following the requests of the monks who commissioned the painting, Ghirlandaio picked out a large number of apparently decorative details, which are in reality a precise symbolic reference to the drama of the Passion and Redemption of Christ, as for instance the evergreen plants, the flight of quails, the oranges, the cherries, the dove and the peacock.
By being a separate fresco, it can be compared to the style of the sinopite on the left wall.

 

Piazza Repubblica

Palazzo Strozzi
Palazzo Strozzi Florence Tuscany tourism

In the 15th century the Strozzi family, who considered themselves just as noble as the Medici, determined to outdo the ruler of Florence Lorenzo de'Medici. Rather than build something that would vie with the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi on a footing of grandeur, the wealthy merchant Filippo Strozzi planned to build a house for his family that would be outstanding not for its size and splendor but for its meticulous workmanship. The Palazzo Strozzi was built between 1489 and 1538 and is accounted the finest of Florence's Renaissance palaces. In the year it was completed, it was seized by Cosimo I and not returned to the Strozzi family until 1568. Today it houses cultural institutes.
In this building the architects, Benedetto da Maiano and (after his death) Cronaca, or Simone del Pollaiolo, brought together the great achievements of Renaissance architecture, with articulation of classical beauty in the overall and detailed design and consummate craftsmanship in every aspect of the building. The impact of the facade depends on the balanced composition of the storys, the portal, the windows and the cornice, as well as on the art of the stonemason evident in every one of the ashlar blocks, with horizontally-aligned bosses that project progressively less towards the top of the building.
The wrought-iron work (rings in the walls for tethering horses, torch-holders and lanterns on the corners) is from around 1500 and was by Niccolò Grosso, a famous blacksmith who would only accept commissions if he was paid in advance. The elegant inner courtyard by Cronaca is worth seeing. The Galleria Strozzina in the bottom two floors of the building stages occasional art exhibitions of old and new works. There is also a little museum on the ground floor telling the history of the building and including a wooden model of the palazzo by da Maiano.

Palazzo Davanzati
Palazzo Davanzati Florence Tuscany tourism

The austere and majestic five-story facade of the Palazzo Davanzati is divided up on the ground floor by three massive doors, topped by a loggia and decorated in the center by a splendid coat of arms of the Davanzati family (in the summer the curtains are fastened to the iron bars in front of the windows).
The Davizzi built a townhouse here in 1300; one of the family was Gonfaloniere of the Republic in 1294. In the 16th century the palace was acquired by the Bartolini family and later (1578) by the Davanzati. In 1906 the building was bought by the art dealer Elia Volpi and restored to its former glory. Since 1956 it has held the Museum of the Old Florentine House.
The museum covers three floors and contains furniture, drawings, sculpture, tapestries, ceramics, textiles and everyday objects from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque period. The "Parrot Room" on the first floor is especially interesting. It gets its name from its decoration. The walls are painted to look like tapestries with parrots. The room has a painted wooden ceiling. The exhibits have been assembled from the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, other collections in Florence and from gifts. They provide a glimpse of the highly-cultivated life of the citizens of Florence who furnished their houses with valuable art treasures and other items.
The Davizzi family wealth was founded on the wool industry, which was the most important industry of the 15th century. Wool merchants were major patrons of the arts at this time.
via Porta Rossa
phone: 055.2388610
opening time: 8.15 - 13.50
ticket: 2,00 €

 
S. Trinita
S. Trinita Florence Tuscany tourism

The fondness of the Florentines for the church of Santa Trínita - on the square of the same name near the Arno - is due mainly to its great age. There was a church here as early as the 11th century, and this was rebuilt in the 13th century (probably by Niccolò Pisano) as Florence's first Gothic church. It was rebuilt yet again in the late 14th century, this time by Neri di Fioravante. The facade, designed by Buontalenti, is from the late 16th century.
The interior has the look of 14th century Florentine Gothic, and has a nave, lined with side-chapels, and two aisles with a transept.
A walk round the church will reveal many notable works of art (some of the chapels can be lit if money is put into the boxes provided for the purpose).
In the third chapel there is an "Annunciation" on a gold ground by Neri di Bicci and the tomb of Giuliano Davanzati (d. 1444), an early Christian sarcophagus with high reliefs, and the fifth chapel holds the wooden Mary Magdelene by Desiderio da Settignano and Benedetto da Maiano (1464/1465).
There is a cycle of frescoes by Lorenzo Monaco in the Cappella Salimbeni and a 14th century panel of the Crucifixion in the chapel nearest the entrance.
In the left arm of the transept is the marble tomb of Bishop Benozzi Federighi (1455-1456), one of Luca della Robbia's finest works.
The Cappella Sassetti, in the right arm of the transept, has celebrated frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1483-1486) of the life of St Francis, including the famous "Confirmation of the Rule of the Order", into which the artist incorporated contemporary personalities and buildings such as Lorenzo the Magnificent, Ghirlandaio himself, hand on hip, and the Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Trinità. The altarpiece "Adoration of the Shepherds" is also by Ghirlandaio (1485).
In the sacristy can be seen the tomb of Onofrio Strozzi by Piero di Niccolò Lamberti (1421).

Santi apostoli

According to a Latin inscription on the left of the facade the Church of the Holy Apostles was founded by Charlemagne and dedicated by Archbishop Turpinus. All that is known for certain is that the church was in existence at the end of the 11th c. and was rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries (restored between 1930 and 1938). Benedetto da Rovezzano added a fine portal to the Romanesque facade in the early 16th century.
The columns of green marble from Prato with composite capitals (the first two from the nearby Roman baths) which separate the aisles from the nave are a striking feature of the interior. The church and its works of art were badly damaged in the 1966 floods.
Particularly worth seeing are, in the left aisle, a large terracotta tabernacle by Giovanni della Robbia (presbytery) and the tomb of Oddo Altaviti by Benedetto da Rovezzano (1507); and, in the right aisle, a panel of the Immaculate Conception by Vasari (1541, third chapel).

 

Ponte vecchio

Ponte vecchio
Ponte vecchio Florence Tuscany tourism

The Ponte Vecchio (Italian for Old Bridge) is a famous medieval bridge over the Arno, in Florence, Italy, noted for having shops (mainly jewellers) built along it. It is Europe's oldest segmental arch bridge.
Believed to have been first built in Roman times, it was originally made of wood. After being destroyed by a flood in 1333[1] it was rebuilt in 1345, this time in stone. Most of the design is attributed to Taddeo Gaddi. The bridge consists of three segmental arches, the main arch has a span of 30 meters (98 feet) the two side arches each span 27 meters (88 feet). The rise of the arches is between 3.5 and 4.4 meters (11½ to 14½ feet), and the rise-to-span ratio approximately 1:5.
It has always hosted shops and merchants (legend says this was originally due to a tax exemption), which displayed their goods on tables after authorisation of the Bargello (a sort of a lord mayor, a magistrate and a police authority).
It is said that the economic concept of bankruptcy originated here: when a merchant could not pay his debts, the table on which he sold his wares (the "banco") was physically broken ("rotto") by soldiers, and this practice was called "bancorotto" (broken table; possibly it can come from "banca rotta" which means "broken bank"). Not having a table anymore, the merchant was not able to sell anything.
In order to connect the Palazzo Vecchio (Florence's town hall) with the Palazzo Pitti, in 1565 Cosimo I de Medici had Giorgio Vasari build the famous "Vasari corridor" above it.[1] To enforce the prestige of the bridge, in 1593 he prohibited butchers from selling there; their place was immediately taken by gold merchants. The corporative association of butchers had monopolised the shops on the bridge since 1442.
During World War II, the Ponte Vecchio was not destroyed by Germans during their retreat of August 4, 1944, unlike all other bridges in Florence. This was allegedly because of an express order by Hitler. Access to Ponte Vecchio was, however, obstructed by the destruction of the buildings at both ends.
Along the Ponte Vecchio, there were many padlocks locked to various places, especially to the railing around the statue of Cellini. This is a recent tradition for the Ponte Vecchio, although it has been practiced in Russia and in Asia before. It was perhaps introduced by the padlock shop owner at the end of the bridge. It is popularly connected to idea of love and lovers: by locking the padlock and throwing the key into the river, the lovers became eternally bonded. This is an example of the negative impact of the mass tourism (thousands of padlocks needed to be removed frequently, spoiling or damaging the structure of the centuries-old bridge); however, it seems to have decreased after the city administration put a sign on the bridge mentioning a 50€ penalty for those caught locking something to the fence.