Piazza del Duomo is one of the most famous landmarks in Florence. Truly an architectural piece of beauty, it encompasses the art and history of medieval Italy, through its sheer design. A visit to this city is not complete without visiting the piazza's majestic cathedral 'Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore' with its remarkable dome that dominates the skyline. It is no wonder that tourists are spellbound and spend hours trying to capture the essence of this place through pictures.
Piazza della Signoria has been the hub of Florence's political life since the Republic at the end of the 15th Century. This L-shaped square is surrounded by its most famous buildings. The Palazzo Vecchio, head of the Florentine government, the Galleria degli Uffizi and the Ponte Vecchio are some of the most landmarks around here. Look around you to see reproductions of Michelangelo's David and the original fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannati. Enjoy a full view of the Piazza from the terrace of the Loggia dei Lanzi. The place is a good starting point to begin your tour of the city.
The lovely Via de' Tornabuoni is situated right in the center of the centro storico, and is a shopping mecca for those who visit Florence. Named from the famous Tornabuoni family whose palace lines the street and is currently a private apartment complex. Via de' Tornabuoni was once the premier shopping street in the city, but recent development has forced many of the independently operated businesses out, i.e., Seeber International Bookstore, Doney's. Nearby is via della Vigna Vecchia, an off-shoot of Tornabuoni which leads down towards the Arno, which also has numerous swanky, luxurious shops. Nonetheless, many major shops line these two streets, such as Loro Piana, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Emporio Armani and Tiffany's.
Founded in the year 1784, the Galleria dell'Accademia is perhaps best-known for Michelangelo's David, removed after four centuries from Piazza Signoria, now exhibited in a specially constructed hall. Other works by Michelangelo include some of his Slave series and his sculpture of San Matteo. Also featured is an impressive collection of paintings from the 13th to 16th Centuries. Among the gallery's most noted works: a Sienese school Crucifix from the 13th Century, 24 panels by Taddeo Gaddi representing scenes from the Life of Christ and St Francis as well as Giovanni da Milano's Pietà. Embodying the artistic culture of Florence, this remarkable gallery is a must-have on the itinerary.
One of the most prominent art museums in the world - Uffizi Gallery, is located in the Uffizi Complex that dates back to 1581. Much of the collection was bestowed upon the state of Tuscany by the Medici family in the 1700s to ensure that the work of some of Italy's greatest artists would remain where it belonged for the benefit of its people. The gallery consists of 40 rooms showcasing the work of some of the world's most renowned Renaissance masters, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Caravaggio and also includes Botticelli's Birth of Venus and Primavera. Works of distinguished Flemish, Dutch and German painters are also on display here. The corridors and ceilings are anointed with splendid frescoes and lined with 16th-century Roman sculptures. Originally built to house legislative and administrative offices, the Uffizi Complex is a work of art in itself, designed by the noted architect, Giorgio Vasari.
This pedestrian bridge is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks - a charming collection of jewelry shops that rests atop the mighty stone arches that span the Arno. The Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, was built in 1345, but its architect is unknown. Until the 13th Century, the bridge was lined with shops of every kind, including butchers, fishmongers and tanneries, each adding to an overwhelming stench that eventually induced Grand Duke Ferdinando I to issue an edict replacing all shops with goldsmiths. Additional improvements were made when the Medici family moved to Palazzo Pitti in the 1500s and commissioned Giorgio Vasari to design and construct a separate passage for their use. The resulting overpass, dating back to 1565 above Ponte Vecchio's shops, is now known as the Vasari Corridor. Miraculously, Ponte Vecchio was the only one spared by the retreating Germans on August 4, 1944, and remains a revered historic landmark. Today, the bridge is a popular choice for evening strolls, sightseeing and jewelry shopping.
This is the church of the Templars in San Gimignano, city of towers that has a unique horizon. It is of 13th century, pre-Gothic, architecture, and probably had little to do with the knights of the Templars themselves, despite the legend. It is worth a visit because of the peaceful atmosphere here as well as to see the works by Memmo di Filippuccio.
The Badia castle was probably built during the invasion of the barbarians as a place of defense for the local population. The first documentary evidence dates from July 25, 983, showing the donation of the castle, from the annexed church of San Michele and the numerous other properties, built by Ugo, count of Tuscany, to the Abbott Bononio of the Camaldolesi monks. Only the cloisters of the ancient monastery from the 11th Century still remain, which are visible in the southern part of the castle.
Palazzo Budini Gattai is an ancient palace located in the center of Florence. This brick palace was built by Bartolomeo Ammannati in 1570 and today is the head office of the Region of Tuscany. There is a legend about this place, which belonged to the Grifoni family. All the windows are kept closed except the top one, where the young and lonely wife of a Grifoni son spent time sewing and waiting at the window, glancing now and then in the piazza for her young husband to return home from war. She is said to have died in old age, but when they tried to close the windows, her spirit would not rest and threw books, furniture and lamps across the room. The window is kept open even today, giving a view of the piazza below.
Santuario di Santa Maria della Fontenuova was built in the 17th Century, and till date stands tall as an eclectic architectural and historical structure. The facades of this sanctuary are in a beautiful Tuscan baroque style and it is counted amongst fine architectural examples. The sanctuary is ornamented with idyllic murals, relics, paintings and more. There are also carved friezes, altars and stenciled ceilings that will leave you in awe. A great spectacle that peeps into the history of Italy.
Villa Rusciano is a historically significant building which is located on the hills in the outskirts of Florence. The villa, which dates back to the 15th Century, was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The grand staircase and the interior decor of the villa have still survived although the rest of it was renovated in later years. The interior has several intricate sculptures and precious stone-studded portals and fireplaces. The view of the city from the villa is magnificent and the panoramic terrace garden which surrounds the villa does full justice to it. Although it has changed ownership several times, the beauty of the villa remains the same.
Santi Simone e Giuda is a Catholic church of the Ukraine Greek order which is located between the Piazza della Signoria and the Piazza Santa Croce. The church was originally built in the year 1243 but was was thoroughly renovated in the year 1630 after it was damaged in a flood. Although the design of the renovated church is mainly credited to Gherardo Silvani, several other renowned architects and artists were involved in the reconstruction, making the church an imposing and majestic structure. The interior of the ceilings are richly designed and the renovated altar area is also quite opulent.