All SEE in Florence

One of the most beautiful countries in the world, Italy is well known for its rich art and culture, and for its numerous landmarks. With 54 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other country in the world, and an estimated 100,000 monuments of any sort (churches, palaces, museums, fountains, sculptures and archaeological remains), Italy is home to about half of the world’s artistic treasures. And if you are looking for inspiration, here is a list of Italy’s best-known attractions and sights…

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    Florence Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

    Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, known as the Duomo of Florence, is one of the most famous churches in Italy. When it was completed, in the 15th century, it was the largest church in the world, while today it is the third in Europe after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London.   SHORT HISTORY In 1294, the Commune of Florence orders the construction of a new cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore (St. Mary of the Flower). Two years later, the architect Arnolfo di Cambio is comissioned to design the cathedral, but he dies a few years later. In 1334, Giotto di Bondone was appointed as the architect of the cathedral. In the same year, he starts the building of the bell-tower. Three years later, Giotto dies. Between 1337 and 1343, the works are supervised by Andrea Pisano, but he is banished from Florence and Francesco Talenti takes his place. Talenti alters Arnolfo’s design and completes the bell-tower in 1359. After 1366, Giovanni di Lapo Ghini joins him. In 1420, Filippo Brunelleschi wins the competition for building the cathedral’s dome, opens the construction site and, 16 years later, in 1436, the dome is completed and Read more [...]

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    Palazzo Pitti

    Palazzo Pitti was the residence of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, that was inhabited, over time, by the Medici, by the Habsburg-Lorraine and, after the Unification of Italy, by the Savoy. Palazzo Pitti hosts the Palatine Gallery, the Royal Apartments, the Apartment of the Duchess of Aosta, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Treasury of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, the Costume Gallery, the Porcelain Museum and the Carriage Museum. The museal complex of Palazzo Pitti also includes the Boboli Gardens.   SHORT HISTORY Luca Pitti, a rival of the Medici family, wanted a more luxurious residence than the one built by Michelozzo for Cosimo the Elder. Around 1440, Pitti entrusted the project to Filippo Brunelleschi, but the architect died 12 years before the construction began, and the architect that will build Palazzo Pitti will be Luca Fancelli, a pupil and collaborator of Brunelleschi. The construction was started around 1458 but, due to design problems and financial difficulties, the works were temporarily interrupted in 1465. Luca Pitti died in 1472. Around 1550, Buonaccorso Pitti sold the palace to Eleonora di Toledo, wife of Cosimo I de’ Medici and daughter of the Viceroy of Naples. The palace thus became the main Read more [...]

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    Uffizi Gallery

    The Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi) is the most visited Italian museum and the 11th art museum in the world, by the number of visits, with over 3 million visitors in 2016. Situated near the Piazza della Signoria, in the Historic Centre of Florence, the museum hosts a collection of priceless works, most of them from the period of the Italian Renaissance.   SHORT HISTORY The building of the Uffizi Gallery started in 1560, under the request of Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de’ Medici. The original architect was Giorgio Vasari, one of the leading architects during the 15th century. The initial role of the building was to shelter the offices (uffizi), hence the name, but for the next two hundred years, the building was destined to house the art collections of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. In 1737, the last of the Medici family, Anna Maria Luisa, decided to leave the collections belonging to her family to the city of Florence, and in 1769, the place was opened to the public, the first in Europe to be called a “museum”.   ART The art inside the Uffizi includes ancient and modern paintings and sculptures, precious furnishings, clothes, jewellery, Read more [...]

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    Basilica di Santa Croce

    Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is a beautiful Franciscan church situated in Piazza di Santa Croce, in Florence. Here, Michelangelo Buonarroti, one of the greatest sculptors of all time, is buried.   SHORT HISTORY It is said that, in the year 1211, Saint Francis arrived in Florence. In a little island created by the Arno River, there was a chapel dedicated to the Holy Cross which would be donated to Saint Francis and from which the present church would take the name. The construction of the church started in 1294, after a project elaborated probably by Arnolfo di Cambio, one of the most important architects of that time. Over time, many great artists worked here, such as Giotto, Taddeo and Agnolo Gaddi, Maso di Banco, Giovanni da Milano, Brunelleschi and Michelozzo. Due to floods and epidemics, the basilica was finished at the end of the 14th century and was consecrated in 1442 by Pope Eugenio IV. With many difficulties, the last works were done until 1504, but then the funding came to an end and the church remained without a façade. The current façade was built in neo-gothic style between 1853 and 1863 by the architect Read more [...]

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    Ponte Vecchio

    Across the river Arno, at its narrowest point, there is a bridge called Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). The bridge was built in 1345, and is the only Florentine bridge that survived World War II.   SHORT HISTORY The first bridge on this place was a wooden bridge built in the year 966, that was destroyed by a flood in 1117. Reconstructed from stone, it was swept away again in 1333. Today’s bridge was built in 1335, and was attributed to Taddeo Gaddi by the architect and historian Giorgio Vasari, but its origin is still disputed. Unlike all other bridges in Florence, Ponte Vecchio was not destroyed by the Germans in the World War II, apparently, because of an order from Hitler himself.   ARCHITECTURE Ponte Vecchio is composed of three segmental arches: the main arch has a span of 30 meters and a 4.4 meters height, and the two side arches each span 27 meters and have a height of 3.5 meters. Since the 13th century, shops have been built on the bridge. At first, there were all sorts of shops, from butchers to fishmongers, but in 1593, Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, decreed that only goldsmiths Read more [...]

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    San Miniato al Monte

    San Miniato al Monte is a beautiful church which stands on one of the highest points in Florence, overseeing the city from above for nearly 1000 years.   SHORT HISTORY St. Miniato was an Armenian soldier, who was killed in the year 250 AD by the Roman soldiers of Emperor Decius, because he converted to Christianity, and Christians were persecuted at that time. He is considered the first martyr of the city and his remains are supposedly kept today in the crypt of St. Miniato al Monte. The oldest historical evidence of a church dedicated to San Miniato dates back to the year 783. The building was neglected and unsafe, and the Florentine bishop Ildebrando began to build a new one on April 27, 1018. The church was finished two hundred years later, in the 13th century. In 1373, the Olivetan monks arrived in Florence, called by the Pope Gregorio XI, and settled in the monastery, where you can still find them today. The Chapel dedicated to the Cardinal Giacomo di Coimbra (Cardinal of Portugal) was built between 1461 and 1466 by Antonio Manetti and finished by Antonio Rossellino, after his death. During the 16th century, with the emergence of Read more [...]

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    Piazza della Repubblica

    When you arrive to Piazza della Repubblica, your eyes are instantly attracted by the impressive triumphal arch. Near the Arcone, you discover the gorgeous carousel from the beginning of the 20th century and, a little further, the Column of Abundance (Colonna della Dovizia), but this is not all. You have to turn around a few times and take a few breaths to perceive it as a whole.   SHORT HISTORY Piazza della Repubblica is the center of the city since Roman times, when here was the forum which gathered the most important religious and civil buildings of that period. Over time, this area maintained its function as a meeting place, starting to host the market, which was institutionalized after the year 1000. Piazza della Repubblica it was defined as a public space intended for trade, while the square of the Duomo (Piazza del Duomo) was a place for politics and Piazza della Signoria for civil affairs. In the 16th century, the square was renamed Mercato Vecchio (Old Market), due to the construction of the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo near the Ponte Vecchio. Here was also the Jewish Ghetto, where Cosimo I had forced to reside the Jews in the city. Read more [...]

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    Santa Maria Novella

    Santa Maria Novella is a wonderful Dominican church located in the square with the same name, near the train station with the same name, in the beautiful city of Florence.   SHORT HISTORY In 1219, twelve Dominicans arrived in Florence from Bologna, led by Fra’ Giovanni. In 1221, they obtained the small church of Santa Maria delle Vigne, so called for the agricultural land that surrounded it. In 1242, the Dominicans decided to start work on a new and larger church. On October 18, 1279, during the feast of San Luca, the Laying of the First Stone was celebrated, with the blessing of Cardinal Latino Malabranca Orsini. The construction was finished around the middle of the 14th century, but it was consecrated only in 1420, by Pope Martino V. Leon Battista Alberti designed the large central portal and the upper part of the façade, in white and dark green marble, which was completed in 1470. After the Council of Trento, between 1565 and 1571, the interior of the church was redesigned by Giorgio Vasari, with the removal of the choir enclosure and the reconstruction of the side altars, which led to the shortening of the Gothic windows. Between 1575 and Read more [...]

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    Palazzo dell’Antella

    Palazzo dell’Antella is a building with a beautiful frescoed façade in Piazza di Santa Croce, in Florence, the result of the unification of several houses belonging to the Ricoveri family.   SHORT HISTORY The first significant expansion of the palace dates from the second half of the 16th century – the building was raised by a floor, including a mezzanine, and the wooden doors were replaced with stone ones, still visible today. The architect of the palace is thought to be someone from the circle of Baccio d’Agnolo. In the early 17th century, the palace passed to Senator Niccolò dell’Antella, through the dowry of his wife Costanza del Barbigia. In 1619, dell’Antella commissioned the architect Giulio Parigi to give a unified design to the properties the senator bought in Piazza di Santa Croce. To give a unified appearance to the adjacent buildings, he had the entire facade painted with frescoes. The paintings were made in just twenty days of work, between 1619 and 1620, by a team of thirteen young artists supervised by the painter Giovanni da San Giovanni. Dell’Antella died out in 1698 and, later, the palace passed by inheritance to Dal Borgo, then to Lotteringhi della Stufa and Read more [...]