Florence recommended tours







Scrivici/write to us

Art and Culture in Italy     Information about Italy   Accommodation in Italy   Hotels in Italy (1 to 5 Stars)  

Recommended tours on Florence               (Back to Florence main information page )                                            

Piazza del Duomo is a great place to start a tour that will uncover some of Florence's historical beauty. Not only is the piazza rich in history, but it's an architectural delight too. One of the first sights you will see is the Baptistery, dedicated to St John the Baptist (patron saint of Florence) and one of the oldest buildings in the city. It was constructed in its current form in the eleventh century. Besides the beautiful interior (richly decorated with mosaics), there are glorious medieval and Renaissance bronze doors by Andrea Pisano and Lorenzo Ghiberti. A reconstructed version of Michelangelo's eastern door (known as The Gateway to Paradise because of its beauty) is also visible. If you want to see some of Michelangelo's original panels, they are located in the Cathedral Museum, which has been recently reopened after a long closure. The museum is situated on the piazza, behind the apse of the cathedral. Amongst other things, it contains precious sculptures as well as exhibits connected to the buildings that are dotted around the piazza.

In front of the Baptistery is the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, which was built by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296 to replace the old Santa Reparata cathedral. The archaeological remains of this cathedral are in the basement of the present church. Di Cambio's building was only completed one hundred and fifty years later with the addition of the enormous cupola (dome) that sits above the church's transept. Filippo Brunelleschi, a truly gifted Renaissance architect designed the dome. It is possible to reach the top of the cupola (access is on the right hand side of the church), which is 107m from ground level but there is no lift so you will have to climb over 400 steps. It is definitely worth climbing the steps, not just for the beautiful view that awaits you at the top, but also so that you can begin to appreciate the mastery of Brunelleschi, as the cupola is truly an extraordinary feat of architecture.

The interior of the cathedral itself is also well worth visiting, even though at times there can be a queue. Amongst other things, you will be able to see the frescoes beneath the cupola, painted in the second half of the sixteenth century by Vasari and Zucchari. The frescoes cover an area of around 3600m2 and represent Universal Justice'. It is also worth taking a look at the Sacristy where Lorenzo de Medici sought refuge during the Pazzi conspiracy when his brother Giuliano was killed in the cathedral. Here you will also see the lined marquetries created by a group of artists including Giuliano and Benedetto da Maiano. There are two frescoes on the right of the nave as you turn towards the exit: Giovanni Acuto (John Hawkwood) by Paolo Uccello and Niccol?da Tolentino by Andrea del Castagno.

As you leave the cathedral, you will see the Campanile di Giotto' (Giotto's Bell Tower'). Giotto himself began work on the tower. In this case too, a climb to the top is recommended - but take care if you suffer from vertigo!

Walk down Via Calzaiuoli - along which you will find hundreds of shops selling all manner of goods - and in a few minutes, you will reach the Piazza della Signoria, the political centre of Florence. The focal point of the piazza is the imposing Palazzo della Signoria' (also known as the Palazzo Vecchio'). This palace once housed the government of the city of Florence and has been enlarged several times over the centuries. Arnolfo di Cambio (the same architect who designed the cathedral), created the palazzo in 1294. The section that is not dedicated to the museum retains its function as the offices of the Town Council. The second internal courtyard houses the only public baths in the city centre.

On the Piazza della Signoria, you'll come across the dei Lanzi Lodge, which was originally a public meeting place but is now an open-air museum of sorts, where you can view a group of sculptures by Ratto delle Sabine and Giambologna. Besides this, there is also the Mannerist Fountain of Neptune' by Ammannati and the equestrian monument to Cosimo I, by Giambologna. There is a copy of Michelangelo's magnificent David too, which stands in front of the palace gates.

At this point you have a choice. You can either visit the Ufizzi Gallery (probably one of the most important museums in the world), which is only a short walk from the piazza, or, weather permitting, relax at an open-air caf? e.g. the Rivoire (a popular choice), which is famous for its hot chocolate with cream absolute bliss!


(Back to Florence main information page)



© italytravelescape.com