The only bridge not blown-up by the German troopers at the end of WWII, Ponte Vecchio was originally built in the 14th century. Initially lined with butcher shops, it later became home to jewelery shops since the time of Ferdinando de' Medici. The latter ordered the butchers out because of the bad smell coming from their shops and their habit to toss unwanted meat in the Arno river.
Sided by the Logge Vasariane that come directly from the Piazza della Signoria, it commands unforgettable views of Florence. The sight of Ponte Vecchio from the river is just as magnificent.
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Originally begun in 1458, the palace was home to the Pitti family, arch-rivals of the Medici family. However, in 1549 Palazzo Pitti was acquired by the Medici family, and it remained their official family residence until 1919, when Italy's Savoy family handed it over to the state.
Divided into 5 different museums, one can enjoy them with a combined ticket, or single out a few at individual prices.
The Galleria Palatina is the most significant of all. This part used to be the core of the palace, where the Medici family used to live, sleep, and gather for celebrations. The interiors are heavily decorated with Spanish-style heavy draperies and crystal chandeliers. Each room has a color theme, with nuances ranging from aqua green to deep wine red. each ambient bares a lavish decadent feel, enhanced by the presence of paintings from the greatest Italian and international artists in each room. The operas mainly range between the 16th and the 18th century, but they are not hung on the walls in any particular order. The advice here is just to walk around and indulge in feeling one of the Medici as much as possible.
Some of the important artists present here are Titian, Raphael, Botticelli, Filippo Lippi, Andrea del Sarto, Caravaggio, Tintoretto, Veronese, Ribera, Murillo, Rubez, Velasquez, and Van Dyck. The main rooms of this section are the Sala Bianca, Royal Apartments, Sala Venere, and the Sala dell'Educazione di Giove.
The remainder sections are worth a visit if you have alot of time in your hands. The Gallery of Modern Art and the Galleria del Costume can be visited jointly. The Modern art Gallery mostly covers the periods from the 18th to the mid 20th century, while the Galleria del Costume shows high fashion dresses from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Singularly noteworthy is the Giardino dei Boboli, a splendid Reinaissance garden laid in place in the 16th century.
The Museo delle Porcellane offers great views of the Garden and the Florentine countryside. Here you will find porcelain of Sevres, Viennese, Vincennes, and Meissen china gathered by the Medici family.
The Museo degli Argenti, displays all the precious glasses, crystals, and silverware used by the illustrious tenants.
For more information click: Palazzo Pitti
From Porta Romana or from Ponte San Niccoló you can take the bus number 13 that takes you up the hills through a curvy road shaded by maple trees and sided by gorgeous manors to Piazzale Michelangelo. The Piazzale gives you the possibility to enjoy a wonderful panorama of the the entire city of Florence, which you will literally have at your feet. Throned by a bronze reproduction of the David by Michelangelo, it is the ideal spot for a refreshing gelato.
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San Miniato al Monte Church
It is a magnificent Romanesque church that can be reached through a steep 10 minute walk from Piazzale Michelangelo. San Miniato al Monte was built in the 11th century and shows a magnificent multicolored marble facade (built some centuries later) that depicts Christ between the Virgin Mary and San Miniato, a local martyr. The interiors feature 13th and 15th century frescoes , and intricate works of marble all along the nave that accompany to a neat Romanesque crypt. Particularly fine are the raised choir and the intricate marble pulpit which display gorgeous works of geometrical art. The life of San Benedict is depicted in marvelous frescoes in the sacristy.
In the middle of the nave is the Cappella del Crocifisso which showcases works from Della Robbia, Michelozzo and Agnolo Gaddi. The Cappella del Cardinal del Portogallo features a tomb by Antonio Rossellino near the north aisle and a precious terracotta ceiling by Della Robbia. A very neat experience is to come around at 4:30pm in wintertime and 5:30pm in summertime to listen to the grgorian chants of the monks.
For more information click: Basilica San Miniato al Monte
Basilica Santa Maria del Carmine
The Basilica was almost destroyed in the 18th century by a fire that spared only the Brancaci Chapel. Located on the right of the curch, th chapel is so popular that you need to reserve in advance. Only thirty people are allowed in at a time. The chapel includes what are considered the finest works of Masaccio, which started the frescoes but never completed them because he died when only 28. Filippino Lippi completed the work some decades later. For reservatiuons call (0039) 055 276 82 24.
Santo Spirito Basil
The Basil represents one of the last commissions of Brunelleschi. Masterfully conceived with a colonnade of 35 columns, and semicircular chapels enriched by gorgeous elements such as the Madonna coi Santi di Filippino Lippi. The sacristy features a wooden crucifix attributed to Michelangelo.
The Brancacci Chapel is housed in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, looking over the large and beautiful Piazza after its name. In the second half of the 15th century, the religious complex formed by the Church and the Convent di Santa Maria del Carmine was the imposing Florentine seat of the Carmelite Order.
For more information click: Cappella Brancacci
Certosa del Galluzzo
The southern tip of the Oltrarno part of Florence is easily reached from Porta Romana in direction to Siena following Via Senese. The village of Galluzzo holds the Certosa del Galluzzo, a marvellou 14th century monastery perched on top of a hill commanding the surrounding countryside. Once home to monks from the carthusian order usedto have 50 monasteries including this around Italy, however today only two remain to testify their presence. Including the Certosa del Galluzzo in 1955 has passed into Cistercean hands.
Divided into three main parts, the Certosa del Galluzzo includes five frescoes from Pontormo and a not-large art collection in the Palazzo degli Studi. The Basilica di San Lorenzo bares 14th century origins and shows Renaissance exteriors. Inside the Basilica is the Colloquio, which consissts of a narrow hall with wooden benches where once a week the vow of silence could be broken by the Carthusian monks, which could also break it on Mondays during walks. The final element to visit is the Chiostro Grande with i8 monk's cells all around and decorated with busts the workshop of Della Robbia.
To get there get the 37 bus from Santa Maria Novella station. To be visited solely with Italian-speaking guided tours.
Oltrarno Side of Florence
The Cathedrals : Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, Cappella Brancacci, Santo Spirito
Main Monuments : Palazzo Pitti, Piazzale Michelangelo, Ponte Vecchio
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