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Florence, a quick introduction
Slow tour from the Cathedral to the Old Bridge
Florence Cathedral is the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower. As historical sources say, the Florence Cathedral construction started in 1294 by Arnolfo Di Cambio built on the site of an earlier Romanesque Cathedral. The construction of the Cathedral lasted for many centuries, it changed several architects and projects until the end in 1436. The main idea was to exceed in beauty and size any other Cathedral in Tuscany.
The Cathedral dues its name to the Golden Flower donated to the city by Pope Eugenio IV. It is covered in pink and green marble coming from the near Carrara and Prato. The great facade is in neo-Gothic style and it was completed only in 1870. One of the most famous parts of this historical building is its dome rising above the wide octagonal presbytery, covered with red roof tiles. It is the masterpiece of Brunelleschi. The structure was built without scaffolding, an hurdle by those times.
It is a Basilica, built on a cross plan. The Interiors look very simple in comparison to other churches, decorated with huge frescoes depicting the last judgement by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari, dating back to the years 1572-1579. The main altar is crowned by a wooden crucifix sculpted by Benedetto da Maiano.
Giotto’s Bell Tower
As its name states, the Bell Tower of Florence Cathedral is designed by Giotto. The author wished to create his tower bell in the middle of the main square, unfortunately he died after three years from the start and he did not complete the work. Andrea Pisano continued the construction, completed by Francisco Talenti in accordance with the idea creators.
The Bell Tower is covered with white, green and pink marble. From the bottom it is decorated with some scenes of human labor. The second floor is decorated with bas-reliefs lozenges showing Sun, Moon and seven planets, and fine arts iconographies. On the third floor, you will see statues of prophets, Sybill and John the Baptist.
Welcome to Piazza della Signoria
Piazza della Signoria is a great square in the center of Florence, built on the rests of Ghibellines houses between the centuries 12th and 14th. It is surrounded by ancient buildings and statues, visited everyday by many tourists. One of the most important building is Palazzo Vecchio, but also the Neptune fountain made of white marble, conceived by Bartolomeo Ammanatiego between 1563 and 1575.
In the very centre of the fountain a sculpture of Neptune placed on a small cart pulled by seahorses, while on the sides some bronze sculptures of fantastic sea creatures (like shells, dolphins, etc.). Then on the square you can find a copy of Michelangelo’s sculpture David (the original one carved in 1501 has been moved into the Accademia gallery in 1873).
Ponte Vecchio, Florence postcard
Ponte Vecchio is the most famous bridge on the river Arno and it survived to the last world war. It is said about it that it is a showcase of Florence. Originally there were mainly shops butchers. Today you can find here many jewelry shops, amazing but unfortunately not belonging to the cheapest category.
On the bridge you can find the statue of a little wild boar, made by Pietro Tacca in 1612. It is a copy of a marble antique sculpture. Legend says that touching its snout makes people to return to Florence again, so the snout literally shines for all the tourists touching it. You can find the wild boar in the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo, the famous Florentine market.
Visit Florence: helpful hints
Italian name: Firenze
The airport of Florence is an international airport connected to the city centre by a bus service (rides every 30 minutes, 6€, it takes 20 minutes to the city). For transcontinental flights you have to stop in other airports. Consider to get to Florence by train from other major Italian cities (from Rome or Milan, i.e.), both Trenitalia and Italo companies stop at St Maria Novella railway stations.
Florence is a small city and all the most important monuments are close to each other so the best way to visit the city is on foot or by bike. In Florence is available the mobike bike sharing service (it costs 0,69€ for a 20 minutes ride). Anyway is there public transports, a single ticket costs 1,5€ and lasts 60 minutes.
What to do
Florence is the capital city of Tuscany region, in the centre of Italy. The city of Italian Renaissance! In your sightseeing tour, don’t skip St. Maria del Fiore cathedral with Brunelleschi’s great Dome, the Old Bridge on river Arno and the Uffizi gallery where you can find some very important works of art (see Botticelli’s “Primavera”). Get the tickets on line, to skip the long queue!
The best view on the entire city is from Piazzale Michelangelo (i.e. Michelangelo sq.) and you should visit Palazzo Pitti too, with its amazing Garden – the Giardino di Boboli -. If you consider a tour nearby, we recommend you to visit Fiesole.
We also offer a FlorenceTown tour promo to our users! Here you can find a travel diary of the “Inferno Tour” inspired by Dan Brown’s novel.
Where to sleep
Florence is quite expensive and so are the accomodation, but Italia Slow Tour user can get a special discount on some hotels. Enjoy!