Renaissance Florence, a city dominated by the Medici Family, was about power, wealth, art, and architecture – new ways of seeing and behaving and an overwhelming confidence. In a short visit you can dash from one site to the next or you could spend all your time in the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia, but we chose to linger in a somewhat esoteric choice of sites during our three days in Florence.
The Convent of San Marco was quite quiet compared with other sites. Here Fra Giovanni di Fiesole, the ‘blessed’ or ‘angelic’ monk, aka Fra Angelico, painted icons in the monks’ cells for their meditation. Linger here for a morning and perhaps follow with a stroll in the Botanical Garden.
Florence is filled with revolutionary and beautiful art, but you have to restrict your choice if you don’t want cultural indigestion! I made special visits to see Masaccio in the Church of the Carmine, Raphael in the Pitti Palace, Giambologna in the Piazza della Signoria, and Donatello in the Bargello Museum, amongst others.
The art in the museums is remarkable but what particularly struck me during this visit to Florence were the buildings – the fabulously wealthy churches and the extraordinary palaces. I lingered in Santa Maria Novella, but do visit Santa Croce, Santa Trinita, and San Michele e Gaetano, amongst others.
The nobility and rich merchants built themselves sumptuous palaces: I lingered in the Pitti Palace, built by Luca Pitti in the 15C, but you can see these fabulous 15C and 16C mansions by wandering along the streets. While wandering do stop for an ice cream at Vivoli – wonderful! – and in the evenings Le Fonticini offers wonderful grilled meats and pastas.
The River Arno runs through the centre of the City, with the famous Ponte Vecchio Bridge where the shops are busy day and night.
But perhaps the most astonishing sight of all is the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Fiore (completed in 15C), the Baptistry of the 11C-12C with its glorious panelled doors by Ghiberti, and the 13C Bell Tower by Giotto.
This was a guest post by Candy from the London Traveller.