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Frolicking Around Florence: A Visitor's Itinerary in the Cradle of Renaissance

Jul 13, 2008
Florence, or Firenze, as the locals call it, became famous as the birthplace of the Renaissance. From about 1300 up until the 1600, some of the greatest painters, sculptors and writers in history lived and worked in Florence, and their masterpieces bedecked the protective walls of various structures etching their legacies for time immemorial.

The city rests on both the banks of the Arno River in Central Italy, approximately 100 kilometres east of the Ligurian Sea. These waterways aided the rise of Florence to be the center of Medieval European barter and trade. It reached its peak in the field of arts during the reign (well, not really reign but more of a period of influence) of the Medici family.

Great artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Angelico, and Giotto produced many of the paintings and sculptures Florence has been known for. Notable writers such as Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch also stayed in Florence and graced the city with their mighty quill stirring both the mind and spirit of individuals all around. At present, about a million tourists visit the city annually for its magnificent architecture, glorious past and rich culture.

Now, let us go sightseeing.

Piazza della Signoria & Palazzo Vecchio

At the right bank, north of the Arno, lies most of the city's famous structures like Piazza della Signoria, which is a broad public square surrounded by impressive historic structures. Towering over the piazza is the Palazzo Vecchio, familiarly known as the Palazzo della Signoria. This palazzo, is an edifice that has been the center of local government since the Middle Ages. And in front of the Palazzo della Signoria is a replica of Michelangelo's David. The original sculpture is encased in the Galleria dell'Accademia. The former is but another option if you want to avoid waiting in line for hours just to enter the famous gallery that accommodates the original David.

Piazza del Duomo (Duomo, Campanile & Baptistry)

Again, situated on the right bank of the Arno, are centuries-olden churches, one worth mentioning is the awe-inspiring Santa Maria del Fiore, or the 'Duomo'. This is said to be the architectural jewel of the city; a work of art moulded and constructed by the genius that was Filippo Brunelleschi. The adjacent Campanile (bell tower) was built by Giotto and Andrea Pisano while the eight-sided Baptistery, with its decorated bronze doors, was put together by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Pisano. These three: the Duomo, the Campanile, and the Baptistry, completes the landscape of Piazza del Duomo.

Church of Santa Croce and San Lorenzo & the Uffizi

The Church of Santa Croce embraces the tombs of Galileo, Machiavelli, Michelangelo and other celebrated Florentines. As for the Church of San Lorenzo, its chapel holds the tombs of the influential Medici family. Not far from the San Lorenzo is the Uffizi gallery. This once housed government offices (ergo the term 'uffizi'). Now it has been transformed into an art gallery that boasts large number of masterworks donated mainly by the Medici family. Speaking of the uffizi, the offices themselves are positioned at the right of the Piazza della Signoria.

Ponte Vecchio

From the Piazza del Duomo, you may opt to take a short stroll towards the Ponte Vecchio, one of the six bridges that connect the right bank with the oltrarno (meaning beyond the Arno). One feature that raises Ponte Vecchio among the others is the numerous goldsmiths and jewellers that line the bridge.

You may want to take the opportunity to take a couple of shots (or purchase a souvenir or two) in each and every scenic spot that Florence has offer. Oh, and do not forget to try the local delicacies and desserts finally bidding arrivederci, Firenze!
About the Author
This article was written by Benedict Yossarian. If you are interested in property in Italy Benedict recommends Homes and Villas Abroad
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