Built over the Roman city, the historic centre of Florence may best be described as a treasure chest of works of art and architecture. Defined by the 14th-century walls, and built up thanks to the enormous business and economic power which Florence achieved, the two succeeding centuries were Florence’s golden age. The spiritual focus of the city is the Cathedral Piazza of Santa Maria del Fiore, with Giotto’s campanile on one side and the Baptistry of St John in front, with the Gates of Paradise by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Going north from here, one comes across the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi by Michelozzo and St Lawrence’s Basilica by Brunelleschi with the sacristies inside designed by Donatello and Michelangelo. Further on are the Museum of St Mark’s, with Fra Angelico‘s masterpieces, the Galleria dell’Accademia with Michelangelo’s David (1501-4) and the Santissima Annunziata Piazza with the Lodge of the Holy Innocents by Brunelleschi. On the south side of the cathedral is the political/cultural centre of Florence, with the Palazzo Vecchio and the Galleria degli Uffizi nearby. Close to these are the Museo del Bargello and the Basilica of the Holy Cross. Across the Ponte Vecchio is the Oltrarno quarter, with the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. Still in the Oltrarno, mention must be made of the Holy Ghost Basilica by Filippo Brunelleschi and the Carmelite Church, with its frescoes by Masolino, Masaccio and Filippino Lippi. To the west of the cathedral are the imposing Strozzi Palace and the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, its facade designed by Leon Battista Alberti.
The historic centre may be admirably viewed in its entirety from the surrounding hills, especially Piazzale Michelangelo (just under the Romanesque Basilica of San Miniato), or Fiesole, both of which offer some of the most spectacular views in the Arno valley.
Since 1982 it is a Unesco site.
Thanks to Anna for the postcard.
Thanks to Silvia for the postcard.