The Heart of Florence is a tour of the most famous architectures of Florence, universal symbols of its glorious history.
Piazza del Duomo (or Santa Maria del Fiore) will strike you with the majestic size of its noble buildings, but at the same time will fill your eyes with the joyful colors of its marbles.
White, green and red are fundamental colors of the facades, enriched with a profusion of statues, decorated windows, bronze doors.
On top, awesome and protective at the same time, stands the gigantic red brick dome devised by Brunelleschi, made more elegant by the lantern on top.
The whole complex was built during the course of many centuries and the phases (and delays) in its construction mirror the political, economical and social history of this powerful city.
There was a time in which the Baptistery (that is the oldest building, late 11th century) stood in the middle of a maze of narrow alleyways and tower houses, which were then little by little demolished to make room for the huge Duomo, started by Arnolfo di Cambio (he had formerly worked at the Duomo in Siena) in 1296, passing then under the direction of many other famous architects (such as Giotto, that also added his project for the Bell Tower), was in fact not finished until the end of the 19th century, when the façade was finally erected!
All in all, the construction of the Dome took ‘only’ 16 years (from 1420 t0 1436). The story of how Brunelleschi, possibly reenacting ancient Etruscan techniques, was able to raise it without building scaffoldings. He kept his mouth as shut as possible, revealing only what was indispensable to carry on the works, and technicians have been debating for centuries…This and other intriguing episodes, such as the story of the competition for the creation of the second door of the Baptistery, with Michelangelo’s comments, will be part of our tour.
The Heart of Florence tour goes into the Duomo, to admire in particular the stained glass windows and the inner part of the Dome, and also visit the Baptistery, whose bright golden mosaic dome will emotion you.
A short stroll will take us into another atmosphere, that of Piazza della Signoria, where civic buildings give room to the religious ones.
It is not as brightly colored and not as rich in marble geometries as Piazza del Duomo, but it still makes a lasting impression, due to the multitude of imposing statues that cheerfully crowd some of its spaces.
Neptune(familiarly called ‘Il Biancone’ by the Florentines), the famous Perseus by Benvenuto Cellini, a replica of the mythical David and more, always surrounded by a crowd of adoring tourists…
We will tell you a few good old stories, as these figures have part of the cityscape for so long that they are almost family for the locals!
In the heart of Florence continues inside Palazzo Vecchio, that will help us to reconstruct the political history of Florence, with its conspiracies, murders, upheavals, and the Medici, of course, with their friends, enemies and alliances.
Palazzo Vecchio is a beautiful if severe building dating back to the end of the 13th century, still today used as City Hall.
The interior boasts an enormous room, The Hall of the 500, where your guide will tell you not only about Dan Brown’s famous scene in ‘Inferno’, but also about the tragicomic episode of Leonardo da Vinci’s disastrous attempt to dry his ‘Battle of Anghiari’ fresco !
From Palazzo Vecchio we walk to Ponte Vecchio (vecchio = old; ponte = bridge) , the most iconic bridge in Florence, the only one that wasn’t bombed by the Germans during World War II.
We will point up, over our heads, the Vasari Corridor connecting Palazzo Vecchio to the Uffizi and then directly to Palazzo Pitti, a sort of highway used by the Medici for safety and practical reasons. Today the Corridor,
containing a fabulous portraits’ collection, is momentarily closed to visitors for security problems.
The bridge, rebuilt in 1345 after a disruptive flood, was once occupied by butcher shops.
It was with the construction of Palazzo Pitti and the Corridor on top that Ferdinand I Medici decided to kick out the bad smelling butcheries and allowed the artisan jewelers instead.
At least now you know who you have to thank for all the marvels you can see today in the sparkling windows of elegant Ponte Vecchio !
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