Florence is the capital city of the Tuscany region. It is the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. The historic centre of Florence is listed as a World Heritage Site in 1982. It is regarded as one of the most artistic city of the world in my eyes. You could find the David staring at faraway and the Venus emerging slowly from the Po river. This Christmas holiday , I finally visited this famous city to filfill my dreams.
When I just arrived at the station Firenze Santa Maria, it was at night already. The dome of the famous cathedrale Santa Maria del Fiore was immediately within my sight. Just within a few minutes’ walk, I could scrutinize the huge cathedrale from top to bottom. Although it was a cold winter night, large amounts of visitors flocked here and took pictures with the christmas trees in front of the church.
After one night’s rest, I started my trip from the Piazza San Marco because it was quite near my hotel. The convent on the picture is now the Museo Nazionale di San Marco; during the 15th century it was home to two famous Dominicans, the painter Fra Angelico and the preacher Girolamo Savonarola.
Florence is a small city but it owns many art galleries. Next I arrived at the Galleria dell’Accademia. It is an art museum known as the home of Michelangelo’s sculpture David. It was the first professional art academy in Europe. It keeps large amounts of sculptures finished by Michelangelo and a large collection of paintings by Florentine artists.
David is a marble sculpture created between 1501 and 1504 by the Italian artist Michelangelo. It was originally placed in a public square, outside the Palazzo Vecchio but was moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia in 1873, and replaced at the original location by a replica. It symbolizes the defence of civil liberties of the Republic of Florence.
Beside the gallery, it is the Palazzo Medici Riccardi. It is a Renaissance palace designed by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo for Cosimo de’ Medici, head of the Medici banking family, and was built between 1444 and 1484. The palace was inhabited by the members of the family until 1659, when Ferdinando II sold it to the Riccardi marquises.
At the south of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, it is the symbol of Florence, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. It was built in 1296 in the Gothic style, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio and was completed by 1436, with the brown dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The dome had a brillant colored decoration, even from far away, it could be recogonized easily. The design of the exterior of the basilica is special with polychrome marble geometric panels in various shades of green and pink, bordered by white. There is tall bell tower next to the cathedral. It is so tall that you have to look up to the sky and see the top. The whole cathedral is so large that it is impossible to take a full picture of it.
The bell tower represents the standard Gothic architecture designed by Giotto with rich sculptural decorations and its polychrome marble encrustations. It is 84.7 metres tall and has polygonal buttresses at each corner.
There was another church near the train station with the similar decoration. It is the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, the first great basilica in Florence. Its name is taken by the train station.
Florence is a city that you will always find surprise in any place. After I walked through one huge arch, I arrived at one square Piazza della Repubblica. It was originally the site of the city’s forum; The square’s Giubbe Rosse cafe has long been a meeting place for famous artists and writers, notably those of futurism. Now you could still have a drink here. The porticos with the triumphal arch, called the “Arcone”, was designed by Micheli. The words on the Arc are L’ANTICO CENTRO DELLA CITTÀ DA SECOLARE SQUALLOREA VITA NUOVA RESTITUITO. It means the ancient centre of the city / restored from age-old squalor / to new life.
佛罗伦萨是一个你在任何角落都会感到惊奇的城市。穿过一个巨大的拱门后，我来到了共和广场。它最初是城市论坛的举办地；广场的朱比·罗西咖啡馆长期以来一直是著名艺术家和作家的聚会场所。你也可以像那些未来主义的艺术名流一样在这里喝一杯。凯旋门的门廊被称为“拱门” ，是由米凯利设计的。拱门上的文字是意大利语 L’ANTICO CENTRO DELLA CITTÀDA SECOLARE SQUALLOREA VITA NUOVA RESTITUITO。它的意思是古老的城市中心从旧时代的肮脏恢复到新的生活。
On the south side of the square, there is one church called Orsanmichele that was originally built as a grain market in 1337 by Francesco Talenti, Neri di Fioravante, and Benci di Cione. Between 1380 and 1404, it was converted into a church used as the chapel of Florence’s powerful craft and trade guilds. On the ground floor of the square building are the 13th-century arches that originally formed the loggia of the grain market.
Further south of the Orsanmichele, we could find another symbole of Florence, Piazza della Signoria, that is a L-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. It records the long history of the Florentine Republic and is still the political focus of the city. On this square, there are some two wheel cabriolet for tourists to ride. For me, it was really amazing to see the real cariolet driven by horse.
The Fontana del Nettuno is situated on the Piazza della Signoria in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. It was built in 1565 and designed by Baccio Bandinelli and created by other collaborators. The bronze and marble sculptures are river gods, laughing satyrs and sea-horses emerging from the water. The scupltures in Italy could always impress me even if it is just a small one in the fountain.
The Palazzo Vecchio (“Old Palace”) is the town hall of the city. This massive, Romanesque, crenellated fortress-palace overlooks the square with its copy of Michelangelo’s David statue. Tourists like to take pictures here.
Going through the entrance, it was the first courtyard designed in 1453 by Michelozzo. The Putto with Dolphin on top of the basin is a copy of the original. This small statue was originally placed in the garden of the Villa Medici at Careggi.
This palace is famous for displaying arts in its hall and rooms. The Salone dei Cinquecento was a big hall built in 1494 by Simone del Pollaiolo. On the walls, there are large and expansive frescoes that depict battles and military victories by Florence over Pisa and Siena. The famous works were lost fom here, including the Battle of Cascina by Michelangelo and the Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci. Even now no one knows where they are.
This is the picture Defeat of the Pisans at the Tower of San Vincenzo drawn by Giorgio Vasari displayed in Salone dei Cinquecento.
This is one of the room in the palace. Every room here has beautiful paintings and each painting has a story, there is one room is named after Jupiter and another room has the style of the four elements. There are too many rooms in the palace so I will not list all of them.
After I finished the tour of all the rooms, I could climb to the top of the tower of the palace and have the panoromic view of the city. Most of the houses in Florence were built with the red bricks. I could see clearly the Arno river and the bridges over the river. The old houses alongside the river are the testimony of the old history of this medieval city.
The oldest and most beautiful bridge in Florence is the Ponte Vecchio. It is a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge. There are some shops on the roof covered bridge and it makes the road too narrow so I would like cross the river through another bridge to avoid the crowd on the bridge.
The Ponte Santa Trìnita is another Renaissance bridge, the oldest elliptic arch bridge in the world, characterised by three flattened ellipses. Standing on this bridge, I can observe meticulously the whole structure of the beautiful Ponte Vecchio.
After I crossed the river, the next destination is the Palazzo Pitti. It dated from 1458 and was originally the town residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker. The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
In the late 18th century, the palazzo was used as a power base by Napoleon and later served for a brief period as the principal royal palace of the newly united Italy. The palace was donated to the Italian people by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1919. It is now the largest museum in Florence. Here we could see many paintings of Raphael.
This is one room in the palace. In the Medici perod, it was the antechamber of the Grand Prince Ferdinando.
It was the Audience room of the apartment of the Grand prince Ferdinando. From 1865, under the House of Savoy, it became the throne room. This is the seat of the King of Savoy.
This room used to be the music room of the apartment of the Grand Prince Ferdinando. In the 18th century, it was used as the dining room by the Lorraine family. The chandelier in this room was very spectacular. It was the only one thing that has survived from the Medici period.
I have spent much time in the palace Piti because there were so many things displaying. When I left it, the sun began to go down. The Piazzale Michelangelo is a good place to see the sun set since it is a high point in Florence. At this place, all the major land marks of the city could be seen without any obstructions.
On this high land, we could not only see the cathedral Sainta Maria del Fiore and palazzo Vechio, but also the bell tower of Badia Fiorentina. These are most obvious buidings. The Badìa Fiorentina is an abbey and now becomes home to the Monastic Communities of Jerusalem. It was said that Dante used to live near the area so I would like to see it.
When I went back to the north side of the river, the sun has started to go down and sky was aglow with sunset colours. The bridge was immersed slowly into the darkness.
After taking pictures at the high land, the night had come and I was on my way back. This is another famous church Basilica of Santa Croce. It buried the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, the poet Foscolo, the philosopher Gentile and the composer Rossini, so it is known also as the “Temple of the Italian Glories”.
On the square of Santa Croce, the statue of poet Dante Alighieri could be found next to Basilica of Santa Croce. It was built in 1865 by Italian sculptor Enrico Pazzi. Dante’s Divine Comedy is widely known as the most important poem of the Middle Ages.
When I went back to have dinner, I passed by the famous Galleria degli Uffizi. It was one of the most important Italian museums also one of the largest and best known in the world and holds a collection of priceless works, particularly from the period renaissance. There too many tourists here. It is recommended to book the ticket online before the visit.
One of the most famous work in the gallery is The Birth of Venus painted by the Italian artist Sandro Botticelli in the mid 1480s. It depicts the goddess Venus arriving at the shore after her birth, when she had emerged from the sea.
Another famous work The Venus of Urbino is painted by the Italian painter Titian. It depicts a nude young woman, representing the goddess Venus, reclining on a couch in the sumptuous surroundings of a palace.
The Loggia dei Lanzi is a building on a corner of the Piazza della Signoria adjoining the Uffizi Gallery. It consists of wide arches open to the street. Here there are many statues to be seen. If you are insterested in statues, this will be a great place.
Lastly on my way back to hotel，there was a square with fountains and scupltures. The square is named after the church of the Annunziata at the head of the square. In the center of the square, there is the bronze Equestrian statue of Ferdinando I. This would be my last place to visit in Florence before I went back back to hotel.
Generally, Florence is superb place for people who are interested in arts and the history of renaissance. Although I am not a big fan of arts, I still felt it worthy and I think that 2 days are not enough at all to visit all the famous museums. If I could come next time, I will visit the Uffizi Gallery and the Boboli garden that I missed this time. Due to the different reasons, I could not visit them, it was a pity for me.