Florence - Italy

May 18-19, 2017

Florence, capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture.

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Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore; in English "Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower" is the main church of Florence.

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South Side of the Cathedral

The basilica is one of Italy's largest churches, and until development of new structural materials in the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world.

It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed.

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Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

The cathedral was begun at the end of the 13th century by Arnolfo di Cambio, and the dome, which dominates the exterior, was added in the 15th century on a design of Filippo Brunelleschi.

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A statue to each of these important architects can be found outside to the right of the cathedral, both admiring their work for the rest of eternity.

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The cathedral is a vast Gothic structure built on the site of the 7th century church of Santa Reparata, the remains of which can be seen in the crypt.

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Giotto's Bell Tower (1334 - 1359)

The bell tower by Giotto remains, together with the huge dome one of the most striking views of the town.

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A large projecting terrace at the top, after a climb of over 400 steps, functions as a panoramic roof.

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The Baptistery of St. John Battistero di San Giovanni

The Baptistery origins are unknown although it is believed that it was built over the ruins of a Roman temple dedicated to Mars dating back to the 4th-5th century A.D.

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Panoramic Views of Basilica of Santa Croce and Palazzo Vechhio

Young children can still be baptized here on the first Sunday of the month, but there is only space and time for 4. 

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Views from the Bell Tower

Piazza della Repubblica marks the site of the forum, the centre of the Roman city.

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Piazza della Republica viewed from the Bell Tower

Time to go inside the Cathedral. 

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The biggest artwork within the cathedral is Giorgio Vasari's frescoes of the Last Judgment (1572-9): they were designed by Vasari but painted mostly by his less-talented student Frederico Zuccari by 1579.  

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The artwork covers the interior of the 45 metre (147 ft) wide dome. 

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The quality of the work is uneven because of the input of different artists and the different techniques. Vasari had used true fresco, while Zuccari had painted in secco.

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Above the main door is the colossal clock face with fresco portraits of four Prophets or Evangelists by Paolo Uccello (1443).  

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Huge clock decorated by Paolo Uccello

This one-handed liturgical clock shows the 24 hours of the hora italica (Italian time), a period of time ending with sunset at 24 hours.

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Views from the Dome (top of Brunelleschi's Cupola)

This timetable was used until the 18th century. This is one of the few clocks from that time that still exist and are in working order.

Very close by, is the Museum of Opera of Saint Maria of Fiore. In this place you can see statues by Michelangelo and Donatello, plus bronze-gilded baptistery panels in a restoration center.

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Penitent Magdelene by Donatello (1453-1455)

The Penitent Magdalene is a wooden sculpture that was received with astonishment for its unprecedented realism.

Donatello executed the work when he was more than sixty years old, after he had spent a decade in Padua.

photoThe Deposition by Michelangelo (1547-1555)

The Deposition (also called the Florence Pietà, the Bandini Pietà or The Lamentation over the Dead Christ) depicts four figures: the dead body of Jesus Christ, newly taken down from the Cross, Nicodemus (or possibly Joseph of Arimathea), Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary.

Michelangelo began to work on the sculpture around the age of 72 but never ended it.

The face of Nicodemus under the hood is considered to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo himself.

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A quick walk along the medieval streets lead to Palazzo Vecchio.

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Palazzo Vecchio offers Roman ruins, a Medieval fortress and amazing Renaissance chambers and paintings.

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It is quite easy to be overwhelmed by all the historic sights and abundance of artistic treasures.

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Perhaps no other city in the world evokes as many cultural, artistic, and architectural visions as the capital of Tuscany.

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Gondolier

A walk along the Arno River, the most important river of Central Italy after the Tiber reveals some surprises.

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Arno River

The river flooded this city regularly in historical times, most recently in 1966.

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Arno River

New dams built upstream of Florence have greatly alleviated the problem in recent years.

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Arno River

The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge.

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Ponte Vecchio (The Old Bridge)

It is noted for still having shops built along it, as was once common.

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Ponte Vecchio (The Old Bridge)

Butchers initially occupied the shops; the present tenants are jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers.

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Ponte Vecchio (The Old Bridge)

Crossing the bridge leads to Porta Romana.

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Porta Romana (1327)

This is one of the few remaining walls left when the majority of the defensive walls of Florence were razed in the 19th century.

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The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross)

The Basilica of the Holy Cross is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli.

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Inside the Basilica

The Basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world.

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The altar and crucifix

The site, when first chosen, was in marshland outside the city walls.

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Michelangelo's Tomb

Outside the basilica, is the Pazzi Chapel which is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Renaissance architecture.

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Capella Pazzi

The main purpose of the building was the cathedral chapter house (meeting room for the governing chapter) and use as a classroom for the teaching of monks and other religious purposes.

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The walk to Piazzale Michelangelo includes crossing the ancient walls.

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There were 16 doors to enter in the city, and each door was opened at dawn and closed at the sunset.

Florence wall was not only a defensive facility: it was very important to check who entered in Florence, also because the entrance was subject to the payment of a tax.

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Walking on Via del Monte alle Croci

Today, tourists pay a tax for each night they spend in Florence, so I can safely say not much has changed in 700 years…

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Remains of Florence walls

On the way up it is possible to visit The Rose Garden (Giardino delle rose)

Originally open only in May, it is now open all year round.

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Giardino delle Rose

The Rose Garden was built in 1865, when the capital of Italy was moved from Turin to Florence that year.

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Panoramic view from Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo was built in 1869.

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Panoramic view from Piazzale Michelangelo

The view captures the heart of Florence from Forte Belvedere to Santa Croce, across the lungarni and the bridges crossing the Arno, including the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, the Bargello and the octagonal bell tower of the Badia Fiorentina.

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Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Basilica di Santa Croce

Beyond the city are the hills of Settignano and Fiesole.

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Basilica di Santa Croce