Along the streets of Florence, discovering the historic cathedrals and churches of this great art city in Tuscany
Itinerary: Florence, Duomo, Giotto's Bell Tower, Chatedral Santa Maria Novella
Florence, the famous art city and its historic churches
Florence is the capital city of Tuscany and it is undoubtedly the cradle of the Italian culture. The Italian language, art, and architecture have somehow been influenced by Florence. This amazing art city is rich in beautiful religious and non-religious buildings of the past and in attractions that make Florence one of the most visited cities in Italy. The tour we propose here is made for those who want to visit some of the most important cathedrals and churches of the Florence, authentic masterpieces of art and architecture.
Let's make the walk start from Central Station, a very convenient place to reach from all directions. Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, (Cathedral Santa Maria Novella) overlooking the great square with the same name is just a few steps from the station gates. This church is one of the most important churches in the city because of its wonderful black-and-white façade, and because of the masterpieces you can find inside, such as Trinità by Masaccio, Giotto's crucified Christ, and the frescos by Ghirlandaio. The interiors are elegant and finely decorated: we suggest lingering in front of the two chapels, Cappella Strozzi and Cappella Tornabuoni where you can admire the wonderful decorations and paintings. This cathedral also features an interesting museum and a beautiful cloister where to have a relaxing walk.
After your visit of this cathedral is over, take Via dei Panzani, continue on Via de' Cerretani and make your way towards another religious milestone, one of the most ancient churches of this art city: Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore (Church Santa Maria Maggiore). This Romanesque-style church was rebuilt in the thirteen century and restored 500 years later. Its interior is a beautiful contrast of stone pillars and colored frescos, especially those located in the main chapel. This church also houses the remains of Brunetto Latini, Dante's mentor. If you look up at the bell tower of this church, you will see a stone-made head of a woman, called "La Berta". Many legends exist about this poor head: apparently, the woman said something brutal to a man who had been sentenced to death, and this man reciprocated with a curse so that the head of the woman had immediately become petrified.
After just some more meters along Via de' Cerretani, you will get to the main religious and most important social center of Florence: Piazza San Giovanni and Piazza del Duomo. Here, you can visit three real historic treasures:
- first, you will notice the great Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery San Giovanni), the twelfth-century baptistery built in compliance with the Florentine Romanesque style.
- right behind it, the majestic Chiesa di Santa Maria del Fiore (Church Santa Maria del Fiore) stands, which is the most important church in the city. This Gothic-style church was built in the thirteen century while the beautiful cupola, the Brunelleschi's Dome, was added 200 years later. The façade of this cathedral is an amazing combination of white, pink and green marble while the interiors are less decorated, but the beautiful floors and the frescos on the ceiling are still great things to see. We suggest you buy the ticket and climb up the dome: the view from here, both inside and outside the church, is absolutely amazing!
- another perfect look-out over Florence is the top of the bell tower, which lies right next to the church and displays the same beautiful colored marbles. It was built by Giotto, one of the main Italian artists who led the way to the Italian Renaissance. The finely decorated windows, the statues and the bells of this tower will leave you breathless!
Just a few steps behind the church you will find Museo dell'Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, namely 'the Museum of the Church', which houses more than 750 wonderful paintings, sculptures and works of art by some of the greatest Italian artists of all time: Donatello, Michelangelo, Ghiberti, Arnolfo, Verrocchio, and many others. You can purchase a combined ticket to visit the museum, the cathedral, the bell tower and the baptistery: all of them are a veritable must-see, otherwise, it is like you have not visited Florence at all!
More about Florence:
Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Vecchio, the heart of Florence
Ponte Vecchio, Florence, great shopping of jewels and gold
Panoramic view of Florence (pic n°1); Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore with Giotto's Bell Tower (pic n°2); Duomo: Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto's Bell Tower and Baptistery San Giovanni (pic n°3); Church Santa Maria Novella (pic n°4); Cathedral Santa Maria Maggiore (pic n°5); Baptistery San Giovanni (pic n°6);
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