FLORENCE

Florence is known as the “cradle of the Renaissance” (la culla del Rinascimento) for its monuments, churches, and buildings. The best-known site of Florence is the domed cathedral of the city, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as The Duomo, whose dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi.

The nearby Campanile (partly designed by Giotto) and the Baptistery buildings are also highlights.

The dome, 600 years after its completion, is still the largest dome built in brick and mortar in the world. In 1982, the historic centre of Florence (Italian: centro storico di Firenze) was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

The centre of the city is contained in medieval walls that were built in the 14th century to defend the city. At the heart of the city, in Piazza della Signoria, is Bartolomeo Ammannati’s Fountain of Neptune (1563–1565), which is a masterpiece of marble sculpture at the terminus of a still functioning Roman aqueduct.

Food & Wine Experience

When it comes to food and wine, no other region of Italy can match the multitude of offerings here.

With such variety and quality of products, this is the premiere region to go to for wine and food enthusiasts. In terms of wine, it hosts some of the most revered and renowned appellations including the celebrated Brunello di Montalcino, the noble red of Montepulciano, and the legendary Chianti Classico.

It is also home to some of the most precious vintages in the entire world, such as the illustrious ‘Super Tuscans’ of Ornellaia and Sassicaia from Bolgheri… a truly decadent experience for both aspiring wine connoisseurs and the most experienced oenophiles amongst us.
For epicurean delights, we encourage you to dig into the Tuscan culture with a visit to Mercato Centrale, the ‘central market’ of Florence, for samplings of the most delicious local, seasonal products with one of our expert gastronomists.

Tuscan cuisine lovers should not miss the opportunity to participate in an unforgettable cooking experience with us. We offer a wide range of tailored cookery classes – suitable for beginner to advanced cooks – taking place in luxury villas, private homes or a local agriturismo (a farm featuring local produce). Get to know the secrets of the Cucina Povera (literally translated as ‘the cooking of the poor’ or ‘peasant cooking’) – including some of the simplest yet most delicious cooking techniques in the world.

Outdoor Experiences

hen it comes to outdoor activities, Tuscany is the most ideal of Italian destinations. It’s legendary and varied landscapes offer travelers an incredible range of potential experiences. Let us enthrall you as we wander through the eternal hills of Chianti, trek through the Apuan Alps, or hike in the coastal Parks of Maremma and the unspoiled expanse of the Casentino forest.

At Poggio Baronti, we have tailored a number of diverse and exceptional activities directed at all ages and aspirations.

You can cycle in Val d’Orcia or Crete Senesi, enjoy leisurely walks in the Chianti countryside, enjoy a thrilling hot air balloon ride over the verdant Tuscan hills, participate in a truffle hunt in beautiful areas such as Crete Senesi and San Miniato, go horseback riding along coastal Maremma, book a boat trip to any number of beautiful islands in the Tuscan archipelago (including Giglio and Ciannutri and so, so much more.

The layout and structure of Florence in many ways harkens back to the Roman era, where it was designed as a garrison settlement. Nevertheless, the majority of the city was built during the Renaissance. Despite the strong presence of Renaissance architecture within the city, traces of medieval, Baroque, Neoclassical and modern architecture can be found.

The Palazzo Vecchio as well as the Duomo, or the city’s Cathedral, are the two buildings which dominate Florence’s skyline.

The river Arno, which cuts through the old part of the city, is as much a character in Florentine history as many of the people who lived there. Historically, the locals have had a love-hate relationship with the Arno – which alternated between nourishing the city with commerce, and destroying it by flood.

One of the bridges in particular stands out — the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), whose most striking feature is the multitude of shops built upon its edges, held up by stilts. The bridge also carries Vasari’s elevated corridor linking the Uffizi to the Medici residence (Palazzo Pitti). Although the original bridge was constructed by the Etruscans, the current bridge was rebuilt in the 14th century.

It is the only bridge in the city to have survived World War II intact. It is the first example in the western world of a bridge built using segmental arches, that is, arches less than a semicircle, to reduce both span-to-rise ratio and the numbers of pillars to allow lesser encumbrance in the riverbed (being in this much more successful than the Roman Alconétar Bridge).

The church of San Lorenzo contains the Medici Chapel, the mausoleum of the Medici family—the most powerful family in Florence from the 15th to the 18th century. Nearby is the Uffizi Gallery, one of the finest art museums in the world – founded on a large bequest from the last member of the Medici family.

The Uffizi is located at the corner of Piazza della Signoria, a site important for being the centre of Florence’s civil life and government for centuries. The Palazzo della Signoria facing it is still home of the municipal government. Many significant episodes in the history of art and political changes were staged here, such as:

  • In 1301, Dante Alighieri was sent into exile from here (commemorated by a plaque on one of the walls of the Uffizi).
  • On 26 April 1478, Jacopo de’ Pazzi and his retainers tried to raise the city against the Medici after the plot known as La congiura dei Pazzi (The Pazzi conspiracy), murdering Giuliano di Piero de’ Medici and wounding his brother Lorenzo. All the members of the plot who could be apprehended were seized by the Florentines and hanged from the windows of the palace.
  • In 1497, it was the location of the Bonfire of the Vanities instigated by the Dominican friar and preacher Girolamo Savonarola
  • On 23 May 1498, the same Savonarola and two followers were hanged and burnt at the stake. (A round plate in the ground marks the spot where he was hanged)
  • In 1504, Michelangelo’s David (now replaced by a replica, since the original was moved in 1873 to the Galleria dell’Accademia) was installed in front of the Palazzo della Signoria (also known as Palazzo Vecchio).

The Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria is the location of a number of statues by other sculptors such as Donatello, Giambologna, Ammannati and Cellini, although some have been replaced with copies to preserve the originals.

Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,083 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.

Florence was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era. It is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called “the Athens of the Middle Ages”. A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 to 1871 the city was the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy. The Florentine dialect forms the base of Standard Italian and it became the language of culture throughout Italy due to the prestige of the masterpieces by Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini.

The city attracts millions of tourists each year, and the Historic Centre of Florence was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. The city is noted for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments. The city also contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, and still exerts an influence in the fields of art, culture and politics. Due to Florence’s artistic and architectural heritage, it has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Florence is an important city in Italian fashion, being ranked in the top 15 fashion capitals of the world; furthermore, it is a major national economic centre, as well as a tourist and industrial hub. In 2008, the city had the 17th highest average income in Italy.

Florence lies in a basin formed by the hills of Careggi, Fiesole, Settignano, Arcetri, Poggio Imperiale and Bellosguardo. The Arno river, three other minor rivers (Mugnone, Ema and Greve) and some streams flow through it.

Climate: Florence has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa), slightly tending to Mediterranean (Csa). It has hot summers with moderate or light rainfall and cool, damp winters. As Florence lacks a prevailing wind, summer temperatures are higher than along the coast. Rainfall in summer is convectional, while relief rainfall dominates in the winter. Snow flurries happen almost every year but often result in no accumulation. The highest officially recorded temperature was 42.6 °C (108.7 °F) on 26 July 1983 and the lowest was −23.2 °C (−9.8 °F) on 12 January 1985.

Cimabue and Giotto, the fathers of Italian painting, lived in Florence as well as Arnolfo and Andrea Pisano, renewers of architecture and sculpture; Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio, forefathers of the Renaissance, Ghiberti and the Della Robbias, Filippo Lippi and Angelico; Botticelli, Paolo Uccello and the universal genius of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

Their works, together with those of many other generations of artists, are gathered in the several museums of the town: the Uffizi Gallery, the Palatina gallery with the paintings of the “Golden Ages”, the Bargello with the sculptures of the Renaissance, the museum of San Marco with Fra Angelico’s works, the Academy, the chapels of the Medicis Buonarroti’s house with the sculptures of Michelangelo, the following museums: Bardini, Horne, Stibbert, Romano, Corsini, The Gallery of Modern Art, the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, the museum of Silverware and the museum of Precious Stones.

Several monuments are located in Florence: the Florence Baptistery with its mosaics; the Cathedral with its sculptures, the medieval churches with bands of frescoes; public as well as private palaces: Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Palazzo Davanzati; monasteries, cloisters, refectories; the “Certosa”. In the archaeological museum includes documents of Etruscan civilisation. In fact the city is so rich in art that some first time visitors experience the Stendhal syndrome as they encounter its art for the first time.

Florentine architects such as Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1466) and Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) were among the fathers of both Renaissance and Neoclassical architecture.

The cathedral, topped by Brunelleschi’s dome, dominates the Florentine skyline. The Florentines decided to start building it – late in the 13th century, without a design for the dome. The project proposed by Brunelleschi in the 14th century was the largest ever built at the time, and the first major dome built in Europe since the two great domes of Roman times – the Pantheon in Rome, and Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.

The dome of Santa Maria del Fiore remains the largest brick construction of its kind in the world. In front of it is the medieval Baptistery. The two buildings incorporate in their decoration the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. In recent years, most of the important works of art from the two buildings – and from the nearby Giotto’s Campanile, have been removed and replaced by copies.

The originals are now housed in the Museum dell’Opera del Duomo, just to the east of the Cathedral.

Florence has large numbers of art-filled churches, such as San Miniato al Monte, San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Novella, Santa Trinita, Santa Maria del Carmine, Santa Croce, Santo Spirito, the Annunziata, Ognissanti and numerous others.

Artists associated with Florence range from Arnolfo di Cambio and Cimabue to Giotto, Nanni di Banco, and Paolo Uccello; through Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Donatello and Massaccio and the della Robbia family; through Fra Angelico and Botticelli and Piero della Francesca, and on to Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

Others include Benvenuto Cellini, Andrea del Sarto, Benozzo Gozzoli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Filippo Lippi, Bernardo Buontalenti, Orcagna, Pollaiuolo, Filippino Lippi, Verrocchio, Bronzino, Desiderio da Settignano, Michelozzo, the Rossellis, the Sangallos, and Pontormo. Artists from other regions who worked in Florence include Raphael, Andrea Pisano, Giambologna, Il Sodoma and Peter Paul Rubens.

Picture galleries in Florence include the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace. Two superb collections of sculpture are in the Bargello and the Museum of the Works of the Duomo.

They are filled with the creations of Donatello, Verrochio, Desiderio da Settignano, Michelangelo and others. The Galleria dell’Accademia has Michelangelo’s David – perhaps the best-known work of art anywhere, plus the unfinished statues of the slaves Michelangelo created for the tomb of Pope Julius II.

Other sights include the medieval city hall, the Palazzo della Signoria (also known as the Palazzo Vecchio), the Archeological Museum, the Museum of the History of Science, the Garden of Archimedes, the Palazzo Davanzatti, the Stibbert Museum, St. Marks, the Medici Chapels, the Museum of the Works of Santa Croce, the Museum of the Cloister of Santa Maria Novella, the Zoological Museum (“La Specola“), the Bardini, and the Museo Horne. There is also a collection of works by the modern sculptor, Marino Marini, in a museum named after him. The Strozzi Palace is the site of special exhibits.

Monuments, museums and religious buildings: Florence contains several palaces and buildings from various eras. The Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and also an art museum. This large Romanesque crenellated fortress-palace overlooks the Piazza della Signoria with its copy of Michelangelo’s David statue as well as the gallery of statues in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi.

Originally called the Palazzo della Signoria, after the Signoria of Florence, the ruling body of the Republic of Florence, it was also given several other names: Palazzo del Popolo, Palazzo dei Priori, and Palazzo Ducale, in accordance with the varying use of the palace during its long history. The building acquired its current name when the Medici duke’s residence was moved across the Arno to the Palazzo Pitti. It is linked to the Uffizi and the Palazzo Pitti through the Corridoio Vasariano.

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, designed by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo for Cosimo il Vecchio, of the Medici family, is another major edifice, and was built between 1445 and 1460. It was well known for its stone masonry that includes rustication and ashlar. Today it is the head office of the Metropolitan City of Florence and hosts museums and the Riccardiana Library.

The Palazzo Strozzi, an example of civil architecture with its rusticated stone, was inspired by the Palazzo Medici, but with more harmonious proportions. Today the palace is used for international expositions like the annual antique show (founded as the Biennale dell’Antiquariato in 1959), fashion shows and other cultural and artistic events. Here also is the seat of the Istituto Nazionale del Rinascimento and the noted Gabinetto Vieusseux, with the library and reading room.
There are several other notable places, including the Palazzo Rucellai, designed by Leon Battista Alberti between 1446 and 1451 and executed, at least in part, by Bernardo Rossellino; the Palazzo Davanzati, which houses the museum of the Old Florentine House; the Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali, designed in the Neo-Renaissance style in 1871; the Palazzo Spini Feroni, in Piazza Santa Trinita, a historic 13th-century private palace, owned since the 1920s by shoe-designer Salvatore Ferragamo; as well as various others, including the Palazzo Borghese, the Palazzo di Bianca Cappello, the Palazzo Antinori, and the Royal building of Santa Maria Novella

Florence contains numerous museums and art galleries where some of the world’s most important works of art are held. The city is one of the best preserved Renaissance centres of art and architecture in the world and has a high concentration of art, architecture and culture. In the ranking list of the 15 most visited Italian art museums, ⅔ are represented by Florentine museums. The Uffizi is one of these, having a very large collection of international and Florentine art. The gallery is articulated in many halls, catalogued by schools and chronological order.

Engendered by the Medici family’s artistic collections through the centuries, it houses works of art by various painters and artists.

The Vasari Corridor is another gallery, built connecting the Palazzo Vecchio with the Pitti Palace passing by the Uffizi and over the Ponte Vecchio. The Galleria dell’Accademia houses a Michelangelo collection, including the David. It has a collection of Russian icons and works by various artists and painters. Other museums and galleries include the Bargello, which concentrates on sculpture works by artists including Donatello, Giambologna and Michelangelo; the Palazzo Pitti, containing part of the Medici family’s former private collection. In addition to the Medici collection, the palace’s galleries contain many Renaissance works, including several by Raphael and Titian, large collections of costumes, ceremonial carriages, silver, porcelain and a gallery of modern art dating from the 18th century. Adjoining the palace are the Boboli Gardens, elaborately landscaped and with numerous sculptures.

There are several different churches and religious buildings in Florence. The cathedral is Santa Maria del Fiore.

The San Giovanni Baptistery located in front of the cathedral, is decorated by numerous artists, notably by Lorenzo Ghiberti with the Gates of Paradise. Other churches in Florence include the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, located in Santa Maria Novella square (near the Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station) which contains works by Masaccio, Paolo Uccello, Filippino Lippi and Domenico Ghirlandaio; the Basilica of Santa Croce, the principal Franciscan church in the city, which is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 metres (2,600 feet) south east of the Duomo, and is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Rossini, thus it is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell’Itale Glorie); the Basilica of San Lorenzo, which is one of the largest churches in the city, situated at the centre of Florence’s main market district, and the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III; Santo Spirito, in the Oltrarno quarter, facing the square with the same name; Orsanmichele, whose building was constructed on the site of the kitchen garden of the monastery of San Michele, now demolished; Santissima Annunziata, a Roman Catholic basilica and the mother church of the Servite order; Ognissanti, which was founded by the lay order of the Umiliati, and is among the first examples of Baroque architecture built in the city; the Santa Maria del Carmine, in the Oltrarno district of Florence, which is the location of the Brancacci Chapel, housing outstanding Renaissance frescoes by Masaccio and Masolino da Panicale, later finished by Filippino Lippi; the Medici Chapel with statues by Michelangelo, in the San Lorenzo; as well as several others, including Santa Trinita, San Marco, Santa Felicita, Badia Fiorentina, San Gaetano, San Miniato al Monte, Florence Charterhouse, and Santa Maria del Carmine.

The city additionally contains the Orthodox Russian church of Nativity, and the Great Synagogue of Florence, built in the 19th century.

Florence contains various theatres and cinemas. The Odeon Cinema of the Palazzo dello Strozzino is one of the oldest cinemas in the city. Established from 1920 to 1922 in a wing of the Palazzo dello Strozzino, it used to be called the Cinema Teatro Savoia (Savoy Cinema-Theatre), yet was later called Odeon.

The Teatro della Pergola, located in the centre of the city on the eponymous street, is an opera house built in the 17th century. Another theatre is the Teatro Comunale (or Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino), originally built as the open-air amphitheatre, the Politeama Fiorentino Vittorio Emanuele, which was inaugurated on 17 May 1862 with a production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and which seated 6,000 people. There are several other theatres, such as the Saloncino Castinelli, the Teatro Puccini, the Teatro Verdi, the Teatro Goldoni and the Teatro Niccolini.

Florentine food grows out of a tradition of peasant eating rather than rarefied high cooking.

The majority of dishes are based on meat. The whole animal was traditionally eaten; tripe (trippa) and stomach (lampredotto) were once regularly on the menu and still are sold at the food carts stationed throughout the city. Antipasti include crostini toscani, sliced bread rounds topped with a chicken liver-based pâté, and sliced meats (mainly prosciutto and salame, often served with melon when in season).

The typically saltless Tuscan bread, obtained with natural levain frequently features in Florentine courses, especially in its soups, ribollita and pappa al pomodoro, or in the salad of bread and fresh vegetables called panzanella that is served in summer.

The bistecca alla fiorentina is a large (the customary size should weigh around 1.2 to 1.5 kg [40 to 50 oz]) – the “date” steak – T-bone steak of Chianina beef cooked over hot charcoal and served very rare with its more recently derived version, the tagliata, sliced rare beef served on a bed of arugula, often with slices of Parmesan cheese on top.

Most of these courses are generally served with local olive oil, also a prime product enjoying a worldwide reputation.

Among the desserts, “schiacciata alla fiorentina” (white flatbread cake) is one of the most popular; it is a very soft cake, prepared with extremely simple ingredients as it is peculiar of the florentine cuisine, and it is typically eaten on Carnival time.

Cars: The centre of Florence is closed to through-traffic, although buses, taxis and residents with appropriate permits are allowed in. This area is commonly referred to as the ZTL (Zona Traffico Limitato), which is divided into several subsections. Residents of one section, therefore, will only be able to drive in their district and perhaps some surrounding ones. Cars without permits are allowed to enter after 7.30 pm, or before 7.30 am. The rules shift during the tourist-filled summers, putting more restrictions on where one can get in and out.

Busses: The principal public transit network in the city is run by the ATAF and Li-nea bus company. Individual tickets, or a pass called Carta Agile with multiple rides, should be purchased in advance and are available at local tobacconists, bars and newspaper stalls and must be validated once on board. These tickets may be used on ATAF and Li-nea busses, Tramvia and second-class local trains only within city railway stations. Train tickets must be validated before boarding. The main bus station is next to Santa Maria Novella railway station.

Trenitalia runs trains between the railway stations within the city, and to other destinations around Italy and Europe. The central railway station, Santa Maria Novella, is about 500 m (1,600 ft) northwest of the Piazza del Duomo. There are two other important stations: Campo di Marte and Rifredi. Most bundled routes are Firenze—Pisa, Firenze—Viareggio and Firenze-Arezzo (along the main line to Rome). Other local railways connect Florence with Borgo San Lorenzo in the Mugello area (Faentina railway) and Siena.

Long distance 10 km (6.21 mi) buses are run by the SITA, Copit, CAP companies. The transit companies also accommodate travellers from the Amerigo Vespucci Airport, which is 5 km (3.1 mi) west of the city centre, and which has scheduled services run by major European carriers.

Trams: In an effort to reduce air pollution and car traffic in the city, a multi-line tram network called Tramvia is under construction. The first line began operation on 14 February 2010 and connects Florence’s primary intercity railway station (Santa Maria Novella) with the southwestern suburb of Scandicci. This line is 7.4 km (4.6 mi) long and has 14 stops. The construction of a second line began on 5 November 2011, construction was stopped due to contractors’ difficulties and restarted in 2014, completion is now scheduled for 2018. This second line will connect Florence’s airport with the city centre. A third line (from Santa Maria Novella to the Careggi area, where are the most important hospitals of Florence) is also under constructio.

Florence public transport statistics: The average amount of time people spend commuting with public transit in Firenze, for example to and from work, on a weekday is 59 min. 13% of public transit riders, ride for more than 2 hours every day. The average amount of time people wait at a stop or station for public transit is 14 min, while 22% of riders wait for over 20 minutes on average every day. The average distance people usually ride in a single trip with public transit is 4.1 km, while 3% travel for over 12 km in a single direction.

Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station is the main national and international railway station in Florence and is used by 59 million people every year.

The building, designed by Giovanni Michelucci, was built in the Italian Rationalism style and it is one of the major rationalist buildings in Italy. It is located in Piazza della Stazione, near the Fortezza da Basso (a masterpiece of the military Renaissance architecture) and the Viali di Circonvallazione, and in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella‘s apse from which it takes its name. As well as numerous high speed trains to major Italian cities Florence is served by international overnight sleeper services to Munich and Vienna operated by Austrian railways ÖBB.

A new high-speed rail station is under construction and is contracted to be operational by 2015. It is planned to be connected to Vespucci airport, Santa Maria Novella railway station, and to the city centre by the second line of Tramvia. The architectural firms Foster + Partners and Lancietti Passaleva Giordo and Associates designed this new rail station.

Airport: The Florence Airport, Peretola, is one of two main airports in the Tuscany region though it is not widely used by popular airlines. The other airport in the Tuscany region is the Galileo Galilei International Airport in Pisa.

VISIT FLORENCE AND START MAKING MEMORIES

Florence is known as the “cradle of the Renaissance” for its monuments, churches, and buildings. Come and discover this amazing town!
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