A beautiful sunset dinner overlooking the Arno?
Florence is one of the most fascinating and suggestive cities in Italy. It was, and still is, the cradle of a large part of the Italian artistic heritage.
Turning through the streets of Florence means treading the footsteps of greats like Caravaggio, Donatello, Brunelleschi.
In the streets of the old town the weather seems to have stuck, even the courtesy of the Florentines appears to be of old times.
It is impossible not to fall in love with this city: from the most famous squares to the hidden corners, streets, lights, lanes and courtyards can tell very well.
The first time I stayed in Florence I stayed in a hotel in Via dei Conti, right between the Basilica of San Lorenzo and the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
I had booked at the last moment to tell the truth, but besides for convenience, my accommodation proved to be strategic for the location: enough to come down to meet a thousand restaurants and trattorias with warm and inviting colors … Not to mention the scents!
In this regard, applause goes to the double windows of the room that cuts out the noises and voices of the passers-by when I wanted to rest: I looked several times at different times and found to walk under my window always a river of people at any Now.
I only realized in the following days that I found myself in one of the connecting streets between the most attractive places in the Old Town.
What you see here is a small part of the San Lorenzo Market, located just outside the Basilica from where it is named.
It’s really relaxing to stroll through these stalls and you’ll find hundreds on both sides of the streets.
Exposed are ceramic artifacts, dresses, stationery, souvenirs and various leather items, including handbags, belts, wallets and jackets. Many of the merchants have small warehouses near the stalls. If you are interested in something rather special, like a leather briefcase worked, it can happen to bring you in the “back room”. For me, I’ve come up with a leather strap watch. The embarrassment of the choice between twenty different watches grew to one hundred.
Let me give you a compassionate advice: take the time to turn around and look at all the stalls before you buy something. Do not do like me that I’d buy all of San Lorenzo from the first to the last article, including the basilica; there are so many things that you risk to spend everything in the first row of stalls.
Exactly how I did.
For a snack, by the way, I would go to the first floor of the Central Market.
The Market, in fact, is the fulcrum and the heart of the center of Florence! The entire first floor is occupied by traditional workshops dedicated to returning centrality to artisans of taste. Bread, pastry, fresh fish, fried, fruit and vegetables, meat and salami, buffalo mozzarella, cheeses, chocolate and ice cream, fresh pasta, wines, sandwiches at lampredotto: all shops belong to traders and craftsmen with the passion for their profession.
The Central Market has been restored and reopened to the public recently. It is now available 7 days a week, from 10:00 to 00:00, with 3000 square meters of surface, 500 seats and 12 distinct stalls, each of which is dedicated to an Italian culinary specialty.
I’m just hungry to talk to her, so let’s go back to the ‘city of culture’.
As I told you, Florence is a cradle of Art and I could go and talk to you for days without being able to talk about everything. so, to simplify things, I chose “obligatory steps” if I should visit this city:
1 – The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Certainly it is one of the most important monuments in Florence whose construction began in 1296 and ended after almost 150 years in 1434. The flagship of this imposing church is obviously the Dome whose work is due to Brunelleschi.
This church is a line of cleverly woven styles with Romanesque, Gothic and Brunelleschi strings, with its most famous work, seals the masterpiece with the right Renaissance touch.
Santa Maria del Fiore is a church grown with its city.
What few know is that it is actually the fourth architectural work that was realized at that point.
When Florence was still Florentia, there were simple dwellings.
The excavations proved that only during the late imperial period, Christians discovered in this area the space for building a church whose name was then Santa Reparata. It took about a thousand years before the church assumed its appearance today. Did you expect it?
2 – Palazzo Vecchio
Piazza della Signoria was the center of life in Florence, the scene of the violent clash between the two factions Guelfi and Ghibellini, a place where politics challenged artillery: it is no coincidence that Palazzo Vecchio is right here. The construction of this building began in 1299 under the expert eye of Arnolfo di Cambio. The tower was erected in the 15th century and then used as a prison (Savonarola was locked up here in 1498 AD).
Today, inside you can admire the refined salon, frescoed by great artists including Vasari, the Salone dei Cinquecento, the precious Study of Francesco I and the elegant frescoes of the Eleonora Quarter. Anyway, I recommend going to Michelangelo square one evening: seeing the tower of the Old Palace and the cathedral that stand over the city is something unique.
3 – Florence Uffizi
This building is the result of Vasari’s work. Its construction date back to the 16th century, in 1560 if we want to be intricate.
The Grand Duke of Tuscany had always been content with their artworks by increasing their private collections.
But the conception of space for the exhibition of “wonders of all sorts” triumphed only with Francesco I. It was by order of the emperor, in fact, that an octagonal hall was built within the Gallery. A small treasure chest, the Tribune, inaugurated in 1584, could finally accept those works as they deserved.
The Uffizi Gallery houses a collection of pictorial and sculptural works ranging from the Middle Ages to the modern era, passing through Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Botticelli and Raffaello at Rembrandt and Rubens.
A place for Stendhal syndrome, for art lovers and not.
Word of the 10,000 people who visit the gallery every day.
4 – The Holy Cross Basilica
This is a second Arnolfo di Cambio project but few know that it officially became a church only in 1443.
It is the “pantheon of Italian glories” since many artists have found burial here as Machiavelli, Alfieri, Michelangelo and Galileo.
The exterior of the church has a polychrome marble facade, funded by the English benefactor, Sir Francis Sloane, in 1863. The square in front of the church becomes the theater of the famous Florentine Football Club annually, a much cheaper football than we know today.
Oh, about Santa Croce square… Around 21:00, if you hear the music come from one of the streets on the left, get it right away.
On Thursday some boys gather in front of a deli that remains open and sitting on the inverted cassettes sing and play popular music in the south. A “good” way to start the evening, with two steps of “pinch”, lots of laughter and a glass of good wine to taste.
The welcome to the nightlife of the city, for me, was just that.
If you prefer something more ”basic” you just have to move between via Verdi and Ghiberti square to have plenty of pubs and places to eat something on the fly, something good to drink and hear live music.
Florence can offer you great time anytime.
– Alessandra Bartolomei