Gradually life in Florence returns to normal, even if the new “normal” is different from what we were used to before the pandemic. The city remains concerned about keeping residents and tourists safe, but many of its museums can now be allowed to open, following all WHO recommendations to prevent the covid-19.
Therefore, masks are mandatory, as well as compliance with the safety distance of at least one meter. And then thermoscanner at the entrance, hydroalcoholic gels for the hands and contingent access. Check out the Florentine museums that have already resumed their activities!
Considered the oldest museum in the world, the Uffizzi Gallery was built to house the municipal administration of Florence from 1560. The building would only become a museum in 1584, when the works of the Tribune, an octagonal room designed to be an allegory of the universe, were finished. Till today, its glass ceiling remembers the air; the mother-of-pearl dome represents the water; the red walls, the fire; and the ground of semiprecious stones, the earth.
The construction of the Tribune was commissioned by Duke Francesco I, son of Cosimo I, founder of the Medici Dynasty, to expose the works bought by the family. The Medici, in fact, were the great patrons of Renaissance artists who, mixing religious themes and mythology, portrayed the man at the center of the Universe and as the lord of his will.
The interest and investment of the Medici in this artistic furor transformed the city into the cradle of the Renaissance, and the Uffizi in one of the most important buildings in Europe and the world.
There’s no way of passing by Palazzo Pitti and not noticing its magnitude, worthy of the power and strength of the Medici family, who ruled Florence for almost 300 years. The Palace was not made for the family, though: the project by Filippo Brunelleschi was built in 1440 for the merchant Luca Pitti. At this time, the building was not sumptuous as it is today. It had only three large doors and a double row of seven windows on the façade.
After the death of Luca Pitti, the Palace was purchased in 1549 by Eleonora of Toledo, Cosimo I de’ Medici’s wife as a ceremonial residence. The main front was extended by Bartolomeo Ammannati, and the Boboli Gardens were created to become the model for royal palaces throughout Europe.
The will of the Medici of showing their power was even bigger than their obstinacy to get power, reason why they wanted not only the biggest palace of all but also to surround themselves with the best artists of that period and their artworks. The Palace was enriched with baroque halls and became the main residence for the King of Italy.
All this pomp and circumstance caused enmities, and the Medici found it was better to foresee possible attacks of public opinion, not just verbal, but to their physical integrity as well. And it seemed a great idea to have a corridor connecting Pitti Palace with Palazzo Vecchio – the Town Hall. So, the Vasari Corridor was designed and built, allowing the Medici family to move freely and without risks from home to work.
The Cathedral, or “Duomo” in Italian, was begun in 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio on behalf of the Republic. When Arnolfo died in 1303 the works were continued by Giotto until his death in 1337. After that, the construction was interrupted and started again by Talenti and Brunelleschi. In fact, only in 1436 Pope Eugene the fourth consacrated the Cathedral with a solemn ceremony dedicated to S. Maria del Fiore.
You can find the statues of this architects outside to the right of the cathedral. The exterior is covered in a decorative mix of pink, white and green marble. The interior, by contrast, is pretty stark and plain, where the mosaic pavements are the business card. 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.
Formerly the Basilica of San Giovanni (11th century), it is truly a building of great historic and artistic importance, where the most representative ceremonies of the city, such as the feast of the Patron Saint John, were celebrated and where new ambassadors were first received. Rich in works of art, the octagon-shaped building is one of the most original in the city. The Baptistery remained in use until after the Second World War. Many famous people, Dante among them, were baptized there.
The Dome of the Cathedral
The Dome was built between 1420 and 1434 by Brunelleschi. The terrace of his marvelous masterpiece (height 114 meters) affords an incomparabile panoramic view of the city and its surroundings. In the background, the bell tower of Giotto.
The Bell Tower of Giotto
The bell tower (height: 84 meters) was begun by Giotto in 1334, at the request of the Signoria. After Giotto’s death in 1337, the construction was carried on by Pisano and subsequently completed by Talenti (1359). This bell tower is entirely decorated in hexagons and rhomboida, and niches with statues of Prophets and Sybils (the originals can be found in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo). The lower bas-reliefs represent “The life of man in the creation and human arts”; those above represent the Planets, the Virtues, the liberal Arts and the Sacraments.
Planned in 1781 by Gaspare Maria Paoletti, it is part of the complex that also includes San Marco Church and Museum, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure and the Museum of Musical Instruments. It was conceived by Pietro Leopoldo in order to facilitate the study of the students of Fine Arts.
The most important work in the Gallery is the David, by Michelangelo, that was previously located in Piazza della Signoria. In the other rooms, there are the plaster cast model of the statue “Il Ratto delle Sabine”, by Giambologna, the “Prigioni”, by Michelangelo, and several works belonging to Michelangelo’s school.
The Medici Chapels represent the burial place of the Medici Family and have been built inside some of the rooms belonging to San Lorenzo Church.
The museum is composed of two main rooms:
- The New Sacristy – made by Michelangelo between 1520 and 1524, it has among its monumental sepulchers, those of Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici.
- The Chapel of Princes – designed by Buontalenti, it was built in order to house the mortal remains of the Grand Dukes Medici.
Inside the museum there are several objects that constitute the precious Treasure of the Church of San Lorenzo.
Tip: the white marble sculpture “Night” (Notte), one of Michelangelo’s finest works, rests on the tomb of Giuliano de Medici.
Let’s make a journey into the traditions of ancient merchants, Medieval meals and domestic life and marriage on the 16th century? Visiting Palazzo Davanzati is diving in Florentine history culture, especially regarding the domestic life, because each floor features spaces dedicated to the private life of the family of Bernardo Davanzati, a successful merchant as well as a famous historian and intellectual.
Also known as the Museum of the Historic Florentine House (Museo della Casa Fiorentina Antica), it was inaugurated as a state museum in 1956, but it was built centuries before, in the mid-1300s, and was inhabited by the The Davanzati family from the late sixteenth century until 1838, the year of the tragic death of the family’s last heir, Carlo.
The walls of the main rooms and the exquisite bedrooms were decorated with frescoes and in winter covered by tapestries to keep the warmth in. Nowadays, Palazzo Davanzati houses a diverse collection of sculptures, paintings, furniture, ceramics, lace, and historic objects of daily use.
The XIII century building used to be the Oratory of San Michele: that’s the origin of the name “Orsanmichele”.
It became a place of worship in the XV century, when it was turned into the church representing the Arts and Guilds that commissioned the statues for the external aedicules dedicated to the patron saints.
They were later placed in the museum on the first and second floors and replaced by copies.
It was 1299 when the Palazzo Vecchio was designed by Arnofo di Cambio to serve as a fortress, to protect the Signoria from popular demonstrations and revolts, and started to be raised. In 1314, it was completed with its gothic-style architecture and an elegant, slender and crenellated 94 meters high tower. Palazzo Vecchio is connected to Palazzo Pitti by the Vasari Corridor, an elevated enclosed passageway built by Giorgio Vasari in 1565 by order of Cosimo I de’ Medici, in order to let the Grand Dukes move freely and safely from their residence to the government palace and vice-versa.
Opened on 24 June 2014, the Museo Novecento is dedicated to 20th-century art, presenting a selection of works from the civic collections which focuses on Italian art of the first half of the 20th century.
The Museum takes its name from its creator Stefano Bardini (1836-1922), one of the most authoritative Italian antique dealers, who after years of intense commercial activity decided to transform his collection into a museum and to donate it to the Municipality of Florence.
It was begun by the Architect Friars Sisto and Ristoro in 1246 and finished by Jacopo Talenti in 1360. The interior, of Gothic-Roman style, is divided into a nave and two aisles. The bell tower dates back to the 14th century. Once there, don’t leave without visiting the magnificent thirteenth-century cloisters, on the left of the Church.
One of the most magnificent views of Florence, for sure, is the one offered by the Forte Belvedere to those who visit this fantastic museum. But there’s so many other reasons to visit it, starting with the 16th century architecture created by Bernardo Buontalenti, Giovanni dei Medici and l’Amannati by order of Ferdinando I dei Medici.
It is a superb example of military architecture of the late sixteenth century. Among its main characteristics, there’s no high tower, as usual in the medieval fortifications. The plant is polygonal, which means that the walls have no battlements or massive to withstand the impact of enemy artillery. The wide and protruding corners are made like that to hold the artillery, allowing the defense of every side of the fortress to the ground.
It was built at the top of the Boboli Gardens to protect the Oltrarno and the Medici residence of Palazzo Pitti, and for centuries the Forte di Belvedere has fulfilled its military function, without however undergoing attacks either external or internal. The defensive strategic functionality was over in 1954, when the property was transferred to the civil domain.
Today the Forte di Belvedere is not only an historical set with full of memories of Florence and with an amazing view of the city, but it also became an exhibition center, where memorable events take place.
The first Medici palace, the home of Cosimo the Elder and Lorenzo the Magnificent and the workplace of Donatello, Michelangelo, Paolo Uccello, Benozzo Gozzoli and Botticelli. The Renaissance house, its birthplace.
It is located inside the ex-convent of the Dominican friars, that was restored and enlarged by Michelozzo on commission by Cosimo il Vecchio de’ Medici.
Besides the works by Angelico, the museum hosts a magnificent “Last Supper” frescoed by Ghirlandaio at the end of the XVI century and, in the Library a fine collection of books belonging to the Enlightenment.
Precious relics and a rare collection of bells are exhibited in the cellars.
Just a few steps from Antica Torre Tornabuoni, the Palazzo Strozzi is one of the finest examples of Renaissance domestic architecture. Nobody knows the name of the architect who carried out the project, but it is well known that both Benedetto da Maiano and Giuliano da Sangallo provided a model.
The first stone was laid in 1489, as a wish of Filippo Strozzi, but the building was only finished in 1538. The Palazzo remained the property of the Strozzi family until 1937, and since 1999 it has been managed City of Florence.
Until November 1st the exhibition “Tomás Saraceno. Aria”, will be open.
This is, for sure, a very different museum from what you would expect to find in Florence. The Innocenti Museum reopened its doors in 2016 after three years of works, and it has changed a lot – for better!
But the restauration didn’t take away the history of the place, that dates from the 15th century.
The architectural spaces, created by Brunelleschi, are remarkable. The masterpieces too, especially those by Botticelli and Domenico Ghirlandaio.
Located in Piazza dei Giudici, in the ancient Palazzo Castellani, the Museo Galileo preserves one of the most important collections of scientific instruments and experimental apparatus in the world – more than a thousand!
The visitors can see some personal belongings of the Pisan scientist, as two telescopes and the telescope lens that made it possible to observe the satellites of Jupiter. Walking through the many rooms inside the building, one can go on a journey following the discoveries of the astronomy, the time measurement, the science of war, the chemistry… All this in a very interactive way.
Don’t miss the monumental sundial outside the museum! It is a time-measuring instrument made up by a style casting a shadow on a quadrant. To read the hour and date, you must identify the hour lines and the calendrical lines closest to the gnomon’s shadow. The date can also be read by referring to the Zodiac signs and the start of the months marked out along the meridian line.
We strongly recommend that you check the opening hours of all the mentioned museums and book in advance.