Unique Places in Florence

  • Wall of Pinocchio masks
    Wall of Pinocchio masks
    by GrumpyDiver
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by brendareed
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by brendareed

Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Florence

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    Symbols of the Medici

    by brendareed Written Jun 10, 2014

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    The Medici were a wealthy banker family that ruled Florence in the 1400-1700s. Much of the town, its buildings, and art have their symbols some place in them letting you know that they were the patrons who commissioned the work. How do you know if this is a Medici commission or not? Here are some of the symbols used – if you look closely (and some are rather obvious) you can find them.

    The Medici coat of arms consisted of a shield with six blue or orange balls on it. One of the balls would often have a fleur-de-lis on it. You can see this symbol in paintings, on the sides of buildings, on doors, in stained glass windows, basically everywhere – this is the most common Medici symbol you will see.

    You can see parts of the coat of arms in subtle places – such as real orange trees (orange balls from the shield) are in the courtyard of the Medici Palace and San Lorenzo Church. Or you can see painted orange trees in paintings, or oranges, cherries, or small balls in paintings.

    The fleur-de-lis can be seen in paintings as trim in rugs or within decorations. The doors on the San Lorenzo Church have the Medici coat of arms in its wood design and the Laurentian Library has the Medici coat of arms in its windows, as does the small Medici Chapel in Santa Croce Church.

    Sometimes it is as subtle as a lion holding a ball with his paw. Or Donatello’s bronze David that is now in the Bargello Museum stands on a wreath that has small balls decorating it – the Medici’s paid Donatello to create that sculpture.

    Another symbol for the Medici was a diamond ring. This isn’t as popular as the coat of arms, but can be seen in places such as the altar in San Miniato - look at the large relief of the eagle and in his talons he holds a diamond ring.

    Or a little less subtle – the Medici family members could be painted in the works – either in the background or as part of the main party, whether traveling with the Magi to see the baby Jesus as in the Chapel of the Magi in the Medici Palace, or as part of a larger celebration such as the fresco in Santa Trinita.

    Just look around and you will start to see the Medici symbols in most places you visit – they had power and money and weren’t afraid to flaunt it!

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    Pinocchio’s author was Florentine

    by brendareed Written Jun 10, 2014

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    The original Adventures of Pinocchio was written by Carlo Collodi, who was from Florence. The story of the little wooden puppet carved by Geppetto is set in a little Italian village. The little puppet dreams of becoming a real boy and gets into trouble and is known for telling lies. The story was made famous by Disney with their animated movie Pinocchio.

    Because the book’s author was born, lived, and buried in Florence, you will see lots of Pinocchio toys on display and for sale. Some are small pull toys but others can get very large. Most are made of wood (surprise!) and have large noses (surprise again!).

    Carlo Collodi’s real name was Carlo Lorenzini. His grave is located at San Miniato al Monte Basilica.

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    get away from the crowds

    by brendareed Written Jun 10, 2014

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    On a nice crowded day, if you want to just get away from all the tourists, take a walk up the hill on the other side of the Arno River. It is surprising how quickly you get out of the tourist district and into the area where the Florentines live.

    While the hills are steep, it is a pleasant walk (no need to race up these hills!) and you can see the homes of the real people. Note the narrow streets, the laundry out the windows from three floors up, the tiny cars and countless bicycles (in some places it is fun to imagine how they got their cars where they did!). If you keep going, you will eventually wind up at the Piazzale Michelangelo and be rewarded for your exercise by a spectacular view of the city (oh, yeah, the tourists found you again!).

    To find this treasure of a walk, cross over the Ponte Vecchio and when you reach the other side, head up one of the side streets on the left – not the first one that goes along the river, but try Costa San Giorgio. As you hike up the hike, soaking in the peacefulness, you should reach Via dei Belvedere – turn left and continue on towards the Piazzale Michelangelo.

    If you don't enjoy hiking up hills, then take the number 12 or 13 bus to the Piazzale Michelangelo, enjoy the view, then do this walk in reverse, heading down the hills. Either way...enjoy!

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    Map of Roman Florence

    by brendareed Written Jun 10, 2014

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    There is a map of what Florence looked like during the Roman and Medieval eras located in the Piazza della Signoria. It can be found on the opposite side of the Palazzo Vecchio (Town Hall) and can be easily missed since most people walk across the piazza instead of around it.

    The map shows the Roman structures and the medieval structures that have been discovered with excavations since 1974. It has both Italian and English translations. It provides a quick historical overview of the city if you are interested in history before the Medicis.

    The Roman underground remains of Florence can also be seen from inside some of the shops and restaurants...if you know which ones to look in. On our first visit to Florence, we were with a friend who took us to a restaurant for an afternoon break. Since he knew the owners, he asked that we be shown the wine cellar, which is located in the old Roman remains under the restaurant. It was pretty interesting and my first look into this part of Florence's history.

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    Vasari Corridor - raised covered walkway

    by brendareed Written Jun 10, 2014

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    Centuries ago, when the Medici ruled Florence, they lived in the Palazzo Pitti on one side of the Arno and worked in the town hall and Uffizi (it wasn’t always a museum). In order for them to walk from one place to the other without having to make their way through the common people and the general stench and filth of earlier urban cities, they had a raised walkway created (in 1565 by Vasari for the Grand Duke Cosimo I Medici) that took them quickly and quietly above the streets of Florence and across the river.

    You can still see this covered walkway as it stretches from the Uffizi, across the Ponte Vecchio, and ends at the Palazzo Pitti. At the Arno end of the Uffizi you can see the a long corridor that follows along the river to the Ponte Vecchio. You actually walk under the walkway to the bridge if you are on the river side of the street. Before you reach the bridge, however, look over at the bridge itself and you will see the walkway continue above the shops. Walk across the bridge, following the walkway to your left, and continue up the road towards the Palazzo Pitti. The walkway crosses over the roads and then is in front of the Church of Santa Felicita (the small church with the Roman column in front of it), and ends at the palace.

    Small groups may tour the corridor – check at the Uffizi for more information. The hallway is lined with portraits.

    From inside the Uffizi on the upper floor, you can get a better view of the Vasari corridor by looking out the windows towards the bridge.

    I found this to be an interesting historical note from the lives of the rich and famous that ruled the city years ago.

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    San't Orsola monastry -Vaclav Pisvejc installation

    by oriettaIT Updated Mar 16, 2014

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    This building near the San Lorenzo market used to be a nuns monastery. It was founded during 1309. It was converted in a Tobaccos Manufactory in the 1800 and was used that way until the middle of 1900. It has been abandoned ever since.

    A few year ago the Czech artist Vaclav Pisvejc decided to cover with dollar notes the perimeter of the building to draw the attention of the media to this hidden and almost lost treasure. The installation has been expanded until the dollar's notes covered the entired facade and it is quite interesting to see. And, if you are wondering, the dollars are fake!

    It is located in Via Guelfa 23 Firenze

    Dollars covered facade
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    Bottega orafa Alessandro Dari

    by oriettaIT Written Mar 4, 2014

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    I was walking from Torre San Lorenzo toward Ponte Vecchio and my curiosity was attracted by this jewelry shop. Turned out Master Alessandro Dari is not the usual jewelry guy.
    He is a maestro goldsmith, a pharmacist and a sculptor and he make sure his shop and workshop look very interesting giving it a touch of a alchemist cave.
    His collections are famous and very popular with movie production and of course rich people with extravagant tastes. His creation are both big and intricate and really beautiful even if a little too pretentious to be used for everyday life.
    THe shop is well worth a visit, Mr Dari will welcome you and let you look around and take picture of his work. It was an unexpected find and as interesting as a museum.
    He has some smaller pieces with reasonable price if you like this kind of jewelry.

    Ring More rings Workshop Front entrance

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    Visit S. Miniato around 17.30...........

    by leics Updated Feb 8, 2014

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    .................and you may, as I did, hear the Olivetan monks' plainsong. As I sat on the steps of the crypt (which hold the remains of S. Miniatus, martyred around 250 CE) listening to them I realised that people had probably heard much the same thing on the same spot for over 1000 years. That's pretty special.

    A shrine was here in the 8th century (700s). The present building was started in 1013 and is the second oldest church in Florence.

    It's a bit of a trek to get to S. Miniato, up the hill to the south of Florence's historical centre to Piazza Michaelangelo and then up another, much smaller hill opposite. But buses 12 and 13 pass nearby (get off at Piazza Michelangelo) and they are frequent and easy to use.

    The Florence bus website has routes, route info, route maps and timetables in English: www.ataf.net

    The church, the views and the monks' plainsong are all well worth the effort of visiting.

    The church is open from 0700 and closed mid-afternoon from 1300-1530. It closes in the winter months around 1900, but in summer closes around sunset.

    Exterior Shrine of S. Miniato Inside the church Detail
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    Palazzo Serristori

    by croisbeauty Updated Nov 9, 2012

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    Oltrarno (across the river Arno) is colloquial name for other side of Florence where Palazzo Pitti or San Miniato is situated. The district of San Niccolo is dominated by a huge complex of Palazzo Serristori, which is one of the finest example of Florentine aristocratic building dating back to the first half of the 16th century. The palace belonged to Serristori family, one of the most powerful families of the city and it keps its sixteenth century structure until the 19th century when in was radically changed by Alfredo and Umberto Serristori, two of the last heirs of the family.
    Palazzo has been an animated center of social life and culture throughout the 19th century. After the death of the last heirs palace lived a long period of silence and decay. In 2011began the restauration and renovation of the palace, as it can be seen on my photo which was taken in September 2011.

    Palazzo Serristori Palazzo Serristori (under scafold)

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    Palazzo dei Cartelloni or Palazzo Viviani

    by croisbeauty Written Nov 7, 2012

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    The owner of Palazzo dei Cartelloni was Vincento Viviani, a mathematician who applied this big epigraphs in order to celebrate and glorify the life and many discoveries of his master, Galileo Galilei. The bust of Galileo was sculpted by Giovan Battista Foggini.
    Today the palace is owned by SACI, an U.S. non-profit educational institution teaching accredited Fine Arts. The palace also conserves a huge archive of Pink Floyd's photographies.
    The palace was built on the foundations of the houses where Francesco del Giocondo, a welthy silk merchant, once lived. Many scholars believe that Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lia is a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, Francesco's wife.
    The palace is located in Via Sant'Antonino 11.

    Palazzo dei cartelloni

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    Alice's Masks

    by GrumpyDiver Updated Sep 9, 2012

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    Everyone thinks of the Venetian masks as one of the great wonders of Italy, but really the best place in Italy to appreciate (and buy ) these masks is at Alice's Masks, in Florence.

    Alice is the daughter of the famed Florentine mask maker, Professor Agustino Dessi (who taught sculpture at the University of Florence) and the stunning masks he makes at his shop there.

    This image shows some of the Pinocchio masks that are mounted on the door of his workshop.

    Pinocchio maks Professor Agostino Dessi in action Cyborg masks - a bit more unusual fare A delicate mask being modelled Wall of Pinocchio masks
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    Florence in Moscow

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jun 16, 2012

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    I (and you) may refresh our memory about Florence even without leaving Moscow. We should go to the Main Building of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts and see
    Luca Della Robbia “Ressurection of Christ” (1442-1445) and “Ascension of Christ” (1446-1450), Cantoria (singing gallery) (1431-1437) plaster casts from the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore.
    Donatello “Tabernacle of the Annunciation (Cavalcanti Annunciation) (1430th) plaster cast in the Basilica di Santa Croce.
    Benedetto Da Maiano “Pulpit with Scenes from the life of St Francis” (1472-1476) plaster cast in the Basilica di Santa Croce.
    Lorenzo Ghiberti “The Shrine of St. Zenobius” (1432-1438) casts from the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore.
    Andrea Veroccio “Putto with Dolphin” (1435-1438) plaster cast.

    Every time I visited this museum since my childhood I admired by these masterpieces… Never knew that I would be able to watch them in Florence…

    12 Volkhonka St., Moscow
    (tel.: +7 495 609-95-20, +7 495 697-95-78, +7 495 697-74-12),
    Metro station: "Kropotkinskaya".
    Ticket price for foreign visitors 400 rubles (10 euro) for adults,
    200 rubles for schoolchildren, students and pensioners.
    Attention! Ticket prices for exhibitions might differ from those for permanent collections.
    Visitors are offered audio guides in Russian, English, German, French and Italian.
    Many exciting tours are on offer!

    Open daily from 10 am to 7 pm
    Thursdays from 10 am to 9 pm
    Closed Monday

    Luca Della Robbia Luca Della Robbia Luca Della Robbia Donatello Benedetto Da Maiano
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    Dante's House

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jun 16, 2012

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    In the historical center of Florence in the 200, between the church of S. Martino and the Public square Dei Donati, rose the houses of the Alighieri. In the first years of the 1900's, the Common of Florence made to construct the Dante house where the tradition wants that the poet was born. Here is situated the Museum House of Dante that is divided in three plans.
    Price: 4 €

    Dante's House Dante's House

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    Chiesa Russa Ortodossa della Nativita

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jun 16, 2012

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    The Russian Orthodox Church in Florence was built in 1899–1903 by the Russian community which passed long periods in Florence and it represents a significant chapter in the story of Florence. It was built by the best Russian and Florentine artists and during the years has suffered considerable damage.
    Today we can admire it in all it's glory thanks to the restoring of the works of art on the part of the Soprintendenza dei Beni Ambientali and Architettonici di Florencethe five brilliant small domes shaped as onions, seen outside, are astonishing inside the church tall figures of Orthodox/saints populate the many coloured mural paintings and the icons in byzantine style. The precious building was built between 1899 and 1903, but it's story, interlaced with the of the Russian colony in Florence, is much older.

    The Russian Orthodox church in Florence is in Via Leone X, at the crossroad with Viale Milton.

    Chiesa Russa Ortodossa della Nativita Chiesa Russa Ortodossa della Nativita
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    Alice's Masks

    by GrumpyDiver Written Mar 14, 2012

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    Everyone thinks of the Venetian masks as one of the great wonders of Italy, but really the best place in Italy to appreciate (and buy ) these masks is at Alice's Masks, in Florence.

    Alice is the daughter of the famed Florentine mask maker, Professor Agustino Dessi (who taught sculpture at the University of Florence) and the stunning masks he sells at his sho there

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture

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Florence Off The Beaten Path

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