Santo Stefano al Ponte
Santo Stefano al Ponte was constructed in the 11th and 12th century in a Romanesque style with a polychome marble facade. In the 14th century, however, the exterior was renovated and its the upper part become in the Gothic style. On the lower part of the facade only the marble work around the portal and two windows on each side remains. In the 17th century the interiors of the church was renovated converting it three aisles plan to an open hall.
The annexed Diocesiam Museum houses a panel with a Madonna by Giotto.
Biblioteca del Palagio di Parte Guelfa
Biblioteca del Palagio di Parte Guelfa used to be once the church of Santa Maria sopra Porta, which was known back in 1038. The church was reconstructed in the 13th century, deconsecrated and become the seat of the Capitani di Parte Guelfa (Captains of the Guelphs). The church is characteristic for its two sided stairs entrance, which used to be very comon style for the small churches but abandoned later. Only two other churches at Florence have the same type of stair-entrance. Since 1987 it is public library.
Porta al Prato
Porta del Prato is situated in Piazzale il Prato where, in the medieval times of Florence, used to be the weekly livestock fair. It is one of the oldest gates to the town built in 1285 at the same time when most of the city walls were built. In 1526 its height was level down in order to be less exposed to the new artilery arms. At the same time a loggetta was added on its top.
I am sorry for the quality of the pics, both have been taken from the inside of the bus.
Coat of arms at the palaces
Much more often then in other Italian towns Florence is displaying "inscriptions" showing to whom the house or palace once belonged. Those who knows heraldic and its symbols can easily detect the name of the family, who they were and what was their occupation. If noble family and there is crown above the shield it displays connection with the royal family.Related to:
- Family Travel
Fontana dei Mostri Marini
Fontana dei Mostri Marini is work of Pietro Tacca, follower of Gianbologna. He joined Gianbologna's atellier in 1592 and took over the workshop after sculptor's deatch in 1608, finishing a number Gianbologna's incomplete projects. Tacca began in a Mannerist style and worked in the Baroque style during his maturity.
Fontana dei Mostri Marini, in Piazza Santissima Annunziata, comissioned by Ferdinando II de' Medici was realized between 1627 and 1629. This fountain was ordered to be joined to the complex "Monumento dei Quattro mori" in Livorno but the Duke was so much delightfull with its beauty and decided to put it at the central position of Florentine piazza.Related to:
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Fontana dello Sprone
Florence has so much to show to the visitors and the only question is are we able to notice it? Fontana dello Sprone, aslo known as Fontana del Buontalenti, with striking grotesque mask, is the most famous fountain of Oltrarno district. Oltrarno is a quarter of Florence, the name means beyond the Arno, and it is located south of the River Arno.
The fountain is masterpiece by Bernardo Buontalenti, a Renaissance architect from Florence who is well known for his Grotta di Buontalenti situated in Boboli gardens. Fontana dello Sprone was probably erected in 1608 at the corner of Via dello Prone with Borgo San Jacopo. You can't miss it if entering Oltrarno from the Ponte Santa trinita.Related to:
- Family Travel
Porta alla Croce
Porta all Croce is situated in the central position of the ecliptic shaped Piazza Cesare Beccaria, very important city square from where roads leading in many directions. It is pretty unusual and most unexpected for the city gate to be adorned with the valuable peaces of art. Here at Porta alla Croce we could admire a frescoe from Cinquecento (1500), "Madonna col Bambino" (Madonna with the chilld), which is attributed to the great Italian Medieval painter Ghirlandaio.
Porta San Frediano or Porta Pisana
Actually it name is Porta San Frediano, located in the close vicinity of the church with the same name, but most of the locals call it simply Porta Pisana because it was from here that road to Pisa left the city. This massive structure was built between 1332 and 1334, most probably to the design of great Andrea Pisano. It is one of the few left sity gates and is very well preserved.
The statue of Il Porcellino was originally intended for the Boboli Garden but then moved in the Mercato Nuovo. Il porcellino is Italian word for piglet and it is the nickname for the bronze fountain of the boar. The present statu, however, is only a copywhile the original is preserved in the Museo Bardini.
Il Porcellino is work of Baroque sculptor Pietro Tacca from 1612. It is now one of the most popular spot among the tourists and visitors of Florence, who put a coin into the gaping boar's jaws wishing luck and hoping to return back some day again. Oh yes, one must rub the boar's snout contemporarily, and thats why it is looking so polished.Related to:
- Family Travel
Synagogue or Tempio Maggiore
The synagogue of Florence was designed by three Italian architect and one of them was Jewish by origins. It was built between 1874 and 1882 with the general idea to integrate the architectural traditions of Italian and islamic worlds.
Layers of travertine and granite alternate in the masonry creating a striped effects , like that at Siean Cathedral, while the overall form of the synagogue is the cruciform plan of Hagia Sophia in Istambul.
During WW II Fascist soldiers used the synagogue as a vehicle garage. In 1944, while retreating, German troops worked with Italian Fascists to destroy the synagogue but the Italian resistance managed to defuse most of the explosives. Only a limited amount of damage was done.
The Synagogue is situated in Via Luigi Carlo Farini 4
The public library of the "Oblate"
Very close to the Florence’s Duomo with an amazing view of the Brunellischi’s Dome there is the Biblioteca delle Oblate, that is a public library located in a historical building that was in the past a noun monastery. The building has three floors around the interior cloister.
The entrance to the library is free, you can sit around, inside or outside. There is a “cafe with a view” where drinks and meals are served. It is possible to take books for reading, or watch a movie or listen to music. Free internet connection is available after you register yourself at the desk.
The library was opened in 2007, to provide the city with a place similar to french libraries, where people can enjoy freely the culture. There is also a conference hall and a traditional type library for studying. The main entrance is in via dell’Orioulo.
I suggest to go there while visiting the busy center of the city for taking a stop, relax and enjoy the view.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Lucca is a beautiful town located 85 km. west of Florence. It was the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini; the famous music composer. His house is open to visitors.
This town is surrounded by defence walls; 12 meters tall. The current walls were built between 1544 and 1650. These can be walked or cycled. The path there is paved.
The main square of Lucca is Piazza Anfiteatro. It can't really be defined a square, because it is elliptical. In fact it was built on the fundations of a Roman amphitheater. In this square there are various shops, some restaurants and cafes.
Lucca has lots of churches and a couple of palaces to visit. Palazzo Pfanner and Palazzo Mansi.Related to:
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Greve in Chaniti - most beautiful!
A must do is a day trip to Greve in Chianti...awesome place with scenic views on the way and wine tasting is done there without taking any organized tours. its cheap and can be easily done on own.
One can take a car and drive down if that's how you plan. But we were using public transport. Take a SITA bus from the seperate SITA stop diagonally opposite to the florence station. On weekdays there are more frequent buses v/s Saturdays. Sunday few or none. In the morning there is a bus at 8:30am on Monday's which reaches there in an hour. The entire route is scenice Tuscany countryside.
The bus will drop you off on a side road and u need to walk 5mins to get to the main Piazza Matteotti. where the "i" is there. The Tourist office however opens only at 10:30am so untill then you can just walk around the piazza and see the nearby church maybe. once the office opens collect a map which will mark all sightseeing places in Greve based on your interest.
The tourist office will also give you information on free wine tasting tours (note-these tours expect you will buy some wine at the end). We however choose to go to none of those but to Le Cantine. This was a unique experience. They have 100 different bottles of wine from various vinyards (60 were chianti) that were available for sampling. You can buy a "sampling card" for 10 euros. The clerk will give you as many empty sampling glasses as you desire. You then insert the sampling card in a slot, pick the wine(s) you would like to sample, and let the sample flow into your glass (the clerk is not needed unless you decide to add more euros onto your card). You are given half ounce tastes. Your card is charged for 60 cents to 1.60 per tasting depending on the value of the wine. The sample is enough for two people to get a taste of each wine. Le Cantine is one block off the main drag (to the east) and is adjacent to a stream that flows through town.
Surprise Package and a real **MUST DO**
Walking uphill to Montefioralle around 30mins by foot. excellent/ breathtaking views, vineries and olive groves along the pathway and you reach up to this very beautiful medieval hamlet. Stone houses, cobbled roads, balconies with pretty flowers, small yards with vegetables.. just looks like a stage set. but people actually live here! Walking entire town takes an hour and its a kodak rapid fire time!!Related to:
- Wine Tasting
- Budget Travel
- Mountain Climbing
Relax on the bank of the Arno river
Close to the hustle and bustle of the city, but still far enough to relax.
When the river is low, it is possible to enter the southern bank of the river and find a spot to relax. To enter the river bank, go to the west side of the Ponte Amerigo Vespucci bridge (bridge number 3 from Ponte Vecchio, and the one closest to the railway station).Related to:
- Budget Travel
In the early Middle Ages it was very much the fashion in parts of Europe (but never the UK) to build towers or tower houses as a very obvious display of your wealth and power.
You can see such towers in Pavia, for example (which once had 100 of them!), and in places further afield like Bamburg in Germany.
I've only recently started to notice them (since my visit to Bamburg, actually) and now I have begun to look I am finding their remains in many places.
Florence has quite a few, although some have clearly had their top stories removed over subsequent centuries.
I found one or two in the Medieval Bargello district and three close together in Oltrano (attributed to the 12th century) along Via Santo Spirito.
They must have been truly impressive in their day, so very much taller than the buildings of ordinary folk, hung about with flags and banners and with their torches lighting the area surrounding them.
Many are still lived in; I think I'd like a tower house apartment. :-)Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
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