We hope that you are enjoying our series of articles and guest articles on Italian tourist attractions, covering the entire country except for its major cities. In a sense we have left the best for last. We will describe what to see in Italy’s great cities neighborhood by neighborhood. You may not realize it, but Florence is divided into 9 districts. And each and every one of these districts boasts its own sightseeing attractions. If you have time, visit them all. In any case, read these articles to help plan your trip to Florence. You may be in for some real surprises.
The Palazzo Strozzi area of central Florence is situated just west of the Duomo (Cathedral) and the Uffizi Gallery districts. It is named for a palace constructed for the Strozzi family built in the late Fifteenth to early-mid Sixteenth Centuries. This is Florence’s biggest palace. Its exterior is relatively simple, but the interior courtyard must be seen. Try to get there during an art show.
This neighborhood is palace country. Here are some of them. The Fourteenth Century Palazzo Davanzati was built for merchants and subsequently became a residence as well as a place of business. About fifty years ago it opened to the public as the Museo della Casa Fiorentina Antica (The Museum of the Antique Florentine House), showing the great unwashed how the other half (1%?) lived way back when. The Palazzo Antinori was built in the mid-Fifteenth Century and acquired by the Antinori family in 1506. In case you don’t know, Antinori is a big, big name in Tuscany wines. Make sure to see the palace courtyard as well. The Palazzo Corsini was built in the mid-Seventeenth Century in grandiose Roman Baroque style. The terrace overlooks the river. Try to visit during its annual Antique Exhibition. Other local palaces include the Fifteenth Century Palazzo Rucellai and the Fourteenth Century Palazzo di Parte Guelfa. Do you remember from your Italian History course that the Guelphs supported the Pope, while their enemies, the Ghibellines, were fans of the Holy Roman Emperor?
Dating back to the Ninth Century, one of Florence’s oldest churches is the Church of San Pancrazio, which has become the Museo Marino Marini, a museum devoted to one of Italy’s most important abstract artists. His work is noted for rugged and elemental bronzes featuring hoses and riders. Another really old church in these parts is the Church of Santi Apostoli, dating back to the Eleventh Century (or more, depending on who you ask.) Don’t miss the panel with the Immaculate Conception by Giorgio Vasari.
Florence’s famous Mercato Nuovo was built between 1547-1551 by Grand Duke Cosimo I. The locals call it “ Il Porcellino” (swine) in honor of a fountain by Pietro Tacca, 1612. They say if you rub piggy’s snout you will return to the city. Improve your chances by placing a coin in his mouth. The money goes to local charities.And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Tuscany or other Italian wines.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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