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 Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Belvedere) district of southeastern Florence lies across the Arno River from Santa Croce district. Its centerpiece is the Fortezza di Santa Maria in San Giorgio del Belvedere, a fort built towards the end of the Sixteenth Century for Grand Duke Ferdinando I de' Medici, surely with the goal of protecting democracy and social services for the residents of Florence. The Fort contains a villa destined to house those local bigwigs when necessary, for example, due to epidemics or revolts. It was also used as a garrison. In the centre of the square stand the Monuments to Michelangelo with a bronze reproduction of four statues depicting Day, Night, Dawn and Dusk, and a reproduction of the statue of David. Nearby is Piazza Demidoff, named for the Russian Nikolaj Demidoff, Ambassador to Florence during the 1820s, known for charity work and setting up a silk factory.
On the hill behind the Piazzale Michelangelo stands the Church of San Miniato al Monte. This church, whose construction began in the early Eleventh Century, is a fine specimen of Romanesque architecture. Its interior is medieval and its floor is covered with zodiac symbols. To the southeast of the Belvedere lies the early Sixteenth Century Franciscan San Salvatore al Monte whose interior contains only a single nave. Make sure to visit the cloister in the convent. North of the Belvedere is the Fourteenth Century Church of San Niccolò oltr’Arno, subsequently rebuilt in Gothic style. Its interior also has a single nave. Make sure to see the wooden crucifix of the second altar, attributed to Michelozzo, an architect and sculptor who did a lot of work for the Medicis.
Talking about the Medicis, the early Sixteenth Century Palazzo Serristori was built by an an architect who worked on the famous Pitti Palace for the Medici family. Demidoff lived here. The nearby Palazzo Mozzi was built during the Thirteenth Century, originally as a fortification, for the not quite so famous Florentine Mozzi family. One of the popes lived here. This palace is in the process of becoming an art museum.
Talking about art museums, Museo Bardini in the northwest corner of the district is located in a palace bought in 1880 by Stefano Bardini to house his collections of sculptures, paintings and tapestries. The story has it that the museum was closed for renovations for several decades. Across the road is the Giardino Bardini, a Renaissance garden, recently opened to the public.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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