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 San Marco district of northeastern Florence owes it name to the Thirteenth Century Convent of San Marco, a church, monastery, and museum in the center of the district. Art lovers should make it a point to visit this beautiful, historic complex. The nearbymuseum of the Galleria dell’Accademia houses Michelangelo’s statue of David, and it’s the real thing. This Fine Arts Academy was founded in 1563, and was among the first schools to teach design, painting and sculpture. The gallery also hosts Michelangelo’s San Matteo and paintings by other Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries Italian Masters. Make sure to visit the Giardino dei Semplici (botanical garden), housing flowers from all over the world.
Sant’Apollonia was formerly a convent. Its major features are the cloister and refectory whose main wall is decorated with a famous mid-Fifteenth Century fresco representing the Ultima Cena (Last Supper). The Chiostro dello Scalzo was the entrance hall of the chapel that belonged to the Compagnia dei Disciplinari of Saint John the Baptist. It is called dello Scalzo (barefoot) because the friar holding the cross had the habit of going barefoot.
The Porta San Gallo, located in Liberty Square in the northernmost corner of the district, is one of Florence’s oldest structures, dating back to the late Thirteenth Century. It was part of the fortification walls. Don’t miss the two stone lions on the sides of the arch.
At the south end of the district you’ll find the Ospedale degli Innocenti, a Fifteenth Century foundling hospital, considered an excellent example of early Italian Renaissance architecture. A major feature is the loggia facing the Piazza Santissima Annunziata built and managed by the Arte della Seta or Silk Guild of Florence, one of the wealthiest in the city. The Church of Santissima Annunziata, located in the square, dates from the mid-Thirteenth Century. It contains many frescoes, including one on the ceiling and another that legend says was completed by an angel. Another district church worth seeing is Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, dating back to the Fourteenth Century. Of course it boasts all sorts of artwork; its Major Chapel is considered the most interesting example of baroque decoration in Florence.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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