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 historic Santa Croce neighborhood is located southeast of Florence’s center. This historic area dates back to the Middle Ages. As you might guess from its name, the district centerpiece is the Gothic Santa Croce Basilica, started in the late Thirteenth Century and sort of completed almost one hundred fifty years later. Its neo-gothic bell tower was added in the middle of the Nineteenth Century. Here lie the remains of Galileo Galilei, Niccolò Machivelli, and Michelangelo. Despite the monument to Dante his remains repose in Ravenna. Given its importance as a burial site, this church is known as the Tempio dell'Itale Glorie (Temple of the Italian Glories). The 1966 Arno River flood caused major damage that took decades to repair. During the annual Calcio in Costume” (Football Match in Fancy Dress) in the Piazza Santa Croce, Dante’s statue is moved to the side of the square.
The first cloister of this church hosts the magnificent Renaissance Cappella de’ Pazzi with its hemispherical dome, surrounded by terracotta roundels of the Evangelists that some attribute to Donatello. (Does anyone remember all the names of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?). The Museo dell’Opera di Santa Croce (Museum of the Works of Santa Croce) is home to the famous Crucifix by Cimabue, damaged by the Great Flood of 1966. This still beautiful cross has become the symbol of the Arno River Flood and the subsequent recovery.
The Horne Museum in the southwest corner of the district was created by the English art historian Herbert Horne. It presents art and a picture of everyday life during the Renaissance. The building itself dates back to the late Fifteenth Century. It was closed for a decade after the flood.
In the early Sixteenth Century Michelangelo bought a complex of three houses not far north of the Santa Croce Basilica. He never lived here (did you ever think of Michelangelo, the landlord) and bequeathed the property to his nephew, Lionardo Buonarroti, hence the name Casa Buonarroti. It’s now a museum containing several Michelangelo’s works, including one of his first masterpieces: the “Madonna della Scala”. The on-site library contains family archives and some of his letters and drawings. A major feature of the district’s north end Florence’s synagogue, built in the late Nineteenth Century in Spanish-Moorish style. Some say that its dome and decorations resemble those of a mosque. The on-site museum displays ritual objects dating back to the Seventeenth Century.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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