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Art and Culture in Florence

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Florence Cathedral
Florence's cathedral stands tall over the city with its magnificent Renaissance dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, with the baptistery right across. The cathedral named in honor of Santa Maria del Fiore is a vast Gothic structure built on the site of the 7th century church of Santa Reparata, the remains of which can be seen in the crypt. The exterior is covered in a decorative mix of pink, white and green marble. The interior, by contrast, is pretty stark and plain but quite enjoyable on warm summer days since the temperature inside tends to be cooler. Please note the clock above the entrance on the inside of the church. It was designed in 1443 by Paolo Uccello in accordance with the ora italica, where the 24th hour of the day ended at sunset... and it still works!
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The Palazzo Vecchio Museum & Tower
Palazzo Vecchio offers Roman ruins, a Medieval fortress and amazing Renaissance chambers and paintings. A microcosm where art and history have been indissolubly bound for centuries. Palazzo Vecchio is the main symbol of civil power for the city of Florence, whose original project is attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio. Construction on the solid fortress began in 1299 above the ruins of the destroyed Uberti Ghibelline towers, testimony of the final victory of the Guelph faction. The entire construction also rests on top of the ancient theater of the Roman colony of Florentia (dating back to the first century A.D.), whose ruins can be admired in the underground level. This area can be visited with a separate ticket or a combination ticket which includes the Palazzo Vecchio Museum and the Archaeological site. The area is suggestive organized with information and an interesting film to help you understand exactly what you are looking at underground.
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Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens
This enormous palace is one of Florence's largest architectural monuments. The original palazzo was built for the Pitti family in 1457, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and built by his pupil Luca Fancelli. The original construction consisted of only the middle cube of the present building. In 1549, the property was sold to the Medicis and became the primary residence of the grand ducal family. The palace was then enlarged and altered; from 1560, Bartolomeo Ammannati designed and added the grandiose courtyard and two lateral wings. Today, the Pitti Palace houses some of the most important museums in Florence: on the first floor is the Palatine Gallery, containing a broad collection 16th and 17th century paintings (including works by Raphael), and the Royal Apartments, containing furnishings from a remodeling done in the 19th century. On the ground floor and mezzanine is the Treasury of the Grand Dukes (formerly known as the the Silver Museum or Museo degli Argenti) displaying a vast collection of Medici household treasures, from table silverware to precious stone vases, rock crystals and precious jewelry. The Gallery of Modern Art is on the top floor, holding a collection of mostly Tuscan 19th and 20th century paintings.
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Piazza della Signoria
The Piazza della Signoria has been the center of political life in Florence since the 14th century with the prominent Palazzo Vecchio overlooking the square. It was the scene of great triumphs, such as the return of the Medici in 1530 as well as the Bonfire of the Vanities instigated by Savonarola, who was then himself burned at the stake here in 1498 after he was denounced by the Inquisition as a heretic. A marble circle inscription on the piazza shows the location where he was burned. The sculptures in Piazza della Signoria bristle with political connotations, many of which are fiercely contradictory. The David (the original is in the Galleria dell'Accademia) by Michelangelo was placed outside the Palazzo Vecchio as a symbol of the Republic's defiance of the tyrannical Medici.
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The Accademia Gallery
Visiting the Galleria dell’Accademia, you're most likely target are the magnificent giant marble sculptures created by Michelangelo, and above all, the glorious David. If you explore the museum with a bit more time, the Accademia will offer you much more in the less crowded halls, satisfying any curiosity for botany, music, art symbols and painting techniques. The Accademia welcomes the visitor in the Hall of the Colossus, name taken from the huge models of the Dioscuri of Montecavallo which were displayed in this large hall in the 19th century. It now hosts in the center the plaster model for the stunning marble sculpture of Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women. Giambologna prepared the model as an exercise in creating a tightly-knit group of three figures from just one large block of marble. He did not actually name the sculpture, it was meant to be as a “simple” exercise of skill and it became the first example of such magnificent talent.
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The Uffizi Gallery
Like a very precious treasure chest, the Uffizi Gallery will grant itself to visitors just a little bit at a time: from the initial uncertainty on where to get tickets, getting through lines to get inside and at the metal detector, then taking two flights of Renaissance-era stairs before you arrive at the actual entrance to the museum.