If you are Staying in N4U Guest House, our Bed and Breakfast in Florence for several days or have been here before, we offer some suggestions for learning even more.
At the back end of Piazza del Duomo, just 50 meters walking distance from N4U Guest House Bed and Breakfast you will find the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. This contains all the works brought from the cathedral itself, such as parts of the original façade, or the sculptures done for it, including Donatello’s wooden Magdalene and Michelangelo’s Pietà.
Following Via del Proconsolo, you come to Palazzo Nonfinito, which as its name implies is an unfinished work, designed by Buontalenti. It houses the interesting Anthropology section of the Museo di Storia Naturale. A little further on is the 13th-century Palazzo del Bargello, seat of the “Capitano del Popolo” (commander of the militia), a building of stern aspect now a National Museum containing some of the most important sculpture of the Italian Renaissance. Here you find Donatello and Ghiberti, Michelangelo, Cellini and Giambologna. Nearby is Piazza San Firenze, with the Baroque building at present (though not for long) the seat of the Law-courts, after which through narrow alleys that follow the perimeter of a Roman amphitheatre you emerge into the grandiose space of Piazza Santa Croce.
You really should find time to visit this Franciscan basilica, built in the 13th and 14th centuries. The facade is 19th century, but the Gothic interior is memorable for Giotto’s frescoes and for the tombs of some of the chief glories of Italy, including Ugo Foscolo, Galileo, Michelangelo and Rossini. In addition to the church you might visit the Museo dell’Opera, with Brunelleschi’s lovely Pazzi Chapel.
Heading straight for the Arno by way of Via de’ Benci, on your left you will find the Renaissance Palazzo Horne, seat of the museum of this name, in which paintings and furniture recreate the atmosphere of a renaissance home. Crossing the river by Ponte delle Grazie you find the Museo Bardini, the workshop home of an antiquarian who collected numerous works of art. A climbing up the steep, picturesque Costa Scarpuccia and Costa San Giorgio brings you to one of the most spectacular places in Florence, the Forte Belvedere. Built to designs by Buontalenti in the last decade of the 16th century, it is a fortified villa which dominates the city, affording one of the finest views over Florence. The fort houses the Della Ragione collection of 20th-century paintings.
A pleasant walk in the shade of the trees of the Viale dei Colli takes you to the Romanesque basilica of San Miniato al Monte. The green and white marble façade is typically Florentine, and the geometric patterns are repeated in the light and airy interior. The forecourt of the church also provides a fine view, as does the nearby Piazzale Michelangelo, a favourite spot with tourists.
You are now overlooking the quarter known as Oltrarno, and your experience of this part of the city should be completed by a visit to Santa Maria del Carmine, where the Cappella Brancacci contains the famous frescoes by Masaccio, Masolino and Filippino Lippi.