|A theme itinerary: Michelangelo’s Florence
A walk for two days
Today we are going to visit the most beautiful squares of Florence, discovering the many traces of Michelangelo in his city, and then we will learn how he influenced the artists of his time and the ones of the generations next. We will also find out why the artists since Michelangelo were no longer considered as artisans, creating just for a customer, but more like as sublime Art creators, independent and unpredictable.
Getting out of the hotel, let’s take the left direction to go down along Via San Gallo, five minutes straight until the Duomo Square. Here is the symbol of Florence, the large complex of the Cathedral, the Baptistry and the Bell Tower, three monumental buildings erected in different periods: the oldest is the Baptistry (IV century), then the Bell Tower, finished in 1359, and last but not least the large Cathedral (Duomo in Italian), dedicated to the Virgin of the Flower and constructed since the Dante’s age (around 1200) until 1456, when Brunelleschi finished the wonderful dome.
Lorenzo Ghiberti made the most beautiful door of the Baptistry, the one in front of the Duomo entrance, and it was surnamed the “Door of Paradise” by Michelangelo himself. Let’s go around the church to the back side. Looking up at imposing masses of the apses, let’s raise the eyes up to the dome. On the dome’s basement you can see a sort of balcony, which was begun in the ages of Michelangelo. He watched at this work, like you now, and he disliked it so much that he got rid of how the dome was going to become, saying the famous sentence: “It seems like a cage for crickets!” meaning this new decoration was just a redundancy. Works were stopped, as we can see, and no other projects were accepted for this basement. The designer of the balcony, Baccio D'Agnolo, recognised his fault and he never harboured a grudge against Michelangelo, who remained a friend of his for life.
In the meantime we have probably arrived at the entrance of the Opera del Duomo Museum. Here it is kept one of the last works of the Buonarroti, a touching Pieta, one of the last statues made during his old age.
After the museum visit, let’s get back in the Square and let’s take the left maybe entering into one of the alleys toward the Signoria Square. These small roads are what remains of the earliest Florence, traced out as chessboard by the Romans. The buildings here were mostly constructed during the middle ages and not too much has changed since the Dante’s era: on the walls here you can often find plates with lyrics of the Divine Comedy, really referring to these same places and tower houses.
So then, here we are in the Signoria Square, the hearth of political life of the city since the XIV century. After having admired the sculptures of the square, as described in the separate page, we can enter into the Palazzo Vecchio (the “Old” Palace or Signoria Palace).
Once we visited the museum, maybe it will be time for a lunch break: we suggest the Osteria de’ Benci, a typical local restaurant you can easily reach taking Via della Ninna, up to the corner with Via de’ Benci (055-2344923, closed on Sundays).
We could then take the advantage of being so near to the Santa Croce Square to visit the church where there is the Michelangelo’s tomb. After it we can go back to the most famous museum in Florence, the Uffizi. The entrance is in the main courtyard, one of the most beautiful perspective sights of Italy and Europe, designed by Giorgio Vasari. There are 27 niches with the sculptures of the eminent Florentine people and the one dedicate to Michelangelo is the seventh from the square on the left side, very near to the entrance.
The Oltrarno area is today very different from the Michelangelo’s time, because the Pitti Palace was not constructed yet, so instead of the noble palaces here there were the humble houses of crafts men and workers only.
Arriving into the magnificent Pitti Square you will be amazed by the size the Royal Palace of Florence, the Pitti Palace. This is one of the most important museum complexes of the city, but there are no Michelangelo’s works displayed here. It was built mostly after his death, and during its planning stage, the grand duke Cosimo I himself tried to call Michelangelo in Firenze (he used to live in Rome for several years), but he declined. Nevertheless inside the Boboli Garden, exactly inside the Buontalenti’s Cave, there used to be the four Prisoners we admired at the Accademia. Inside this strange fantastic creation, full of optical illusions and fancy effects among sculpture, fresco and architecture, those figures who seem to take the life from rocks had found a very convenient place (today there are copies into the Cave).