Established in 2008 - By Francesca Papi, Private Tour Guide of Florence

1407, 2018

Florence as a movie set

By |July 14th, 2018|Home, Movies, Movies|0 Comments

Florence as a movie set: Inferno

Florence as a movie set: Inferno

Curious about discovering Florence as a movie set? With the help of its immortal beauty, Florence has always been an extraordinary open-air filming set. From comedies to dramas, from thrillers to war movies, Florence  is often the choice of many movie directors. Recently, the city has hosted by the set of a TV series about the Medici family, called “Medici. Masters of Florence“. Why Florence as a movie set? Because it offers medieval corners, Renaissance palazzi, breath-taking views and pictoresque streets. Beautiful Firenze is the theatre of the “banquets” of Hannibal the Cannibal, the adventures of Robert Langdon and is the city of the famous A room with a view.
Inferno (2016)
The saga of the famous symbolist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) continues with the colossal “Inferno”, from Dan Brown’s book. Langdon is working with a series of clues linked to Dante Alighieri. He wakes up in a Florentine hospital with amnesia and thus begins his adventure with Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), the doctor who helps him recover his memory. Together they travel all over Europe in a race against time. They have to stop the madness of a man who intends on unleashing a global virus (the lethal Zobrist virus), that could kill half the world’s population. Many places in Florence were shot in the movie including: Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, The Vasari Corridor, The Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza Duomo, and the Baptistery.

The Best of Youth (2003)
On the giant canvas that recounts 40 years of Italian history, Marco Tullio Giordana also arrives in the Tuscan capital. Many scenes take place in Florence, where the director shot Piazza della Signoria, The Uffizi Gallery, The National Library, and Santo Spirito Church.

Florence as a movie set: A room with a view

A ROOM WITH A VIEW, Julian Sands, Helena Bonham Carter, 1985.

Hannibal (2001)
Florence is where Doctor Lecter decides to hide under a false name. In the second chapter directed by Ridley Scott we find him on the brink of becoming the curator of the Palazzo Capponi library in via de’ Bardi. Scott also immortalizes Palazzo Vecchio, Santa Croce, the Mercato Nuovo Loggia, and the shops on Ponte Vecchio.

Tea with Mussolini (1999)
Starting from Piazza Santo Spirito, Franco Zeffirelli’s film shows us the more cultural side of Florence. Memorable scenes were filmed in The Uffizi Gallery, Piazza Signoria, and also the “Gipsoteca”, or plaster cast gallery, at the Art Institute at Porta Romana.

Portrait of a Lady (1996)
Here we see a young Nicole Kidman in the lead role of one of Jane Campion’s best films. Straight from the Henry James novel, the film tells the story of Isabel. She is an American who arrives in Florence in the late 1800s after receiving a sizeable inheritance. The Tuscan setting wouldn’t be complete without the “Duomo”— or Cathedral of Florence.

Room with a View (1986)
Based on E.M. Forster’s novel of the same name, the city here plays a fundamental role. Together with the breathtaking panoramas and “Lungarni”, the streets along the Arno river, you can even see the meadows in Fiesole. That’s because Florence is a city where “it’s such a shame that you have to have a room without a view”. Choosing Florence as a  movie set was the best!

Paisan (1946)
Florence appears in the fourth episode of this Rossellini masterpiece. The director shows us a sadly empty Piazza San Giovanni patrolled by Germans, as his two protagonists make a frenetic run through the Vasari Corridor.

2106, 2018

Best places to see Florence San Giovanni Fireworks

By |June 21st, 2018|Eventi, Exhibitions|0 Comments

Florence San Giovanni Fireworks

The best places to see Florence San Giovanni fireworks

The best places to see Florence San Giovanni fireworks

The origins of Florence San Giovanni holiday

The San Giovanni holiday has ancient origins. Once nobles and lords donated large candles to the cathedral to celebrate Florence’s patron saint. As the city and its lords became more powerful, the candles became richer and more and more beautiful. Some were destined for the Baptistery, others were sold and the money was used for the church.
Even today, on the morning of June 24, a small parade of citizens, including the mayor and other officials, leave Palazzo Vecchio and symbolically carry a large candle to donate to the patron of the candles in the baptistery. Here Florence’s bishop celebrates high mass (at 10:30). The long day of celebration of Florence’s patron saint ends with a gigantic fireworks display. The fireworks are set off between 10 and 11 p.m. from Piazzale Michelangelo, the ideal place so that the fireworks can be seen from all over.

The best places to watch Florence San Giovanni fireworks

One of the most frequented places to see Florence’s San Giovanni fireworks is undoubtedly the Arno beach. The Florentine word for fireworks is “fohi”, which comes from fuoco, the Italian word for fire. Since we Florentines have a hard time pronouncing the “c” in words, it becomes an “h” and makes us easily recognizable! Everyone in the rest of the country makes fun of us for it. Anyway, from the beach you can see the San Giovanni “fohi” as you stick your feet in the sand and relax on a beach blanket, with the Torre San Niccolò as the backdrop. The Arno’s banks are the most crowded place on the night of June the 24th. This is in fact the place to see the reflection of the fireworks on the river. If you want a guaranteed breathtaking view, find a place on Ponte Santa Trinita so you can see them go off over Ponte Vecchio.

Lesser known places to see Florence San Giovanni fireworks

Anyone who’s looking for an exclusive place to see the fireworks will be spoiled for choice. There are many beautiful luxury hotel terraces from which to enjoy the show. You can watch them while sipping cocktails and enjoying a candlelight dinner! Some of fantastic terraces are at the Grand Hotel Baglioni, Plaza Lucchesi, and the Westin Excelsior.
Orti del Parnaso Garden is the best solution for watching the fireworks for those who don’t love crowds. It’s at the highest point of the Giardino dell’Orticultura, Florence’s Horticulture Garden. You’ll enjoy a fabulous panoramic view with the cathedral’s dome in the background and the lighted Roster Tepidarium in a beautiful part of the city that’s ignored by tourists.
Another quiet place is Fiesole. The panoramic view of Florence from the hill of Saint Francis is romantic and ideal for enjoying the “fohi fiorentini”.

1806, 2018

The Florence Experiment: science and art at Palazzo Strozzi

By |June 18th, 2018|Events in Florence, Exhibitions, Home|0 Comments

The Florence Experiment

The Florence Experiment (courtesy of Palazzo Strozzi)Palazzo Strozzi is hosting The Florence Experiment from April 19 until August 26. The experiment unites art and science by studying the interaction between plants and humans through two monumental slides. It’s a new site-specific project by the artist Carsten Höller and the scientist Stefano Mancuso, and curated by Arturo Galansino. They give visitors the chance to slide 20 meters down from the palace’s second floor loggia to the courtyard. There is also a lab for analyzing data in the “Strozzina” [basement of Palazzo Strozzi].

Höller and Mancuso

Carsten Höller is famous for his deliberation of the relationship between art, science and technology. Stefano Mancuso, founder of plant neurobiology, studies plant intelligence. He analyzes them as complex beings endowed with extraordinary sensitivity. The plants might be able to communicate with the outside through chemical composites and perceive and emit. The Florence Experiment proposes a consideration of the relationship between humans and plants. Palazzo Strozzi thus becomes a scientific and artistic space for the communicative and emotional abilities of all living beings.

Two big slides in the Palazzo Strozzi courtyard

The first part of the project is made up of the two big slides in the courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi (The Florence Experiment). Every week a random number of visitors go down the slide carrying a bean plant. Afterwards, the plant is delivered to a team of scientists who analyze its photosynthetic parameters and the molecules it emitted in reaction to the slide. Results are compared with plants that slid down alone, and others that did not go down the slide.

The air of fear and fun

The second part of the experiment is called “Plant Decision-Making Based on Human Smell of Fear and Joy”.  Two cinema theaters are used. A horror film plays in one and comedy film shorts in the other. The visitor’s fear or joy releases different chemical compounds into the air. Through two vacuum ducts, these compounds are transported onto the facade of the palace. Here they can influence the growth of the wisteria plants positioned on the palace in a Y shape. The “air of fear” is released from one arm of the Y, while “the air of joy” is released from the other.

The Florence Experiment: how and where

The Florence Experiment is open every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday to 11 p.m. until August 26 at Palazzo Strozzi. To participate to the project it is necessary to read and accept the warnings in the ticket office and available online at this link. The minimum age is 6, minimum height between 130 and 195 cm, and weight below 120 kg. Signed approval from an adult is necessary for children under 14.

106, 2018

Firenze Rocks 2018. 4 Days of Top Music in Florence

By |June 1st, 2018|Eventi, Events in Florence|0 Comments

Firenze Rocks 2018

Firenze Rocks 2018

Firenze Rocks 2018, June 14-17

It’s been years since a rock festival like this was organized in Italy, but Firenze Rocks 2018 has brought Italy up to the European standard. Last year the festival was deemed a success then renewed for this year. In 2017, the three-day concert hosted supergroups such as Radiohead, Placebo, Aerosmith, Eddie Vedder, and System of a Down. 212,000 concert-goers in all, with 23,000 foreigners. The city saw 8% more tourists than in 2016. The second edition this year, a four-day festival from June 14-17, 2018, will put to the test what was learned in the first edition. The organizers want to change Firenze Rocks into the most important festival in Italy, right in the cradle of the Renaissance.

The artists of Firenze Rocks 2018

The legends of rock live on stage at the Ippodromo del Visarno are: June 14 Foo Fighters, June 15 Guns N’Roses, June 16 Iron Maiden, and June 17 Ozzy Osbourne.  At least two bands will open for each headliner. Avenged Sevenfold and Judas Priest will open for Ozzy Osbourne. The Kills, Wolf Alice, and Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes will open for Foo Fighters. Volbeat, Baroness, and The Pink Slip will open for Guns N’Roses. Helloween, Jonathan Davis, and Shinedown will open for Iron Maiden.

What’s new in Firenze Rocks 2018

Two big changes for 2018. First, a four-day festival pass will be on sale for €235 general admission and €280 for the pit. The total for the four individual concert dates is €250 for general admission and €290 for the pit plus the pre-sale fee for each concert. The festival pass is recommended for those who want to see all four concerts. The second is about the payment options inside Visarno. They are designing a “cashless” area where you can pay using a rechargeable chip bracelet.

1105, 2018

Museum of the week: Uffizi Gallery

By |May 11th, 2018|Home, Medici, Uffizi Gallery|0 Comments

The origins of the Uffizi Gallery

Uffizi Gallery in Florence

Uffizi Gallery in Florence

The Uffizi Gallery is Florence’s most famous museum and one of the most famous in the world, thanks to its Renaissance collection.
In 1560 Cosimo I de’ Medici decided to place the city’s administrative and judicial offices in a new building on the banks of the Arno. Uffizi means actually offices in old Italian. The plan was designed by Giorgio Vasari. He completed it a few years later with the addition of the corridor (The Vasarian Corridor) connecting it to Pitti Palace, the Medici family’s residence.
The Uffizi Gallery was designed to exalt the power of the monarch that had recently taken office in Palazzo Vecchio. In 1574, Francesco I, Cosimo I’s son, handed over the unfinished construction to Bernardo Buontalenti. Francesco I decided to designate the loggia on the top floor as his personal gallery. It had to keep his collection of 15th-century paintings, cameos, stones, jewelry, statues, bronzes, miniatures, scientific tools, and natural rarities.

The Uffizi Gallery and its collections

Cosimo I de'Medici, founder of Uffizi Gallery

Cosimo I de’Medici, founder of Uffizi Gallery

Between the 1500s and 1600s the Hall of Maps was dedicated to the maps of the domains of Florence, Siena, and Elba Island. The Stanzino delle Matematiche (Little Room of Mathematics) was created to conserve innovative scientific tools of the period.
Vittoria della Rovere enriched the Gallery with splendid works of art by Titian, Piero della Francesca, Raphael, Federico Barocci, and others. She was the wife of Ferdinand II de’ Medici and the last descendent of the Dukes of Urbino.
Some of the most important acquisitions of the Gallery were part of Cosimo III’s collection, like the beautiful Flemish paintings (Rubens). The Gallery also housed works such as mummies and taxidermy animals. These aroused the curiosity of the monarchy and the intellectuals of the Renaissance.
At the end of the Medici dynasty, the Uffizi Gallery remained integral thanks to the bequest of the last heir Anna Maria Luisa to the Asburgo Lorenas. They became the new sovereignty of Tuscany. With the famous Family Pact, Anna Maria Luisa ordered the entire collection to remain intact and to never leave the city of Florence.

The Uffizi Gallery becomes a museum

The Lorenas were the ones to open the Uffizi Gallery to the public in 1789. They also reorganized the collections according to Enlightenment criteria, separating the major from the minor arts. Thus the armory, the majolicas, and the scientific tools were moved. The Gallery then gave privilege to the Italian paintings collection. In the 1800s the Uffizi was enriched with sculptures of illustrious characters placed under the loggia outside. The Uffizi was characterized more and more as a gallery of paintings. It actually saw the transfer of many sculptures to other museums. Collections from churches and religious institutions were also purchased. Today an addition to the Uffizi museum is being built. New installations are being planned. This will give the public a chance to admire the many precious works conserved in the building’s depository.

2704, 2018

Where to eat the best Florentine steak in Florence

By |April 27th, 2018|Home|0 Comments

Where to eat the best Florentine steak

Where to eat the best Florentine steak in Florence

Today I want to tell you where you can eat the best Florentine steak in Florence (bistecca alla fiorentina). Succulent, rare and thick. In one of the last articles I talked about the bistecca alla fiorentina and its characteristics. Here you have a little summary of restaurants personally tested… it’s a hard job, but someone has to do it!

Antico Ristoro di Cambi (via Sant’Onofrio 1R) is a little bit bigger than a typical trattoria (130 seats—a trattoria is usually smaller). However, despite its size, a lot of attention is given to quality. Their Florentine steak is matured perfectly and cooked just right, so that it’s well-done on the outside and rare on the inside. Tripe and the local dish lampredotto are other highlights on the menu.

Just around the corner from the blazoned via Tornabuoni is the Florentine steak at Buca Lapi. This restaurant is characterized by its traditionally elegant décor. Featured also are other typical Tuscan dishes served tastefully, without the haughtiness of TV chefs. The bill is worthy of the nearby fashion street, but the restaurant is always full. Book in advance.

The best Florentine steak in Florence outskirts

Burde is another part of Florence’s history, open since the early 1900s. Trattoria Da Burde is still today a must for those who want to try their Florentine steak, peposo (peppery beef stew), bollito (boiled mixed meat in vegetable broth), and other typical Tuscan dishes, like pasta and beans, l’acquacotta alla maremmana (mixed vegetable and bread soup), spelt, and other soups. Historically run by the Gori family, the family sommelier promises to impress you with their wine cellar without putting on airs.

First place goes to Perseus, a city establishment frequented by Florentines, assuring quality and quantity. Perseus is a short walk beyond Piazza della Libertà. This is not one of the most popular tourist attractions, but easy to get to on foot. Their specialty is meat. Here you can find really the best Florentine steak in Florence! Their first courses and desserts will surely satisfy. If you’re on a romantic vacation, you can try out Fiesole, the restaurant on the hill. The entrance is in front of Teatro Romano). Try their fillet with green peppercorns if you want something different (or if your partner doesn’t indulge in the bistecca alla fiorentina). Delicious!

1204, 2018

Piazza della Repubblica in Florence and its archeological site

By |April 12th, 2018|Home|0 Comments


Piazza della Repubblica in Florence, credit Comune di Firenze

Republic Square Florence, credit Comune di Firenze

Piazza della Repubblica in Florence 

Ancient Roman colony Florentia has reemerged from beneath the 18th century stone pavement in Piazza della Repubblica (Republic Square). The digging for resurfacing the square, part of the City council’s redevelopment plan, opened a window onto the square’s long history as the ancient heart of the city. Palazzo Vecchio (City Hall), in cooperation with the Archaeological Authority, gave citizens and tourists the possibility to visit the archeological remains that surfaced with an archeology guide from the Cooperativa Archeologia (Archaeology Cooperative). It is possible to learn a little more about the history of one of the most frequented places in the city center.

Forum of Florentia

Piazza della Repubblica in Florence has always been the “square” of the city, from its establishment in Roman times to today. Here in Roman times rose the Forum of Florentia, ancient name of the city. There was a temple dedicated to the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Minerva, and Juno). This is where the cardo crossed the decumanus maximus, the major roads from north to south and east to west. Today the Colonna dell’Abbondanza stands where they intersected. In the medieval ages, it was the location of the Mercato Vecchio (The Old Market). It was surrounded by the towers of some of the most important Florentine families. In the 1500s the area was occupied by the Jewish Ghetto as Granduke Cosimo I. He ordered all Jews to reside here. It was so populated that there were two synagogues with ceremonies in Italian and in Spanish. In the late 1800s, in occasion of the city’s transformation as capital, a discussion arose about the need to “restore” the Ghetto area.

XIX century’s destructions

Unfortunately, the demolition proposal prevailed. It started from the area of the market and covered a good part of the city center, eliminating the city’s ancient medieval fabric. The ancient medieval walls were also destroyed and only a trace of them has remained. In 1888 demolition began in the area north of the Piazza della Repubblica. After the Mercato Vecchio, the medieval towers, churches, seats of the arts and crafts guilds, workshops and housing were also demolished to build the square as we see it today. Almost nothing remains of all of this, except for fragments and testimonies by journalists and artists of that time.

2003, 2018

Her majesty, the Florentine steak (bistecca alla fiorentina)

By |March 20th, 2018|Home|0 Comments

Her Majesty, the Florentine steak (bistecca alla fiorentina)

Florentine steak

Florentine steak

What is the Florentine steak?

The Florentine steak comes from the loin of the Chianina bovine. It’s the part near the lumbar vertebra, mid-way up the back from the tail. The “t-shaped” bone is in the middle. This is why we also call it the t-bone steak, with a tenderloin on one part and a sirloin on the other. The meat – initially hung for at least two weeks in a cooler room – has to be room temperature when cooked. The cut is about 1 – 1.5 kg and 5-6 cm thick.

How is the Florentine steak cooked?

Florentine steak

Florentine steak

A lot of wood embers are used to heat the grill, most preferably oak, holly oak or olive. You need burning embers underneath a thin layer of ash and no flame. The meat is put on the grill with no seasoning, which is fundamental until it gets tougher. It has to be turned over once and cooked for no more than 3-5 minutes. Finally, it’s cooked “standing up” on the side of the bone for 5-7 minutes until there is no trace of blood outside. The Florentine steak has to be thick enough to stand on its edge. It should not be cooked using griddles, gas or electric grills, with firebricks, etc. First the meat has to be placed close to the coals so it quickly forms an aromatic crust. After one minute it has to be moved further away from the fire. Good cooking time is the key to this dish’s flavor. The meat has to have color on the outside and be red, tender and succulent on the inside. It should be hot, but not over-cooked.

The history of the Florentine steak

The history of the Florentine steak is as ancient as the city from which it gets its name and traces of it have gotten lost over time. Its name most likely goes back to the celebration of the San Lorenzo holiday and the Medici family. In occasion of San Lorenzo on August 10, the city lit up from the light of the big bonfires. Large amounts of beef were roasted and handed out to the people. The story goes that some fire-roasted beef was offered to some English horsemen at the San Lorenzo celebrations. They called it beefsteak. From this came bistecca, a translation in the language of that time that we still use today. In the next post I’ll tell you which restaurants in Florence serve the best Florentine steak! See you soon! 

603, 2018

Museum of the week: Santa Croce Church in Florence

By |March 6th, 2018|Home|0 Comments

Museum of the week: Santa Croce Church in Florence

Church of Santa Croce in Florence

Church of Santa Croce in Florence

The origins of the Santa Croce Church in Florence

The Santa Croce Church is a must-see, for its size and its big number of illustrious tombs, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. It is the second largest in the city and the largest Franciscan church in Italy (larger than Assisi). In 1217 Saint Francis of Assisi arrived in Florence. The city was fascinated by his personality. He preached the church’s return to holy poverty and he, the son of a wealthy merchant, abandoned his riches to live among the humble. A small church was first built to welcome his brothers in a swampy, rundown part of the city near the river. In time, the church got bigger, as did the city itself. In fact, in the XIII century, Florence experienced exceptional economical and demographic growth, followed by the expansion of the city walls that also included the Franciscan church. In 1294 the great architect Arnolfo di Cambio was called to begin work on a new project to reconstruct the Santa Croce Church in gothic style.

The tombs of Santa Croce Church in Florence

Galileo Galilei's tomb in Santa Croce Church

Galileo Galilei’s tomb in Santa Croce Church

The money was donated by the families of the neighborhood who wanted to be buried in the church. They were willing to pay large amounts of money. This is why Santa Croce Church is rich with chapels, where hundreds of people are buried. In Medieval times worshippers were buried in the ground and in the church there are 276 gravestones. Only in the Renaissance did they begin to create beautiful funerary monuments. Santa Croce Church hosts none other than the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. Michelangelo is the greatest artist of the Renaissance. He is famous for his statue of David and the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Galileo is the creator of the modern scientific method. This method is based on experiments that make it possible to demonstrate the laws of science. Machiavelli was the first to separate political action and Christian morality. He laid the foundation for the modern political mindset. In 1897 the Italian poet Ugo Foscolo, inspired by his visit to the tombs of such illustrious characters, wrote his best-known poem, The Sepulchres. Seeing those majestic funerary monuments caused him to fall into deep thought. They represented examples to follow for the living, models of civilization, passion, and talent. For this reason they inspired Foscolo to define Santa Croce as “the pantheon of Italian glory”.

The Leather School in Santa Croce Church

The Santa Croce Church also houses the Scuola del Cuoio (leather school). Here students from all over the world study artisan leather processing techniques. The school is a historical part of the church. During the second postwar period, Marcello Gori founded a school for war orphans to teach them the leather trade. 70 years later the school is still active and is the pride of Made in Italy. The ticket to Santa Croce costs €8. It includes entrance to the church, museum, the Pazzi Chapel, the cloister, and the Leather School. The Santa Croce Church is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 2 p.m. after Holy Mass.

2911, 2016


By |November 29th, 2016|Home|0 Comments

San Marco Convent is one of the most important destinations for Renaissance lovers and for Fra’Angelico’s devotees in particular. The large number of frescos and their specific function (to celebrate the Dominican Order and create comfortable spaces apt to friars’meditation), together with the fact that every artwork was made for this same place, makes this museum really unique.

Fra' Angelico, Annunciation (1440-50), San Marco Convent

Since the 1200s San Marco Convent was held by the Silvestrine monks. In 1436, Pope Eugene IV assigned the convent to the Dominicans of San Domenico di Fiesole. This followed the donation of a lavish sum of money to refund the convent by the rich Florentine banker Cosimo the Elder. He also gave consistent funds to sustain the friars’community, bound by the vow of poverty. The Florentine architect Michelozzo was in charge of the renovation, which was concluded by Epiphany in 1443, year of the consecration by the same pope.

Saint Dominique of Guzman was born in 1170 in Castilla (Spain). He distinguished himself for poverty and charity and he was convinced of the necessity of bringing the church back to its austerity. He founded the Order of Preaching Friars, based on beggars life, traveling preachers and in-depth study of religion. He died in Bologna in 1221 and his was canonized shortly after in 1234 by Pope Gregory XI, a fact which demonstrates how popular this friar was amongst the people.
San Marco is tightly linked to the name of Beato Angelico (or Fra’Angelico). He was baptized Guido di Piero and he was born in the countryside around Florence towards the end of the XIV century. Angelico is the epithet given to him after his death for his religiosity and humility. He was a dominican friar who tried to join together the new Renaissance principles, such as the perspective and the attention on the human figure, with old medieval aspects, like the educational function of art and the mystic value of light.

Fra’ Angelico was called from Fiesole to Florence to supervise the fresco decorations of the entire convent. In particular, the decoration consisted in episodes of the New Testament or Crucifixions in every cell, where Saint Dominique or other dominican saints were portrayed: the friars had to follow their examples and their virtues (compassion, prayer, meditation, prostration, etc). His frescoes in San Marco Convent are a real milestone of Renaissance art. Their force derives from their absolute harmony and simplicity which tend to evoke in the friars a devoted contemplation. These are the masterpieces of Angelico’s maturity, characterized by formal rigor, desert backgrounds, ethereal figures, a metaphysical light and a very delicate palette of colors, creating a sensation of real abstraction. Dominican saints are depicted in these scenes to update the holy episode to the real life of the Dominican congregation.

Fra' Angelico, Crucifixion in San Marco cloisterThe years of the realization are still debated, as well as the authorship of Angelico of every fresco. It appears certain that he conceived and drew all the frescoes, but it’s still open if he was flanked by collaborators and how much he painted. He supervised the entire work, and, due to the big amount of frescoes painted in a relatively short period, we can be sure that he had apprentices and co-workers. One of Fra’ Angelico’s masterpieces in San Marco is the Crucifixion in the main cloister. The symbolic abstraction, the figures who are extrapolated into a space without time, the surreal intense blue color of the azurite background, represent one of the highest moments of this painter. Another great work is the famous Fra’Angelico’s Annunciation on the upper floor. This is the first thing that you see arriving from the stairs. The Virgin Mary sits down on a simple stool that represents her simplicity, in her house, that could be a Renaissance loggia, and the angel suddenly arrives to bring her the message of the Incarnation. On the background a garden with luxuriant trees, representing the world’s temptations. Both figures are portrayed in a attitude fully subdued to a greater will. Mary is the model for charity, humility and love, virtues of the Dominicans. Every descriptive detail that could distract the view from reflecting on the mystery of faith has been eliminated by the painter. The result is a very ethereal and rarefied atmosphere.

Girolamo Savonarola, painted by Fra' Bartolomeo (1497).But San Marco is not only Renaissance painting. It’s strictly bound to the historical and political figure of Girolamo Savonarola. Born in Ferrara in 1452, Savonarola was ordained Dominican friar in 1475. In 1482 he arrived to Florence, as a lector at San Marco Convent, with the duty of recounting the Holy Scriptures from the pulpits of the Florentine churches. He was assigned the pulpit of San Lorenzo, the Medici’s church, on Easter of 1484. His reception was bad, due to his Ferrarese accent that might sound barbarian to the refined ears of the Florentines. He was a vehement preacher, he announced that humanity was going to be flagellated by catastrophes like pests, hungers and the Anti Christ, because of all the human vices. After a period spent in northern Italy, he came back to Florence, this time called by Lorenzo il Magnifico (what a bad trick of fate!). The main member of the Medici family wanted the friar in Florence because he understood his potential and his charm on people. He might have been a good ally. But Lorenzo’s previsions were wrong. Savonarola proclaimed that the good and the evil of a city come from its rulers, but they were corrupted and superb, they exploited the poor imposing high taxes. In the meantime he became Prior of San Marco Convent. Lorenzo il Magnifico couldn’t contrast Savonarola’s popularity. He died in 1492 in his villa: Savonarola denied him the last rites. In 1497 Savonarola even organized a bonfire of vanities in Piazza della Signoria, giving to the flames artworks, pagan paintings, lavish dresses, precious vases, which provoked an uncountable damage for the Florentine Renaissance. e was excommunicated by Pope Alexandre VI in 1497; he was burnt at the stake with the condemnation of heresy one year later, where his famous bonfire of the vanities took place.