THE MEDIEVAL TOUR OF FLORENCE: NOT ONLY RENAISSANCE
Florence is widely known as the cradle of the Renaissance. However, it is in the Middle Ages that the basis for the flowering of the Renaissance art in the 15th century were laid. The Medieval tour of Florence will let you discover the deepest soul of Florence, with its towers, the mendicant orders and the churches of Ognissanti, Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce, the guilds of Florence in the church of Orsanmichele, the medieval palaces such as Palazzo Davanzati, and Dante Alighieri.
THE MEDIEVAL TOUR OF FLORENCE: THE MENDICANT ORDERS AND PALAZZO DAVANZATI
- Ognissanti: the order of the Humiliati friars arrived in Florence from Northern Italy and was the first to start working and trading wool. This activity had a key role in the development of Florence economy. The Humiliati founded the Church of All-Saints and commissioned the famous Ognissanti Madonna by Giotto (now held at the Uffizi). The church houses frescoes Saint Jerome in his Study by Domenico Ghirlandaio and Saint Augustine in his Study by Sandro Botticelli, who was also buried here. Finally, the family of Vespucci had his own chapel in this church. Indeed, the famous Amerigo Vespucci was born in the neighborhood of Ognissanti.
- Santa Maria Novella: the Church was founded by the Dominican order at the end of the 13th century. Originally a Gothic church, Santa Maria Novella was made famous by the beautiful Renaissance façade by Leon Battista Alberti, an emblem of perfection and proportion. Inside, in the Tornabuoni chapel, the frescoes by Ghirlandaio portray the members of the House of Medici. Santa Maria Novella is not only a church: it is a proper treasure chest. Among the many masterpieces, the Holy Trinity by Masaccio, Brunelleschi’s and Giotto’s Crucifix and the scientific instruments on the façade are really worth a visit.
- Palazzo Davanzati. It houses the Museum of the Old Florentine House, but in the past it was the residence of the rich Davanzati family. Indeed, we will discover the medieval way of life, when the houses were tower-shaped and therefore not very comfortable, when strolling along the streets was not very safe, when the windows were not covered with glass and only the rich families could afford a well. A visit to Davanzati Palace is a proper jump back in time!
THE MEDIEVAL TOUR OF FLORENCE:ORSANMICHELE, THE QUARTER OF DANTE ALIGHIERI AND SANTA CROCE
- Piazza della Repubblica: it was the former market square (“Old Market”) and the site of the Jewish ghetto of Florence. A bell rang to mark the beginning and the end of the market. Today there is no sign of the past life of the square but using our fantasy we will manage to imagine it…
- Orsanmichele: originally, it was the barn of Florence and was later converted into a church, under the patronage of the Florentine Guilds, who also were in charge of the maintenance costs and donated the statues of their patron saint. Such statues are now located in the external niches. The Guilds commissioned the statues to famous artists, such as Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Filippo Brunelleschi and Giambologna. Walking about the narrow streets around Piazza della Repubblica, we will try to find the seat of some guilds, looking at the name of the streets!
- Dante’s Quarter: it is the area where this famous great poet lived. In the small church of Santa Margherita dei Cerchi, where the poet married Gemma Donati, his beloved Beatrice Portinari was buried. During the fights between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, Florence was not a safe place and this is why many fortress-like houses were built. Indeed, the tower-houses served as a defence. When a family fell into disgrace, there were some people, known as the Boni Homines (the good men), ready to help. We will see how all this happened in the Oratorio dei Buonomini (the Oratory of the Good Men).
- Santa Croce: the Franciscan friars founded their church at the end of the XIII century in the district of the lether workers, poor people who lived in a really unhealthy place, because of the wetlad formed by the continuous floods of the Arno river. The church houses the chapels painted by Giotto and his School for the banking and merchant’s families of the neighborhood. We will also see how part of Santa Croce district was built on the ancient Roman amphitheatre, the place of the first prison of Florence ant the way the condemned to death walked to the gallows…