Art Talk: Walking tour of Florence, Italy

Sara Jarvie @sjarvie5October 2019 · 5 min read

While in Florence we did a three hour Walks of Italy tour, The Best of Florence Walking tour with David and the Duomo! For an in depth look at the The Slaves, The David and the Rape of the Sabine Women see my post Art Talk: Tour of the Galleria dell' Accademia.

Now let's take a walk and see the other treasures that await us as we walk through this amazing city.

Medici Riccardi Palace

After the Accdemia we walked down the street to the Palazzo Medici. The tour went through the inner court yard and the walled garden.

I was very excited to be able to tour the Medici house. It was built between 1444 and 1484. The Medici family were great patrons of the arts and artist such as Donatello, Michelangelo, and Botticelli lived and worked here. 1

It was so exciting for me to be here after reading about Michelangelo living and working here so many times in the Agony and Ecstasy.

A short distance from the Palazzo Medici you come what I consider the heart of Florence- The cathedral complex which includes the Baptistery, Piazza del Duomo and Giotto's Campanile.

The Baptistery and Gates of Paradise

The Florence baptistery is a beautiful octagonal building with white Carrara marble with green Prato marble inlay. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city. It was built between 1059 and 1128. The baptistery has three sets of bronze doors. The most famous the being the "Gates of Paradise" by Lorenzo Ghiberti. 2

Solomon and the queen of Sheba

Moses and the ten commandments

Close up, David and Goliath

It is amazing to me that 21 year old Lorenzo Ghiberti won a contest in 1401 and spent 21 years creating this artistic masterpiece. 2

Look at that amazing detail!

The Florence Duomo

The Florence Duomo is also called the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and my favorite part is the amazing marble colors and details.

Here I am sitting on the a step right outside the Doumo looking across to the baptistery and the Gates of Paradise. I was enjoying the time I had to sit and watch all the people. It started to sprinkle and so put my hood up. A great memory of me sitting by myself in a city I adore surrounded by amazing architecture.

It took 140 years to build this amazing cathedral. The groundbreaking was in 1296 and it was completed in 1436. Because it took so long to build it had multiple architects and styles, including Italian Gothic, Renaissance, Gothic Revival. Another very interesting competition took place in 1418 for the architect of the dome. Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi competed again, this time Brunelleschi won and got the commission.3

The Orsanmichele Church

The next stop on the tour was the Orsanmichele church. It was so nice to be able to sit down and listen and see this church that was initially built as a grain market in 1337 and then converted into a church by 1404.4
Stain glass windows are one of my favorite parts of churches and this had beautiful ones!

Siblings looking at the wonders of Florence!

The Palazzo Vecchio

The Palazzo Vecchio or old palace is the cities town hall. Like many of the buildings that we saw on the tour it was built at least 700 years ago, from 1299 and 1314. It was built as a residence and work place of government officials. The Hall of 500 is inside.5
On my next trip I plan on going inside these great buildings.

The Piazza della Signoria

The Piazza della Signoria, although very crowded, was one of my favorites. Mostly for the great sculptures in front of the Palazzo Vecchio and in the Loggia dei Lanzi.

The Rape of the Sabine Women

David and Perseus With the Head of Medusa

One of my favorite stories was about how in the early 1550 Benvenuto Cellini sculpted Perseus With the Head of Medusa for Cosimo I de' Medici. The David was already standing in front of the Palazzo Vecchio as the symbol of Florence. From this view point you can see Perseus is facing the head of Medusa toward The David and turning him to stone. 6

"Every sculpture within the piazza responds politically or artistically to each other and the Medici."

Ponte Vecchio

We ended our tour on the Ponte Vecchio or Old Bridge. Today it is a market place with lots of jewelers, art dealers and souvenir shops. It is a closed stone arched bridge that crosses the Arno river. Of all the old structures we saw today this was the oldest, being built by at least 996.7

A cute sibling shot at the end of the tour.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of the art and architecture of Florence. It truly is an amazing city with so much history and culture.

1 Palazzo Medici Riccardi
2 Florence Baptistery
3 Florence Cathedral
4 Orsanmichele
5 Palazzo Vecchio
6 Persus with the Head of Medusa
7 Ponte Vecchio

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Zürich @zuerichOctober 2019

Great photos!
I have to revisit Florence :-)


Thanks. Yes, definitely a city to put on the revisit list. I was just thinking the same thing as I made this post.


Great tour Sara! I visited Florence last year and I loved it. It's such a beautiful city. And it's funny to see that you visited exactly same place like me :)


That is fun. Did you go on a tour too? It was so fun to be guided and learn all about these great places. I have decided that I really want to go in some of the buildings next time and see the great art inside.


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Nice shots! I really like the ones of the bridges. Florence has beautiful architecture all over the place, doesn't it?

I wish I could get back there and take some more with a digital camera... lol

I remember the anecdote about the commission from an art history class I took years ago. Oddly enough, I got a C in that class because I didn't have enough time to take the final exam. I had to leave early... to make it to the airport and visit Sienna and Florance. You would think the professor would have given me a break for being on my way to see the art we'd just spent a semester studying, but no.


Yes, I do love the architecture. That is great that you got to go see it right after studying it.


Thanks for sharing Sara, I recall some of these buildings from @photogames days (where is it Wednesday) but I knew very little of them. I wish as a nation we had older heritage. Some of this architecture is mind blowing, we certainly don't see this this level of effort today!


Agreed, it is incredible the precision and detail they had in making these beautiful structures.


And the effort and materials they used. I often think in generations to come, what will be thought of the buildings they create today.