Florence

Our Florence series takes you to all the city’s highlights from the iconic domed cathedral (the ‘duomo’) to the world-famous art galleries and palazzos.  Travel through history and meet Dante, and Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo and the Medici family. Learn about their connection to Florence and discover where you can ‘find’ them in the city today. 

Our 19 Florence episodes bring you the background information, history and culture you need to fully understand the city. In short, here is all the research you’d do yourself if only you had the time!

There’s a podcast for each episode and we are adding more written information to each post as fast as we can.  So, let’s go, or as the Italians say ‘Andiamo’!

FLORENCE : HISTORY & CULTURE

Florence - Photo by Nicola Pavan on Unsplash

Episode 1: Introduction to Florence

Benvenuto a Firenze: welcome to Florence. This Tuscan gem is one of Europe’s most-visited cities and no wonder: world-famous art galleries and many splendid examples of renaissance architecture such as the domed cathedral, the piazzas … Read more
Florence Cathedral

Episode 2: Inside the Duomo, Florence

Florentines abroad who are missing their home city are not said to be ‘homesick’, but rather ‘sick for the dome’, so where else to begin our tour of Florence, but inside the Duomo? Known in … Read more
Cathedral and Bell Tower in Florence

Episode 3: Exploring Around Florence Cathedral

You’ll probably head first to the cathedral itself (the ‘duomo’) but exploring the area around Florence cathedral will allow you to see the other three main attractions in the square. The campanile (bell-tower) and the … Read more
Dante's Divine Comedy by Domenico Michelino

Episode 4: Dante’s Florence

Dante’s Florence? It’s complicated! The poet Dante Alighieri, born in Florence in 1265, is to Italy what Shakespeare is to the UK: he wrote some of his country’s greatest literary works, represents its culture and … Read more
Santa Croce 021200

Episode 5: Santa Croce in Florence

‘In the dust scattered in Santa Croce is written the history of Italian civilisation’, explains the church’s guide book. So yes, Santa Croce, which means Holy Cross, is one of Florence’s most important buildings and … Read more
Florence Santa Maria Novella

Episode 6: Florence’s Santa Maria Novella

Santa Maria Novella, the church next door to the railway station which is named after it, has an exotic history and this post recounts one or two highlights before listing the main things to look … Read more
Fresco at Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence

Episode 7: Meet the Medici Family And Their Art

Everywhere in Florence you will hear about the Medici family, who played such an influential role in the city’s politics, art and culture from the 15th to the 18th centuries. This post takes you to … Read more
San Lorenzo Church in Florence

Episode 8: San Lorenzo Church, Cosimo di Medici and Donatello

Another Florentine church? Yes, because San Lorenzo was the Medici family church and is the burial place of many of them, including Cosimo, and also of Donatello, the artist he befriended and sponsored. We start … Read more
San Lorenzo Library in Florence

Episode 9: Around San Lorenzo and Lorenzo il Magnifico

There’s so much more to the San Lorenzo district than the church that this area needs a second episode. We visit two stunning buildings connected to the church: the Laurentian Library, with its ancient book … Read more
View from Pitti 031200

Episode 10: Piazza della Signoria – Bonfire of the Vanities

We visit the Piazza della Signoria, the square from which Florence has been ruled from about 1300, which has been the site of major dramatic incidents from history such as the burning to death of … Read more
Signoria Palazzo Vecchio in Florence

Episode 11: Discovering The Palazzo Vecchio in Florence

Find out why Duke Cosimo di Medici moved his family into the Palazzo Vecchio, the building which was originally his office, and how he and his Spanish wife Eleonora di Toledo made it both a … Read more
Florence - Photo by Nicola Pavan on Unsplash

Episode 12: Advice From Machiavelli

This episode takes time out from visiting the sights of Florence in order to get to know more about one of the city’s most famous inhabitants: Niccolo Machiavelli, one-time Secretary to the Council of Florence, … Read more
Boboli Gardens Palazzo Pitti, Florence

Episode 13: The Palazzo Pitti in Florence

This episode takes us to the Palazzo Pitti, the must-see palace on the ‘other’ side of the River Arno, just across the Ponte Vecchio. Hear how the Medicis lorded it over the Pittis by buying … Read more
Galileo's Tomb at Santa Croce, Florence

Episode 14: Galileo, The Father of Modern Physics

Amid all the art and culture in Florence, it’s important to remember that the city also has a special place in the history of science, most notably as the home of Galileo. This episode begins … Read more
Fresco at San Marco, Florence

Episode 15: San Marco, Fra Angelico and Bartolomeo

Perhaps one of Florence’s lesser-known pleasures, San Marco’s tranquil atmosphere and beautiful frescos are a delight. Hear a brief history of the building, including its connections to Cosimo de Medici and the ‘mad monk’ Savonarola, … Read more
Michelangelo Pieta, Duomo Museum, Florence

Episode 16: Michaelangelo’s Life and Work in Florence

Of course, Michelangelo deserves an episode to himself and this is it. First, hear about the Florentine museums which display his work, including the Bargello and the Accademia. Then, there’s a brief biography, focussing particularly … Read more
The Birth of Venus by Botticelli

Episode 17: The Famous Uffizi in Florence

This episode is devoted to the Uffizi, Florence’s world-famous art gallery, a must-see for 19th century visitors and equally unmissable today. First, there is a short history of the gallery and then an overview of … Read more
Florence - Photo by Nicola Pavan on Unsplash

Episode 18: Florence History And Travel Writing

First, a brief account of several history books which give a useful insight into Florence and then some glimpses into the many different writings of those – famous and not-so-famous – who have travelled to … Read more
Florence - Photo by Nicola Pavan on Unsplash

Episode 19: Literary Florence

The final episode on Florence focuses on a selection of the many literary writings connected to the city, beginning with the Tuscan writers Petrarch and Boccacio whose works became the foundation of modern Italian literature … Read more
Florence - Photo by Nicola Pavan on Unsplash

Florence Extra: Interview With Ciao Florence Tours

Our very first Florence Extra episode with guest Danielle from the Florence-based tour company Ciao Florence who tells us all about the various tours and experiences the company offers in Florence and the surrounding area. … Read more
Florence - Photo by Nicola Pavan on Unsplash

Florence Extra: The Florentine

We interview Helen Farrell, editor of The Florentine, to find out how this publication and website can enhance your knowledge of Florence. She explains their news and listings functions and outlines the wide range of … Read more
Florence - Photo by Nicola Pavan on Unsplash

Florence Extra: 700 Years of Dante

Feel Florence – Interview Part 1 The first of a two-part interview with Andrea Giordani from Feel Florence, the city’s official tourism website. The 14th of this month is the central day in a year-long … Read more
Florence - Photo by Nicola Pavan on Unsplash

Florence Extra: Dante and the Divine Comedy

Feel Florence – Interview Part 2 Part 2 of our interview with Andrea Giordani from Feel Florence, the city’s official tourism website, in which he takes us on a journey through some of the highlights … Read more
Florence - Photo by Nicola Pavan on Unsplash

Florence Extra: A Virtual Tour of Florence

A bonus episode to whet your appetite If you can’t get to Florence right now, there’s nothing to stop you going on a virtual visit and this episode will tell you all about the best … Read more

Florence: links and reading

3 useful websites for tourists
Feel Florence
Visit Florence 
Destination Florence

4 guidebooks on Florence
Pocket Rough Guide to Florence 
Time Out Florence City Guide
Blue Guide Florence by Alta Macadam
Strolling through Florence by Mario Erasmo

2 more guidebooks on Florence and Tuscany
Lonely Planet Guide to Florence and Tuscany 
Eyewitness Travel Guide to Florence and Tuscany by Christopher Catling

3 history books and a guide to art and architecture
Florence, the Biography of a City by Christopher Hibbert
The Medici by Paul Strathern
The Medici by Mary Hollingsworth
Art and Architecture in Florence by Rolf C Wirtz

3 anthologies
Florence: A Traveller’s Reader by Edward Cheney
Florence Stories Everyman’s Library Pocket Classics
A Literary Companion to Florence by Frances King

2 memoirs of Florence
Florence: A Delicate Case by David Leavitt
A Florence Diary by Diana Athill

4 novels set in Florence
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone (Biographical novel about Michelangelo)
A Room with a View by E M Forster
Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel

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