Florence Hotel La Gioconda Route
SMALL AND LARGE STREETS OF THE TOWN CENTRE
It is a route that will show you the small streets and the least known urban small villages, where you seem to breathe an old-world atmosphere once again. The Florentine small villages started developing in the year 1000 when, in conseguence of the demographic development, settlements outside the walls were set up near the main communication roads.
Later on they were contained inside walls that gradually expanded.
On this route you will pass through the Ognissanti and S.S. Apostoli small villages and you will have the opportunity to admire the wide space of the most well-known squares like Santa Maria Novella Square, Ognissanti Square and Republic Square.
Then you will arrive at banks of the Arno crossed by most beautiful Florentine bridges and encircled by historic buildings.
Finally we will have another opportunity to have a look at the designer shops walking up and down very elegant streets like Tornabuoni and Vigna Nuova Streets and, if you like, you could stop off at something typical eating places to enjoy genuin Tuscany cooking.
Route length: about 2.30 km
Time needed: 3 about 3 hours, museum visits and bar and/or restaurant rests not included. Recommended lunch break: Trattoria “The Latins”
Crossing Panzani Street opposite your hotel you will be at the crossroad with Banchi Street, in a small area where once the Giambologna marble group, Hercules who kills the Centaur, had been placed. Now it is placed in the Lanzi Loggia. Then take Banchi Street, that is named after the presence of some commercial banks in the XVI century.
After the intersection with Giglio Street continue on Santa Maria Novella Square, walking along the street full of several buildings like Mondragone Palace whose works were directed by Ammannati and Gironi Palace, Buontalenti’s work.
You have arrived at Santa Maria Novella Square, whose green and white marble-covered facade is among the most important works of Florence Renaissance but only in 1920 was it finally finished.
Inside the Church is full in works of art: starting from Masaccio’s splendid Trinity to the two Crucifixes, the first one painted on wood by Giotto and the second one sculpted by Brunelleschi.
There are a lot of chapels to visit; one of the most beautiful is the Major Chapel fully frescoed by Ghirlandaio. But don’t forget to see the Big Cloister and the famous Spanish “Cappellone” where Cosimo’s I wife, Eleonora from Toledo, used to hear Mass with her escort of Spanish riders following her.
Go straight on walking along the Open Gallery of the ex-Saint Paul Hospital and turn into Scala Street. This street is named after an ancient hospital founded in 1313 that was situated on the corner with Orti Oricellari Street and it had been put under the protection of Sienese hospital of Santa Maria della Scala.
At number 16 it is the entrance of the famous Santa Maria Novella Chemist, open to the public since the beginning of the sixteen hundreds by the bordering monastery next door.
The Perfume Pharmacology Workshop of Santa Maria Novella is one of the most ancient chemists still operating and it even preserves the fittings built over the years.
In the Ancient Grocery Room, reserved for selling from 1600 to 1848, there are the plain cupboards of the sixteen hundreds with showcases and shelves, the long counter and the decorations on the stucco ceiling.
The Perfume Pharmacology Workshop activity is still flourishing; important figures come from all over the world to buy the famous perfumes whose ingredients are kept secret with loving care.
Step out left into Porcellana Street and then right into Palazzuolo Street.
It seems this is named after an ancient small palace that belonged to the Del Bravo’s Family.
On the pavement on your left you will find a little church, Vanchetoni Oratory, built in 1602 by Matteo Nigetti and residence of San Francesco Archconfraternity.
The members of the Company were so called because they used to walk quietly and silently and were called “bacchettoni” for the sticks used for punishment.
Turning left into Maso Finiguerra Street you will arrive at Ognissanti Small Villages that is a part of the so-called “ borghi” , the streets which started from the ancient circle gates.
In 1250 “the Mortified” established here. They were a Lombard order arrived in Florence in 1239; they set up several laboratories for wool production.
Turning still left you will be in Ognissanti Square where the homonymous church overlooks. Created in the two hundreds in order to allow the believers’ presence at “the Mortified” sermones, the square is surrounded from a lot of buildings: the Excelsior Hotel, the Grand Hotel, before Grand Hotel Royal de la Paix that welcomed important figures such as Queen Vittoria, and Lenzi Palace with graffiti-covered facade, built probably around 1470 and now residence of the French honorary consulate and Florentine French Institute. Romano Romanelli’s statue, representing Hercules and the Lion.
The Church, started in 1251, belonged to the conventual group of “the Mortified” who built Santa Rosa’s weir, on the banks of the Arno and a full system of canals, in order to obtain the hydraulic energy to get ahead their activity. This way the area was characterized since then by buildings bound up to the religious activity, by the artisan’s houses and by the places where wool was pulled. The slender bell-tower of the Church dates back to the three hundreds, instead the facade was completed by Nigetti in 1637 in the Baroque style. With the Coronation of the Madonna and the Saints, attribuited to Benedetto Buglioni.
The sixteenth-century glazed earthenware was placed over the portal.
Inside, you can find the fourteenth-century works such as Taddeo Gaddi’s Crucifixion and two frescos: Sant’Agostino in the study by Botticelli and Girolamo in the study by Ghirlandaio; the last one, in the same year (1480), carried out the famous fresco “The Last Supper” in the building refectory.
Come back to Ognissanti Small Village towards the Florentine centre and, before turning left in Porcellana Street, at number 26 admire one of the most important masterpieces in the Liberty style, the House-Gallery Vichi , by Michelazzi architect. Turn left into Porcellana Street and then right towards the narrow San Paolino Street which ends in the small San Paolino Square. Here you can find the homonymous Church, founded probably in 335 and with the unfinished facade where Pandolfini’s blazons were walled in quick paint terracotta: the one in stone belonging to Leone X, the other belonging to the Cathedral Canons and on the left the one belonging to Cardinal Giulio dé Medici.
Going on to Palazzuolo Street you will arrive at Ottaviani Square. Cross it and walk along Ciampolini’s Palace, now Savings Bank residence; continue along Spada Street coming to San Pancrazio Square, dedicated to the martyr Pancrazio like the homonymous early Christian Church.
In the four hundreds Federighi’s rich families and specially Rucellai’s family, which had their own buildings near here, generously contributed to the enlargement of the Church with the construction of an internal cloister and the beautiful external portal, planned by Leon Battista Alberti. In 1980 San Pancrazio complex was restored and was given over to Museum. Nowadays Marino Marini’s sculpture. works are contained here. Going on to Federighi Street and Palchetti Street, on the left, you will find the sign of “The Latini”,a small restaurant famous for the “Bistecca alla Fiorentina”; continuing on the left you will arrive at Vigna Nuova Street, one of the streets best known for the designer name shopping of Florence. This street ends in Goldoni Square on the Arno river. With the statue of the famous Venetian playwright, in the centre the Square was marked out in 1278 through the construction of the new walls and through the opening of a new door. When the trade of “the Mortified” developed further, the friars themselves supported of the construction of a new bridge, Carriage Bridge, against the Old Bridge, considered too narrow for the transit of the carts bringing goods (raw materials, cloth and yarn). At the end of the four hundreds on the corner of the Square Ricasoli Family had their own building erected,but the beautiful garden opening on the Arno was sacrified when, on the occasion of Florence as capitol of Italy, it was decided to extend the banks of the Arno as far as the farmhouses.
Now head for the river and, turning right, have a lovely walk on Corsini Bank.
You will go along the magnificent Corsini Palace which started as a “casino” (that is a small house surrounded by a large garden) and belonged to Ardinghelli family, later to Medici family and finally to the present owners. On the roofs the building, on the late Baroque style, presents statues and terracotta vases and the main “U” formed court opening on the banks of the Arno.Now you are getting closer to one of the most refined bridges of Florence: Santa Trinita Bridge, built out of wood in 1252 and collapsed after few years because of the weight of the crowd present at a show on the river.
It was rebuilt out of stone but in 1333 it collapsed again because of a flood, until it was reconstructed by Ammannati following a curve line with a considerable static quality. The bridge elegance increases also by the presence of the supporting posts, of the white scrolls on the arches and of the allegorical statues placed at the corners representing the four seasons. The bridge was destroyed by the Germans in 1944 and then it was rebuilt. Turning left you will arrive at Tornabuoni Street, the most famous label street of the town but, before stopping to observe the prestigious shop-windows, in the small Santa Trinita Square admire the, homonymous Church , the Justice Column given to Cosimo I by Pio the Pope to celebrate the 1554 victory on the Sienese and the fourteenth-century pini Feroni Palace .
Built in 1289 it was the greatest private Florentine building. The at sight stone pannelling and the flat-topped merlons give the building the typical defensive look due to the necessity of the great families to protect themselves first by their own fellow townsmen.
Since 1995 on the second floor it has been opened Salvatore Ferragamo Museum where a part of the collection of more than 10.000 shoes and more, created by the “maison”, is exposed on turn.
Santa Trinita Cathedral was founded in the half of the XI century by the vallambrosiani monks, on the Romanesque style. Gradually extended and decorated it was rebuilt on the Gothic style at the first half of three hundreds.
At the end of the five hundreds the facade was restored by Buontalenti on the Florentine Baroque style.
Inside, it is interesting to visit the Strozzi Chapel, planned by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi, the wooden Magdalene made by Desiderio from Settignano in 1450, and most of all the Sassetti Chapel, Ghirlandaio’s masterpiece.
Now on the right go into S.S. Apostoli small village to arrive at Por S. Maria Street. Turn left into Terme Street and right into Capaccio Street where the Guelf Part Palace lies.
At its inside Guelphes and Ghibellins clashed.
On the facade you can notice the small refinede Loggia, Vasari’s work, and the armorial bearings belonging to the Pope, the Municipality and the Guelph Part. On the top there are the classic battlements and inside the Session Room, the Fireplace Room, the Drappery Room and the Captains Room.
Nowadays the building is used as the residence of the Florentine Historical Football and the Historical Parade of the Florentine Republic.
Turning left you will arrive at the New Market Square where there is Porcellino Loggia. Built around the half of the five hundreds it was appointed to receive silk and valuable objects selling-benches.
In the eight hundreds famous straw Florentine hats were sold; instead now it is used for selling leather objects and Florentine handicrafts Porcellino Fountain, really a wildboar, is a copy of Pietro Tacca’s work, today situated in the Uffizi. The fountain was placed here because the merchants, trading under the rain, used it such as watering. The popular tradition transmits that touching the little pig nose would bring luck.
Now go to Calimala Street and then to Republic Square. Cross it and, passing under the triumphal Arch, designed by Micheli, get into Strozzi Street.This street is full of famous buildings and of fashionable shops as well, but what will shock you most of all is the presence of the Italian Renaissance. Planned, possibly, by Benedetto from Maiano, on Filippo Strozzi’s commission, the building is characterized by a long series of double lancet windows on the second and third floors and by a classicizing cornice. It is, also, faced by a stone uniform rustication that goes lightening on the above part. At the bottom of the building there is the so called “panca di via” instead at the edges there are flag hooks and wrought iron lantern holders, forged by Caparra. Go on into Strozzi Street, turn right into Vecchietti Street reaching S. Maria Maggiore Square. Now you are at the meeting between Cerretani Street and Panzani Street. Here, at number 2, your Hotel lies.
Lungo il percorso
Santa Trinita Church
Opening hours: from Monday to Sunday 7.00am – 12.00am and 4.00pm - 7pm
Opening hours: 10.00am - 6.00pm. Closed on Tuesday.
S. Maria Novella Museum and Cloisters
Opening hours: week: 9.00am - 5.00pm Sundays: 9.00am - 2.00pm
Opening hours: on Monday - on Tuesday - on Saturday 9.00am-12.00am
Closing time: New Year’s Day, the First of May, Christmas
New Market or Paglia Market or Porcellino Market
Opening hours: 8.00am - 7.00pm all days except Sunday and Monday Morning
Trattoria “The Latini”
Opening hours: from Tuesday to Sunday at lunch and dinner time
Opening hours: all days from 9.00am to 8.00pm
Marino Marini’s Museum
Opening hours: 10.00am - 5.00pm. Closed on Tuesday and on Sunday