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Medici villas #4: Villa Medici Roma

Medici villas #4: Villa Medici Roma

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The Villa Medici in Rome, together with its garden, it is one of the most majestic of the Medicean villas. Located next to Villa Borghese Park, it was acquired by Ferdinand I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1576. Since 1803 the building hosts the French Academy in Rome. It was precisely Ferdinand I de’ Medici who commissioned Bartolomeo Ammannati to complete the structure. It is the first property of the Florentine family in Rome, with which they reaffirmed their permanent presence in the city.…

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Medici villas #2: Poggio a Caiano

Medici villas #2: Poggio a Caiano

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The construction of this medicean villa located between Florence, Prato and Pistoia was the whim of Lorenzo the Magnificent, thus he commissioned it to his favourite architect, Giuliano da Sangallo, at the end of the 15th century. A residence for the pure leisureliness of contemplation by the dynastic power, the villa of Poggio a Caiano recovers elements of the classic architecture such as the fronton and Ionic temple at the main facade. Due to the harmony and symmetry of its proportions, as for representing an ideal of life in the outskirts under Humanism, the site is listed World Heritage by the UNESCO since 2013. Walking the Parco all’inglese and the Giardino all’italiana is as stimulating as visiting its interior. Free entrance.
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Medici villas #1: La Petraia

Medici villas #1: La Petraia

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Perched on a hill top of Castello, with a panoramic view of Florence, this astonishing 14th century villa was first owned by the Brunelleschi family and the Strozzi, before being home to Cosimo I de’ Medici and his offsprings. It was also the favourite residence of Vittorio Emanuele II in the company of her lover Rosa Vercellana. Its significance has paved the way for restorations throughout the centuries, thus becoming declared UNESCO World Heritage in 2013 and an asset of the state museums today. Not to miss are the famous lunettes painted by Giusto Utens — each representing a Medici villa and garden —, the sculptures of Giambologna and a wander lost in its gardens. There is a guided tour in Italian every 30 minutes. Free entrance.

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Medici villas #3: Medicean villa di Castello – Accademia della Crusca

Medici villas #3: Medicean villa di Castello – Accademia della Crusca

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Like the villa of La Petraia, the villa medicea di Castello is in the hills of Castello, a few kilometres from Florence. Built in the 14th century and completely rebuilt in the 16th century, it is mostly famous for its gardens, which compete in splendour with those of Boboli. Also known as Villa Reale, L’Olmo or Il Vivaio, di Castello serves currently as the headquarters of the Accademia della Crusca, Italy’s most prestigious linguistic institution, so the visits are restricted and always subject to prior request. The gardens under management of the Polo Museale di Firenze, the institution in charge of the public museums of the province of Florence, are however more accessible. In addition to the gardens, another must-see is its library, the largest in the country regarding linguistics and history of the Italian language.
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Monica Magnani’s Florence

Monica Magnani’s Florence

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Se qualcuno mi dice ‘Firenze’ la prima cosa che mi viene in mente è fuggire via. Firenze, a volte, io la guardo e mi sembra diventata un luogo comune, un cliché inventato per far contenti i turisti. Firenze per la nave da crociera è il percorso di due ore, per gli amanti clandestini è la città di un fine-settimana, per le famiglie sono i musei delle vacanze di Pasqua, per le gite scolastiche è il capitolo sul Rinascimento, per gli animi malinconici è lo struggimento della sindrome di Stendhal. Io, da questa Firenze, ho continuamente voglia di scappare e forse mi piace proprio perché, poi, quando sono fuggita via dai luoghi comuni, è così bello aver nostalgia di questa città! Firenze, per chi ha voglia di scappare, ha molte vie di fuga: per alcune ci vuole un mezzo di trasporto, per altre, invece, basta un paio di scarpe comode.

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Vertical beauty: towers of Florence

Vertical beauty: towers of Florence

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The ‘skyscrapers’ of the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, high constructions became a form of power for the aristocracy. The feudal nobles and their vanity competed among themselves building ‘skyscrapers’ to demonstrate their authority and wealth – as if they were contemporary multinationals companies. Although the Tuscan Manhattan of the Middle Ages is undoubtedly San Gimignano, Florence is not far behind. This city of modest dimensions has currently 70 fortress-houses which could have had a defensive purpose apart from taking advantage of the housing space once the internal wars ceased.…

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Uffizi Square of Florence: the sculptures of the Great Tuscans

Uffizi Square of Florence: the sculptures of the Great Tuscans

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The particular design of the Galleria degli Uffizi shapes sort of a square, around which the lodge runs. In the 28 niches that border it, Cosimo I de’ Medici wanted to place sculptures of distinguished Florentines in the field of literature, the military and the government. However, it was not until the nineteenth century, when the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was under the rule of the Lorraines, that the publisher Vincenzo Batelli finally resumed the creation of these statues.

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The heart is a lonely hunter also in Florence

The heart is a lonely hunter also in Florence

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Florence is a city that kills through strong emotions. There is no need to be accompanied, it is enough with ourselves and our senses. As Singer — the protagonist of the novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers —, when I wander anonymously among the whole crowd during hours through the streets of the city, it always seems that I am the only lonely person. However, it is not adequate to attribute to lonely souls the sorrow of an unhappy life. As I see, Florence is, above all, a destination for couples or groups; few people travel alone. It is the human being’s lifeguard against his own inner isolation.…

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History of art according to Florence or the Renaissance chapter at high school

History of art according to Florence or the Renaissance chapter at high school

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History of art was, without a doubt, my favourite subject at high school. By then, Italy was for me a distant and unknown country, it seemed so far as on another planet, and I did not even know what Tuscany meant or where in the map Florence was. At the age of 17, everything seemed so phantasmagorical and unreal … How unusual, the unpredictable ways to which life sometimes leads. Especially to those who try to escape from routine.

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Gardens of Florence #4: parco mediceo di Pratolino

Gardens of Florence #4: parco mediceo di Pratolino

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This monumental complex, property of the City of Florence, is included since 2013 in the Unesco World Heritage list. In addition to housing The Colossus of the Appenines, the work of Giambologna for which it is perhaps best known, the Medicean Park in Pratolino contains two Italian gardens and another one in romantic style due to modifications in the 19th century, when the property passed to the Lorena and later to the Demidoff. …

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