Cappella Brancacci, the Sistine Chapel of Florence

Cappella Brancacci, the Sistine Chapel of Florence

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Beyond the streets crowded by the omnipresent tourists looking for Florentine gems from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, there are less exploited corners of great historical and artistic richness as the Brancacci Chapel, also known as the “Sistine Chapel of the first Renaissance”. The paintings on the walls are among the most popular and influential frescoes at the time. They are distributed in two horizontal levels along the chapel, which is part of the Carmine church and convent, founded in Florence in the mid-thirteenth century by a group of Carmelite monks from Pisa. Located in Piazza del Carmine (Florence-Oltrarno), the Cappella Brancacci is one of the oldest monumental buildings in Florence. The frescoes illustrating the life of Saint Peter are masterpieces by Masaccio and Masolino, painted between 1425 and 1427, just in the early years of the Florentine Renaissance. Later on, Filippino Lippi was called to complete Masaccio’s chapel decoration, which had been left unfinished due to Masaccio’s death in 1428.

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Uncommon museums of Florence #3: Museo di Casa Martelli

Uncommon museums of Florence #3: Museo di Casa Martelli

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There is always an interesting spot to discover in Florence that keeps us away from the common repertoire, this is the case for the so-called Martelli’s House Museum. The Museo di Casa Martelli was a residential palace inhabited since the beginning of the 16th century by the bankers family Martelli. In 1986, Francesca Martelli, last family member living there, left the house to the Curia of Florence. In 1998, the Curia sold the palace to the Italian State and it became a museum in 2009. From that point on, the palace is a state civic museum that displays the remains of the Martelli family valuable art collection, as well as the house frescoes.…

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Uncommon museums of Florence #2: Stefano Bardini Museum

Uncommon museums of Florence #2: Stefano Bardini Museum

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Stefano Bardini (1854-1922) was a prominent Italian antiquary who decided to transform his collection into a museum and donate it to the city of Florence. The building, a magnificent palace eclectic in style, where the museum has its headquarters, was acquired and restored by Bardini in 1881, in order to be used for his antiquarian trade activity. The antiquary modified the structure adding new gates and stairs, used medieval and Renaissance stones, chimneys, in addition, he affixed painted coffered ceilings. Bardini transformed the old building — the former church and convent of San Gregorio della Pace — into a wonderful neo-Renaissance villa, where, besides the exhibition halls, there were workshops so that the pieces were restored before selling them.

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Oltrarno artisan walk — Experience the local, the authentic and the hidden Florence with Maria B.

Oltrarno artisan walk — Experience the local, the authentic and the hidden Florence with Maria B.

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Maria B. — half Italian, half Swedish — is a graphic designer with a great sensitivity and passion for any form of aesthetics and beauty. “Florentine Experience Shopping” was created by Maria in 2015 in order to spread her love for authentic and incomparable Florentine craftsmanship. She spent months hunting handicraft workshops interacting with the artisans and designers, where she gained knowledge of what is behind a genuine artisan piece. Her private and customized “Oltrarno Artisan Walk” —among other interesting and recommendable tours she also organizes— offers an unparalleled visit to some arresting and extraordinary working spaces where one can observe closely craftsmen creating the most delightful and outstanding handmade products, for instance: leather bags and shoes, gold and silversmiths, Florentine mosaic, wood art, and much more.…

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Distinguished libraries of Florence

Distinguished libraries of Florence

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Following the steps of German photographer Candida Höfer, who exceptionally portrayed the soul of libraries in solitude, same images in Florence reveal the splendour of the Marucelliana library, born in the middle of the XVIII century after donation by the abbot Francesco Marucelli; the Biblioteca dell’Accademia della Crusca, placed within the Medici villa of Castello, as the largest library of linguistics and history of the Italian language; the Medicea Laurenziana Library designed by Michelangelo (holds its infamous Mannerist staircase) in the cloister of the basilica of San Lorenzo; the National Library of Florence, which also offers a free guided tour in Italian and English on Saturdays at 11:30 a. m.; and the modern library in the Novoli campus of the University of Florence (UniFi).…

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‘Steve McCurry. Icons,’ photo exhibition at Villa Bardini

‘Steve McCurry. Icons,’ photo exhibition at Villa Bardini

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On view until September 16, Villa Bardini presents a retrospective dedicated to the artist Steve McCurry (Darby, Pensilvania, 1950), one of the great masters of contemporary and documentary photography. Curated by Biba Giacchetti, the exhibition entitled Steve McCurry. Icons displays more than a hundred photographs featuring the best works of the North American photographer produced during his extensive career spanning over forty years. The exhibition takes visitors on a symbolic journey through countries like India, Afghanistan, Burma, Japan, Cuba or Brazil across the complex universe full of experiences and emotions carried in McCurry’s images.
Steve McCurry. Icons – Villa Bardini – Costa San Giorgio 2, Florence (admission: 10 EUR)

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Uncommon Museums of Florence #1: Museum of Masonic Symbology

Uncommon Museums of Florence #1: Museum of Masonic Symbology

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Opened in March 2012, the Museum of Masonic Symbology was founded by Cristiano Franceschini in Florence as a private initiative with the aim to transmit to the brothers the evolution of different Masonic traditions over time. According to Franceschini, the museum is mostly visited by Brazilians, since there is a large number of Freemasons in that country. Moreover, for the broader secular public, the museum wants to make known the Masonic ideology, philosophy and ethics through the representation of symbols, on which these rituals are based. The collection on display includes ritual objects with etched, embroidered, applied, printed or engraved symbols. The first Italian masonic lodge, known as “The Lodge of the English-people” was created 1731 in Florence. The collection presented here comprehends more than ten thousand objects dated from the end of the eighteenth century and coming from around the world: dresses, aprons, belts, bottles, porcelain, pins, ties, stamps, photos, documents, books, glass slides or magic lanterns are part of the lot.
Museo di Simbologia Massonica – Via dell’Orto 7

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The synagogue of Florence, example of Jewish architecture for worship

The synagogue of Florence, example of Jewish architecture for worship

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Considered one of the best examples of Jewish architecture for worship, the Florentine synagogue, located in the heart of nineteenth-century Florence, is not only a building in which to profess one’s faith, but also a social and cultural centre. The temple was designed by the Piedmontese architect Marco Treves and opened in 1882. Today is still a place of prayer, but also of meeting and memory. The synagogue also houses the Jewish Museum of the Community of Florence, where great importance is given to the remembrance of the Holocaust and to the persecutions and sacrifices of the Florentine Jewish community. This building descends stylistically from the architectural eclecticism of the 19th century. The Moorish style predominates in conjunction with some Romanesque winks, typical of the Florentine tradition. The external decorative elements, as well as all in the interior, use coloured Venetian tiles to shape geometric ornaments.
Synagogue of Florence -Via Luigi Carlo Farini 4

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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. Among those illustrious Tuscan characters are Cosimo the Elder and Lorenzo the Magnificent, great representatives of the Medici family; also masters of art, such as Giotto, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; great names of literature, such as Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio and Machiavelli; and men of science or adventure like Galileo Galilei and Amerigo Vespucci. Overall, the place is a perfect panorama, especially ideal for a romantic walk at midnight, alone or not.

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Pontormo at Palazzo Pitti: from drawing to painting

Pontormo at Palazzo Pitti: from drawing to painting

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The exhibition Incontri miracolosi: Pontormo dal disegno alla pittura (Miraculous Encounters: Pontormo from drawing to painting) presents a series of works of outstanding importance, most of which are here displayed for the first time together. Thirty years after it was last here, the return visit to Florence of the Halberdier (1494- 1557) is the perfect occasion for an exhibition dedicated to Pontormo. This magnificent portrait by Pontormo, acquired by the Getty Museum of Los Angeles in 1989 for the then record-breaking sum of $32.5 million, now finds itself back in its home town of Florence. It’s the centre piece of the exhibition curated by Bruce Edelstein, which is now on show in the Sala delle Nicchie in Palazzo Pitti until 29th July 2018. Displayed along with the Halberdier, there is also the Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap, among other master pieces.

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