7 best and most distinguished libraries in Florence

7 best and most distinguished libraries in 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.; the Biblioteca Riccardiana, stablished in 1600 and managed today by the Accademia della Crusca, it has also been described as «a unique example of what a patrician library in an aristocratic place (at Palazzo Medici-Riccardi) looked like;» the Biblioteca Moreniana (at Palazzo Medici-Riccardi as well), founded in the 18th century and composed of the collections of Domenico Moreni, and specialized in material on the history of Florence and Tuscany; and the modern library in the Novoli campus of the University of Florence (UniFi).…

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Domes of Florence (not only Brunelleschi’s)

Domes of Florence (not only Brunelleschi’s)

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Filippo Brunelleschi marked a milestone in the history of architecture with the construction of the cupola that crowns the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, a prototype of Renaissance architecture — and key to the development of modern architecture — which also marks the beginning of this celebrated cultural movement in Italy, of which Florence continues to be an undeniable ambassador, in all fields of art, more than five centuries later. Moreover, the capital of Tuscany also treasures other domes worth of mention, such as the Medicean Chapels, the Basilica of San Lorenzo or the imposing synagogue of Florence, among many more of smaller size.

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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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Gardens of Florence #12: Serre Torrigiani

Gardens of Florence #12: Serre Torrigiani

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It is a real privilege to visit the Torrigiani garden and greenhouse (serre) in Florence. Linked to the Serre Torrigiani greenhouse, Vieri Torrigiani Malaspina has always devotedly taken care of the garden. You can see this is his real passion when he talks about its charms to visitors. «I was born in this garden, and I have spent here and in the countryside all my entire life. I graduated as Agrarian Engineering in Florence, and in the seventies, I expanded the existing small plant nursery to exploit it as a company, besides taking care of the garden for my family and me,» comments Vieri. At the same time, I think to myself, “What a marvellous thing to have grown up here.” Torrigiani is one of the oldest aristocratic families of Florence. The first fashion show linked to the Pitti fashion events took place in this location.

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The gates of Florence

The gates of Florence

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The gates of Florence were part of the city´s old defensive border. Sadly, the wall by the northern side of the Arno River was demolished in the 19th century so to pave the way for the main ring road. However, part of the wall located in Oltrarno, at the south side of the Arno, and other gates remain today: Porta San Gallo, Porta San Niccolò, Porta alla Croce, Porta San Frediano, Porta San Giorgio, Porta San Miniato and Porta al Prato. A stroll on a sunny afternoon from Porta San Giorgio to Porta San Miniato — with the ancient wall on one side and the terrific landscape of the Tuscan countryside on the other — is a must; feels like natural Prozac for the senses. …

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Gardens of Florence #6: giardino dell´Iris

Gardens of Florence #6: giardino dell´Iris

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Each year Florence is ready to witness the flowering of the iris in the giardino dell´Iris. It is located in piazzale Michelangelo and was founded in 1954 with the aim of organizing an annual international contest to reward the best varieties of iris. Florence is considered the natural home of the iris because of the bond that this flower always had with the history of the city. The emblem of Florence is a red iris in a white field, and not a lily, as is mistakenly believed. The site offers panoramic views of the city thanks to a surface of approximately two and a half hectares on the hill of an olive grove. It is divided by paths and stone paths, flowerbeds and stairs. Here one can see the variants of the iris: intermediate and dwarf bearded, Japanese, Sibiric, Louisiana … In addition to guided tours in Italian and English, watercolor painting courses are also offered.
Monday through Friday from 10a.m. to 1p.m. and from 3p.m. to 7:30p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from 10a.m. to 7:30p.m. Last admission, half an hour before closing time. Free entrance…

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Gardens of Florence #9: giardino di Boboli, the paradigm of a 16th century Italian garden

Gardens of Florence #9: giardino di Boboli, the paradigm of a 16th century Italian garden

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The Boboli Gardens date back to 1418 when Luca Pitti bought its land in Oltrarno intending to build the magnificent Pitti Palace, later owned by the Medici family. The Medici commissioned the landscaping to Niccolò Tribolo, the famous architect responsible for the gardens of their villas of Castello and La Petraia. However, after the premature death of Tribolo, it was Bartolomeo Ammannati who finished the job. The Boboli is the paradigm of the 16th-century Italian garden, as well as one of the most significant historical parks in Florence. Around the principal axes are placed avenues, hedges, terraces full of statues and fountains. The first operas of history were also represented in its open-air amphitheatre.
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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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Il Liberty fiorentino: the Florentine art nouveau

Il Liberty fiorentino: the Florentine art nouveau

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Florence is not only synonymous with the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Its streets hide other equally valuable treasures that no one expects to find, as samples of the Liberty style, the Florentine art nouveau of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is quite a decorative style in wrought iron, with floral and animal motifs, linear and curved forms. The Liberty patterns found opposition, hostility and criticism in Florence, as it was believed that these buildings broke the architectural uniformity of the city.

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Shoe master Roberto Ugolini and his traditional atelier in Santo Spirito

Shoe master Roberto Ugolini and his traditional atelier in Santo Spirito

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Roberto Ugolini is one of the most prestigious shoemakers in Florence. His workshop is located right at street level, in Via dei Michelozzi 17, in front of the basilica of Santo Spirito, in Oltrarno, as if in old times, when medieval guilds were so present in cities. The business opened twenty-two years ago just like a repair shop, but he soon began to make shoes too, always in Italian and English leather tanned in Italy. It takes thirty hours of work to create a pair of handmade shoes; thus there´s a waiting list over six months to acquire any. Above and below, photos show one of the craftsmen, probably the sexiest shoemaker in the old continent.

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