Oltrarno

Alla Vecchia Bettola


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Thoroughly Tuscan fare, located just outside of the city walls.

Since 1979 “Alla Vecchia Bettola” has worked to preserve and continue the traditional Florentine cuisine. The cozy trattoria originates in a time when the cuisine of Florence was being neglected in favor of a cuisine that tended more and more towards an Italian “standard” cuisine and international appeals. Husband and wife, Loriano and Carla, aimed to bring that focus back towards the old Tuscan flavors.


Caffè Belvedere in the Bardini Garden


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Enjoy a coffee and a stroll amongst some of the most beautiful gardens of Florence.

The Bardini garden has only been open to the public for about the last 10 years. Therefore this place, that offers one of the most extraordinary views of the historic center of Florence, has remained relatively little known by Italians and visitors alike.


Angela Caputi


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Creative, joyous and elegant costume jewellery for the woman who's not shy about dressing up.Characterised by big colours and even bigger shapes and forms made out of resin and other synthetic materials, these pieces are not for the faint-hearted or those that simply want to blend in to the crowd. Often appearing as luxurious materials such as ivory, turquoise, tortoise shell, coral, jade and onyx, these accessories have caught the eye of costume designers and celebrities from the TV and cinema world since 1975 when Angela Caputi first opened shop in Florence. Expect unique and striking colour combinations, simple and organic or geometric shapes, and artfully created designs that will add wow factor to any outfit. She and her team of jewellery makers work from the boutique-studio in via Santo Spirito, with Angela herself still designing every one of a kind piece.

Alessandro Dari


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Masterful and totally unique creations somewhere been jewellery, micro-sculptures and art pieces.Alessandro Dari is not your regular goldsmith. He is also a musician, a poet, an artist, an eccentric, creative soul. His amazing creations are one of a kind pieces, often displayed as sculptural installations in his studio, where he can often be found discussing alchemy or strumming his classical guitar. His collections are based on themes of his interests and passions such as music, time, alchemy, sacred art, the ancient Etruscans. One of his most elegant is the “Church” collection, a series of rings based on the gothic and romantic designs of cupolas and facades, studded with sapphires, diamonds, onyx or rubies. Exquisite, organic, fantastical and fictional, his designs are impossibly original. His workshop is as much a stunning gallery as it is a traditional workshop.

Brancacci Chapel


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One of the most famous fresco cycles of the Renaissance is the young Masaccio's work on the Brancacci Chapel. A visit to the chapel is a must to experience first hand why and how this young man is considered the first great painter of the Renaissance, and how this work helped shape the Renaissance. Despite his tragic and mysterious death at the age of just twenty-six, Masaccio (1401-1428) had an enormous influence on all the Florentine artists to come after him. He is considered one of the first painters to experiment with and achieve vanishing point or single point perspective in his paintings (try to imagine a desert road, where the road converges into one point on the horizon), creating highly realistic scenes and compositions with figures, a great deal of three-dimensionality and realism. It was truly revolutionary for its time and still continues to inspire people to this day. The fresco cycle was commissioned in 1424 by Felice Brancacci, a Florentine silk merchant and diplomat (he was ambassador to Cairo until 1423) who was married to Lena Strozzi, daughter of the powerful Medici enemy, Palla Stozzi. The chapel was to represent the life of Saint Peter, the Brancacci family's patron saint. Masaccio and his good friend Masolino (1383-1447) were commissioned together, but soon after Masolino left to Hungary, leaving the young Masaccio on his own. Masaccio was called to Rome before finishing the chapel, and mysteriously died while there. The unfinished portions were painted almost fifty years later between 1481-1485 by Filippino Lippi (1457-1504), the son of Filippo Lippi, who who had grown up in the very church of Santa Maria del Carmine. Despite surviving the devastating fire that in 1771 destroyed most of the church, the chapel has undergone numerous modernising interventions, including the controversial covering up of the nudity of Adam and Eve with carefully placed foliage, ordered in 1642 by the very religious Cosimo III de’ Medici, but removed in the 1980s. The theme of the cycle is that of the salvation of man, from original sin to the intervention of Saint Peter, founder of the Church of Rome. The artists arranged the scenes on two registers, alternately painting episodes while adopting a common chromatic scale and the same single single vanishing point perspective, conceived for a hypothetical viewer standing in the middle of the chapel. It was the first time that these ideas were adopted in a fresco cycle executed by more than one artist, which even Filippino Lippi followed when completing the chapel. This resulted in an exceptionally coherent visual and spatial unity, which justifies the fame of the Brancacci Chapel as one of the most important works in Italian art history. The Tribute Money, the Bible story of Peter and the tax collector, is an unusual theme for its time. It could have reflected the contemporary concerns about Florence's new tax system, the catasto, or been a reference to the family as the Pope's supporters (Saint Peter was the first pope) during a politically delicate time. The use of light to its full effect in this scene, was particularly original for its time – rather than a flat, even light, Masaccio's light comes from one source, casting shadows and creating a true chiaroscuro effect, enhancing the three-dimensionality of the figures.

Pitti Palace


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As an historical palace and museum, the Pitti Palace is a unique place to visit as you are literally walking through the rooms and lives of the royal families that lived here. It is also a great option if you do not have much time, as you can see so many wonderful things in the one place – the gardens, beautiful views, the palace, history and famous Renaissance artworks. The Palatine Gallery and the Royal Apartments: The Palatina Gallery is where you go to see the wonderful collection of High Renaissance and Early Baroque painting (16th-17th century). Some of art history's most famous painters are represented here from Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Raphael, Titian and Rubens, to Van Dyck and Caravaggio, with over five hundred paintings covering the walls. Unlike any modern gallery, the priceless paintings hang (still in salon style as was popular in the 19th century) in rooms covered with frescoes and full of luxurious furnishings. The gallery also spills into the Royal Apartments, a set of fourteen rooms taking up the right wing of the palace where they remain an important historical record of the sumptuous palace and its inhabitants from the Medici to the House of Lorraine to Napoleon to the Savoys. The Modern Art Gallery: The thirty rooms that make up the Modern Art Gallery's collection of artworks from the 18th cenutry to the 1920's are organised in chronological order, still decorated with the original touches of the period of the Lorraines' residence. Beginning with Neoclassical works, such as Antonio Canova's sculpture, Calliope, and Giovanni Duprè's Abel, you will work your way to the 19th century where the most characteristic part of the collection is kept: the Macchiaioli paintings. The Silver Museum: These rooms are also unofficially known as the Medici's treasury, because it is not simply a collection of priceless silver items as you might think but it also has Lorenzo the Magnificent's collection of cameos, gemstones and ancient vases as well as his death mask. There are also amazing pieces of gold, lapis-lazuli, crystal and turned ivory collected thoughout the era of the Medici and their successors. For lovers of frescoes and fine details, the Silver Gallery's seventeenth century rooms themselves are a highlight. The walls and ceilings are incredibly frescoed, with heavy use of trompe-l'oeil "trick of the eye" details to fake architectural structures like balconies and columns. The Costume Gallery: This elegant gallery has a collection of costumes and fashion from the 16th century to the present, with some of today's most famous fashion designers included. It is Italy's only historical fashion museum with a rich collection of clothing, shoes, and accessories from throughout the centuries plus a 20th century costume jewellery collection. The Boboli & Bardini Gardens: The magnificent Boboli gardens are laid out in eleven acres of grand and formal avenues, with beautiful mature trees, lawns and meadows, statues, fountains and grottoes. The Roman style amphitheatre was used for theatre and opera, holding many famous performances, including Greek-inspired melodramas that are now considered the earliest known operas, such as Jacopo Peri's Dafne and Euridice. At the top of the gardens, overlooking the countryside is the Porcelain Museum, opened in 1973, housing a collection of precious porcelain from all over Europe, many of them gifts from other European rulers to the Medici. Together with this ticket, you also have access to the beautifully restored Bardini garden and terrace. It has a glorious view over Florence; the garden is laid out over the southern hill between the Boboli gardens and the Piazzale Michelangelo.

Piazzale Michelangelo


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Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the best and most famous lookouts for a stunning view of Florence, day or night, and best of all it is free! It just takes a little legwork and there are a few easy ways to get there. One is a lovely walk along the south side of the river upstream towards the Torre San Niccolò, an old tower of the now destroyed medieval city walls which you can see jutting out over the rooftops from afar. Here, you are directly underneath the piazza, simply follow the looping ramps up to the top of the hill. Another nice walk is from the Porta San Miniato gateway, accessible from Via San Niccolò. Go through the gateway and up a short but steep street; in front of you is the “shortcut,” picturesque stone steps that will lead you straight up to the piazza in a matter of minutes. You will pass by the entrance to the lovely rose garden on the way up. Don't forget to take a peek behind you to catch the growing panorama of Florence. The other way up to the piazza, for those who are saving their energy, is to take the local bus number 12 or 13. Find them at the train station, near the taxi stand, either one will take you all the way up to Piazza Michelangelo for the cost of €1.20 a single ride (tickets must be purchased in advance at a tabaccheria, tobacconist). From the piazza, a five minute stroll up past the church of San Salvatore will take you to the unique and beautiful monastery of San Miniato al Monte. With absolutely the best view of the city, San Miniato al Monte is a stunning example of original Tuscan Romanesque architecture dating from 1013. The monks still make honey, tisanes and liqueurs to sell to visitors and it is also possible to visit the church while the monks sing Gregorian chant at 5.30pm. In the grounds surrounding the church there is a beautiful monumental cemetery laid out in the mid-1800's and protected by the old defensive walls of the church designed by Michelangelo during the Siege of Florence in 1529-30. A wonderful panoramic walk from San Miniato back to the centre of Florence can be enjoyed by turning left (with the church behind you) onto Viale Galileo, the tree lined boulevard. As the road winds along and you enjoy the shade of the trees there are the most splendid views of Florence until you reach Via di San Leonardo on your right. Taking this charming narrow street, look for the plaque on the wall of the first villa on your left that says Tchaikovsky lived here in 1878. Continuing along past beautiful villas and the tiny eleventh century church of San Leonardo in Arcetri you will come to the Forte Belvedere and the 13th century Porta San Giorgio. Here you can either go through the arch of the old city gate and straight down the hill to arrive at the Ponte Vecchio, or you can follow the old city wall to the right and back to the area of San Niccolò, below the Piazzale Michelangelo.

Ponte Vecchio


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The Ponte Vecchio bridge is the oldest and shortest of the six bridges of the city. It is also the main bridge as it leads people to the heart of the city, connecting the Pitti Palace to Piazza Repubblica and Piazza Duomo. The Arno River, which has always played a part in Florence's development as a city, is about 240 km long (150 miles), flowing from the Appenine mountains behind Florence and all the way west to Pisa and out at the Liguran sea. Florence, being built in a valley, has proven itself to be so susceptible to floods that the Florentine saying is “the only way to stop the floods is to move Florence.” Indeed, during the autumn months it tends to rain and the river swells and Florence has suffered particularly heavy flooding over the centuries. Some of the greatest floods recorded have been 1117, 1333 (both of which swept away the bridges where Ponte Vecchio now stands), 1557 and the most recent in 1966 on the 4th of November (strangely, the same date as the flood in 1333). You can still find original plaques on city walls showing the depth of the water on each of these various dates. Shops began appearing on the Ponte Vecchio by the 13th century. The first of the shops belonged to tanners and pursemakers, whose leather works required the convenience of the supply of water, but also caused a terrible smell as skins were left to soak in urine. By the beginning of the 1400's, it was mainly the butchers – also for the supply of water, which they relied on to wash away their animal carcasses and bloody scraps – who occupied the shops on the bridge, contributing, if not causing most of the wretched stench around the area. It is no wonder the dukes later decided to jazz up the place by only allowing goldsmiths over butchers and tanners to occupy the bridge! In the mid-16th century Giorgio Vasari was commissioned to build the enclosed passageway the size of a corridor for the Grand Duke Cosimo I and family. It allowed them to pass from their palace on the Oltrarno, Palazzo Pitti, through the Uffizi (then, offices of the government) to the Palazzo Vecchio by an elegant, covered walkway. It was also the perfect way for the duke to avoid mingling with the commoners, protection from potential enemies, while allowing for the opportunity to secretly spy on his subjects below on the streets. You can see this walkway with its little round and square windows artfully incorporated into the rooftops of the medieval shops of the Ponte Vecchio. The Vasari corridor also passed through the church of Santa Felicita and a special opening allowed the Medici family to attend Mass on a balcony still visible to visitors today. To get to the church of Santa Felicita leave the Ponte Vecchio with the Vasari corridor on your left, cross the road and continue to the next small piazza on the left. On entering, to your direct right you will find the Capponi Chapel holding one of the most fascinating paintings in all of Florence: Pontormo’s Deposition, finished in 1528. Almost looking like a scene of figures dancing on a stage, the Virgin Mary swoons with grief as two elongated figures hold up the body of Christ; one of them, coloured in a rosy light, crouches on tip-toes. Five other figures hover around the Virgin, while on the edge of the painting looking into this scene (but distinctly out of it), with a beard and a brown cloak, is a self-portrait of Pontormo. Everything is expressed through colour, shape, and emotion. Pontormo is searching for something deeper than the description of nature, deeper than the scene itself.

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An artisan workshop turned cafe and so much more.This cafe/bar recently took over the studio of wood sculptor, Alfonso Bini, one of a dying kind in the old tradition of the neighbourhood's artisan workshops. To pay homage to the workshop, which has been around since 1887 but closed two years ago, the cafe's decor is stylishly set up with the sculptor's tools and iconic works – a revival of the old workshop's spirit.The wood sculptures, which started out as forms for hats and evolved into creative works in their own right, mingle with large, black and white photographs of the old studio, old machinery from the studio, a jukebox, books available for customers to read or buy, and a comfy array of retro, mismatched leather stools and chairs to sit and enjoy a coffee or a crepe (try the one with cream and nutella). The short but sweet menu also offers some quick nibbles to go with coffee or a late night drink plus one of the city's best selection of artisan gelato from Gelateria Carabè.Open till late, this little bar becomes a meeting place for the sophisticated young artsy types of town and perfectly captures the essence of this artisan quarter of Florence. Come here Thursday nights for a bit of live music (Blues).

Roberta


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A leather staple if you are looking for quality leather accessories from Florence. The family have been working in leather goods since World War II and pride themselves in their all-Italian made leather products: bags, briefcases, wallets, belts and gloves in classic styles and a myriad of colours. The bags are Roberta's own in-house label and are characterized by timeless, pratical designs to take you through countless seasons and occasions. Another favourite is the selection of gloves for men and women crafted out of soft leather, unlined or lined with cashmere, with countless colours to choose from. In addition to the great leather accessories, you can also find Roberta's own silk men's ties and quality wool and cashmere scarves for men and women. Prices are extremely affordable considering the wonderful quality. Look out for the two separate entrances to Roberta on this street (one at no. 74 and one at no. 78).

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