FLORENCE HIGHLIGHTS

Discover the best attractions in Florence from Grand Hotel Minerva

These are the TOP 10 attractions you should not miss when in Florence

Santa Maria Novella

Next to our hotel. Open to the public from 9:00 am 5:30 pm

One of Florence's most famous churches, a masterpieces of Gothic architecture. The gorgeous marble façade was designed by Leon Battista Alberti, with the patronage of Giovanni Rucellai, whose name is written in large letters on the basilica's pediment. The façade can be seen from our hotel's roof terrace and many of our rooms! Among the great artworks inside are a crucifix painted by Giotto and works by Masaccio and Brunelleschi. Be sure to take a pleasant stroll in the church's cloisters and admire Paolo Uccello's frescoes and other 14th-century frescoes. If you happen to be coming through Florence during the equinox or winter solstice, take a look at the Basilica's floor where there is meridian line gives you an evocative sight of the sun passing through ancient astronomical tools that the cosmographe Egnazio Danti put there in the mid-16th century.

Santa Maria del Fiore

The Duomo (5 min. walk from the hotel. Open to the public from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm every day)

  Florence's greatest religious monument, located in Piazza San Giovanni in the city center. The Duomo that we can visit today is the fruit of 170 years of work. The first stone on the façade was laid on September 8, 1296 on the design of Arnolfo di Cambio. Many changes were later made to Cambio's design, the most obvious of which are seen on the building's external sides to the north and south. Here the first four windows are lower, narrower, and closer together than the ones on the east, from an expansion overseen by Francesco Talenti, the director of works starting in the mid-14th century The eastern radiating chapels were completed in the early 15th century and the great dome, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, was built in just 16 years, from 1418 to 1434. The lantern, on Brunelleschi's design, was completed after his death (1446) and the gilded copper ball with the cross, containing sacred relics, by Andrea del Verrocchio, was placed there in 1466 (the current one is only a copy because the original fell off in the 16th century when it was struck by lightning!) You can reach the view terrace on a staircase of 463 steps. The breathtaking view from the frescoed interior of the dome, especially from its top, sweeps over all of Florence … Here's a chance to take one of the most memorable pictures of your life! Giotto's bell tower can be admired in the same square. The bell tower is 84.70 m tall and about 15 m wide, a beautifully eloquent testament to Florence's 14th-century Gothic architecture, remaining true to the principle of sturdiness even as it soars upward. Climbing 414 steps, you come to a splendid view terrace. Another of the square's gems is the Baptistery, one of Florence's oldest churches, with an octagonal shape, famed for its magnificent mosaic inside, and even more so for its three bronze doors, the originals of which are in the Opera del Duomo Museum.

Opera del Duomo Museum

5 min. walk from the hotel. Open daily continuously from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm - option to buy an all-included ticket to visit the museum, the baptistery, the Duomo and Giotto's bell tower

On October 29, 2015, after more than two years of remodeling, the Opera del Duomo museum reopened its doors. Covering three floors and a breathtaking scenic terrace, the museum is home to over 750 works, including statues and marble, bronze, and silver reliefs. with masterpieces by the likes of Michelangelo, Donatello, Arnolfo di Cambio, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Andrea Pisano, Antonio del Pollaiolo, Luca della Robbia, and Andrea del Verrocchio (to name but a few).
Engraved in white marble in the first hallway are the names of those that made Florence a city like no other, guiding visitors to discover their masterpieces.
The room where the magnificent great baptistery doors are displayed is quite impressive, but it's not the only one — Equally fascinating is the room displaying the original statues for Giotto's bell tower and Donatello's incredible works. Continuing through the museum, we come to Michelangelo's pietà — a work of such beauty and majesty that no one can remain unmoved before it.
The room for Brunelleschi's Dome explains how it was built, with an informational video and many sketches and molds used for the masterpiece.

Santa Croce

20-min. walk from the hotel. Open to the public from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm

Florence's most dynamic neighborhood and a major center of culture. The church of Santa Croce is known for holding the tombs of many illustrious men, including Vittorio Alfieri, Galileo, and Ugo Foscolo, and for its most famous chapel, the Pazzi family chapel, designed by Brunelleschi. In the church's beautiful cloisters, you can admire works by Cimabue, Gaddi, and Donatello. Though the church itself was built at the end of the 13th century, its marbles façade and bell tower were built in the latter 19th century. Relax on one the benches facing the church and admire both the facade the imposing statue of Dante Aligheri. To the side of the church, visit the world-renowned leather school. Interesting fact: Though the church was consecrated in 1443, it was only in 1857 that Pope Pius IX had the first stone placed to build the façade which was then completed only in 1865.

San Miniato & Piazzale Michelangelo

40-min. walk from the hotel. Tours from 8:00 am to 7:30 pm

A lovely walk along Viale dei Colli winds 6 kilometers up Florence's southern hill, affording dazzling views. The walk culminates in its most beautiful point, Piazzale Michelangelo, from which you can admire all of Florence. Rising behind the square is the Church of San Miniato al Monte, whose evocative interior stupefy visitors with the sight of its grand mosaic. Once you have made it to the square, you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views in the world, taking in a single glance the Duomo, the Uffizi, and Palazzo della Signoria, beyond which lie the northern hills with Fiesole and with its bell tower. Construction on the church began 1013. Originally a Benedictine monastery, since 1373 it has been the home of Olivetan monks who make honey, herbal tea, and liqueurs that you can buy in a shop adjacent to the church.

Piazza Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio

10 min. walk from the hotel

  Florence's grand political center with Palazzo Vecchio rising majestically over it, Florence's primary civil architecture monument and among the most important public buildings of the 14th century. Michelangelo's sublime David (a copy; the original has been at the Gallery of the Academy since 1873) makes the square all the more grandiose. Inside Palazzo Vecchio is the Salone dei Cinquecento, which holds the Battle of Marciano fresco (mentioned by Dan Brown in his latest novel set in Florence). Other masterpieces not to miss: Donatello's Judith, Michelangelo's Genius of Victory and Verrocchio's Putto. Palazzo Vecchio's facade has one of the symbols of Florence, Arnolfo Tower, 94-meters high, affording gorgeous views of the Arno and all of Florence. A little-known fact: down low behind the entrance door to Palazzo Vecchio, behind Bandinelli's statue of Hercules, there is a stone with the face of the man etched into it. According to legend, this "hidden portrait" was the work of Michelangelo. They say that each time he happened to walk by Via della Ninna, the street from Palazzo Vecchio to the Uffizi, he was always accosted by the same person who nagged him every time with the same story about his financial failures and the money that Michelangelo owed him and had never paid. On one such occasion, Michelangelo, bored and with the tools of his trade at hand, while the tiresome man was talking, he etched his profile behind his back, immortalizing him forever in the stones of Palazzo Vecchio. Another masterpiece in the square is the famed Neptune — known as the Biancone ("big white one") to Florentines— Bartolomeo Ammannati sculpted between 1560 and 1565. It was unveiled for the wedding of Francesco I de' Medici and the Grand Duchess Joanna of Austria on December 10, 1565. The fountain basin was completed in 1575 and used for washing for years. A plaque on the wall Palazzo Vecchio dated 1720 prohibits "dirtying it in any way, washing inkpots, clothes or anything else in it, or throwing wood or other garbage in it."

Uffizi Gallery

10 min. walk from the hotel. Closed on Mondays. Open the rest of the week from 8:15 am to 6:30 pm. Reservations are strongly suggested. Our concierge can make them for you

One of Italy's most famous and important museums, world-renowned, with the greatest number of visitors, it boasts a superb collection of priceless works of art, especially Renaissance art, including masterpieces by Cimabue, Giotto, Caravaggio, Botticelli, and Michelangelo. The Gallery is on the top floor of a large building built between 1560 the 1580 on the design of Giorgio Vasari. The Vasari Corridor is absolutely worth visiting. Built in 1565, by Vasari, the suspended corridor connects the Uffizi with Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti and holds important collections of 17th-century paintings and a collection of self-portraits. After visiting it, relax in the museum's café and enjoy a spectacular view from its scenic terrace. Interesting fact: The corridor was built, in just five months, at the behest of Cosimo De' Medici in 1565, on the design of the architect Giorgio Vasari, for the wedding of Cosimo's son Francesco to Joanna of Austria. Many stories have been told about this place, which connects Florence's two key historical buildings, Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of the government, and Palazzo Pitti, the Medici's home. There is no doubt that the Vasari Corridor, stretching over a kilometer, made an excellent escape route for the family, and having been built for a wedding, it was an astute political device to impress guests with the family's power and economic resources. Visits upon reservation; our hotel's concierge can assist you.

Gallery Academy

12 min. walk from the hotel. Closed on Mondays. Open the rest of the week from 8:15 am to 6:30 pm. Reservations are strongly suggested. Our concierge can make them for you

After the Uffizi, this is the second-leading museum in Italy for number of visitors, and it has the most sculptures by Michelangelo (at seven), including the ultra-famous David, set in a platform built especially for it when it was moved from the Piazza della Signoria, where it had been originally placed in 1504. It was there until 1873 when the decision was made to move it to inside the Academy of Fine Arts to prevent the elements from further damaging it. David was sculpted of fine Carrara marble, excavated in the Apuan Alps and transported around the world since the 16th century from a small port that Michelangelo himself founded. This is Forte dei Marmi, today it is one of Europe's most exclusive seaside resort towns, where our company has an exclusive boutique hotel. For more information about Forte dei Marmi and our Hotel Villa Roma Imperiale.

Medici Chapels

5 min. walk from the hotel. Open from 8:15 am to 1:50 pm

The famous sacristy of the Medici Chapels was the work of Michelangelo. Set in part of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, once the Medici parish and the burial place for family members from the 15th century on. The museum is most famed for holding the tombs of Giuliano and Lorenzo de’ Medici, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and sculpture, which Michelangelo sculpted for the "New Sacristy."

Palazzo Pitti

12 min walk from the hotel. Open from 8:15 am to 7:30 pm. Closed the first and last Monday of the month

Palazzo Pitti is the grandest palazzo in Florence, built in 1485 on Brunelleschi's design. Historically the residence of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany and then the kings of Italy, it is now home to several important collections of paintings and sculptures, art objects, porcelains and a costume gallery, as well as being a beautifully preserved historical home extending to the Boboli Gardens.Against the hill of Belvedere, Boboli is one of the most eminent examples of Italian-style gardens with fountains, scenery, caves, and statues of major artistic importance. Its extensive green area, divided into orderly sections, is a full-fledged open air museum. Strolling along its delightful paths, you will get a taste of the courtly life of yore as you enjoy a garden that stays current while respecting its tradition. Interesting fact: The Pitti family, long bitter enemies of the Medici family, in order to avoid taxes imposed by the Medici on the stones used to build palaces, used much larger stones than usual for the palace façade.

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