In the heart of Piazza del Duomo emerges the striking and elegant Church of Santa Maria Novella, an Italian masterwork representing the genius architecture of Arnolfo Di Cambio.
Both Giotto and Francesco Talenti worked on the Cathedral, with the latter partially altering Arnolfo’s initial design.
The Giotto Bell, located to the side of the cathedral, is in a rather unusual position to highlight its importance. It is 84m tall, with progressively less complex shapes to accommodate the two and three-light windows. The bell is entirely covered in white, green and pink multi-coloured marble.
Completing the striking structure is the daring Brunelleschi Dome, an ambitious design with innovative techniques, undoubtedly used to reflect the Manifesto of the Italian Renaissance.
The dome arches strikingly over the Cathedral, also dominating the Piazza, the city and the entire plane, visible from numerous locations in the surrounding hills, even from a considerable distance.
Santa Maria Novella
The marble facade of Santa Maria Novella is amongst one of the most important artworks of the Florentine Renaissance.
Between 1458 and 1478 it was partly coated in multi-coloured marble, whilst the lower part was left almost intact in its medieval form, with the sole addition of the classical portal, inspired by that of the Pantheon, framed by a column-pillar theme which is also found (in a different form), at the far end of the sides.
At the bottom of the main nave at a height of 45 metres, the Giotto Crucifix has been relocated (which can be dated back to 1290), in a similar position to where it was located until 1421.
The Maggiore or Tornabuoni Chapel is found at the centre of the Church and the central Crucifix is the work of Giambologna.
Also extremely important is the cycle of frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio and the Brunelleschi Crucifix.
Piazza della Signoria
The central element of the piazza is the 14th century Palazzo Vecchio, built between 1299 and 1314 to provide a signal to the Priori delle Arti (Priors of the Guilds), which since 1282 had held Government and who normally resided in the Bargello.
The architectural project by Arnolfo di Cambio and the type of building reflect the characteristics of medieval fortified structures, constituting a genuine model for the subsequent construction of Tuscan public buildings.
During the 16th century, the Loggia della Signoria lost its original function as the democratic structure weakened, becoming a sort of open-air museum for the sculptures of the Medicea collection.
The statues in Piazza della Signoria do not only represent decorative art of the highest level, but also a genuine lay allegorical cycle, which would have been an inspiration for the values of city governors who visited Palazzo Vecchio.
The collection of works by Sandro Botticelli is without comparison.
Responsibility for the construction of the Gallery was entrusted to Giorgio Vasari. Subsequently, due to the marriage of Duke Francesco with Giovanna of Austria, in just six months he built the so-called Vasariano Corridor, which from Palazzo Vecchio travels along part of the gallery, crossing the Arno on the Ponte Vecchio and emerging in the Oltrarno quarter, finally arriving in the garden of Boboli and from there into Palazzo Pitti. From here, a link was created to safely reach the Belvedere Fortress.