Florence tour: the battle against water and timeFlorence, Italy
An inspiring self-guided audio walking tour in the heart of Florence. Discover credible and original stories written by top local professionals. Take your tour now and enjoy it instantly on your smartphone device.
Florence: The battle against water and time is a tour that will guide you through the most important landmarks of Florence as you discover amazing stories about both their creation and their battle against erosion and time. The main focus of the tour is the River Arno, and how it is both invigorating and destructive for the city it flows through.
The tour begins at the Baptistery of St. John with its famous doors referred to by Michelangelo as fit to be the “Gates of Paradise.” The church of Santa Maria Del Fiore was the city’s new cathedral; it is in the Gothic style with pointed arches and tall windows and served as a cathedral, a meeting place, and a market. In 1366 the church was enlarged with the addition of an octagonal choir covered by Brunelleschi’s famous dome. The cornerstone for the Campanile adjacent to the Baptistery of St. John, was laid in July 1334. Giotto, an accomplished painter and architect of the early Renaissance, was commissioned to design it but he died before the tower’s completion.
Orsanmichele was the church of the guilds. Petrarch, the preeminent poet of early Renaissance, wrote in his sonnets that the fourteen statues that adorn the exterior walls appear “as if they can breathe, lacking only speech.” They depict the guilds’ patron saints and their style varies: Ghiberti and Nani Di Banco followed the Gothic style, while Donatello drew inspiration from the classical statues of ancient Greece and Rome.
In the heart of Florence the town hall (Palazzo Vecchio) combined administrative and defensive functions. It was the city’s armoury and accommodated the members of the Signoria. And yet it is the monuments of the Medici, one of the most influential Renaissance families in Italy that truly catch our eyes. The Uffizi Gallery (the oldest European museum) and Vasari’s Corridor that connects the private residence of the Medici family to their office complex serve as timeless reminders of the family’s power and glory.
The tour concludes at the true master of Florence, the river Arno. The Ponte Vecchio has always been full of shops and a most charming way to cross the river. It was the only bridge the retreating German army did not destroy in 1944. As you look down at the flowing Arno River you are well advised to keep in mind its destructive power and its ability to shape the face and the future of this magnificent city.
Highlights of this tour include Michelangelo’s David, the best known statue of Piazza della Signoria; the Loggia dei Lanzi whose name comes from the mercenary soldiers of Cosimo I’s personal guard but eventually became a symbol of democracy and an open-air sculpture gallery; and Palazzo Pitti, home of the banker Luca Pitti and members of the Medici family.
1. Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral | DuomoNot even Black Death could stop the Florentines’ determination to complete the church of Saint Mary of the Flowers. This architectural masterpiece haunted the citizens’ dreams for decades.
2. Uffizi GalleryA true multi-purpose venue that brought together tribunals, a foundry where scents and poisons were distilled, and a small study for illustrious citizens in search of a hiding place.
3. Ponte VecchioThe “Old Bridge” reflects the Florentines’ idea of beauty. Nobody knows for sure the name of the bridge’s architect. Even Benito Mussolini failed to destroy its “divine beauty.”
The dream for a dome
Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral | DuomoDuring a difficult period in the history of Florence, a fresco painting in the Spanish Chapel in the church of Santa Maria Novella highlighted the Florentines’ dream for a dome that would complete the city’s cathedral. This fresco was the work of Andrea Bonaiuto (1363-1365) but it was many years before the dream became a reality. The optimism and confidence of the people of Florence had to wait for the arrival of Brunelleschi on the scene. He was the one who won the commission by the guild of cloth importers and began to build the dome in 1420.
The most famous offices in the world
Uffizi GalleryThe Italian word “Uffizi” means “offices.” This was the earliest function of the building complex that eventually became the first European museum. Cosimo I de’ Medici had secured his undisputed power as the first Grand Duke of Tuscany. In order to establish his control over the wider region he decided to combine Florence’s thirteen judiciary and administrative offices in a building near Palazzo Vecchio (his private residence). In 1559 he employed Giorgio Vasari to design the Uffizi. Construction began in 1560 and was completed in 1580.
The lifeblood of Florence
Ponte VecchioFlorence is a prime example of a medieval river town. The Arno originates in the Apennines and, as it crosses the city, provides its residents with water for the local tanning and textiles industries. Public spectacles were held on the river between the bridges of Santa Trinita and Carraia. Ponte Vecchio is the most famous bridge and serves as a symbol of the city of Florence.
I have worked as a professional in the healthcare industry. My love for studying, arts and poetry were the reason I pursued a degree in the Theoretical department of the School of Fine Arts. That’s how I fell in love with Florence.
|Address||The Baptistery of St. John|
|Starting point||Piazza S. Giovanni, Firenze|
|Finishing point||Ponte Vecchio, Firenze|
|Areas||Piazza Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio|
Why take a self-guided tour?
This is a self-guided tour based on the award-winning storytelling concept developed by Clio Muse and the fascinating narratives prepared by our handpicked destination experts.
You can enjoy each multilingual tour by using your smartphone or tablet at your own pace even if you are offline. The interactive map on your screen will guide you step-by-step as you explore all points of interest along your route. Each stop comes with a selection of our signature stories allowing you to tailor the tour experience to your personal interests and schedule.
After downloading Clio Muse app, you can access this tour and activate it any moment you wish and also repeat it any time. To best enjoy our multimedia self-guided tour (comprising maps, video, audio and text) we recommend the use of headphones.