Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour (Self Guided), Florence

Michelangelo spent over 20 years of his life in Florence during which he created some of the most beautiful masterpieces this city had ever seen. The most famous of them, the David, is also located in Florence along with a few copies. Take this tour to discover the Florence side of Michelangelo's artistic mastership.
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Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Florence (See other walking tours in Florence)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km
Author: greghasleft
1
Accademia di Belle Arti

1) Accademia di Belle Arti (must see)

The Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze, located on Via Rasacoli, is an art gallery whose history dates back as far as 1563. Under the advice of Giorgio Vasari, an artist and writer, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de' Medici set up the Accademia e Compagnia delle Arti del Disegno (Arts of Drawing Academy and Company). The institution not only housed renowned artists of Cosimo’s court but also functioned as organisation for the artists of Tuscany. Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) was born as a result of a 1784 decree of the then Duke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo, along with conservatory of music and a school for art restoration.

The Academy and its Gallery are home to some of Michelangelo’s work. A must see art gallery in Italy, Michelangelo’s David is on display here along with his unfinished Prisoners and statue of St. Matthew. The gallery also displays several paintings made by artists between the 13th and 16th centuries. These Renaissance-era paintings are works of famous artists like Uccello, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli and others. A room is dedicated to a series of polyptychs which are marvelous. The Gallery also houses plaster sculptures by artists like Bartolini, Pampaloni and Giambologna, to name a few.

Recorded in history as the first academy for drawing in Europe, this Art Academy and Gallery is a must visit for every guest of Florence.

Why You Should Visit:
Michelangelo's David is the undeniable star, but an impressive collection of medieval and renaissance art, too.
The musical section is also tremendous – strings by Casini, Amati and Stradivari, harpsichords and some rarer stuff.
Audio guides are good (for a fee) and have adults or children's version.

Tip:
A good time to go during high season is on Thursdays when the Accademia is open late (after 7pm) and you don't have long lines.
Consider pre-booking otherwise. You'll have to take your online booking to a doorway just opposite and a little down the street to turn the booking into your tickets (ask the guards to direct you).

Operation Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
2
Basilica di San Lorenzo

2) Basilica di San Lorenzo (must see)

Amidst the hustle-bustle of the city market, stands arguably one of the oldest churches in the history of Florence. The Basilica di San Lorenzo is said to date back to the late Roman era. Along with being the oldest church, the Basilica is also the largest church in Florence.

The Basilica di San Lorenzo is also famous because it served as the parish church and burial ground to one of the most powerful families in late 14th century Florence – the Medici family. The Romanesque style of the previous structure was to be replaced by a more modern Renaissance style edifice. Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici commissioned Filippo Brunelleschi to redesign the church during the early 15th century with an elaborate façade to be designed by Michelangelo himself. However, the untimely death of Brunelleschi and Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici led to the project being abandoned much to the humiliation of Michelangelo. As a result, the exterior was never completed. Till today the structure stands incomplete with the façade in plain brick.

However, the exteriors of the Basilica can be quite misleading, for the interiors of the structure are remarkable, following a Renaissance style with white and grey columns and beautiful marble decoration in front of the altar that marks the grave of the first Medici ruler. The Basilica di San Lorenzo is still recognized as one of the finest examples of the emergence of Renaissance architecture.

Why You Should Visit:
So much to see here that time will fly by as you look at gorgeous paintings & stunning frescos or explore all the cloisters, small gardens, and the library designed by Michelangelo.
The complex includes the New Sacristy with incredible Medici tombs created by Michelangelo depicting day and night, dawn and dusk, and the Chapel of the Princes, also absolutely gorgeous.

Tip:
A basic knowledge of the Medici family would help your enjoyment of the church.
The market area around San Lorenzo is very nice, so you might want to have a lunch on the piazza in front of the Mercato Centrale (Central Market).

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-5pm; Sun: 1:30-5pm
3
Bargello

3) Bargello (must see)

If Florence, in general, is a paradise for architecture buffs and art lovers, then the Bargello museum is even more so. Occupying a medieval fortress, this museum houses some of Italy's most valuable sculptures and other works of art.

Also known as Palazzo del Popolo (the People's Palace), this is one of the oldest structures in the city, dating back to 1255. Throughout its history, the building has served many different roles. Early on, back in the 16th century, it accommodated the so-called Captain of the People, the police chief of Florence, called “bargello”, hence the name of the palace. After that, the Bargello Fortress served as a prison, up until the mid-19th century, upon which it was converted to a museum displaying a large collection of Gothic and Renaissance sculptures.

Among the displayed artifacts here are the works of Donatello, Michelangelo, Verrochio, Brunelleschi, and other greats. Notably, Donatello’s statue of David was the first male nude sculpture ever exhibited since ancient times, thus manifesting a turn in the history of European art. The inner courtyard of the museum is an elegant space crammed with the relief and free-standing sculptures; however, the most famous items are placed in the gallery, off the courtyard, and in the large exhibition space above. Apart from the Renaissance items, the collection includes rare artifacts from the Byzantine, Roman and Medieval eras. Alongside sculptures, you can find here jewelry pieces of the European Renaissance and Islamic origin, too. For visitors convenience, all the exhibits are accompanied by English descriptions.

Donatello’s “David” was the first male nude sculpture since ancient times, and you can admire this turn in art history without an overwhelming amount of visitors. The interior courtyard is an elegant space crammed with relief and free-standing sculpture; however, the most famous works are in the gallery off the courtyard and the large exhibition space above. Among the treasures of Renaissance artists and craftsmen, those spaces house rare pieces of artifacts from the Byzantine, Roman and medieval era, along with beautiful jewelry right from the Renaissance period down to the Islamic period. You can take your time there, as you'll find some very intriguing collections presented interestingly with English explanations and there is no sense of pressure that you have to rush through to “see everything”.

Tip:
To better plan your visit to Bargello, check out the museum's website in advance for opening hours, noting that on special occasions it may close rather late. Those brave enough to wander around the eerie, empty medieval building late in the evening, may find this rather entertaining.

Opening Hours:
http://www.bargellomusei.beniculturali.it/musei/1/bargello/
4
Casa Buonarroti

4) Casa Buonarroti

The present day building of Casa Buonarroti was once the property of Michelangelo Buonarroti. The building was inherited by his nephew, Lionardo, after his death. However it was Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger, the great nephew of the artist, who converted the house into a museum in honour of his grand uncle. Michelangelo the Younger was so devoted to his great uncle and his work that he hired artists to adorn the place with paintings and frescos. Today, not only is it a museum to display some of the finest works of art and craft, but it also stands as one of the finest buildings in Florence.

Casa Buonarroti is one of the best museums in Florence and houses some of the earliest works of Michelangelo. The Madonna della Scala (Madonna of the steps) carved before 1492 and Battle of Centuras, an incredible complex sculpture, are both a reflection of the extraordinary talent of the artist in the making. Among other artefacts that are also displayed at the museum is a collection of Michelangelo’s autograph drawings that consists of over 205 sketches. The museum also houses some rare art collections that include paintings, sculptures, majolica and other archaeological findings. The Casa Buonarroti is the proud displayer of the wooden model for the façade of San Lorenzo.

Operation hours: Monday, Wednesday - Sunday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Basilica di Santa Croce

5) Basilica di Santa Croce (must see)

The Basilica di Santa Croce is one of the most famous and the largest Franciscan churches in the world. Built between the 13th and 14th century, the church flaunts a rich Gothic style of architecture. Also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories, the Basilica is the burial place of Italy’s most recognized, such as – Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo and Rossini. Construction of the present building started in 1294 to replace an older edifice. Taken care of by some of the wealthiest families in Florence the job of rebuilding the Basilica was given to Arnolfo di Cambio, an architect known for some of the best Gothic works in Florence.

Besides being known as the resting place of some of the world's most renowned (Dante, da Vinci, Galileo, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Rossini, etc.), the church also stands as one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Adorned with the works of some of the finest artisans, sculptures and painters, it is sure to grip you with its grandeur and presence. The Basilica di Santa Croce is the culmination of the efforts of many artists and contributors some of which include- Giorgio Vasari, Benedetto da Maiano, Antonio Canova, Donatello; frescoes by Giotto, Giovanni da Milano, Maso di Banco and many others. Legend even has it that the Santa Croce was founded by Saint Francis himself!

Why You Should Visit:
This is where anyone who was anyone in Florence got buried or memorialized!
Very nice grounds and grassy inner courtyard encouraging to take time to explore.
The outside plaza holds multiple events, from concerts by visiting musicians to Florence "rugby".

Tip:
Don't miss the Leather school behind this church where young interns are learning the trade.
If you're a woman make sure your knees & shoulders are covered or you will have to purchase a blue wrap for about €1.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-5:30pm; Sun: 2-5:30pm; Last admission: 5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Florence, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Florence

Create Your Own Walk in Florence

Creating your own self-guided walk in Florence is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Duomo Souvenir Shopping

Duomo Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Florence without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Florence, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Arno South Bank Walking Tour

Arno South Bank Walking Tour

Arno South Bank, also known as Oltrarno, what literally means "beyond the Arno", is a magical place, though not everyone knows about it. The many historical places located in this part of the city will amaze you. Take this tour to see some wonderful sites that you will never forget.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 km
Novella & Indipendenza Walking Tour

Novella & Indipendenza Walking Tour

Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages". This city has to offer a lot of wonderful places to admire. Take this tour to explore Indipendenza and Santa Maria Novella quarters, visit beautiful Dominican basilica of Santa Maria Novella, as well as Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Accademia di Belle Arti, Cappella dei Principi and...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
City Orientation Walking Tour

City Orientation Walking Tour

The city of Florence was founded by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a settlement for veteran soldiers and, as such, was built in the style of an army camp with the main streets intersecting at the present Piazza della Repubblica. The original name Fluentia was due to the fact that the city was built between two rivers. Later, the name was changed to Florentia which means “flowering” or...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 km
Historic Centre Nightlife

Historic Centre Nightlife

Well known for its beautiful historic architecture and for its huge contribution to the Renaissance movement in Italy, Florence remains a vibrant, thriving center of activity that hosts not only a large tourism trade, but also attracts a lot of international students studying abroad. As such, Florence possesses a hot nightlife scene where guests from around the world can hear some amazing music...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
Dante's Florence Walking Tour

Dante's Florence Walking Tour

Dante Alighieri is considered one of the greatest poets of all times. He was born in Florence and spent most of his life there until he was exiled. Many of the structures in the city were built according to his greatest epic poem Divina Commedia. This tour will take you on a trip through Dante's life and work in Florence.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km

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