Novella Walking Tour, Florence (Self Guided)

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 walk along the Arno embankment and explore the south-eastern part of the Santa Maria Novella quarter.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Novella Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Novella Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Florence (See other walking tours in Florence)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 km
Author: greghasleft
Palazzo Rucellai

1) Palazzo Rucellai

Palazzo Rucellai is a palatial 15th-century townhouse on the Via della Vigna Nuova in Florence. The Rucellai Palace is believed by most scholars to have been designed by Leon Battista Alberti between 1446 and 1451 and executed, at least in part, by Bernardo Rossellino. Its facade was one of the first to proclaim the new ideas of Renaissance architecture based on the use of pilasters and entablatures in proportional relationship to each other.

The grid-like facade is achieved through the application of a scheme of trabeated articulation. The stone veneer of this facade is given a channeled rustication and serves as the background for the smooth-faced pilasters and entablatures which divide the facade into a series of three-story bays. The three stories of the Rucellai facade have different classical orders, as in the Colosseum, but with the Tuscan order at the base, a Renaissance original in place of the Ionic order at the second level, and a very simplified Corinthian order at the top level. Twin-lit, round-arched windows in the two upper stories are set within arches with highly pronounced voussoirs that spring from pilaster to pilaster. The facade is topped by a projecting cornice.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palazzo Corsini al Parione

2) Palazzo Corsini al Parione

Standing elegantly on the banks of the River Arno is the opulent Palazzo Corsini al Parione. The Palazzo is presently owned by the Corsini descendants, Miari Fulcis and Sanminiatelli.

Before this elaborate palace took shape, on the site stood several buildings out of which the most prominent was the casino that belonged to the Ardinghelli family. The premises were later passed on to the Grand Duke Ferdinando II de' Medici and were then purchased by Maria Maddalena Macchiavelli, the wife of Marchese Filippo Corsini, in 1649.

The Palazzo is the epitome of a Baroque style of architecture. In the age of traditional Renaissance and Gothic structures, the Palazzo stands as a modernized structure, flaunting the revolutionary Baroque style of design. The Palazzo Corsini boasts a typical eighteenth century terrace that is decorated with balustrade which has mounted on it statues, figurines and terracotta vases, thus, giving it a very dramatic decorative effect, typical to the Baroque architecture.

The grandeur and beauty of the Palazzo that is witnessed today is a result of fifty years of effort and persistence of two Corsini men- Bartolommeo Corsinin, son of Filippo Corsini, and Bartolommeo’s son. They were also responsible for expanding the palazzo towards Ponte S. Trinita.
Palazzo Spini Feroni

3) Palazzo Spini Feroni

Palazzo Spini Ferroni is a building in piazza Santa Trinita, Florence, the grandest private medieval house-palace in the city. The palace was built from 1289 for the rich cloth merchant and banker Geri Spini, on the lands he had bought from the monks of Santa Trinita, after the 1288 flood of the Arno.

At the time, it was the largest private-owned palace in Florence, in competition with the seat of government, the Palazzo Vecchio, which was being built in the same period. Architects to whom the design has been attributed include Arnolfo di Cambio or Arnolfo's father, Lapo Tedesco. The edifice's original appearance can be seen in Ghirlandaio's frescoes in the Sassetti Chapel of the neighbouring church of Santa Trinita.

In the 14th century, the palazzo was divided between the two branches of the Spini; the section facing the piazza was sold in the 17th century. In the 1670s, marquis Francesco Antonio Ferroni, a rich member of Grand Duke Cosimo III's entourage, had it redecorated with stuccoes by Giovan Battista Foggini and Lorenzo Merlini, moving frescoes by Bernardino Poccetti (1609-1612) from their original location. They represent Paradise with a Choir of Musician Angels and the Adoration of the Shepherds.

After a period as a hotel, in 1846, the comune of Florence bought it, and it was later used for offices during the period when Florence was capital of Italy (1865-1871). In 1874, it was partly renovated in neo-medieval style; shop-fronts were opened in the ground floor and a tower and an arch facing the river Arno were demolished, giving it the aspect it has today. In the 1930s, it was bought by the shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo. Since 1995 the Palazzo has housed a museum dedicated to Ferragamo.

Operation hours: Monday - Sunday: 10:00 am - 7:30 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Santa Trinita

4) Santa Trinita (must see)

Santa Trinita ("Holy Trinity") is a church in central Florence. It is the mother church of the Vallumbrosan Order of monks, founded in 1092 by a Florentine nobleman. Nearby is the Ponte Santa Trinita over the river Arno. The church is famous for its Sassetti Chapel, containing notable frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio that are among the masterworks of 15th-century painting. The current church was constructed over 11th century churches in 1258–1280. Multiple reconstructions occurred thereafter. The Mannerist façade (1593–1594) was designed by Bernardo Buontalenti. The relief over the central door of the Trinity was sculpted by Pietro Bernini and Giovanni Battista Caccini. The 17th-century wooden doors were carved to recall saints of the Vallumbrosan order. The Column of Justice in the Piazza outside originates from the Baths of Caracalla and was a gift to Cosimo I de' Medici by Pope Pius IV. It was used in 1565 to commemorate the Battle of Montemurlo.

Why You Should Visit:
In the heart of the city, at the crossroads of the most elegant streets, surrounded by marvelous period buildings like Palazzo Spini Feroni.
The church itself is extremely rich in artworks, most of which are displayed within its chapels. The frescoes and painting by Ghirlandaio are the main draws.

Opening Hours:
Weekdays: 8am-12pm / 4pm-6pm
Holidays: 4pm-6pm
Free entry
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palazzo Strozzi

5) Palazzo Strozzi (must see)

Palazzo Strozzi is a palace in Florence. It was built from 1489 to 1538 for Filippo Strozzi. Palazzo Strozzi is an example of civil architecture with its rusticated stone, inspired by the Palazzo Medici, but with more harmonious proportions. Unlike the Medici Palace, which was sited on a corner lot, and thus has only two sides, this building, surrounded on all four sides by streets, is a free-standing structure. This introduced a problem new in Renaissance architecture, which, given the newly felt desire for internal symmetry of planning symmetry: how to integrate the cross-axis. The ground plan of Palazzo Strozzi is rigorously symmetrical on its two axes, with clearly differentiated scales of its principal rooms.

The palazzo has mullioned paired windows (bifore); the radiating voussoirs of the arches increase in length as they rise to the keystone, a detail that was much copied for arched windows set in rustication in the Renaissance revival. Its dominating cornice is typical of the Florentine palaces of the time.

The palazzo remained the seat of the Strozzi family until 1937. Great changes were made to the building when the Istituto Nazionale delle Assicurazioni occupied Palazzo Strozzi. The palazzo, granted by the Istituto Nazionale delle Assicurazioni to the Italian State in 1999, is now home to the Institute of Humanist Studies and to the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi.

Why You Should Visit:
The venue is known for hosting contemporary revolving exhibitions and cultural events which look quite unusual in the medieval palace.
You may as well simply walk in the free-admission courtyard and admire the archways and the layout, especially at nighttime.
Palazzo Strozzi is one of the few late-opening attractions in Florence, so take advantage to make it one of your stops on your night stroll.

There generally is no line, so no need to plan or make a reservation.
As exhibits rotate, be sure to check what's on display to see if it is up your alley.

Operation Hours:
Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun: 10am-8pm; Thu: 10am-11pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Santi Michele e Gaetano

6) Santi Michele e Gaetano

The Theatine order, formed as a result of Counterreformation, took over an eleventh century church dedicated to St. Michael in 1592. Financially supported by the eminent families of Florence, the Theatine order commenced the construction of the Church in 1604 with the design of Bernardo Buontalenti. The construction was completed in 1648, by which a number of architects were involved in the project, each making variations to the original design.

Built of the site of a Romanesque Church, the church was dedicated to San Gaetano (Saint Cajetan). Since, the previous church on the site was dedicated to St. Michael, the new building was named Church of Santi Michele e Gaetano. Matteo Nigheti and Gherardo Silvani share the credits for the way the church stands today. In a city dominated by Renaissance styled architecture, this Church on Piazza Antinori has a distinct Baroque style. The façade is decorated with sculptures, which one does not see in Renaissance style of architecture.

The Church houses Matteo Rosselli’s Chapel of the Nativity and Pietro da Cortona’s Martyrdom of San Lorenzo. The Medici family took personal interest in the work of the church. While, Grand Duke Ferdinando I financed the intial stages of work, his son and Cardinal, Carlo de Medici was concerned about the work. If you would like a break from the Renaissance style, you must visit this Church for its unique Baroque style.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Santa Maria Maggiore

7) Santa Maria Maggiore (must see)

Santa Maria Maggiore di Firenze is a medieval church in Florence. Originally constructed in the 11th century, it underwent extensive renovations to the facade and sides in the 13th century. The original church existed as early as the 8th century and is first documented in 931. In 1176 it obtained the status of collegiate church and was one of Florence's priories. The church subsequently expanded its possessions and in 1183 it was put under papal direct protection by Lucius III in 1186, which it kept in the following century. Acquired by the Cistercians, in the 13th century, the church was rebuilt (with the exception of the original external walls and the vaults) in Gothic style. During the 15th century, the church's finances declined: in 1514 Giulio de' Medici describes it as decaying, and in the following year the pope gave it to the Florence Cathedral's capitol. In 1521 it went to the Carmelites from Mantua. In the early 17th century the interior was restored by Gherardo Silvani, perhaps following a project by Bernardo Buontalenti.

The exterior is rather undecorated, with stone walls and the portals surmounted by tympani. The bell tower, although reduced in height, survives from the Romanesque building. It has a Roman head embedded in its walls, popularly known as Berta. The interior is simple with a nave and two aisles, ogival arches and groin vaults. Artworks include frescoes by Bernardino Poccetti (Histories of St. Zenobius in the vault), a Nativity by Matteo Rosselli, and, above the altar of the left transept chapel, a polychromed stucco relief panel, the Madonna del Carmelo, long attributed to the 13th-century artist, Coppo di Marcovaldo. A recent restoration has caused scholars to question this attribution and posit an earlier, 12th-century date for the panel.

Why You Should Visit:
Not as glamorous as other Florentine churches but beautiful nonetheless.
On the interior, there are a few interesting frescoes that reveal a glimpse of the 11th century.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am-12pm / 3:30-5:30pm
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 Walking Tour

Duomo Walking Tour

Duomo quarter is located in the very heart of the Florence Historic Center. This area is deservedly considered the religious and the civic centre of the town. Most of the historic sites Florence is famous for are to be found here. Take this tour to explore all the masterpieces of the Duomo quarter.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
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
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
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
Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour

Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour

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.

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

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Souvenir Shopping Guide: 16 Unique Products to Buy in Florence

Souvenir Shopping Guide: 16 Unique Products to Buy in Florence

Compared to other Italian "grands" like Rome, Venice, or Milan, Florence is relatively less-known to an outsider for any local products, save, perhaps, Florentine mosaics and Fiorentina FC. Fortunately, there are tonnes of locally-originated things that this Italian city is rightfully...
Florence's Tasty Coffee Shop Guide

Florence's Tasty Coffee Shop Guide

The caffe scene throughout Italy is an important factor of everyday life. People will pop in to their favorite bar on their way to work for a quick espresso breakfast with a pastry, they’ll grab a slice of pizza for lunch or drop by for an aperitivo before dining out and take a peaceful digestivo...
Top 14 Pubs in Florence

Top 14 Pubs in Florence

Florence, the city of art and beauty has no problem in mastering the art of the nightlife as well. Local pubs are very popular and appreciated among the Florentines and the tourists. Locals and native English speakers that study or live in the city cannot wait to welcome tourists in their cozy...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Florence for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Florence has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Florence's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Florence City Pass issued by Musement and the Florence City Pass by TicketBar.

A city pass combines all or multiple Florence's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Florence hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: Strozzi Palace Hotel, Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy, Hotel Pierre.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Florence, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Florence typically costs from around US$25 up to US$90 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Florence from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get off at any of the stops along the route.

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – this usually lasts 3 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way around Florence on a 2.5-hour bike tour to visit the city's most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Enjoy a day of art and sightseeing in Florence at a great discount on the Florence Super Saver tour combining two best-selling guided tours for the price of one! Be guaranteed to skip the lines to the Accademia (hosting David) and Uffizi Galleries.

- Get yourself “under the skin” of Florence and explore the city's ghosts and curiosities at night. On this 2-hour night walk you will see the famous Florentine attractions in a different light and hear historical anecdotes and stories associated with them.

- Make the most of your time in Florence with a 3-hour guided walk to the most prominent sights of this magical city, e.g. Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, Michelangelo's David, also discovering some of its hidden gems!

- Unleash your appetite for Florentine delicacies on this 3-hour food tour replete with tasting stops throughout the city. Follow an expert guide to eat and drink like a local, treat yourself to some of the top gourmet delights this city has to offer, including rich Italian coffee and gelato, explore the San Lorenzo Market, and so much more!

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Florence, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Pisa and Lucca, Assisi and Cortona, Portovenere and the Cinque Terre, Siena, San Gimignano, or Chianti. For as little as US$50+ to US$100+ per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites including the legendary Leaning Tower of Pisa, Cortona and other towns of Tuscany, set your eyes on the small piece of paradise on Earth manifested in five little villages hanging on cliffs above the sea, learn about the life of St Francis of Assisi, enjoy the sight of a unique landscape and taste the food and wines of Italy. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight at your hotel or a designated place in Florence, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, minibus, boat or a private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.