Art & culture
This journey through Tuscan art and culture begins with a rich and revitalising Breakfast at the Bernini Palace Parliament Hall. Once a venue for parliament and senate sessions during the Kingdom of Italy, the hall features a splendid frescoed ceiling.
Upon exiting the Hotel, your journey through the beauties of Florence continues with a visit to Piazza della Signoria, cradle of the Renaissance and heart of modern Florence. Here you can visit 14th century Palazzo Vecchio (now home to the Town Hall), with a copy of the famous David by Michelangelo, the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi. Stop to admire the Neptune Fountain in Carrara marble, along with the equestrian statue of Cosimo I.
This is the square richest in history and monuments and boasts a truly unique past. It is said that during Medieval times it was part of Florence, rich in Ghibelline houses and towers, until the Guelfs seized control of the city and resolved to raze their enemy's houses to the ground in 1260, resulting in modern-day Piazza della Signoria.
You'll catch a glimpse of the world-famous Uffizi as the tour continues. To date it still contains an inestimable and rich artistic-cultural heritage, with works by famous artists such as Caravaggio, Donatello, Botticelli, Giotto, Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. One of the most famous works at the Uffizi, David, boasts a truly unique history. Historians recount that the masterpiece was actually carved from a block of marble recovered from scrap belonging to the Florence Cathedral, forgotten for over 70 years!
Upon exiting the Uffizi, at the end of the Vasariano Corridor, stop to admire one of Italy's and Florence's most famous bridges: Ponte Vecchio. During the 16th century, Cosimo I de' Medici transformed it into the home of the city's finest jeweller's and goldsmiths. Over time it also became the meeting place par excellence for noble Florentines. Upon crossing the Ponte Vecchio and the banks of the Arno river which flow beneath its bridge arches, the Renaissance atmosphere which revolutionised the city's appearance becomes more palpable. Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens are examples of this.
This part of the city is cloaked in an endless array of anecdote and legend. Many believe that Palazzo Pitti already existed underground, as material quarries already constituted its foundations, and that it was only a matter of 'lifting' it up to the surface. If we stop to admire the façade, you'll notice two particular stones: the first, over ten metres in length, and the second, barely 30 cm long.
Both were commissioned by Luca Pitti as a testimonial of his strength compared to other Florentine families of the time. Despite this show of great strength, Pitti lost the Palazzo to Piero de' Medici, who constructed a corridor to link Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti which to date bears the name of its constructor, Giorgio Vasari, although only the part inside the Uffizi remains.
After a relaxing break in the Boboli Gardens which "embrace" Palazzo Pitti, our tour of Florence will end in another symbolic part of the city: the Cathedral, with its dome by Brunelleschi,the tiles of Giotto's Bell Tower, and the adjacent Baptistery of Saint John, with its octagonal structure celebrating the eight day after the seventh terrestrial day, a sign of our eternal salvation. The structure welcomes tourists for all-round views and a chance to stare up in admiration at its mosaics on a golden background, exuding light and majesty.
What better way to conclude a tour of Florentine art and culture, than taking a moment to relax and sip an excellent aperitif at the Bernini Palace Lounge Bar, one of the city's renowned places of aggregation.