Florence: between renewal and the Renaissance
To grasp the irresistible appeal of the third most visited city in Italy (after Rome and Venice), listen to the literary Italian of the Florentines, heirs of Dante’s The Divine Comedy.
Florence rewards travellers with the 'vagabond happiness' so dear to Stendhal. Leave your tourist guide behind and lose yourself, roam its streets, stumble across a beautiful deserted piazzetta, linger along the Arno, spy a stucco Madonna praying above a door, snack on falafels in front of the synagogue… let yourselves be transported by Florence's charm.
The birthplace of the Renaissance inaugurated its Museo dell'Opera a few years back. This museum is a veritable jewel of modernity, nestled in the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, whose dome - more commonly known as the 'Duomo' - was designed by the great avant-garde Florentine architect Filippo Brunelleschi in the 15th century. The 750 works there tell the long history of the construction of the cathedral, from birth to maturity, through the styles and periods, from Gothic to Renaissance. The museum recreates the life-sized original facade of the Duomo, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, and reveals for the first time the doors of the Baptistery and the Maddalena di Donatello, a solid silver altar weighing several hundred kilograms, a treasure that remained long hidden in the church.
'And when I thought of Florence, it was like a miracle city embalmed and like a corolla, because it was called the city of lilies and its cathedral, St. Mary of the Flowers,' writes Marcel Proust in Swann's Way. A stunning setting for masterly architecture, sculpture, and painting, every second spent in the Kingdom of the Medici dynasty is a breath of fresh beauty.
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