The Basilica di San Miniato al Monte (Church of San Miniato) sits in an elevated position overlooking the city of Florence. Built on the site of a 4th century chapel, the present church was built by the Florentine Bishop Hildebrand in 1018. Forming geometric designs, the facade is decorated with green and white marble with a 12th century mosaic above the pedimented central window.
Of a Romanesque design, the entire basilica took almost two centuries to complete. The church has a central nave, three aisles and frescoes which date to the 13th and 14th centuries.
The large mosaic of Christ flanked by the Madonna and Saints adorns the apse and dates to 1297.
The 13th century nave is marble intarsia decorated with the signs of the zodiac and symbolic animals. The exquisitely decorated pulpit dates to the 13th century and depicts three of the four Evangelists.
The trussed timber roof is equally rich in colour and decoration.
Michelangelo Buonarroti 1475-1564
Michelangelo Buonarroti was an Italian painter, sculptor, architect and poet. More commonly known as Michelangelo, he became apprentice to the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio in 1488 and between 1508-1512, he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. The sculpted figure of Michelangelo stands in a niche along the facade of the Uffizi Gallery and is the work of the 19th century sculptor Emilio Santarelli.
Francesco Redi 1626-1697
Francesco Redi was a 17th century Italian poet and physician who studied medicine and philosophy at the University of Pisa. Having succeeded his father as court physician to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1655 Redi became a member of the Accademia della Crusca – The Academy of the Bran, which was founded in Florence in 1582 to maintain the purity of the Italian language. In 1668, Redi published Esperienze intorno alla generazione degl’insetti – Experiments on the Generation of Insects which is still regarded as highly influential work. The statue of Redi is the work of the 19th century Italian sculptor Pietro Costa and stands in a niche along the facade of the Uffizi Gallery.
Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi c1386- 1466
Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, better known as Donatello, was a 14th century Italian sculptor. He was the son of a member of the Florentine Wool Combers Guild and studied the fabrication of metals and metallurgy becoming apprentice to the Florence metalsmith and sculptor, Lorenzo Ghiberti, in 1403. The statue of Donatello stands in a niche along the facade of the Uffizi Gallery and is the work of the 19th century Italian sculptor Girolamo Torrini.
The oldest bridge in Florence, crossing the river Arno, is the Ponte Vecchio. The bridge was constructed of stone in 1345 and features three segmental arches.
From the 13th century, all manner of shops lined the medieval bridge. In 1593, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando I de’ Medici, declared that only jewellers and goldsmiths would be permitted to trade on the bridge.
When the ruling Medici moved to Palazzo Pitti on the south side of the Arno, the Medici wanted to remain away from contact with the people they ruled. In order to connect the Palazzo Pitti and the Palazzo Vecchio (Town Hall), they commissioned the Italian architect Giorgio Vasari to build a corridor above the shops of the Ponte Vecchio. The Corridoio Vasariano (Vasari Corridor) was built in 1565.
Andrea Orcagna c1308-c1368
Andrea di Cione, also called Orcagna, was a 14th century Italian architect, sculptor and painter. In 1350, Orcagna worked as a consultant at the Florence Duomo (Cathedral) and in 1358 he supervised the construction of the facade at Orvieto Cathedral. The statue of Orcagna is the work of the 19th century Italian sculptor Niccolò Bazzanti and stands within a niche along the facade of the Uffizi Gallery.
Pier Antonio Micheli 1679-1737
Pier Antonio Micheli was an Italian botanist. Regarded as the founder of scientific mycology, Micheli was one of the first people to specialise in the study of groups of plants and fungi. In 1716, Micheli and a group of his friends founded the Società botanica Fiorentina. The statue of Micheli is the work of the 19th century Italian sculptor Vincenzo Consani and stands in a niche along the facade of the Uffizi Gallery.
Outside the entrance to Palazzo Vecchio stands the marble statue of David. To celebrate the Florentine Republic, Michelangelo was commissioned in 1501 to create a statue, now famously known as David. The biblical hero of David was to become the symbol of freedom for Florentine institutions. The statue was moved to the Academia Gallery in 1873.
The statue which now stands outside the Palazzo Vecchio is a marble copy which was erected in 1910.
Niccolò Machiavelli 1469-1527
Niccolò Machiavelli was an Italian diplomat and writer who was born in Florence. Machiavelli served as a diplomat for 14 years during the Florentine Republic and wrote a political handbook as well as poems and plays. His political work, The Prince, gave rise to the term Machiavellian which ultimately led to establishing him as the father of modern political theory. The statue of Machiavelli stands in a niche along the facade of the Uffizi Gallery and is the work of the 19th century Italian sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini.
Francesco Guicciardini 1483-1540
Francesco Guicciardini was a 16th century Italian diplomat, statesman, historian and writer. Guicciardini studied civil law in Florence and was elected Florentine ambassador to King Ferdinand of Aragon in 1511. In a niche along the facade of the Uffizi Gallery stands the sculpted figure of Guicciardini which is the work of the 19th century sculptor Luigi Cartei.