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The Uffizi Gallery

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This is probably the most famous museum in the world. Its collection of Primitive and Renaissance paintings comprises several universally acclaimed masterpieces of all time, including works by Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Fra Beato Angelico, Lippi, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaelo, Michelangelo and Caravaggio. The German, Dutch and Flemish masters are also present in the Uffizi museum with important paintings by Dürer, Rembrandt and Rubens.

The Uffizi Gallery is located on the upper floor of the big building planned by Giorgio Vasari from 1560, which housed the administrative offices of the Tuscan State. The Gallery was created by Francesco I, and then enriched and enlarged by other members of the Medici family, who were great collectors of paintings, sculpture and arts in general. The collection was then rearranged and enlarged by the Lorraine Grand-dukes, who succeeded the Medici family, and finally by the Italian State.

The building also houses other relevant collections: the Contini Bonacossi Collection and the Collection of Prints and Drawings (Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi).The Vasari Corridor, the raised passageway connecting the Uffizi with Pitti Palace, was also built by Giorgio Vasari in 1565: the Corridor is hung with an important collection of 17th-century paintings and the famous collection of self-portraits of artists.

Full price 6,50 €
Reduced 3,25 €
Free admission for people under 18 or over 65, students and teachers of faculties of architecture, cultural heritage conservation, educational sciences, or of Fine Arts Academy, tour guides.

Opening hours:
Open Tuesday to Sunday 8,15 – 18,50Closed Monday, New Year’s Day, May 1st and Christmas Day.
For Booking: +39(055) 294883
Booking charge: 4 €

Double Portrait of Federico da Montefeltro and his wife, by Piero della Francesca
Self-Portrait, by Raphael

The Head of Medusa, by Caravaggio

The Birth of Venus, by Botticelli

Bacchus, by Caravaggio
Here are two nice videos that I found on Youtube which show the Uffizi tour :-)

Shopping in Florence

I suggest you an interesting tour in the centre of Florence. Obviously it does not include everything the city has to offer, but is a good starting point for anyone wanting to explore one of the world's shopping capitals.

For luxury shopping the place to start is Via Tornabuoni, one of the most elegant streets of the city, where you can find all the big shopping brands (Gucci, Prada, Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana…). Chic purchases can also be made in nearby Via della Vigna Nuova.

Many traditional Florentine shops of historic status can be found in the city centre: in Via dei Fossi, Via Maggio and the streets around them you can find some wonderful antiques’ shops, and sure the well known jewellery shops on Ponte Vecchio.

One of Florence's most typical shopping areas is the Oltrarno, right after Ponte Vecchio, in the Santo Spirito historical zone. Here you can find small shops, craft studios and laboratories producing wood products, jewellery, lamps, metal vases, but also the typical Florentine straw hats and many other original items.

In the place where is the Church of Santo Spirito (and has the same name), a national and ethnic craft fair is held on the second Sunday of every month. In San Frediano, another zone in the Oltrarno, are some laboratories which produce Florence's greatest and most traditional craft products: fabrics for furnishings, decorated silverware, hand-made shoes and glass objects with a classic antique designs.

Florence is also famous for the manufacturing of leather goods: bags, shoes, gloves, clothing items. The leather shops are mainly located in the Santa Croce area.

Markets of Florence

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What about spending some time hanging around the stalls of a market to breathe the genuine atmosphere of a city?
In Florence there are a lot of markets where you can buy almost everything; here is a list of the main markets, the ones that are strongly recommended if you’re planning to visit the city.
Florence is famous for leather products, and sure for meat, cheese and food in general; you can find all those things at the market at very reasonable prices.

Market of San Lorenzo
In front of the church of san Lorenzo, in piazza San Lorenzo and via dell’Ariento, this is the main market of the city. Outside you can find clothing, leather shoes, belts, bags, souvenirs, and more. Inside de building there are the food stalls, selling meat, vegetables, fruit, cheeses… Always very crowded.
Opened from Tuesday to Saturday, externally all day long, inside from 7 to 14.

Market of Sant’Ambrogio
In piazza Sant’Ambrogio, this is the right place if you’re looking for the best food at the best price in Florence! Less crowded than San Lorenzo, here you find less tourists and more locals; in this market there is also the restaurant Rocco, where you can stop for a tasty traditional Tuscany lunch. Outside the market some stalls sells clothing, house ware, books, dvds, and more.
Opened every day except Sunday, from 7 to 14.

Le Cascine Market
In the biggest park of the city, Le Cascine, on the Arno riverside, every Tuesday morning a very big market takes place: food, clothing, house and kitchen ware, collectibles, vintage stuff, you can find almost everything here! Don’t forget to take a walk in the park after shopping ;-)

Flea Market- Piazza dei Ciompi
In Piazza dei Ciompi, opened every day except Sunday, from 9 to 19, there’s the flea market of Florence. The stalls sell furniture, books, comics, records, prints, paintings collectibles, jewels, old coins and much more. This market is really charming, with its retro atmosphere!

Palazzo Strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi has been built during a long time and various architects planned it: the result is an harmonic and perfect example of reinassance palace, the most regular, homogenous and symmetrical one, in a time which the symmetry and the regularity of shapes were very appreciated gifts. This palace was the house of the Strozzi family, an important dynasty of rich florentine bankers, who built this magnificent building to demonstrate its own wealth, to use it as personal residence, but also for its own transactions and businesses.

The private house is placed on the two superior plans, while on the ground floor, around the inner court, there were shops and banks: the court was opened the public and it was shaped like a real public city square, an extension in the private space of the public city.

Externally the Palace is solid and compact: a facade in solid stone, with a “bugnato” surface with large sketched blocks, with regular windows, diversified for level: square small and to the ground floor, double lancet windows closed in an arc to the superior floors.
Even in the inner court, in the rooms and in the plant, we can see the perfect symmetry.
The inner court is just so beautiful, it’s easy to imagine it full of people busy with business in their daily lives, walking in the rooms and stepping up the big elegant stairs.

Today Palazzo Strozzi is an important museum with international expositions of paintings sculptures, architecture, which periodically change.
The Palace is in the historical centre of Florence, easily reachable by bus or with a 5 minutes walk from Santa Maria Novella Station.

Tuscany Recipe: Summer Farro Salad - Emmer Salad

Monday, December 29, 2008

A fresh tuscany recipe, perfect for summer, easy to prepare and still tasty the day after :-)
This is the basic original recipe, but you can add other ingredients: peppers, olives, zucchine...


500 gr of emmer (farro)
500 gr of ripe red tomatoes
2 onions
a bunch of basil
extravirgin olive oil


Wash emmer, than put it in a big pan and fill with water. Add 2 spoons of salt and make it boil: then cook for 30 minutes (or as specified in the instructions on the pack).
Chop tomatoes and onions into small pieces, then chop the asil with your hands. Put everything in a big bowl, add the emmer.
Season with oil, salt and pepper to your choice, mix and refigerate before serving.

Tuscany Recipe: Panzanella

Sunday, December 28, 2008

This is a fresh, tasty, summer recipe: a bread salad, very easy to cook, and it can be prepared even a couple of days before is eaten ;-)

400 g of day-old country bread (best one is tuscany unsalty bread)
8 red, ripe tomatoes
2 red onions
1 cucumber
a bunch of fresh basil
extra-virgin olive oil
red-wine vinegar


Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes, then place the cubes in a bowl with water; squeeze them with your hands, put in a large bowl, and crumble it with your fingers.
Cut the cucumber and tomatoes into small pieces, cut the onions into thin slices, then add all to the bread.
Chop the basil and add to the bread, then season with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix gently and place in the frige until serve.

Museo dell'Opificio delle Pietre Dure - Museum of Semiprecious Stones Factory

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Museum is located in via degli Alfani, right behind the Accademia Museum (you'll easily recognize it from people waiting in line outside). In this museum there's never to wait in line, it's quite unknow to most people, but it sure deserve a visit.
This museum collects some wonderful objects originally made in the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, a 400 years old handcraft laboratory, founded by Ferdinando I and originally located in the Uffizi museum. Nowadays the Opificio is an important restauration laboratory, and the museum tells us the story of this great and still unknown italian art.

The building of the museum is pretty ancient, and it was restored in a modern but sober and elegant way by prof. arch. Natalini.
The exposition collects beautiful objects made with semiprecius stones of every kind, realised with several different techiques:: inlay, painting, sculpture...
The hands that have worked on stones were so skillful, they have realized designs full of details, colors and complex forms, cutting accurately thousands of stone slabs and assembled them together in order to create inlays of absolute perfection. Flowers, leaves, animals, dead natures, represented on every type of object: tables, fireplaces, tobacco cases, pots, church furnishingses. The colors are thousands, as much as the stone varieties, fine cut and joined, with their tonalities and texture that give an incredible three-dimensional effect.

Tables are sure the more numerous objects and are just amazing: generally they have a black polished stone plan, on which have been realized the inlay or painting designs; some are realized with mixed techniques. Stones create some spectacular effects: a brown stone, streaked as a wood table becomes a violin; a pink stone that vanishes in orange becomes a peach, a red diaspro becomes a complicated coral branch… they have been realized with an incredible handicraft precision, the details are perfect, I assure that it gives just a three-dimensional effect to you, and is amazing how the choice of the right stone can reproduce exactly the color and the texture of another material.

Besides the plans of the tables the objects I appreciated most are: a majestic enormous Russian fireplace, entirely realized in green emerald diaspro and copper, and one wooden piece of furnture with several trays, mad in 1600, really amazing: in the form it imitates a rinaissance palace of Firenze, every little tray is decorated with a stone slab representing an exotic bird... Really a wonderful object, it would be perfect in my room!

At ground floor there's the exposure of the objects exited from the warehouses of the factory, while on the first floor there's a small section dedicated to the factory: it collects several ancient instruments for working and cutting hard stones, and a rich collection of stone samples used in the objects: marbles of every color, quartzes, basalts, graniti…

I really love this museum, and sure suggest you to visit, the entrance is very cheap (just 2 euro), but for students is free.
Inside the museum pictures are not allowed.

Via Alfani, 78 - 50121 Firenze (Italy)
tel: +39 055 26511
fax: +39 055 287123
Monday - Saturday: 8.15-14.00
Thursday: 8.15-19.00

an amazing table decorated with birds, flowers and fruits

an example of the decorations in semiprecious stones

Outlets in Florence

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Here are some useful addresses for fashion outlets around Florence, where you can find the collections of the most famous italian stylists at reasonably cheap prices!

Roberto Cavalli Outlet
"It has begun its activity in July 2002, as a result of a greater demand for our collections. In these years we have found out that the choice of this opening has been appreciated, in particular from young looking and customers following the current trendies. Beyond men's and women's garments it is also possible to purchase bags and small accessories (necklaces, bracelets, key holder, belts, etc).Prices are convenient and occasionally particular promotions are carried out."

Winter: From monday to saturday - 10:00/19:00 full time
Summer: From monday to friday - 10:00/19:00 full time - Saturday -10:00/16:00 full time

Via Volturno, 3/3 50019 - Sesto Fiorentino, Osmannoro (Florence)
Tel. +39 055.317754 - +39 055.32421
Fax +39 055.317751

Prada Outlet
One of the most famous Italian Fashion Griffe has its outlet in Montevarchi, about 30 minutes far from Florence. Here you can find shoes, handbags, clothes, just everything by Prada and other brands like Miu Miu, Church's, Car Shoe.

Loc. Levanella - S.S. 69 Montevarchi (AR)
Tel: +39 055.9789481

Monday - Friday 10,30 - 20,00 (last entrance: 19,30)
Saturday 9,30 - 20,00 (last entrance: 19,30)
Sunday 10,30 - 20,00 (last entrance: 19,30)
Closed: Genuary 1st, Easter, August 15th, December 25th and 26th.

Dolce & Gabbana Outlet
Località S. Maria Maddalena, 49
Pian dell'Isola Rignano Sull'Arno (near Florence)
tel: 055.8331300
fax: 0558331301
Monday - Saturday 09,00 - 19,00
Sunday 15,00 - 19,00

The Mall Gucci Outlet
The Mall Gucci Outlet is near Florence, between the gree Tuscany hills. This mall hosts the most famous brands of clothes in the world: Agnona, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Emanuel Ungaro, Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Hogan, I Pinco Pallino, La Perla, Loro Piana, Marni, Salvatore Ferragamo, Sergio Rossi, Stella McCartney, Tod's, Valentino, Yohji Yamamoto, Y-3 e Yves Saint Laurent.

How to reach Outlet The Mall:
Outlet The Mall is in Leccio, Incisa Valdarno about 5 km from highway exit.
Highway from north: A1 direction Florence. Cross over Florence exits and following direction south - Incisa. Exit Incisa Valdarno. Turn right direction “Ciliegi”. Follow direction Leccio. After the sign “Leccio” the Outlet is on your left.
Highway from south: A1 direction Florence. Before arrive in Florence exit Incisa Valdarno. Turn right direction “Ciliegi”. Follow direction Leccio. After the sign “Leccio” the Outlet is on your left.

Via Europa 850060
Leccio Reggello (Firenze)
Telephone: (+39) 055 8657 775
Fax: (+39) 055 8657 801

Monday - Saturday 10.00-19.00
Sunday 15.00-19.00

Conte of Florence
Sportswear, casual and jeans
Campi Bisenzio (Fi), Via dei Limite 170
Tel: (+39) 055 896 9484
Tuesday - Sunday 10,30 - 19,00
Closed on Monday

Florence Discos - Dance and Party all night long!

In Florence you can find a lot of nightlife, there are several discos opened all night long, playing almost every kind of music.
Here is a list of the coolest discos of Firenze, enjoy the night!

via Pratese, 46
The most famous disco in the city, the temple of house music. Every saturday there's "Nobody's Perfect"night, starring the most famous house djs from all over the world. Live music on Friday night with free entrance until 23.30.

Central Park
via del Fosso Macinate 2
Legendary disco club in the middle of the park Le Cascine, with open air dancefloor on summer. Dance and latin music, very popoular and crowded.

via dei Sassetti 5/R
One of the coolest disco in Firenze: very famous for the Monday hip-hop night. Opened every night except Saturday and Tuesday.

viale degli Olmi 1
Cool disco in Florence, playing hip hop, house and comemrcial music, also have a pretty garden for summer. 80' Dance Revival on Saturday nights.

Boston T
Viale Europa 160
That's cool! Disco, cocktail bar and restaurant, with a young and talented chef. Very chic club, sometimes here you can also meet some celebrities.

Piazza Santa Cecilia 3
Historical gay club in Florence, the first gay disco in Italy, when it opened in 1974. Built in the place where Dante used to meet Beatrice, it still have an original structure from 1500; here you can have drink, watch some videos, make new friendships.

via Faenza 4
Brazilian disco club and restaurant, very colorful and funny, with brazilian animation and samba dancers.

Trattoria da Rocco, Sant'Ambrogio Market

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rocco is one of my favorite restaurants, when I want to eat in a very quick and cheap way.It's not a not a poor sandwich to eat standing, at Roccoyou can have a complete meal with all the simple and tasy dishes of Florence tradition, drink a glass of red wine, and have a talk with Rocco, the owner and also chef of this restaurant. Rocco is located inside the market of Sant' Ambrogio, in piazza Sant'Ambrogio; is only opened at lunch and closes around 14-14,30 because has to respect market's closing time. Market of Sant' Ambrogio is perhaps my favorite one of Florence, less crowded than San Lorenzo market, and with foods of greater quality (I'm talking about meat, fruits and vegetables), i recommend you a visit to taste some great Tuscany food.
Rocco is not link a common restaurant, with small tables, separated kitchen, etc. we say that it is more a widened kiosk, seems a train wagon, with small tables at sides, and a free central space where the waiters pass away. The kitchen is at the bottom of the " wagon" , and it is at sight. In the central space there's also a big container with food trays, so you can see what you're going to order.

Atmosphere is pretty informal: vintage prints representing old Florence, memories of a whole century... on the table a yellow paper, napkins and glasses are made of paper too. Rocco is a perfect host, he laughs, play tricks, sings traditional songs... The service is really quick, in a few minutes your meal is served, infact I would say that it' s more a fast-food-trattoria then a restaurant.

I really like Rocco's dishes: all the simplest traditional recipes typical of Florence, like steaks, chickpea soup, ribollita, beans soup, boiled tripe, and much more, always served with his own red wine.
All the dishes cost less than 4 euro, so the price for a complete meal, with 3 main dishes and beverages is about 15 euro... really inexpensive, but also really tasty... You won't go away with empty stomach or empty pockets!

I just love this place, everyone eats here, from tourists to italian businessmen, once here I even met some celebrities like football players of Fiorentina, the Florence football team.

Inside the market of Sant'Ambrogio

Il Latini Restaurant

I've been in this restaurant several times, i use to go there with my father because it's one of his favorite: he also used to take my mom at Latini when she still was his fiancée, beacuse food is soooo good, and atmosphere is very characteristic and informal.

Latini restaurant is located in via dei Palchetti, behind piazza Santa Maria Novella, it is not difficult to find, and probably you'll recognize the restaurant from the row outside: even if there are many seats and every night are made two or more turns, the restaurant is always crowded, therefore I always take my reservation some days before.
Anyway, waiting outside for the table he is quite pleasant, you can chat with other people in line, and periodically a waiter comes offering small pieces of pecorino cheese,a salame slice, a glass of wine, so you can enjoy while waiting.

The atmosphere of the restaurant is very characteristic, according to the traditional Tuscany style: big wooden tables, lots of small painting and photo to the walls, and thousands of hams hung to the ceiling. The Tuscany raw ham (much salty than the one form Parma, that's sweet) is the masterpiece of Latini, sliced quite thick by hand, tasty and salty: delicious! The restaurant has several rooms, the smallest ones has normal small tables, in the main room you can seat at the big wooden tables where you can eat side by side with strangers, and make some new friendships.
The red wine they serve is generous and quite cheap, the give you a big bottle and you can drink as much as you want, at the end you'll pay just for the wine you drunk, not for the whole bottle.
The waiters are always nice, kind and very friendly.

Here you can eat the traditional popoular Tuscany cousine: liver patè, tomato soup, chickpea soups, different kind of salame (really high quality), and sure meat: the famous Florence steak and other wonders. The meat is just gorgeous, soft and bloody steaks, just be sure to order it not well cooked, to get the real meat taste. However In Florence if you order well cooked steak it's like insulting the butcher (it would mean that you don't trust the freshness of the meat).

I surely recommend you to have a dinner at Latini restaurant, to taste some delicious genuine Tuscany food and to enjoy the pleasant atmosphere of the place.
For reservations:
Ristorante Il Latini - Via dei Palchetti 6/r, Firenze
Telephone: +39(055)210916
Fax: +39(055)289794
Il Latini

Snow over Florence

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Snowing in Florence is a pretty unusual thing to see, but the morining of December 30th, 2005, I woke up and looked out of my window... there was that wonderful show!!! It was just unforgettable, the dome covered with snow, all the roofs that just last night were red, painted in white...

Giardino Sonoro - Sound Garden

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This little but precious garden is pretty unknown, but I strnogly recommend the visit for various reasons. First of all, because it is so beautiful; second: because entrance is free; third, because it is perfect to escape from city traffic and have a rest between plants, flowers, sculptures and sounds which stimulate your mind.
The Sound Garden of Florence (Giardino Sonoro) is located in the Limonaia dell' Imperialino, at the end of Viale dei Colli Imperiali, close to Porta Romana and Piazzale Michelangelo. You can reacht it by taking the bus 12 and get to Porta Romana, thenk walk a few meters. This is a green, elegant part of the city, but often overcrowded with cars. Just step into the Sound Garden and relax!

This is not just a simple garden like others, is a complete entity that covers art, sculpture, sound search and architecture. The sound garden is an idea of Lorenzo Bruzzi, sound designer, and Stefano Passerotti, environmental designer. They took advantage also of other collaborators from various fields. That one of the Limonaia dell' Imperialino has been the first Sound Garden, and is permanent, but this team has realized several sound gardens in various cities of the world, like New York or Zurigo. When I visited the gard for the first time the installations were different from the actual ones, this means the garden changes, is periodically renewed and updated.

Visit the garden by foot, with no hurry, and hush! You put your clock away, turn off your cell phone and listen to all the rest! Entering, on the left there is a small building that is the limonaia, here you'll get a sheet which describes and localizes the installations, including the names the authors. Inside the limonaia you can find also a flyers and informative material on the team of the sound garden and their activities. The path is marked from a wooden footbridge that creaks under your steps, a squeeky clear sound that marks the space. Between plants and flowers there are several objects: sculptures, pots, stones… watch them and listen to them, 'cause they speak and they tell sounds and feelings that are only waiting for being recognized. Some elements are absolutely simple and primordial, like stones, others are solid and familiar, as terracotta, others are modern and technological. The sounds you can liston to are of various types: grinding, annoying, harmonious, musical sounds, breaths… and are not only those reproduced by the sculptures, there is also the wind between leaves to listen!

The path through the sound garden let you get shakes of every type: for your eyes, ears nose, and sure for your mind. You'll feel relaxed and recharged after the visit, not only rested but also full of ideas! This is one of my favorite Florence secret corners, recommented to those who loved the historical center of Florence but wants to experience something of new and avantgarde; it will be surely apprciated by lovers of art, environmental design, gardening and sound search. Sure is very suitable for children too… the sound garden is a lot stimulating for kids, with all those sounds, those colors, those strange objects…

The evening show is more evocative because it's enriched with spectacular artistic lightening system, that it interacts with shapes and sounds.
The Sound Garden is open every day from 10,00 to 22,30 and entrance is free.

Here is a very special video taken from Youtube that shows the Sound Garden, and sure gives you the atmosphere!

Mostra dell'Artigianato - Crafts Expo & Market

The International Handcraft Expo is an annual exhibition in Florence, usually form April 25th to May 1st , at the Fortezza da Basso, very close to the city historical center. Parking it's hard to find, my suggestion is to reach the expo by foot or by bus, if you show a bus ticket at the entrance you'll get a discount too.

In the large space of the Fortezza da Basso (an ancient fortress) are the many stands of handcrafts from all the world, spreaded and organized in several pavilions: one for furnishing, one for clothing, one for children, and that largest one for local and typical handcraft; Italian handcraft on the first floor, on the second floor handcrafts from all the rest of the world. That one, dedicated to the rest of the world is organized for continents.
Fortunately you get a map at the entrance, where the zones of the expo are indicated.
Here you can find almost everything: from africans wooden sculptures to Indian hats, from Moroccan incenses to apache blankets. Can't imagine how many odd stuff can be found here, but prices are not so cheap. There's also a large part of the expo which is dedicated to furniture, there are both handcraft furnitures in ancient style and modern ones, very beautiful and elegant.
My favorite part of the expo is the gastronomical one: here i bought several delights like cheese and peppers from Calabria (best hot peppers in the world!), wild boar salame from Maremma, tea and spices from India…
The expo is really interesting, you can have a nice shopping-time here, and surely deserve a visit. The expo is usually really crowded on saturday, April 25th (Italian National Independence) and May 1st (Workers Day), better avoid these days!

Market of San Lorenzo

Monday, November 10, 2008

Every tourist visiting Florence has to take a tour of San Lorenzo market, the big and famous market whitch sells just everything, clothing, accessories, souvenirs of Florence, but above all they are specialized in artigianal leather products: coats, handbags, purses, belts, gloves, etc. Take a tour of the external stalls, then penetrate in the covered market!

The market of San Lorenzo is very close to the dome and train station, right in the center of the city, it is just impossible impossible not to find it. The building, built between 1870 and 1874 is one of first in Italy to being realized with modern techniques (for the age…), materials are iron, glass and cast iron, and it has been planned from Mengoni, who designed also the other market of Florence (sant' Ambrogio, a smaller one but also pretty and much less chaotic) and the gallery Vittorio Emanuele II of Milan. The base of the buildinf is monumental, made in stone, very suited to the Florence context, with large round arches; the upper part is light and transparent thanks to the glass a decorated with a metallic structure. The big glasses make the inside of the covered market very lightful.

Externally the market is surrounded with loggiati of classical arches, that turn around along the roads surruonding the building; in these roads you'll find all the external stalls.
The walk among the stalls is usally pretty stressful, the road is often overcrowded, and sometimes covering just 300 meters can take a long time… the stalls are selling just everything, mostly cheap leather accessories, but also t-shirts, souvenirs of Florence (some of them are really kitsch and funny!), clothes... there are also some vintage clothing and some craftsman's shops.
But what I most like of San Lorenzo are the benches of the food market, those situated in the inside. There are butcher's shop benches with wonderful pieces of fresh meat (Tuscay and Florence are well known for it's fine quality meat). Not to mention the benches of the cheeses… Some benches sell jars of the best conserves, like peppers, dried tomatoes, etc... others sell dried beans and cereals in bug raw cotton bags which are so beautiful to see… I love the scents of San Lorenzo, the smell of the fresh blood of the meat (it's a bit creepy but i like it!), the scent of seasoned pecorino cheese and the tasty smell of spices…

I suggest you to visit the market in the early morning, it' less crowded and all the shops are open (food shops are cloesed after 14.oo pm). If you're hungry taste the tipical Florence fast food: bread with "lampredotto" at Nerbone's (inside the market), hot boiled tripe and other offals served in a piece of bread and red wine.

Here are two videos taken from Youtube of the market of San Lorenzo, enjoy!

Santa Maria Novella

Santa Maria Novella is one of the most celebrated churches of Florence, and probably it's also my favorite one. It had been built by the Dominican friars in the second half of 13th century in gothic style; it became quickly one of the main reference model for the italian gothic style. The church had been planned by some architects-friars in 1200 AD, while the facade instead was added during the renaissance, and had been designed by Leon Battista Alberti.

The church externally presents the typical aspect of medieval architecture of Florence: solid and simple, made with local yellow stone (pietra forte), a simple kind of stone, not refined. A lot would seem a confidential church, focused on the inside, but the three enormous decorated windows of the apse let the light shine, as beautiful as innovative considering the time of the ages and and height of the openings too.

The inside is a real masterpiece of gothic architecture: I mean the italian gothic, if you're looking for things like Notre Dame de Paris you could be disappointed, because that is french gothic which is quite different. Italian gothic was born before french one and has established canons and rules of the style; in France then the style has been reinterpretated in a very characteristic way. The gothic style of Santa Maria Novella is sober, strict and essential, ornaments are not elaborated sculptures and hazarous vaults, but it is adorned with the most simple and true qualities: geometry, the contrasting colors of the materials, an incredible constructive skill.

The plan is cross shaped, with three aisles and pointed arches. Arches are decorated with alternated green and white stones. The spans as they are approached all' apse reduces own width, increasing the perspective effect and giving the illusion that the aisles are longer than they really are. This testifies the huge skills of architects of 1200 AD: a careful study of the perspective, in an age in which it was still unknown. Over the altar has been recently replaced the famous wooden Christ by Brunelleschi, eventually restored. The ambient inside is wonderful in its simple perfection given from geometry, and is more lightful thanks to the three great windows of the apse.
The facade by Leon Battista Alberti represents the synthesis of all the ideals of beauty in renaissance: a modular, geometric facade, organized with geometric rules and proportions. The two lateral curls in the upper part of the facade are an addition stuck there in baroque age, try to imagine the facade without the curls and find the perfect proportions.

Santa Maria Novella is not only a church, is a complete monastic complex with a cemetary, a botanical garden, the refectory and various chiostri. Also these places are wonderful and decorated with spectacular frescoes and sure deserve a visit.

There is also an ancient herbalist shop runned by friars since 1500 AD, with lots of typical herbal products and wonderful ancient furniture and jars.

Here's a video guide that I found on youtube of the church of Santa Maria Novella, very useful for your tour!