Florence’s less visited treasures..

Donatello at BargelloBargelloFlorence always surprises. Each visit offers you something new and special while the changing seasons offer different sights, colors, and flavorful foods. Florence’s major attractions always appeal but hidden treasures await your discovery, starting from lightly traveled side streets and charming squares to many lesser-known,  unfairly labeled “minor” museums. Include a few of these intimate museums right in the heart of the city on your next visit. All are within walking distance of its highlights such as Piazza della Signoria –the  Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia with it’s David, and the Duomo.  

Heading towards the San Lorenzo Market, with its folksy vendor stalls, we arrive at the Central Market, a haven for foodies.  Its 19th century ornamental metal framework makes for a fascinating food hall. At the rear of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, an especially beautiful church with an unfinished façade, you will find the entrance to the Medici Chapels, the family’s personal cemetery. Included is a beautiful crypt with the tombs of Dukes, the sumptuously decorated Chapel of the Princes with rich carvings dominated by the second largest dome in Florence. The New Sacristy, designed by Michelangelo, added more complex shapes and triumphal arches to Brunelleschi’s Old Sacristy creating tombs dedicated to Giuliano, Duke of Nemours, and his nephew Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino. It is a not-to-be-missed masterpiece!   Prebook entry to avoid lines.

A longtime favorite of mine, the Bargello Museum, an ancient fortified palace that was once the seat of the Council of Justice and a prison. It has an amazing interior courtyard with an impressive staircase leading to the first floor that hosts a significant art collection, including the David bronze statue by Donatello – a striking masterpiece of sculpture and first male nude from the Roman era – plus Bacchus by Michelangelo, as well as pottery, antique weapons, and jewelry.

The Galileo Museum, not far from the Uffizi,  formerly Museum for the History of Science, it has recently been completely renovated and illustrates the evolution of knowledge and scientific instruments from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. The collection includes extraordinary pieces such as Galileo’s telescopes, historic world maps and globes and a series of surprising amusements such as machines that create optical illusions.

Casa Buonarroti, Michelangelo’s family house that features the artist’s early works including the fine bas-relief of the Madonna della Scala (his first documented work) and especially the Centauromachy sculpted when he was just 16 years old. The museum also has an extensive gallery of sketches by Michelangelo, such as the facade of San Lorenzo, whose construction was left unfinished.

And just a stone’s throw from the Central Train Station, the Church of Santa Maria Novella,  with exceptional frescoes.   Always so many options when visiting Florence, that even if you’ve been a dozen times before, there’s still more to take in.

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