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magnificent Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

Palazzo Vecchio had always been the place where the governors ruled the city, the heart of the public life of Florence. Still today it houses the major of Firenze and several city offices.
The building is magnificent, in a characteristic tuscan gothic style, the architect was Arnolfo di Cambio, the same of Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral and Santa Croce who started the construction in1299. the façade is so elegant, made of solid rustic stonework, with its crenellated battlement supported by small arches and corbels.
The tower is placed in an asymmetrical position because Arnolfo di Cambio incorporated the ancient tower of the Foraboschi family in the new tower. The tower is named Tower of Arnolfo, to remember its great brilliant designer (he's my favorite architect ever!)


Bosco ai Frati convent, Mugello

Founded in the 11th century by the Ubaldini prior (of the feudatory family of Mugello), this convent is one of the most ancient in the whole Tuscany.
In the 15th century Cosimo de’ Medici decided to rebuilt it, and the architect is once again Michelozzo (the same of the villas of Trebbio and Cafaggiolo, and also of Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Medici).

As with Cafaggiolo and the Trebbio Castle, the architectural structure of the convent unites the characteristics of the innovative Renaissance experience with those of the medieval one. Therefore, ribs, vaults and cornices, clearly late Gothic elements, were left in the building of the choir, while the new architectural lines of Renaissance were used to construct the cloister, the cenacle and the Monks' cells.
Early members of the Medici family left the convent many precious gifts, among which we find the beautiful wooden crucifix by Donatello. Today it’s preserved in the small sacred art museum beside the convent.

In the convent still lives Franciscan friars, so the opening hours are very limited to respect them. The convent is opened just in the weekend, from 11.45 to 12.30 and from 18.00 to 18.45.

You can find all the details about my daytrip in Mugello in this post!

inside the church

the altar of the church

the entrance to the convent of Bosco ai Frati
the small cloyster of Bosco ai Frati

the water well in the cloyster of Bosco ai Frati

the mini-van of the Franciscan friars of Bosco ai Frati :-)


Palazzo dei Vicari, Scarperia

The Palazzo dei Vicari in Scarperia was built in the early XIV century and it’s a wonderful public palace, still with elements of a military building and a high tower that makes it look a bit like Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
On the façade are placed several coats of arms, one for every vicario (a sort of ancient major of the city) that ruled over Scarperia and the Mugello area. Some of this coats of arms are precious masterpieces of Della Robbia and Benedetto Buglioni.
The inner court is wonderful, with fresco paintings representing religious scenes and other coats of arms.
Inside the palace there’s the Museum of Cutting Tools, an exhibition that shows the ancient art of Scarperia, the production of handmade knives.
You can see the tour of my daytrip in Mugello in this post :-)

the ancient water well of Palazzo dei Vicari

coats of arms inside Palazzo dei Vicari, Scarperia
frescos inside Palazzo dei Vicari

the inner court of Palazzo dei Vicari, Scarperia


church of Sant'Agata, Mugello

The church of Sant’Agata is in the heart of a small old town, Sant’Agata, near Scarperia, in the Mugello. The church is really ancient, surely existing before 984, and it’s a wonderful Romanesque building.
It’s a small and simple church, but so beautiful… inside there’s a nice marble baptismal font of XII century and a wonderful wooden Christ by Francesco di Simone Ferrucci, realized in the XV century.
Also the small town of Sant’Agata is really nice, a typical medieval borough in a wonderful landscape.
Go there and have a walk in the narrow streets, you’ll feel like going back in time.

You can see the tour of my daytrip in Mugello in this post!

the small cloyster of the church

the baptismal font of XII century, church of Sant'Agata, Mugello

the entrance of the church of Sant'Agata

the bell tower of the church of Sant'Agata, Mugello


the village of Scarperia, Mugello

Scarperia is a small village in the heart of Mugello, known for the handcraft of knives, and is one of the most beautiful villages of Italy (see the site of Borghitalia to discover all the most beutiful villages of Italy!).
Scarperia was founded around 1300, when Firenze decided to build a fortified town to control Mugello, and had to fight against the Ubaldini family, the ancient feudatories of Mugello.
Scarperia is a very nice village, very interesting from an historical point of view, but it’s not so exceptional, considering all the beautiful villages in Tuscany.
What is really interesting is the Palazzo dei Vicari, (see this post about it!) a beautiful palace built in 1300, destroyed twice after earthquakes and always rebuilt.
Also the small village of Sant’Agata, very near Scarperia, is really nice and characteristic (much more than Scarperia itself), and the church of Sant’Agata is a precious ancient Romanesque building.
In the next post I’ll show you Sant’Agata, but now… here are the pictures of Scarperia, and here’s the main post with all the details of my daytrip in Mugello.


Medici Villa of Trebbio, Mugello

This Medici villa is located in the nearbies of Florence, in the Mugello region, a wonderful corner of quiet tuscan countryside.
Villa del Trebbio is really ancient, but in 1428 Cosimo de’ Medici completely renovated and enlarged it; the architect is Michelozzo (the same of Cafaggiolo and Palazzo Medici).
This villa was surrounded by forests and agricultural estate, and even if it looks like a fortified castle, it was a place of pleasure and rest for the Medici family. Today the castle is surrounded by a beautiful cypress wood with more than one century old trees.
Unfortunately today this villa is private, and visits can be booked just in some special occasions.

You can see the tour of my daytrip in Mugello in this post!


Medicean Villa of Cafaggiolo, Mugello

The next stop of my trip in Mugello was the castle of Cafaggiolo, one of the most ancient of the Medici villas.
It was originally a military building in order to defend the area. In 1428 was restructured by Michelozzo, on assignment of Cosimo the Old. Michelozzo changed the fortress into a delightful villa for restoring vacations of the Medici family, especially in the summer, but the villa still has the typical aspect of a military castle.
Lorenzo il Magnifico spent his summer here in Cafaggiolo when he was a boy, and always loved this place in a special way.
When I’ve been there unfortunately the villa was closed because of restorations, so I just could admire it from the outside, but it worth anyway, the villa is so beautiful…
To reach the castle of Cafaggiolo reach San Piero a Sieve, and follow the signs to Barberino nel Mugello, you’ll soon see the villa on your left.

You can see the tour of my daytrip in Mugello in this post :-)


my Day Trip in Mugello

Last week I decided to spend a Sunday in Mugello, a wonderful corner of tuscan countryside, rich in nature, art and history, just a few kilometres away from Florence.
Mugello was dominated by Etruscan first, then by Romans. In the middle ages was territory of the Guidi and Ubaldini families, whose fought Florence. Then from 1300 the Mugello became an important area for Florence, because of its strategic and economic importance.
Several important buildings and fortresses, castles, villas, monasteries and palaces still bear witness to this important period of growth in Mugello. In fact, even the artistic and cultural history of Florence owes much of its development to Mugello: artists such as Giotto and Beato Angelico were born here; important architects worked on the construction of the castles and moreover, the Mugello landscape has provided inspiration for numerous Florentine paintings.

I decided to follow the “Medici Route”, discovering the places where the Medici family lived nad ruled.
The tour starts in Scarperia, which was founded by the town of Florence at the beginning of the 14th century, and still conserves the impressive Palazzo dei Vicari, which was built in the same period but has undergone numerous transformations and restorations throughout the centuries. Palazzo Vicari houses the Museo dei Ferri Taglienti - antique and modern cutlery – as Scarperia is well known for knife handcrafts.
From Scarperia move to the small town of Sant’Agata, where there is a beautiful Romanesque church, the most famous sacred structure in Mugello.
Then visit the Bosco ai Frati Convent, which was built according to Michelozzo’s design, by order of Cosimo dé Medici. Inside, you find the splendid Crucifix by Donatello ( opened only on Saturday and Sunday morning because friars still live here).
Heading towards San Piero a Sieve, you find Villa Medicea of Cafaggiolo, one of the favourite residences of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and a splendid example of Renaissance architecture (visits must be booked). Not far away, towering above you, surrounded by century old cypress trees, you can admire the Trebbio Castle: another magnificent Medici construction (private, visits only in special days).

In the next post I’ll let you know all those wonderful places!

Here's a small useful map of Mugello!


Piazza della Signoria

Piazza della Signoria is an square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Infact it was named after the Palazzo della Signoria, also called Palazzo Vecchio.
Piazza della Signoria is the heart and the core of origin and of the history of the Florentine Republic and today it still maintains its role as the political hub of the city.

Palazzo Vecchio stands proud in the square and give it its uncommon L-shape. Beside Palazzo Vecchio there's the Fountain of Nettuno (read this post about the Neptune fountain!) and a statue of Cosimo I de' Medici.
In front of the Neptune a marble placque remembers the exact place where Girolamo Savonarola was hanged and burned in 1498.

Just on the right of Palazzo Vecchio there's the Loggia dei Lanzi o Loggia della Signoria, whit several important marble sculptures, like il Ratto delle Sabine by Giambologna and the Perseo by Cellini.

palazzo Vecchio and Loggia dei Lanzi

palazzo Vecchio
fountain of Nettuno (Neptune)

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