Podere Bramapane

The cities of art


Florence is universally recognized as a city of art, with an invaluable heritage of architecture, paintings, sculptures, historical and scientific memories, which form the fabric of the city, like a pulsating widespread museum.
The heart of Florence is Piazza della Signoria, with the majestic Palazzo Vecchio, with the gallery of sculptural masterpieces in the Loggia dei Lanzi and the nearby Uffizi Gallery, one of the most renowned art museums in the world. Not far away is the religious center of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, with its majestic dome (the largest ever built) which, at the time of the Grand Duchy, was said to cover all of Tuscany with its shadow; the enormous Cathedral is magnificently accompanied by Giotto’s bell tower, one of the most beautiful in Italy, and by the Baptistery of San Giovanni, with its famous bronze doors among which the golden door of Paradise stands out.
The Arno River, which passes through the city, holds a place in Florentine history on a par with the people who live there. Historically, the local population has a love-hate relationship with the Arno, which has alternately brought the benefits of trade, and the disasters of floods. Among the bridges that cross it, the Ponte Vecchio is unique in the world, with the characteristic jewelers’ shops in the houses built on it. Crossed by the noble Vasari Corridor, it is the only bridge in the city to have survived the Second World War unscathed.
In addition to the Uffizi, Florence has other museums that would be the main artistic attraction of any other major city in the world: the Accademia Gallery, the Bargello or the Pitti Palace with its eight museums including the Palatine Gallery. Florentines pride themselves on possessing the best example of beauty in both female (Botticelli’s Venus) and male (Michelangelo’s David) art
The left bank of the Arno, (the Oltrarno) is an area rich in monuments where you can still breathe, among its secular artisan shops, the atmosphere of the Florence of the past, described for example by Vasco Pratolini. But there are numerous literary inspirations throughout the city: from the neighborhoods of the tower houses, where the tombstones recall the verses that these very places inspired Dante Alighieri, to the serenity of the Medici villas, where the Neoplatonic academy of Lorenzo the Magnificent often met , up to the theaters at the Pergola and the Boboli Gardens, where the melodramas that led to opera were staged for the first time.
Florence as the “cradle of the Renaissance” has its masterpieces in the works of Filippo Brunelleschi (the Spedale degli Innocenti, the church of San Lorenzo and that of Santo Spirito) and Leon Battista Alberti (the facade of Santa Maria Novella and Palazzo Rucellai), but other artistic periods have also left their absolute masterpieces: from the Romanesque of San Miniato al Monte, to the Gothic of Santa Croce (where the burials of the Italian glories are found, as Ugo Foscolo called them, also buried there), to the extravagance of the Mannerism of Giambologna or Bernardo Buontalenti (such as the Fountain of Neptune or the Boboli Gardens), up to the masterpieces of the great Italian architects of the twentieth century such as the Santa Maria Novella station and the Artemio Franchi stadium, respectively by Giovanni Michelucci and Pier Luigi Nervi .
The center of Florence with its hundreds of commercial activities is a paradise for shopping and entertainment, from elegant high-fashion boutiques and historic cafés to lively historic open-air markets, as well as hosting numerous nightclubs, discos, American – bars, lounge bars and meeting places for an aperitif.


The Piazza del Duomo, also known through the poetic expression the square of miracles, is the most important artistic and tourist center of Pisa. Listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1987, you can admire some European Romanesque architecture masterpieces, i.e. the monuments that form the center of the city’s religious life: the cathedral, the baptistery, the cemetery, and the bell tower.
The Cathedral: the heart of the complex is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the medieval cathedral. It is a Primatial, since the Archbishop of Pisa is a Primate. It is a church with five naves and a transept with three naves. The building, like the bell tower, has perceptibly sunk into the ground, and some instability in the construction is clearly visible, such as the differences in level between Buscheto’s nave and the extension by Rainaldo (the bays towards the west and the facade) . The Pisan Romanesque style was created starting from this church and then exported to the rest of Tuscany, but also to Corsica and Sardinia, once under the control of the Republic of Pisa.
All the other religious buildings in the square revolve around the Primaziale, according to a theological itinerary: the birth – Baptistery; life – Cathedral; death – Camposanto.
The bell tower of Santa Maria: known as “The Leaning Tower” or “The Tower of Pisa”, and in Pisa simply “the Tower” par excellence, it is precisely the bell tower of the Cathedral. Below it the ground gave way slightly, causing it to tilt a few degrees. The inclination lasted for many years, until it stopped after the restoration works concluded in the early 21st century. Due to construction difficulties, and not only that, its construction lasted over two centuries (in three different phases of work) starting from the end of the 12th century.
The Baptistery: dedicated to St. John the Baptist, it rises in front of the west facade of the Cathedral. The building was begun in the mid-12th century, the interior, surprisingly simple and devoid of decoration, also has exceptional acoustics. It is the largest baptistery in Italy: its circumference measures 107.25 m.
The Campo Santo: the monumental Camposanto is located on the northern edge of the square. It is a cemetery structured in the form of a cloister, with earthen tombs. The earth inside the courtyard is actually a relic, since it is earth coming from Mount Golgotha in the Holy Land, transported with various ships by the Pisans after the Fourth Crusade, hence the name “holy” (lot of land) . From 1945 to today, restoration works are still in progress, which among other things have led to the recovery of the precious sinopias.


The historic center of Genoa is one of the most densely populated in Europe[23], with an urban structure, in the oldest part, articulated as it is in a maze of small squares and narrow caruggi. It combines a medieval dimension with successive sixteenth-century and Baroque interventions (Piazza San Matteo and the old Via Aurea, today Via Garibaldi).
Remains of the ancient walls are still visible near the cathedral of San Lorenzo, a place of worship par excellence for the Genoese.
Symbols of the city are the Lanterna (117 m high), an ancient and soaring lighthouse visible from a distance from the sea (over 30 km), and the monumental fountain in Piazza De Ferrari, recently restored, the beating heart and real city agora.
A tourist destination par excellence is also the ancient seaside village of Boccadasse, with its picturesque multicolored boats, placed as a seal of the elegant promenade that runs along the Lido d’Albaro, and renowned for its famous ice creams.
Just outside the centre, but still part of the thirty-three kilometers of coast included in the municipal territory, are Nervi, the natural gateway to the eastern Ligurian Riviera and Pegli, the natural gateway to the western Ligurian Riviera.
The new Genoa has based its rebirth above all on the recovery of the green areas of the immediate hinterland (including that of the Beigua Regional Natural Park) and on the construction of infrastructural works such as the Aquarium at the ancient port – the largest in Italy and one of the largest in Europe – and its Marina (the marina capable of accommodating hundreds of pleasure boats). All this within the renovated Expo Area set up for the 1992 Colombian Celebrations.
The rediscovered pride has given the city back the awareness of being a city capable of looking to the future without forgetting its past: the resumption of numerous and luxuriant craft activities, which have long been absent from the alleyways of the historic centre, is direct evidence of this.
The restoration works carried out between the eighties and nineties on numerous churches and buildings in the city also contributed to all this, including, on the hill of Carignano, visible from almost every part of the city, the Renaissance Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta.


Siena, located in the heart of Tuscany and surrounded by hills, is one of the most beautiful medieval cities in Italy.
The fulcrum of the city is the famous Piazza del Campo, with its particular shell shape, where the famous Palio is held, one of the most important events for all Sienese. The Palio di Siena is a passionate horse race that takes place every year in July and August and its origins seem to date back to the seventeenth century.
According to legend, Siena was founded by Senio, son of Remo, and in the city there are several statues depicting the mythical Romulus and Remus suckled by the she-wolf. Piazza del Campo has been the central nucleus of Siena since Roman times, who had their forum here.
The square was repaved during the Government of the Nine, a semi-democratic group in power between 1287 and 1355, with a subdivision into nine sections in memory of the Government and symbolizing the cloak of the Madonna that protects the city.
The Campo is dominated by the red Palazzo Pubblico and its tower, called Torre del Mangia. The Palazzo Pubblico, as well as the Cathedral of Siena, was built during the Government of the Nine, which was Siena’s economic and cultural heyday. The Palazzo still today houses the offices of the Municipality, similarly to Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. From the internal courtyard of the Palace you can access the Civic Museum and the Torre del Mangia, at the top of which, having climbed the 500 steps, you can enjoy a splendid view over the city.
Some of the most beautiful paintings of the Sienese school are kept in the Civic Museum. The Sala del Concistoro offers one of the most beautiful works by Domenico Beccafumi, who frescoed the ceilings by painting the cycle of public virtues. In the Sala del Mappamonto and in the Sala della Pace (or Sala dei Nove) then there are some real masterpieces: the great Majesty and the equestrian portrait of Guidoriccio da Fogliano at the siege of Montemassi by Simone Martini and the Allegories of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, considered one of the greatest pictorial cycles of the Middle Ages.


Lucca is one of the main cities of art in Italy, also famous beyond national borders above all for its intact 15th-17th century walls, which describe a perimeter of approximately 4,223 m around the historic core of the city and it is one of the 4 Italian provincial capitals to have an intact Renaissance city wall, together with Ferrara, Grosseto, Bergamo; the circle itself, transformed as early as the second half of the 19th century into a pleasant pedestrian promenade, is still today one of the best preserved in Europe, as it was never used in past centuries for defensive purposes (Note the fact that up to early nineties of the 1900s, the walls were used – thanks to the considerable size of the roadway – as a real ring road for traffic, even heavy traffic, around the city, the only example in the world of walls of this size and with this utilization).
Consequently, the historic monumental center of the city has also remained almost intact in its original appearance, thus being able to include various valuable architectures, such as the numerous medieval churches of considerable architectural richness (Lucca has even been nicknamed the “city of 100 churches”, precisely due to the presence of numerous churches in its historical nucleus, consecrated and not, present in the past and now in the city), towers and bell towers, and monumental Renaissance palaces of fine stylistic linearity.
The city also boasts suggestive urban spaces: the most famous is certainly that of Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, created on the ruins of the ancient Roman amphitheater by the architect Lorenzo Nottolini and unique in its architectural genre.
The main artery of the historic city is the narrow and medieval via Fillungo, which brings together the major commercial establishments of the city.
Other suggestive squares are then Piazza San Michele, the historical heart of the city and Piazza San Martino, the religious heart where the famous Cathedral of San Martino stands.
Piazza Napoleone (also called Piazza Grande by the people of Lucca), was commissioned by Elisa Baciocchi during her Principality, demolishing ancient medieval buildings including a church. Piazza del Giglio is located adjacent to it, overlooked by the Theater of the same name (Teatro del Giglio), which is to be counted as a theater of tradition.
Precisely because of its immense historical-monumental richness, a proposal was recently made to include the Walls of Lucca in the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Built between the 11th and 12th centuries close to the Roman city walls and in place of the ancient basilica, the Cathedral is among the greatest works of Romanesque architecture in Italy and the dome was painted by Correggio. Next to the bell tower, in the same square, stands the Baptistery, by Benedetto Antelami, an imposing monument in pink marble which marks the transition from Romanesque to Gothic. These two structures represent the most important and symbolic monuments of the city. Nearby, looking towards the east, through the bell tower of the Cathedral and the Baptistery, you can see the facade and bell tower of the Abbey of San Giovanni Evangelista, a monastic complex with its church whose dome was frescoed by Correggio.
Nearby, between Piazza Duomo and Palazzo della Pilotta, the Complesso di San Paolo was founded in the 11th century. In this Benedictine monastery, which arose as a consequence of the spirit of monastic reform that swept through the city in the early years of the new millennium, the room of San Paolo is conserved, a fresco painted between 1519 and 1520 by Correggio. This work was completed on commission from the abbess of the monastery Giovanna Piacenza.
Still a short distance away, in the immediate vicinity of Piazza Garibaldi (the city centre), the Greek cross plan of the church of Santa Maria della Steccata stands out, a beautiful building with apses on each arm, founded in 1521 to preserve inside a sacred image of the Virgin. The architect in charge of the works was Giovanfrancesco Zaccagni, together with his father Bernardino. Vasari in his Lives attributes the project to Bramante, today we also think of Leonardo Da Vinci. It is one of the most significant examples of central storey churches from the first half of the 16th century. The large arch of the presbytery is a masterpiece by Francesco Mazzola, known as Parmigianino. Inside there are also numerous decorations and works by artists of great importance, including Michelangelo Anselmi, Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli, Jan Soens, Giovan Battista Trotti known as Malosso. The dome was painted by Bernardino Gatti known as Sojaro. The white exterior of the dome of the Steccata is perfectly visible from the central square (Piazza Garibaldi) which overlooks the neoclassical facade of the medieval church of San Pietro Apostolo, built by Ottavio and Giovanni Bettoli following a project by Petitot.
Next to the Palazzo del Comune, on what is now Via della Repubblica, one of the oldest churches erected in the center of the medieval city is visible, the Church of San Vitale. Completely rebuilt in the mid-17th century and recently restored, it houses the chapel of the Blessed Virgin of Constantinople, with the spectacular Beccaria Monument. Further north, almost close to the urban circle of the historic center, stands the 13th century building of San Francesco del Prato, a Gothic church, the ancient seat of the Franciscans, whose length even exceeds that of the Cathedral.
In the following centuries it became one of the most important churches in the city, but from the 19th century until the early 1990s it was used as a city prison. In the center of the apse, a fresco depicting Christ Pantocrator attributed to Bernardino Grossi and his pupil and son-in-law Jacopo Loschi was found. The expansion of a chapel of the church itself saw the birth of the Oratory of the Immaculate Conception. Built in the 16th century, with a Greek cross plan, the latter houses valuable frescoes by Michelangelo Anselmi and Francesco Rondani, both collaborators of Correggio. The Oratory was saved from the transformation into a prison of the church of San Francesco del Prato as it was used as a chapel of the prison itself. Also in Gothic style is the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, used since 2008 as an Auditorium serving the adjacent Conservatory of Music, located inside its former convent.