Florence is widely known as the cradle of the Renaissance. However, it is in the Middle Ages that the basis for the flowering of the Renaissance art in the 15th century were laid. The Medieval tour of Florence will let you discover the deepest soul of Florence, with its towers, the ancient and powerful guilds and the old prisons of the town. We’ll stroll around the district where Dante Alighieri used to live, Orsanmichele Church, the Bargello Palace and the Santa Croce area (we also visit the interior of the church).
- Dante’s district and the tower houses. A 12th-13th century tower house in the medieval quarter of Florence was rebuilt in the early 20th century to house a museum to honor Dante Alighieri, the Florentine poet who wrote the Divine Comedy and who is considered to be the father of the modern Italian language. Dante was exiled in 1301 under trumped-up charges by his Black Guelph enemies, and died in exile in Ravenna. Another of the ancient towers, is the Chestnut Tower, used as the first meeting place of the Priors of Florence before the Palazzo della Signoria was built beginning in 1299.
- The old prisons of Florence. The most ancient jail of Florence was in housed in the underground basement of the old Roman amphitheatre in the Santa Croce area, the socalled burella. Later some towers were adapted to be prisons, like the Torre della Pagliazza (Tower of the Straw), because of the beds made wit straw used by the prisoners. The first established prison of Florence was the Stinche prison, demolished in 1833 to built the Verdi Theatre. Another famous jail in town was the Bargello, also known as Palazzo del Popolo (Palace of the People), now an art museum.
- Santa Croce: the Franciscan friars founded their church at the end of the XIII century in the district of the lether workers, poor people who lived in a really unhealthy place, because of the wetlad formed by the continuous floods of the Arno river. The church houses the chapels painted by Giotto and his School for the banking and merchant’s families of the neighborhood. We will also see how part of Santa Croce district was built on the ancient roman amphitheatre, the place of the first prison of Florence ant the way the condemned to death walked to the gallows…
- Orsanmichele Church and the Florentine arts. Orsanmichele was the former local barn and it was converted into a church used as the chapel of Florence’s powerful craft and trade guilds. Late in the 14th century, the guilds were charged by the city to commission statues of their patron saints to embellish the facades of the church. Wool and silk traders, bankers, merchants, magistrates and doctors were the major guilds, whereas the minor, but still very powerful, were butchers, winemakers, furriers, masons, smiths,…
Duration: 3 Hours
Start time: 2:00 pm
Meeting Point: Piazza della Repubblica, near the Hard Rock Cafe
When: Every day
What we see: Dante’s district, medieval towers, Orsanmichele, Bargello (exterior), Santa Croce (interior)
Fees: 25 € / person (minimum 6 participants)
Includes: official tour guide of Florence and entrance to the Church of Santa Croce