“The Uffizi (Gallery) are another Florence within Florence”, exhorted Giorgio Manganelli, one of Italy’s greatest writers. One masterpiece after another, these old uffici (offices), commissioned by Cosimo I and designed by Giorgio Vasari in the mid XVI century, tell not just the history of Florentine art, but also the history of Italian and European art between the XII and XVIII centuries. Is it just by chance that this magnificent complex is the oldest museum in modern Europe, or was it predestined to become so when in 1580, Francesco I de’ Medici housed his family’s collections in some of its halls?
What should you expect to see in the spectacular rooms, forty five of them to be exact, of this wondrous treasure trove? Here are a couple of ideas. First and foremost, you must take in all the compelling masterpieces by Cimabue, Giotto, Gentile da Fabriano, Paolo Uccello, Masolino and Masaccio, Filippino Lippi, Piero della Francesca, Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian and Caravaggio.
Or if you’re with your children, we offer you a wonderful opportunity to travel the same route through art, but with a few extra rooms thrown in, with our Treasure Hunt as your guide. Just wait and see how much your little art historians will love it!
We can of course book your tickets for you, and arrange a guided tour with the best art historians in Florence, so you can get the maximum benefit from this unique encounter with beauty and human genius.
Macchiavelli defined it as one of the grandest palaces “built by a private citizen”. Palazzo Pitti was the court of Florence, the splendid residence of the nobles who ruled over the city and Italy, throughout the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Medici dynasty and then the Lorraine family, to the house of Savoy. These four centuries of power shine through the wealth of the collections and the opulence of the rooms, and that’s without mentioning the magnificent Giardino di Boboli.
The museums in the palace are the Galleria Palatina (Palatine Gallery), containing paintings, the Museo degli Argenti (the Silver Museum), the Galleria del Costume (the Costume Gallery), the Museo delle Porcellane (the Porcelain Museum), and the Museo delle Carrozze (the Carriage Museum).
The Galleria Palatina, created between the end of the XVIII and the beginning of the XIX century by the Lorraine family, contains masterpieces from the Medici collections which, until then had been randomly displayed throughout the palace. Here are a few names to whet your appetite: Raphael, Andrea del Sarto, Filippo Lippi, Michelangelo, Giorgione, Titian.
Is fashion your thing? How about masterfully painted fabrics by individual artists? If so, then the Galleria del Costume is for you. Its collection includes over 6,000 antique and modern items, accessories and theatre costumes created by the top designers of the XVIII century, right up to Roberto Cavalli, Emilio Pucci, Roberta da Camerino, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent.
This magnificent garden, commissioned by the Medici family in the mid XVI century, is the largest garden of the Italian style. Within its 45,000m2, man rules over nature and amongst hedges, tree-lined avenues, paths, sculptures, grottos, lakes and stunning structures, nature is transformed into the reflection of a methodical, rational thought. Don’t miss the Kaffeehaus, commissioned by Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena at the end of the XVIII century, so he could follow the fashion of the era and sip a cup of hot chocolate in this wonderful rococo building.
THE OPERA DEL DUOMO MUSEUM
The history of Gothic and Renaissance sculpture radiates through the masterpieces of Andrea Pisano, Arnolfo di Cambio, Nanni di Banco, Ghiberti, Donatello, Luca della Robbia, Antonio del Pollaiolo, all of which came from the sacred Duomo and from Giotto’s Campanile. They’re all wonderful, but we urge you to succumb to Donatello’s particular charms, with his Pensive Prophet at San Giovanni Evangelista, the Zuccone, and the astonishing Penitent Magdalene, carved in wood.
Here’s a trivial, or not so trivial, anecdote: in around 1500 Michelangelo carved his much acclaimed David here, from a recycled block of marble that had been partially used by the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. It is, however, Michelangelo’s La Pietà Bandini, carved between 1547 and 1555, that is exhibited in the museum, and was perhaps intended to be placed on the artist’s tomb.
Here it is, finally, Michelangelo’s David - the original, not the copy currently on display in front of the Palazzo della Signoria. This is how Giorgio Vasari described it: “In all sincerity, this statue has put every other statue, modern or classical, Greek or Roman, in the shade... Michelangelo made it so perfectly proportioned, so beautiful and poured so much love into it”. And this art icon, perhaps one of the most revered sculptures in the whole world, which has been copied and cited in art history over and over again, is truly breathtaking. In 1501 Michelangelo was summoned to Florence by the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, inviting him to make a perfectly proportioned statue from a block of marble that Agostino di Duccio and Antonio Rossellino had already started carving forty years previously, but had abandoned owing to the stone’s numerous imperfections.
Michelangelo, then aged twenty six, accepted the challenge and completed the work in 1504, working unassisted, hidden behind a screen, so that no one would see the sculpture before it was completed. When it was transported to the Palazzo della Signoria for a panel of artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, to decide where it would be placed, the work really did take everyone’s breath away.
SAN MARCO MUSEUM
It’s impossible not to be moved by Beato Angelico’s astonishing frescoes, which are so delicate, so understated and yet so intense. This Renaissance gem is guarded in the Convento di San Marco, founded in 1436 and designed by Michelozzo. Beato Angelico lived and worked until 1443, completing a series of spectacular frescoes depicting stories of Christ, images intended to inspire the monks to pray. The first in the series of chapels and frescoes is l’Annunciazione, that spiritual and meditative work of art, painted in 1442.
Finally, make sure you visit the cell of Fra Girolamo Savonarola, who turned the Convento di San Marco into the headquarters for his protest against excessive luxury and the lavishly indecent costumes worn by his fellow citizens. Savonarola met a tragic end, when, in 1498, he was burnt at the stake in Piazza della Signoria.
According to Vasari, Masaccio’s frescoes in the Cappella Brancacci were “the world’s school”, because they were studied by all the Renaissance masters. The subjects’ intense facial expressions and their gravitas, and the fact that the scenes are painted in perspective, are what marks the new direction art was taking. The acclaimed decoration by Masaccio and his teacher, Masolino, began in 1423-24 when it was commissioned by the rich silk merchant, Felice Brancacci, one of the most prominent figures in Florentine political life at that time.
The theme of the series is man’s salvation from original sin by the grace of the intervention of Peter, Christ’s successor and the founder of the Roman church.
To give you an understanding of the difference between two, albeit very close, generations and styles - one ending an era and the other throwing the doors of modernity wide open - we recommend you observe the depictions of Adam and Eve, by Masolino and Masaccio. Here is where our story on earth begins, with Masaccio, with that cry, with those hands covering the eyes.
Ninety years ago, in 1927, Salvatore Ferragamo returned to Italy. He had left America a resounding success, with Hollywood stars wearing his wonderful, original, incredibly comfortable shoes both on, and especially off, set. Nowadays, the fascinating museum, which the Ferragamo family commissioned in honour of the ingenious founder of the Made in Italy label, uses the secrets of Palazzo Spini Feroni to reconstruct his creative journey and exhibits some of his most famous models, chosen in rotation from the archived collections, which exceed 14,000 pairs. Would you like to know the names of some of his celebrity fans? Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, for whom Ferragamo created the famous “wedge” shoe in 1938.
In 1921 Guccio Gucci started a business specialising in leather goods and opened a small shop selling luggage in Florence, where he was born in 1881. He was inspired to create a new way of life, a novel elegance, even whilst travelling. This was his innovation, which came from London and the guests of the Hotel Savoy, where he had worked as a boy. The return to his homeland marked a turning point in his life and, within a few years, Gucci had all the richest globetrotters in the palm of his hand. Today the Gucci brand symbolises tradition and innovation in the fashion world. To commemorate and recreate this fairytale success, this grandest of fashion labels has a Museum in the historic Piazza della Signoria in Florence. Its rooms are packed with Gucci’s iconic symbols of luxury and originality, from fantasia Flora and Bamboo handbags, to Tom Ford collections and haute couture creations.
Centuries of art, beauty, harmony and exquisite craftsmanship have left their mark on Florence, which is also the home of Italian fashion and the ideal city for a day of quality shopping. Naturally, all the big brands are here. But our personal shoppers can show you where to find the most sought-after artisans and the most exclusive addresses. Would you like a sneak preview? From the “Renaissance” fabrics at l’Antico Setificio Fiorentino, the traditional silk weaver, established in 1776 in the San Frediano district, to the marbled paper of the historic bookbinder, Giulio Giannini, who established his business in 1856, to bespoke perfumes, ranging from the scents sold in one of the oldest pharmacies in the world, in Santa Maria Novella, to Dr Vranjes fragrances. Do you fancy a pair of made-to-measure men’s shoes? We recommend Stefano Bemer – and let’s not forget that even Daniel Day-Lewis has studied in his workshop. And what about the best grocery store? Without a doubt, it’s Pegna, established in 1860, renowned for its Tuscan specialities.
View Taste Florence - a culinary excursion through the city put together by celebrity chef Fulvio Pierangelini. Exclusive cooking lessons at Desinare. Hearty Tuscan meals at Trattoria Sostanza. Dinner overlooking the piazza at Irene, our recently opened Florentine bistro.
VELORBIS BIKE TOUR
Discover Florence in a stylish and eco-friendly way with Hotel Savoy's very own bicycles. Velorbis, the iconic Danish bicycle brand, has created bespoke bicycles especially for our hotel. Whilst cycling in style, our Concierge will help you discover the city's best cycling routes.
Treat your children with an entertaining yet educational experience dedicated to "Pinocchio”, the wooden puppet of Carlo Collodi's famous novel. A three-hour workshop where the young guests will choose a piece of wood to personalize, using arts and crafts skills typical of the artisan culture of Florence and drawing inspiration from the story and the city itself.
THE ROMANELLI GALLERY
This gallery was founded in 1860 by the acclaimed sculpting family. Admire fascinating pieces in marble, bronze and plaster and place a commission for something unique.
For more information, or to book, please contact our Concierge: +39 055 2735 836, email@example.com