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One city four neighborhoods

Giulio

One city four neighborhoods

Le Guide ai Quartieri
Florence historical center is a labyrinth of tiny roads and stony walls where it's easy to get lost. We can't but wish that you will get to know plenty of it – Firenze has no lack of topics - here we just offer you a simple introduction to help you find your way around and to give you a first key to read the map of the city. Let's mark the borders of the exploration first. The historical center is framed inside the big roads called Viali. infact during the 19th century the tall walls protecting the city from attacks where ripped down to make space for people and transports. Cars today are the new wall, enclosing the ancient city from East, West and North. The Arno river is its perfect heart, dividing it in two parts and isolating the booming Oltrarno on the other side. The south side ends softly on the hills from Piazzale Michelangelo to Boboli. The closest we get to the river the furthest we move back in time, since the city started out only on the right side of the river - indeed once around the Ponte Vecchio you will be stepping on very old ground. The traditional partition of the city center is in four neighborhoods - as four are the teams of the medieval ball game played in Piazza Santa Croce, called Calcio Storico.
This neighborhood mainly refers to Piazza del Duomo, even tho it took its name from the older building of the Baptistery. The Duomo is arguably the face of the city, the 200 years needed for its construction defines not only the story of Florence but also history of art itself. Indeed the Cathedral started with gothic foundation to be then caped off with the example of Renaissance par excellence: the cupola by Brunelleschi. The main roads of Via Calzaiouli and Via Calimala are now a shopping haven of international brands. While walking north you'll get to the church of San Lorenzo and its market of leather and souvenirs that will give answer to any possible shopping wish.
San Giovanni
This neighborhood mainly refers to Piazza del Duomo, even tho it took its name from the older building of the Baptistery. The Duomo is arguably the face of the city, the 200 years needed for its construction defines not only the story of Florence but also history of art itself. Indeed the Cathedral started with gothic foundation to be then caped off with the example of Renaissance par excellence: the cupola by Brunelleschi. The main roads of Via Calzaiouli and Via Calimala are now a shopping haven of international brands. While walking north you'll get to the church of San Lorenzo and its market of leather and souvenirs that will give answer to any possible shopping wish.
This is the biggest neighborhood of the four. It encompasses Santa Croce church itself, but also the Town Hall venue of Palazzo Vecchio, the tallest tower in town, all the way to San'Ambrogio. The last one is the one spot that nowadays deserves a special mention: here in fact you will find some of the best restaurants in town, together with the most typical market of the city, the Sant'Ambrogio Market. Come here to eat or shop anything from vegetables to clothes and antiquities (Mercato delle Pulci). Let's not forget also that Santa Croce hosts in its crypt figures like Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Rossini and Galileo. While a marble sculpture of Dante Alighieri overlooks the big square venue of the Calcio Storico.
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Santa Croce
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This is the biggest neighborhood of the four. It encompasses Santa Croce church itself, but also the Town Hall venue of Palazzo Vecchio, the tallest tower in town, all the way to San'Ambrogio. The last one is the one spot that nowadays deserves a special mention: here in fact you will find some of the best restaurants in town, together with the most typical market of the city, the Sant'Ambrogio Market. Come here to eat or shop anything from vegetables to clothes and antiquities (Mercato delle Pulci). Let's not forget also that Santa Croce hosts in its crypt figures like Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Rossini and Galileo. While a marble sculpture of Dante Alighieri overlooks the big square venue of the Calcio Storico.
This neighborhood has a great importance for tourism as it hosts the central train station. Just few steps away though you will easily spot the ancient heart of the area: the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. This is a huge complex run by the Dominican friars. Since the 17th century the friars also run an hidden gem of Florence: the Officina Profumo. A pharmacy, herbal shop, perfumery and tea room that you don't want to miss. Continuing south towards Santa Trinita bridge you will pass through the richest side of this neighborhood: Via de' Tornabuoni. Here are the top-end fashion boutiques of the most famous brands in the world. Not far also stands Palazzo Strozzi, offering the best art exhibitions in town varying from ancient to modern and contemporary art.
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Santa Maria Novella
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This neighborhood has a great importance for tourism as it hosts the central train station. Just few steps away though you will easily spot the ancient heart of the area: the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. This is a huge complex run by the Dominican friars. Since the 17th century the friars also run an hidden gem of Florence: the Officina Profumo. A pharmacy, herbal shop, perfumery and tea room that you don't want to miss. Continuing south towards Santa Trinita bridge you will pass through the richest side of this neighborhood: Via de' Tornabuoni. Here are the top-end fashion boutiques of the most famous brands in the world. Not far also stands Palazzo Strozzi, offering the best art exhibitions in town varying from ancient to modern and contemporary art.
Last but definitely not least the heart of the Oltrarno (don't forget San Niccolò though). Here dominates the Palazzo Pitti, the almost royal Palace of the Medici family. Behind it the relaxing touch of greens of the stunning Boboli Garden. Few steps down of the palace the most popular square in town: Santo Spirito. Here you'll breath a different vibe - with students, expats and creatives in general letting the time pass down the bright face of this stucco church. Get a wine and chill, soon the smell from restaurants will get to you and then: which one to choose? Borgo San Jacopo, Piazza della Passera and the San Frediano gate it self won't let you disappointed.
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San Frediano
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Last but definitely not least the heart of the Oltrarno (don't forget San Niccolò though). Here dominates the Palazzo Pitti, the almost royal Palace of the Medici family. Behind it the relaxing touch of greens of the stunning Boboli Garden. Few steps down of the palace the most popular square in town: Santo Spirito. Here you'll breath a different vibe - with students, expats and creatives in general letting the time pass down the bright face of this stucco church. Get a wine and chill, soon the smell from restaurants will get to you and then: which one to choose? Borgo San Jacopo, Piazza della Passera and the San Frediano gate it self won't let you disappointed.