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Two hours in Florence

creato da Marcello Parmeggiani ultima modifica 20/06/2008 15:10

Two hours in Florence in the footsteps of two famous families . . . and a serial killer.

hannibalThose of you lucky enough to have spent Easter in Florence will undoubtedly have witnessed the Scoppio del carro (the traditional Florentine Easter festival which literally translates as "Explosion of the Cart"). The event is also linked to an important event in Florentine history - the Pazzi Conspiracy, which involved two of its most eminent families, the Pazzi and the Medici. The Pazzi plotted to kill Lorenzo and Giuliano, the heads of the Medici family. The plot failed and many of the Pazzi were killed in punishment. The curse on the Pazzi name seems to continue in modern times when the last of the Pazzi, played by actor Giancarlo Giannini, comes to a sticky end in the film ‘Hannibal’. (The name Pazzi is also the Italian plural for 'mad' - you can imagine the comments in mediaeval Florence on the wisdom of the Pazzi conspiracy!)

The Medici Trail
While there may be little of the Pazzi family left in Florence the Medici seem to have left their mark all over the city. Even those of you on a tight schedule will be able to take our Medici Trail as everything is close to hand. We start our tour in Palazzo Medici, in Via Cavour, built by Michelozzo in 1444 and home to the Medici for generations. Palazzo Medici now houses the Prefecture and its facade is badly deteriorated due, in part, to the high level of pollution in the city centre.
Our next stop is Florence's oldest church, Chiesa di San Lorenzo. First built in 4 AD, it was rebuilt by Brunelleschi in the 1400s and holds the tombs of many of the Medici family. Lorenzo de' Medici (also known as Lorenzo il Magnifico) and his brother Giuliano, who was killed in the Pazzi Conspiracy, are both buried in the Sagrestia Nuova (New Sacristy), Michelangelo's first architectural work.

Shop renovation
Just off Piazza della Signoria is one of Florence's most famous shopping streets, and one of the few pedestrian precincts in the city, Via Calzaiuoli. Walking down Via Calzaiuoli we come across one of Florence's shopping landmarks - Ugolini, clothes shop and haberdashery since 1896. In 1938 when one of Ugolini's customers asked Arturo, the then owner, to get rid of the "English-style" decor, Arturo refused and firemen, armed with axes, completely destroyed the inside of the shop. The customer, for the records, was one Adolph Hitler.

When nature calls…
At this stage you wouldn't be human if you didn't feel a certain longing. However, unless you're prepared to pit your luck in one of Florence's many bars and cafés, you'll have to make a run for Palazzo Vecchio. Forget the building's illustrious past and look for the second inner courtyard. Here, much to your relief, you'll find the public toilets, the only ones in the city centre on going to press.

Brindellone - More about Florence's history and traditions.
Palazzo Medici - Visiting hours and other useful information
San Lorenzo - A look around the San Lorenzo District. Also available in Japanese.

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