Florence’s long history conceals many surprises even for those who believe they
have seen all the city has to offer.
Palazzo Pitti, the Medici palace, is one of the most visited buildings in the
City, also for its many museums. Inside the palace, for those visiting the modern
art gallery, you can admire the restored Scalone monumentale, the work of Pasquale Poccianti in 1847. This monumental staircase, which has
been closed for over half a century and was built by the last grand dukes or Lorraine,
was the entrance to the grand ballroom on the second floor of Palazzo Pitti. The
lengthy and careful restoration, for which marbles from the same period were used,
has brought it back to its original magnificent splendour.
The Mercato del Porcellino, is very popular with tourists for the bronze statue by Tacca of the famous
little boar on the fountain. A market of straw articles and basketry is under
the vast loggia and above the vault, in the cavity of the roof, a large room has
been restored. To get up to it you have to climb a spiral staircase which is
hidden in one of the columns. The room – which has spectacular views over the
city, can take 20 people, and was restored by the Committee of the Market Traders
who will use it as a room for meetings and cultural activities.
Do not miss the Tower of San Niccolò, in Piazza Poggi. The tower, which is separated from the old walls, was erected
in 1324 as a defence tower for the Oltrarno district. It is the only tower in
Florence that has not been “beheaded,” which is to say it has not been lowered
from its original height and still has a very interesting old passageway.
And to close with a contemporary touch: the wonderful Giardino delle Rose (open all June and in a panoramic position under Piazzale Michelangelo) gets nine sculptures and two sketches by the recently-deceased Belgian artist
Jean Michel Folon. This means that some of the poetic sculptures that were on
exhibition in the successful 2005 exhibition in Florence’s Forte Belvedere are
on permanent display in Florence, to be enjoyed against the colourful backdrop
of the blooms in the Rose Garden.