Florence’s long history conceals many surprises even for those who believe they have seen all the city has to offer.
Some very recent openings and future installations are ideas for discovering something new.
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.
This year work was finally completed making it possible to climb up 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. It still has a very interesting old passageway which the city council is restoring, introducing safety measures so that it can be opened for Florentines and tourists to visit.
And to close with a contemporary touch: from next spring the Giardino delle Rose (open all June and in a panoramic position under Piazzale Michelangelo) will get 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 will therefore be on permanent display in Florence, to be enjoyed against the colourful backdrop of the blooms in the Rose Garden.