An insider’s Guide to Florence’s Museums and Masterpieces with Travel Director Filippo
Florence’s museums, in many ways, are emblematic of the iconic city itself. Championing artistry, ingenuity and mastery, they preserve Florence’s iconic artefacts, keeping the spirit of the Renaissance well and truly alive. To help us navigate the city’s rich cultural legacy, we’re lucky to have the help of Travel Director Filippo Concollato. With his guidance, we’re getting close and personal with Florence’s fantastic museums, showing you the best places to connect with the city’s rich legacy.
Filippo, what was it that led you to a career in travel?
I flew for the first time at the age of 17, I landed in London with a couple of friends, officially to learn English, practically to see what the world had to offer.
That experience was a turning point, traveling became a bowl of cherries: I couldn’t stop. The desire to learn, absorb aspects of other cultures, socialize with the locals and expand my boundaries became a priority. After University I moved to Spain. I took the chance to lead a Spanish delegation in an international youth exchange in Sweden. There I became friends with a future Travel Director who later inspired me to follow his steps. I’ve visited 45 countries, mostly in Europe and Australasia with a glimpse of South America, a touch of North America, and the Middle East too. I’ve just returned from 2 weeks in Jordan.
Florence is the birthplace of the piano, the Renaissance, and even the modern Italian language.
What are your recommendations for first-time visitors to Florence?
Florence is special, it’s the cradle of Renaissance, where humanity saw a new concept of beauty. From here arts spread throughout Italy, embracing the Old continent and penetrating deep into the society that was just leaving the Middle Ages behind.
If you are new in Florence, you should walk around the main streets, see the piazzas with their impressive statues and monuments, and indulge in the facades of the churches. Every now and then pay attention to the details: the Fleur-de-lis that decorates almost every corner, the huge Florentine steaks exposed on the counters of the restaurants, or the locals running errands. Take pictures with your eyes, absorb the atmosphere, and walk freely in an open-air museum.
I also recommend Piazzale Michelangelo. The view from the hill across the Arno river with the historical city centre as backdrop is the best photo opportunity.
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What’s so special about Florence’s cultural offering?
Florence’s cultural offering is vast. Of course, there are the world-class museums and art galleries. But beyond these, you’ll find art exhibitions treasured away in churches, and piazzas with incredible works of sculpture on display. As a culture-lover here, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – in a good way.
The majority of the big-name museums are located in the historical centre. You’ve probably heard of them before: The Accademia, The Uffizi Gallery and the Bargello Museum. Stepping in any of these grants a ticket to feel like Alice in Wonderland, surrounded by art of such magnitude you feel tiny in comparison.
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Do you have a favourite museum or piece of art in Florence?
Choosing a single piece of art is complicated. For me it is as hard as choosing a gem from a jewellery box. Should I pick a diamond, a ruby, a sapphire or an emerald?
My choice is not obvious – but discoverable for anyone walking through Piazza della Signoria, once the center of Florentine life and politics. Adjacent to Palazzo Vecchio – the city’s town hall and popular meeting place – is the Loggia, an impressive arched gallery built in the 14th century, and since transformed into an outdoor sculpture gallery.
Each piece here represents a different chapter in Florence’s history in an extensive narrative of religion, history and mythology.
My favourite piece of art within that collection is the Perseus of Cellini, one of the Renaissance’s most famous sculptures. The version in the Loggia is the original. What stands out is the solemnity of the hero standing triumphantly, holding aloft Medusa’s severed head. On sunny days the bronze statue reflects the light imposing its presence over everything else and turning the myth alive.
What lesser-known museums in Florence should people visit?
Perhaps the Bargello Museum which is mostly focused on sculptures and displays the David of Donatello, very different from the ones created by Michelangelo.
What masterpieces should every visitor see in Florence?
The one and only David by Michelangelo. Well there are three that can be seen. The original is located inside the Accademia, another one is exposed in Piazza della Signoria and the last in Piazzale Michelangelo.
The statue represents the story of David and Goliath and leaves everybody speechless. There is no need to explain it, the statue of David talks on its own.
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What can Insight guests expect when they visit Florence with you?
Guests have a chance to indulge in the typical cuisine and to learn about the local handcraft. They also get to experience the authentic vibe of the town with an included walking tour led by a Local Expert. They get to explore the historical centre absorbing the knowledge while contemplating the attractions. The cherry on the cake is the entrance at the Accademia to see The David.
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