The Cappa

One-day walk
Oltrarno between Art and Shops
The first part of this route presents the evocative views and splendid landscapes of the hills south of the Arno. In the Middle Ages, the lower part was home to typical villages where small-scale workers and artisans created true works of art: goldsmithing, leather and woodworking, wrought iron, scagliola and mosaic, gilding. compared to that busy motorbike from the north.

You will find here, in the narrow streets and squares that characterize it, the most genuine Florentine artisan tradition together with the refinement of the historic buildings, which at the end of the 15th century the rich Florentine families began to build, considering this area healthier than the busy one of the north.

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Technical data sheet:
Route length:
– from Piazzale Galilei to Piazza Santa Felicita = approximately 1.5 km
– from Piazza Santa Felicita (outward journey) to Piazza Santa Felicita (return) = approximately 2.5 km

Time needed: It is a route full of interesting stops and quite long. It is therefore necessary to use the whole day taking into account any visits to the recommended historical establishments.

Exit the Park Palace Hotel, turn left onto Viale Galilei and at the traffic lights turn left again, taking the charming Via San Leonardo. The street which owes its name to the church dedicated to the French saint, who lived between the end of the 5th and 6th centuries and was the protector of prisoners, is almost like a corridor, closed by low walls beyond which one can glimpse, among the olive trees, splendid private homes such as Villa Lauder. You then arrive at the Church of San Leonardo from the 11th or 12th century, but restored several times. Inside, there is the splendid thirteenth-century Pergamon, from which famous people such as Giano della Bella, Dino Compagni and Giovanni Boccaccio gave their speeches. You have almost reached the end of via S. Leonardo, near the fourteenth-century Porta San Giorgio, belonging to the sixth circle of urban walls and attributed to Orcagna, above which you will notice the copy of Saint George killing the dragon, by Andrea da Pontedera.
The Forte di Belvedere  which remains on your left was built in 1590 by Ferdinand I with the aim of providing Florence with a fortress that could defend the city from above, but above all to preserve the treasure of Medici family.

The convenient access from the Boboli Gardens allowed members of the Medici family a safe refuge in the event of riots. Today, numerous outdoor sculpture exhibitions are hosted here. Once past the arch, take the steep Costa S. Giorgio, named after the ancient Church of San Giorgio e dello Spirito Santo, one of the main priories of medieval Florence where the young Giotto painted the altarpiece with the Madonna and Child in throne and two Angels which today is located in the diocesan museum of Santo Stefano al Ponte. The first part of the road is surrounded by villas with gardens which are increasingly replaced by medieval buildings. On your right, at number 2 is the entrance to Villa Bardini, built in 1641 on a pre-existing medieval structure. Its Garden is characterized by a large baroque staircase, English lawns full of medicinal and ornamental plants, terraces occupied by olive trees and fruit trees, beautiful tall forests and an agricultural park. At number 17 is the house of Galileo Galilei who carried out his astronomical research from the turret of the house.

At the end of Costa S. Giorgio, you have arrived in Piazza Felicita from where the part of the Oltrarno begins, rich in monuments, gardens, museums and monumental buildings, together with the workshops of artisans, goldsmiths and restorers that make this area unique for the true spirit Renaissance of which it is still permeated.

The Church of Santa Felicita with its eighteenth-century façade, stands on the site of an ancient Romanesque church which in turn was the heir of an early Christian temple. The Vasari Corridor passes in front of it, wanted by the Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici to constitute an elevated path that linked Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti, also giving the Medici princes the possibility of being able to attend mass from inside the church.

Enter to admire one of the greatest masterpieces of mannerism, The Deposition by Pontormo and the Barbadori chapel, designed by Brunelleschi and frescoed by Pontormo himself. Once out on the square, head towards Via Guicciardini on the right, crossing the Piazzetta dei Rossi and taking Borgo S. Iacopo on the left, one of the oldest streets in the Oltrarno which corresponds to the initial stretch of the Via Pisana, an ancient artery of communication between Florence and Pisa. Borgo S. Iacopo is historically the first of the three villages that started from Ponte Vecchio and is also the only one that retains the name of “borgo”, while Borgo Pitiglioso already became via de’ Bardi and Borgo di Piazza (Santa Felicita) became via de’ Guicciardini.

Along the route you will notice the remains of some tower houses such as that of the Rossi Cerchi of thirteenth-century origins, with the Fontana del Bacchino, attributed to Giambologna. Further on you will encounter three other towers, the Ramagliati tower, covered in ivy and, at the intersection with Via Toscanelli, the Belfedrelli Tower, the Barbadori Tower and the Marsili tower (at n° 17) which bears the copy on the façade of the Annunciation in glazed terracotta from the Robbia school. You have already entered that ancient street network of shops and artisans who produce objects in paper, leather, ceramic and other types. There are numerous antique dealers in this stretch such as Luzzetti at n°28/r, whose shop is located in the ancient Angiolieri tower and which displays works of art ranging from the 1300s to the 1600s, including stupendous “gold funds”. .

the silversmith Paolo Pagliai, at n°41/r, also has his workshop in a tower house perhaps belonging to the Sapiti family. Inside, in addition to the vestiges of the medieval construction, the series of ancient tools with which commissioned objects were made and the collection of drawings of objects to be made are interesting. Even if it’s not lunch time, stop inside the Trattoria Cammillo, at 57/r.

Inserted in a building dating back to the 15th century, the restaurant, born as a wine and flask shop, retains its traditional furnishings. On the wall are the works of several young painters who used to settle their bills in this way in the mid-century. If you love books and art prints, go to n°26, to Cerdini whose shop is located in the ancient tower of Cecco Angiolier, while at n°70/r, the Bongini antique dealer strong> even has its own restoration atelier in the former sacristy of the church of San Iacopo Sopr’ Arno. The church built in the 12th century. and equipped with a splendid portico in white and green marble (12th-13th century) with three arches, it has 17th-18th century paintings from the Florentine school and a 15th century wooden crucifix inside.

Now you have arrived in Piazza Frescobaldi where on the right side is the thirteenth-century Palazzo Frescobaldi restored in the twentieth century and, on the corner with the river, the Palazzo della Missione on whose seventeenth-century façade you can observe the images of the grand dukes medici. The Santa Trinità Bridge was built in 1557 by Ammannati, and has four statues depicting the seasons at its mouth. Blown up by the Germans in 1944, it was rebuilt, rediscovering, after careful studies, the original curvature of the arches which still characterizes its elegance today.

Go past the square and enter Via di Santo Spirito. A series of buildings line up on this road: at no. 4 you can observe the beautiful rear façade of Palazzo Capponi, at no. 5 and 7 there is the fifteenth-century Palazzo Machiavelli with the characteristic overhangs on the left side, at n° 32 a plaque commemorates the house where one of the proudest supporters and defenders of the Florentine republic Francesco Ferrucci was born. The place was frequented by Pietro Annigoni. At the crossroads with Via dei Serragli turn left: this is the street where you can admire the beautiful Mazzei, Pallavicini and Rosselli del Turco buildings together with the numerous shops and historic workshops of second-hand dealers and bronze workers. At n° 10 you will find the laboratory of Lamberto Bianchi who carries out a trade passed down from master to pupil: metalworking.

Then head right towards Borgo della Stella and enter Piazza del Carmine. In 1268 the Carmelites built a monastic complex and the adjoining Carmine Church here. The fire of 1771 miraculously spared the two side chapels, the baroque Corsini Chapel, with the masterpieces of Foggini and Luca Giordano and the Brancacci Chapel in which the famous frescoes by Masaccio, Masolino and Filippino Lippi are found. Then turn in the direction of Borgo San Frediano, one of the most popular areas of the Oltrarno characterized by the presence of artisans and antique dealers and in Piazza del Cestello dominated by the bulk of the Church of San Frediano in Cestello. The name of the square derives from the Cistercian monks, called “friars of the basket”, who settled there in 1628 and founded the church and the convent. The western side of the square is closed by the massive “Granaio” of Cosimo III, built in 1695. Walk along Via del Piaggione, an augmentation of “piaggia” or beach, referring to the slightly sloping land on the Arno and reach the Via and Piazza del Tiratoio, where the wool workers spread out the wet fabrics to stretch them, while they dried, to the desired widths.

Turn left and you will come out into the widening of Piazza Verzaia, so called because of the ancient and numerous vegetable gardens and orchards that abutted the walls and where the majestic Porta di San Frediano stands. Built between 1332 and 1334, to guard the ancient Via Pisana, it is attributed to Andrea Pisano. Its dimensions suggest that it must have been the most majestic gate in the city walls, but it remained unfinished in height. You can still see the ancient nailed doors, the iron rings and at its top the lily, symbol of the city. Take Borgo S. Frediano again and then right, turn into Piazza de’ Nerli from the name of the Lazio family who owned houses and towers here. Continue along Via dell’Orto and, after passing Piazza Piattellina, a name due to the ancient presence of a “cocci” market, you arrive in Via Santa Monaca, the saint to whom the convent of the Augustinian nuns built here in 1440 and today occupied by Youth hostel.

After crossing Via de’ Serragli, stop if you want at 47/r at an ancient flask shop to buy or taste the best Tuscan and national wines. Then continue along Via Sant’ Agostino and arrive in Piazza Santo Spirito. The square is one of the most famous in Florence and the virtual center of the Oltrarno. During the Middle Ages the area was called “le caselline” due to the presence of poor and scattered houses interspersed with open spaces and vegetable gardens. In the square there are numerous refreshment areas and artisan shops such as Bini, specialized in hat moulds. Numerous buildings of notable architectural value contribute to beautifying the square, including Palazzo Guadagni, on the corner with Via Mazzetta, with its beautiful loggia, the two-cup fountain with the octagonal basin, and the statue of Cosimo Ridolfi.

The Church of Santo Spirito, designed by Brunelleschi, whose interior repeats the fundamental motifs of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, has been embellished over the years with works of art of inestimable value which have made it a real museum. To the left of the church, at number 29, there is the access to the Cenacle of Santo Spirito, frescoed by Orcagna. Walking along a short stretch of Via Mazzetta, you will arrive in Piazza San Felice. The column, which Cosimo I had placed after the victory over the Sienese in 1572, is the symbol of Medici power. The Church of San Felice also overlooks the square, documented as early as 1066, whose Renaissance façade has been attributed to Michelozzo. Now enter Via Maggio or Via Maggiore because it was the most beautiful, longest and most spacious, where the noble families of Florence had their palaces built.

Arriving in front of the sumptuous palace decorated with grotesques by Poccetti, of the Venetian noblewoman Bianca Cappello with whom Francesco I de’ Medici fell in love, you will find inside, among the original finishes and the splendid frescoed ceilings, the shop of antiques, Turks. But before turning onto Via de’ Vellutini, stop at n° 13/r to admire the Bartolozzi and Maioli art workshop and the warehouse on the corner: it feels like entering a real museum! Through Via de’ Vellutini you have arrived in Piazza de’ Pitti dominated by the mass of the grandiose Palazzo of the same name, in pietra forte. The fifteenth-century residence commissioned by Luca Pitti was enlarged in the following centuries to become the palace of the Medici, Lorraine and Savoy families and today one of the most important exhibition venues in the city. There are numerous world-famous museums such as the Palatine Gallery connected to the Monumental Apartments, the Silver Museum with goldsmiths, gems and ivories from the Medici and Lorraine collections, the prestigious Gallery of Modern Art, the carriage museum, the Contini Bonacossi collection and the costume museum. Along the side of the square opposite Palazzo Pitti there are numerous shops, some of which have an ancient Florentine tradition: ateliers for the hand production of marbled paper and mosaic, semi-precious stone shops, bookshops, cafés, etc.

Then take Via Guicciardini again, returning to Piazza Santa Felicita. Then retrace the itinerary you took on departure to return to the Park Palace Hotel.

Along the route
Historic buildings, monuments

Forte Belvedere
(from Tuesday to Sunday 11.00/16.00. Closed 24/12 and 31/12)

Bardini Museum and Corsi Gallery
(Weekdays: 9am-5pm – Holidays: 9am-2pm – Closed on Friday – Sunday closing starting from 1st August 2006)

Bardini Garden
(Monday – Sunday 8.15am – 4.30pm – November, December, January and February)
(Monday – Sunday 8.15am – 5.30pm – March)
(Monday – Sunday 8.15 – 18.3 – April, May, September, October)
(Monday – Sunday 8.15am – 7.30pm – June, July, August)
(Closed: first and last Monday of the month, New Year’s Eve, 1st May, Christmas)

Palazzo Pitti Palatina Gallery
Tuesday-Sunday: 8.15am-6.50pm Monday 25 December, 1 January, 1 May

Silver Museum
First and last Monday of the month Modern Art Gallery From Tuesday to Sunday, 8.15am – 6.50pm Closed: every Monday; New Year’s Eve, May 1st, Christmas

Costume Gallery, Boboli Gardens and Porcelain Museum
8.15am – 4.30pm in the months of November, December, January, February
8.15am – 5.30pm in March 8.15am – 6.30pm in April, May, September and October
8.15 am – 5.30 pm in October coinciding with the change from summer time to solar time
8.15am – 7.30pm in the months of June, July, August Closed: first and last Monday of the month, New Year’s Eve, 1st May

Church of San Leonardo
(8.00 – 12.00, 16.00 – 18.00)

Ancient Florentine silk factory
(Via L. Bartolini, 4 50124 Florence – Tel +39 055 213861 – E-mail:

Church of Santo Spirito
(Monday, Tuesday, Saturday 9.00/12.00, closed on other days, Christmas, New Year and 1st May) Cenacle of Santo Spirito (Saturday 9.00/17.00)

Brancacci Chapel
(from Monday to Saturday 10.00am/5.00pm, Sunday 1.00pm/5.00pm. Closed on Tuesday, Christmas, New Year, Easter, 1st May, 15th and 16th August)

The Cappa

Proposed itinerary outline
Route from the Hotel