The Cappa

Florence and its territory
Among hills and villages
Suggestive views, historic villas and buildings, splendid landscapes can be found in this route which, despite presenting rough sections, is particularly interesting for the combination of art and history that characterizes it and which has inspired Tuscan and international artists.

The stretch along the Lungarni is the easiest. However, it is possible to return using the bus that leads from Piazza Poggi to Piazzale Michelangelo and Viale Galilei.

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Technical data sheet:

Length of the route:about 4.5 km on foot.

Time needed: Since it is a route full of interesting stops, it is advisable to do it, if on foot, in two parts during the day using approximately 2.3 hours in the morning and the same amount in the afternoon.


Exit the Hotel Park Palace, turn left onto Viale Galilei and at the traffic lights turn left again, taking the picturesque 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 century and protector of prisoners, is almost like a corridor, closed by low walls beyond which you can glimpse, among the olive trees, splendid private homes.
Right on the corner with the avenue, on the left, you will notice a villa where the great Russian musician Iliych Chaikovsky lived and composed in 1878. He had begun a platonic and above all epistolary relationship with the very rich widow Nadezda von Meck who had rented Villa Oppenheim, and who had become passionate about her music. The composer also dedicated a symphony to her. At n° 58 you will notice Villa Lauder, characteristic for its brick-red plaster and a beautiful Renaissance-style loggia on the first floor. Continue and at n°49 you can see a plaque placed on the facade of a modest house which indicates the place where Ottone Rosai lived from 1933 until 1957. The Florentine painter represented this street and the most characteristic corners of the streets and streets in his paintings. squares of the Oltrarno district. Mario Pratesi, a nineteenth-century Tuscan writer, lived in the house next door, at no. 41.

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 Pergamo coming from the church of San Pier Scheraggio, 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. During the siege of Florence in 1529, Michelangelo, responsible for the fortifications, advised lowering the gate so as to be less vulnerable to cannon fire. But before going beyond it we recommend a visit to the Belvedere Fort which is on your left. The Fortress of Santa Maria, known as the Belvedere for the spectacular panorama that can be enjoyed there, 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 the 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.

The church, before the year 1000, was one of the main priories of medieval Florence and here the young Giotto painted the altarpiece with the Madonna and Child enthroned and two Angels which today is found in the Diocesan Museum of Santo Stefano al Ponte . In 1705-1708 the interior of the church was decorated in Rococo style, but with the Napoleonic reform the building and the adjoining convent were abolished to house the headquarters of the Vittorio Veneto Barracks, which trained medical officer students and pharmacist chemists for the School of Military Healthcare.
The building is now home to the Romanian Orthodox Church. The first part of the road is surrounded by villas with gardens which are increasingly replaced by medieval buildings. On your right, at no. 2 is the entrance to Villa Bardini built in 1641 on a pre-existing medieval structure. Due to its splendid panoramic position it was also called Villa Belvedere and was part of the so-called “Casini di Delizia” widespread in Florence between the end of the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth century, created for the delight of the lords and surrounded by agricultural cultivations with purposes not only productive, but also ornamental. 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. Numerous exhibitions are organized at Villa Bardini.

At number 17 is the house of Galileo Galilei who could carry out his astronomical research from the turret of the house. Now turn right and take an even steeper but delightful road, Costa Scarpuccia, until you reach Via de’ Bardi, previously called borgo pidiglioso or “lousy” due to the poverty of the population who lived here. With the arrival of the Bardi who began to build houses and towers, the street took the name of the powerful and rich Florentine family. At n° 12, in front of the famous cypress, is the house where Giovanni Papini, a famous Florentine writer, lived; followed by the Church of Santa Lucia dei Magnoli from the 11th century, restored several times and which houses a precious panel by Pietro Lorenzetti, and other palaces of famous families, such as the Torre dei Bardi. at n°44.

You have now arrived in Piazza S. Maria Soprarno where once stood one of the oldest parish churches in the city, built in 1210 and so called because it was built on the banks of the river. Unfortunately, the building disappeared in 1869 in conjunction with the renovation of the Arno river. Now continue right towards Lungarno Torrigiani, whose name derives from that of the important Florentine family who initially owned a tower house in the center of the city, subsequently moving beyond the Arno where they had some palaces built including the magnificent Palazzo Torrigiani that you will meet more. Then cross the public garden overlooked by the neo-Gothic Lutheran Church, having left the Ponte alle Grazie on your left.

This bridge was once called the Rubaconte bridge from the name of the Podestà who had it built in 1237, then it was called “delle Grazie” due to the presence of a fourteenth-century tabernacle which contained a Giottesque “Madonna delle Grazie” much venerated by the Florentines. Ambassadors, princes and cardinals passed through it and, passing through Florence, were hosted in the Mozzi houses, a little further on. Then enter Piazza de’ Mozzi, named after the powerful bankers who even managed the Papal Treasury in the 14th century. You will admire a series of splendid palaces in this fifteenth-century square: at n° 2 Palazzo Mozzi with typically thirteenth-fourteenth century characteristics which belonged to the family of the same name, at n° 5 Palazzo Torrigiani, probably built to a design by Baccio d’ Agnolo, at no. 4, Palazzo Torrigiani-Nasi, decorated with graffiti, at no. 3 Palazzo Lensi-Nencioni of fifteenth-century origin and at no. 1 the building where the Bardini Museum is located.

The building derives from the transformation of the thirteenth-century church of San Ghirigoro della Pace. The antiquarian Stefano Bardini collected a rich private collection between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which was then left to the Municipality of Florence containing sculptures, paintings, ceramic furniture, medals, bronzes, oriental carpets, musical instruments and finds that Bardini himself looked for personally among the rubble The building also appears original in its construction, in fact ancient pieces were used in doors, windows, architraves and more. The Museum’s masterpiece is the San Michele Arcangelo, a fifteenth-century panel by Antonio del Pollaiolo.

Now continue along Via de’ Renai and at the corner with Lungarno Serristori admire the Palazzo of the same name which took its name from the famous family descended from Ser Ristoro who initially purchased his houses in the Santa Croce district, then moving with his descendants to Oltrarno, in the San Niccolò district.
Palazzo Serristori, renovated in 1873, hosted illustrious people including Gioacchino Murat, the Russian prince Nicola Demidoff, Girolamo and Giuseppe Bonaparte. You then arrive in Piazza Poggi whose scenography is underlined by a series of stairs and terraces surrounded by greenery and adorned with water tanks and sponge caves. They are the Rampe di San Niccolò, designed by the architect Poggi which ends in the panoramic terrace of Piazzale Michelangelo. On the right of the square stands Porta S. Niccolò.
Built in 1324, it is the only one of all the “surviving” doors in Florence to have retained its original height. Then take the characteristic Via S. Niccolò, which is part of the ancient medieval, popular and artisan village. There you can find antique dealers’ shops and craftsmanship such as wrought iron. Here, at n° 60/r, you can stop at the Antica Mescita San Niccolò, a former toll station for wine from Chianti at Porta S. Niccolò and transformed in the early 19th century into a “food sale with wine bar” . After the flood of 1966, during the restoration, the Romanesque crypt of the church of San Nicola re-emerged in whose evocative environments you can stop for lunch, enjoying the typical Tuscan cuisine. Continue until you reach Porta S. Miniato, pass it and take via S. Miniato.

At this point you can choose two itineraries to return to your hotel: one “more strenuous” and another soft. The first follows the steep staircase of via del Monte alle Croci, characterized by the “Via Crucis” at the end of which you will reach the Church of San Salvatore al Monte. The important Renaissance building. simple and rigorous in its structure, it was built between 1499 and 1504 by Cronaca. The stained glass window at the side entrance of the church was designed by Pietro Perugino and depicts God the Father blessing surrounded by cherubs and sitting on a throne of clouds; The stained glass windows with the stigmata of St. Francis, St. John the Baptist, St. Anthony of Padua and St. John the Evangelist are also attributed to Perugino. After leaving the church and continuing to the left, you can go up to the Romanesque Basilica of S. Miniato al Monte from the 11th century, built on the site of an early Christian chapel.

As with the Baptistery, it is covered in white and green marble and inside contains works of great value, such as the Chapel of the Crucifix, by Michelozzo with a barrel vault enamelled by Luca della Robbia and the Chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal with a Greek cross pavilion vault, built by Antonio Manetti. Outside there is the cemetery which houses the remains of many celebrities from Papini to Montale Stibbert, Villari, Carlo Lorenzini and others. Leaving the church, return to Viale Galilei and turning right, head towards Piazzale Michelangelo. The incomparable panorama you will witness from the “terrace” will repay you for the effort you have faced so far. Note the Loggia behind the statue of David which the architect Poggi intended to house the casts of Michelangelo’s masterpieces. Today the building is used as a bar and restaurant; you can therefore take advantage of it for a coffee or an aperitif “with a view”!

Finally, to return to the Park Palace Hotel, take Viale Galilei or if you are tired you can take bus no. 13 which will stop right in front of the Park Palace. If, however, you don’t want to take such a demanding walk at height, you can follow the soft route that from via di S. Miniato passes via di Belvedere, along a stretch of walls that escaped the demolition carried out by the architect Poggi and which leads to Forte Belvedere.
From here, retracing the road taken on the way out, go up via di San Leonardo and you will end up on Viale Galileo. Turn right and you will have reached Piazzale Galileo.

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)

Basilica of S. Miniato al Monte
(holidays: 8am-7pm; weekdays: 8am-12.30pm; 2pm-7pm)

Church of San Salvatore al Monte
(weekdays 07.00-18.00 Closed: Sunday)

Church of S. Leonardo
(8.00 – 12.00, 16.00 – 18.00)

Lutheran Church
(The services take place twice a month, always on the first and third Sunday; starting at 10.00).

The Cappa

Proposed itinerary
Route from the Hotel