View of Florence from the Arno

Florence Itinerary


Site What to see  

Santa Maria Novella

Rebirth of Venus
Alberti’s façade.


Filippino Lippi frescoes in chapel of Filippo Strozzi.

Ghirladaio’s frescoes behind high altar include portraits of Ficino and Poliziano.


Usually crowded. Pick your time carefully.

Bust of Marsilio Ficino on south wall.

The octagonal choir.

The north sacristy.

San Lorenzo

Tomb of Cosimo de' Medici and Donatello beneath the floor in front of the altar.


Biblioteca Laurenziana

[not in the novels, but mentioned in the historical note of The Rebirth of Venus]
There's a room furnished like the old library, with 15th century seating.  

Medici-Riccardi Palace

This was virtually closed apart from the chapel in all the years I was writing. Recently it has been made more accessible to the public. It is impossible to imagine the original layout of the rooms, but the courtyard and garden give a good feel for the place.

The chapel. [Pallas and the Centaur]

Spend as much time in here as you can. It's a good idea to find out when it is least busy so that you can have it more to yourself and perhaps for longer than the allotted span.

Don't overlook the painting on the altar.

The ground floor room given over to audio-visual nonsense is said to have been Lorenzo's office. In a recent exhibition we saw a piece of Lorenzo's hair and a scrap of blood-stained shirt that was Giuliano's.

San Marco monastery

The Rebirth of Venus

Allow hours for this one, if not a day. There are all the Fra Angelicos to see, in the museum as well as the individual cells, and it's worth just walking around the cloisters.

Savonarola's cell

Cosimo's cell

The library

The cloisters

San Marco church Tomb shared by Poliziano, Pico and Girolamo Benivieni [The Rebirth of Venus]. Unfortunately it's behind the statue of Savonarola.  
Lorenzo's sculpture garden The site is still there on the north side of the piazza San Marco. It is closed but if you go into the florist's you can get a peek.  
The garden of Monna Clarice This was just a little further north on the Via Larga from Lorenzo's garden but the site is now occupied by a palazzo.  

The Rucellai Gardens (Orti Oricellari)

The Rebirth of Venus
The site is behind a high wall and closed gate on the Via della Scala, and was split in two by the Via Bernardo Rucellai in the 19th century. I believe it is now a private garden but I've never managed to visit it.  
Santa Trinita Sassetti chapel with scenes of the life of St Francis by Ghirlandaio which include portraits of Poliziano and Lorenzo.  


In the book it is referred to as the Palazzo del Podesta. It is on the Via Proconsolo, running south from the Cathedral. Vespasiano's bookshop was on the corner of the Via Ghibellina.

Now the museum of sculpture, so feast on the Donatellos, Michelangelo's and the rest. The courtyard with its stairs is where the executions would have taken place.  

Badia, Florence

Opposite the Bargello. I haven't been able to visit for the last twenty years. Look for the opening times posted on the side door and do your best to be around at those limited times.

Apparation of the Virgin to St Bernard by Flippino Lippi

Cloisters with murals illustrating the Life of St Benedict


Palazzo Pazzi-Quaratesi

Via Proconsolo No 10
The gates are usually closed, but if you do get a glimpse within you will see a very fine courtyard.  

Palazzo della Signoria

The tower where Cosimo was imprisoned [not in the novels]  
Uffizi Works by Botticelli, Leonardo, Fra Filippo and Filippino Lippi  

Pazzi Chapel

Next to Santa Croce

A Tabernacle for the Sun and the conclusion of The Rebirth of Venus

The cupola above the altar has an astrological scene.

The Pazzi escutcheons.

Do sing if you have the nerve. Any note will do, but a high one is best.