Art in Tuscany can be found everywhere, especially in churches. These architectural beauties are not only visited for religious purposes: frescoes, mosaics, legends and mysteries are hidden in the whole region and are bound to stay with you for life. Here's a list of the five churches you should put in your not-to-miss list.
1. Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
Everybody has seen a picture of the Duomo at least once in lifetime and it can definitely be considered a must-see in Florence. Its dome (cupola in Italian) can be seen all around the city, having a diameter of 45,5 metres. The Duomo complex is a real museum, and you can spend an entire day visiting all its parts: the cathedral, the bell tower, the baptistery, the museum and the dome itself. The cupola, created by Brunelleschi, is the most famous one, due to the way it was projected: the artist's innovative approach involved indeed using a double shell with a space in between, to avoid scaffoldings to sustain the huge structure of the cupola. The inner shell is made of light brick set in a herringbone pattern, and its decorations are a real masterpiece. We’re talking about Giorgio Vasari's frescoes of the "Last Judgment", designed by Vasari but painted mostly by his less-talented student Federico Zuccari by 1579. Next to the façade you can see some ambulances: they’re a free service offered by the Misericordia Institution, the most ancient charitable organization in Italy. Our Tour gives you a ticket to enter its museum too, a less touristic but worth visiting building in the heart of Florence. We could talk about this unique complex for pages, but we may do it in another article. Let’s now focus on the next church you should visit in Tuscany.
2. Opera del Duomo di Siena
The most astonishing things you notice when entering Siena’s Cathedral are the roof and the floor. The black and white marbles take your eyes and bring your gaze to the top, where a blue sky with golden stars catches your attention immediately. Talking about the floor, well, this is one of the most rich and adorned mosaics of our peninsula. The small decorations cover the whole floor of the Duomo creating 56 panels representing religious motifs. Most of them are still the original ones, which were created between the XIV and the XVI century. There’s normally just one period of the year in which the mosaic is completely visible, and it usually lasts two months and a half including the September. To know more about the Duomo join our Tour and explore this religious beauty with a local Guide!
3. Abbazia di San Galgano
This is actually more a photographic spot rather than a usable abbey. What’s left are indeed just the walls of this fascinating building! Its air of mystery creates the perfect setting for a famous story, which has a become a cartoon too: the Sword in the Stone. We are just a few km out of Siena, in Chiusdino’s municipality. On Montesiepi’s hills you can find a chapel which hosts one of the most fascinating relics of the region: San Galgano’s sword. The legend states that Galgano Guidotti, a young guy of noble origins, after spending a life of vices and whims converted to Christianism thanks to the vision of Michele Archangel. He decided to put a sword in a stone making it look like a cross as a symbol of his change. Everybody knew Galgano and his new devotion to God. He moved to Montesiepi, where he died and was declared Saint afterwards. If you want to see the real Sword in the Stone you can contact our tailor-made section: we will plan the trip that you’ve always wanted!
4. Collegiata di San Gimignano
San Gimignano is a stunning borgo situated in the Tuscan countryside. Its principal church, know as Collegiata di San Gimignano is sometimes avoided by the crowd, that prefer to visit the village and move to somewhere else. However, its interiors are covered by frescoes which has never been restored! They’re still intact with vivid and shining colours: it looks like the time hasn’t passed inside this building. The religious scenes represent the Old and New Testaments, but also the creation of the world. If you want to visit this amazing spot of Tuscany you can book our Tour, which will guide you through the discovery of Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni.
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5. San Miniato al Monte
Here we go with another mysterious story! We are back in Florence on a lush hill not far from the city center. The church takes the name from San Miniato who, in the year 250, was decapitated by the despotic emperor Decio because of his ascetism. Legend says that he run away with the head in his hands till the top of this small hill, living the rest of his life as a hermit. In today’s San Miniato you won’t find any man carrying a head, but a beautiful abbey instead. If you want to know more about this unique building, you can contact our staff and visit the heart of Florence together with a professional local Guide!