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What To Do If You Only Have One, Three Or Five Hours In Florence

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 8/03/2016 Jessica Kane

One hour


If you have an hour, go to the church of Santa Felicita, just across the Arno (on the riverbank across from the cathedral). The church has a masterpiece—not only of Florentine art but of all Italian art—yet even the locals aren’t familiar with it. In a chapel on the left, the Barbadori-Capponi Chapel originally designed by Brunelleschi (yes, the same architect who built the dome of the cathedral), you can see the Deposition of Christ by the Florentine painter Pontormo, executed in the mid-16th century. It is an outstanding example of the Mannerist style and shows its typical features: dazzling and unnatural colors, elongated figures, intricate composition. I love it because of its exquisitely coordinated pastels, with greens, pinks, blues and apricot hues. Stunning! Next to it is the Annunciation, also by Pontormo, as are the medallions with the Evangelists on the pendentives of the small dome. Piazza Santa Felicita 3.

Three Hours


If you’ve got a little more time, go to Villa La Petraia, one of the most beautiful Medici villas around Florence (the Medici were the lords of the city), which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. The villa and magnificent Italian garden on three terraces, with a view of Florence, are open to visitors all year, but be sure to check when the villa is closed; reservations are required for group tours. Nearby (reachable on foot) there is another villa that can also be visited, but by appointment and only on certain days. It is the Medicean Villa di Castello, which houses the Accademia della Crusca, the national institute established to safeguard and study the Italian language. Here too there is a breathtaking Italian garden, second only to the Boboli Garden, and it is always open to visitors! You can get to Villa La Petraia by bus from Florence’s main train station, Santa Maria Novella. It takes about 30 minutes on line 2 or line 28; get off at the Sestese 03 stop. Note: Florence airport is less than 15 minutes from the villa.

Villa La Petraia, Via della Petraia 40, tel. +39 055 452691

Five hours


If you have a late evening plane and want to explore the area, a tour of the Fattoria di Celle is a must. The estate and garden have a collection of 70 works of environmental art (site specific) from the Gori Collection, which you can admire in the park and the buildings that are part of the complex. The villa as it appears today goes back to the 17th century, while the English garden was enlarged in the 19th century and covers nearly 74 acres.

The collector Giuliano Gori came here in the 1970s and, given the presence of several 19th-century constructions in the park (the aviary, the little tea palace), he decided to maintain the estate’s vocation to host specially created works. Therefore, he asked each artist to be inspired by a place (in the interiors – from the villa to the farm to the Cascina Terrarossa – or in the park) and create a work there. At the entrance you will be welcomed by the bright red Grande Ferro Celle by Alberto Burri, whereas inside you’ll see works by the Italian artists Michelangelo Pistoletto, Giuseppe Penone and Mimmo Paladino (and many others). To get there, take the train from Florence to Pistoia (about 40 minutes), and then get a cab (about ten minutes). The villa is open to visitors from April/May to the end of September, strictly by reservation by sending an email to There is no admission fee and a guided tour for small groups is free! Be sure to read the recommendations about how to dress for your day on the estate (comfortable shoes, etc.) at

Fattoria di Celle – Collezione Gori, Via Montalese 7, Località Santomato di Pistoia

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