Piazza della Santissima Annunziata (The Most Holy Annunciation Plaza), is considered one of the most beautiful plazas in Florence located in the historical center of the city just north to Piazza del Duomo. Located in the piazza are several fountains and statues including the Fernando I de Medici’s statue and two fountains depicting marine monsters.
Basilica della Santissima Annunziata
It’s biggest and most striking attraction here is Basilica della Santissima Annunziata, a Roman Catholic church located at the northeastern side of the plaza. The church was founded in the year 1250 by the members of the Servite Order (one of the five original Catholic orders). The facade as we see it now was added until the 15th century by Giovanni Battista Caccini. There is a Florentine tradition that has existed for centuries where brides visit the shrine and leave their bouquets.
There is a legend told about a painting in the Basilica that tells that its creation was begun by one of the monks who eventually left it unfinished because he did not think he could paint beautifully but when he awoke one night, the painting was finished. It is told it was an angel who completed his work of art. Soon, a peregrination to the church began to venerate the painting and many pilgrims would leave images which became a big tourist attraction in the 18th century until they were burned to make candles in the year 1786.
The inside of the church is decorated by Baroque style furniture, artworks and frescoes in the ceilings as well as the oldest organ in Florence and the second oldest one in the whole country. Also inside lies the tomb of Maria Valtorta, a famous Italian writer.
Ospedale degli Innocenti
A building that perfectly resembles typical Italian Renaissance architecture with its facade made up of semicircular arches, windows and columns. Designed by Filippo Bunelleschi, it originally served as a orphanage where many children were left abandoned as it had a rotating wheel where parents could drop the baby without anyone seeing them. The orphanage was closed in the late 19th century and was converted into what it is today, a museum of art mostly focused on works by Renaissance artists. In reality, the history of this building is quite sad. Due to the many famines, the orphanage became indebted and children were dismissed; some of them were lucky enough to find homes in good families but most children, especially girls were given to noble families for marriage while most were trained for manual labors and some were simply forced to leave and became prostitutes. Recorded domestic violence and abuse occurred here as well.
Located on Via San Gallo, Palazzo Pandolfini is one of the most beautiful palaces built at the end of the Renaissance era in Florence. The biggest attraction in the palace is the garden, which was taken care of by Sophronia Stibbert, the wide of count Alessio. Later on, an orchid greenhouse was built by Robert for his wife. The garden has undergone many changes and does not look how it did originally, but it is still beautiful with rare flora and tall trees that hide the palace’s walls as well as marble sculptures depicting mythological figures.