Oh that old thing? Taking things for granted in Florence’s historic city centre

From Piazza Davanzati, the Palazzo dello Strozzini (and if you look closely, the Artviva Walking tours office!). Photo by Sailko

Florence is often called a ‘living museum’ for all the fascinating, historical, stunning elements that lie within. Whether you’re lucky enough to call Florence home, or just equally fortunate to be visiting Florence, it is easy to take for granted the incredible history behind the most basic of things. It’s difficult enough just trying not to trip up on the rough-hewn cobblestones, so how can one possibly focus on all the spectacular buildings with ornate facades, statues poised in historic piazzas, family crests long ago pinned onto and etched into buildings, not to mention all the churches?


Just yesterday, one easily-distracted Artviva staff member was standing in Piazza Strozzi, a little too flamboyantly waving her arms as she spoke, when she looked up by chance to wherest she pointed and noticed the breath-taking finer details on the face of one building she has passed by hundreds of time and yet not noticed. Given, the building does have fantastic shop windows on street-level, and the cobblestones beneath are particularly un-heel friendly, but still…


Once inspiration and enthusiasm hits us (usually at times shortly after coffee or chocolate breaks, surprisingly or not!), we at Artviva do like to follow up with action. As such, we found ourselves heartily researching the buildings surrounding the Walking Tours office, and from there it was just a hop, skip and a cobble-stone trip-up to our own building ? Palazzo dello Strozzino.

Just to the right of the Artviva Walking Tours office. Photo by Sailko.

Meaning something akin to ‘Building of the Little Strozzi’, the beginnings of what today is the Artviva Walking Tours building (or at least, the building in which you can find one very lovely Artviva Walking Tours office!) came in approximately 1457. With the more important of the historic Strozzi family being in the Palazzo Strozzi, the littler folk were placed in the little Strozzi building. ‘Little’ being a little mis-leading, mind you, seeing as how the building is near on an entire block which today encompasses an English-language cinema (the lovely Odeon), a nightclub (called ‘Yab’ ? don’t forget to say it in an Italian accent however!), a coffee shop where the more sweet-toothed Artviva staff member swears the pastries are fantastic, the British Institute, and then continuing around the block, the committee for Calcio Storico (Florence’s historic football/soccer match which is something of a cross between football and boxing played by buff locals in brightly coloured pantaloons!), several shops and offices, a restaurant and a large bank. You could basically live entirely within the block and be housed, well-fed, well-entertained, well-dressed, have all your finances under control and of course, even have lots of great company with us!

Palazzo dello Strozzino from the Piazza Strozzi. Photo by Sailko.

One of Italy’s most famed architects, Filippo Brunelleschi (you may know him from such works as the Brunelleschi’s Dome!) is said to have designed the Pallazzo dello Strozzino, however the actual construction was overseen by several architects, and owing to the somewhat frequent adaptations to the building, these changes occurred over several centuries also.


So the point is not that we at Artviva like chocolate (although we do), the point lies more in the fact that you should not only appreciate your surroundings on a visual level, but also learn more about where you are and why where you are exists ? knowledge which would even exalt your initial visual appreciation.

Looking up. Detail of the Piazza dello Strozzino, just near the Artviva Walking Tours office. Photo by Sailko

Whether or not you can follow that sentence, you can certainly follow our entertaining, small-group tour-guided Original Walking Tour of Florence to learn about (and thoroughly enjoy) Florence’s historic city centre.


To extend your knowledge and your pleasure, we also have an Original Evening Walk guided walking tour of Florence’s ‘other side’ ? that is, the other side of the Arno river, the ‘Oltrarno’ area (which cleverly means something like, ‘across the Arno’ ? those tricky Italians!). This is a great guided walking tour not only for the actual walking tour component, but also because it concludes with a wine tasting in a little wine store in Florence where you will be guided through a tasting of wonderful Italian wines.


We also have a lovely small-group walking tour that heads out to the surrounding Tuscan countryside, and we very aptly call it the Perfect Morning in Tuscany walking tour. It also includes a traditional Tuscan lunch with wine, in a lovely Tuscan countryside setting.


If pedal-power is your thing, we also have a small-group Tuscany bike tour including Tuscan wine tasting and traditional Tuscan lunch.


Small-group guided walking Tours of Rome and prestigious guided walking tours of Venice are also available from Artviva Walking Tours.


You can email us on staff@artviva.com or see www.italy.artviva.com for more information.


The front of the Odeon cinema, just a few meters from the Artviva Walking Tours office in Florence! Photo by Sailko

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