Florentine Facades

March 18, 2014 / Art & Archaeology
Florence, Tuscany

Notice to all readers:
Mary Jane Cryan, longtime ItalianNotebook contributor (of today’s note too), would like to invite all ItalianNotebook readers to the presentation (video here) of her book, Etruria Storie e Segreti, which will take place on Tuesday March 25th, 5 p.m., at the Fondazione Besso, Largo di Torre Argentina 11, Rome.

Resplendent with frescoes, monochrome graffito and architectural details, the palaces of Florence wow first time visitors and local residents alike and help the city earn its title of the world’s most beautiful open air museum.

Black and white marble decorate Santa Maria Novella’s façade which overlooks the newly reorganized piazza and its benches of glass and metal, not so good for sitting on hot summer days.


Often interior courtyards hide even more spectacular façade, such as those of Palazzo Medici Riccardi. Built for Cosimo de’ Medici near San Lorenzo’s simple brick façade, the courtyards have monochrome graffito decoration, gardens and loggias perfect for modern sculpture exhibitions.


Overlooking the Boboli gardens, Palazzo Pitti’s severe stone façade contrasts with the
frivolous pastels of the Kaffehaus.


Across the Arno on Via Maggio one finds the splendid monochrome graffito façade of Palazzo di Bianca Cappello, dedicated to Cosimo Medici’s Venetian wife whom the Florentines considered a witch.


In striking contrast with these Renaissance façades is that of Sant’Orsola on Via Guelfa, an ancient convent where the original Mona Lisa, Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, was buried. Now an abandoned shell, Sant’Orsola has been transformed into a modern art installation by Czech artist Vaclav Pisrejc who covered the façade with 120,000 dollar bills.



Mary Jane Cryan

by Mary Jane Cryan

Mary Jane is a historian, cruise lecturer, author and publisher of books on Italian history and central Italy has been residing in Italy for half a century.

See her award winning website www.elegantetruria.com and weekly blog posts on 50YearsInItaly for more about central Italy and to order books directly from the author.

10 Responses to “Florentine Facades”

  1. Joan Carpenter

    Hi, Mary Jane–I enjoy your contributions to this site enormously. I won’t be back in Rome soon, so will have to enjoy my favorite things on this and your great websites.

    Complimenti! Joan

  2. Allan Mahnke

    We will be in Florence again shortly, and you have whetted our appetites for familiar and also new places. Thank you! Kathryn & Allan

  3. Marianna Raccuglia

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos. I really enjoyed them

  4. I love reading all of your posts. Thank you. Call me ‘picky’ but – I think Bianca Cappello was Francesco Medici’s wife – not his father Cosimo’s.

  5. Angela Finch

    I have just found your note. Thank you so much for your lovely photos and informative descriptions. These facades must be quite unique.


Leave a Reply