Perhaps the best way to get the pulse of a city is to explore it by night, when most Italians take part in the collective pre- or post-dinner walk called la passeggiata. This rite is the inspiration for our early evening orientation walk which transects the heart of the historical center of town and is aimed at giving a broad, yet comprehensive, view of Florence's past and present.
Our walk begins in Piazza SS. Annunziata, an integral public space in the Florence city center. Here we look at one of the most important architectural spaces in Florence, the Ospedale degli Innocenti, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, and the cityscape context that surrounds it. After a 10-minute stroll down the shop- and cafe-filled Via dei Servi, we will arrive at Brunelleschi's later masterpiece, the Duomo. We will make a circuit of the exterior (as the church itself is closed at this hour) and discuss the importance of the cathedral and nearby Baptistery in Florentine art and civic history.
From here, our course will depend on the whim of the group and the interests of the docent. We will surely move deeper into the center, perhaps to Piazza Signoria, the government center of Renaissance Florence, or to Piazza Repubblica, which is filled with firebreathers, jugglers, and other nightlife at this time and surrounded by some of the most famous cafes in Florence. Perhaps we'll take our time, stopping for a glass of wine or gelato and enjoying the atmosphere of the city.
Our Evening Transect is intended as an orientation walk. We will not go into too much depth on any one topic or structure, especially spaces like the Duomo or Uffizi that are covered in depth on our longer seminar-style walks. Instead, the purpose of this walk is to give you a sense of the city and to let you feel its pulse. We may spend as much time talking about fashion, coffee, or wine as we do about the Medici or Michelangelo; or you may find yourself with a grad student writing her dissertation on Florentine history who wants to show you some out-of-the-way place of tremendous historical importance that most visitors simply bypass on their way to the big-name monuments. The point being that we will take our time to develop a thoughtful experience for you that, hopefully, will give you some of the tools to begin understanding this most fascinating city.