From an ancient Roman development to one of Fodor’s top European destinations, the city of Florence has donned many hats throughout the centuries. In a city teeming with so many titles how can you possibly keep it all straight? Lucky for you the Palazzo Vecchio’s temporary exhibition, Traces of Florence, is here to help you do just that. As the pivot point and iconic symbol of the city, the Palazzo is a perfect setting to tell the story of Florence. And as always, the best part, visiting this exhibition won’t cost you a single centesimo.
Directions to the Palazzo Vecchio hardly seem necessary. But just in case you are brand spanking new to the city this map will quickly help you locate Piazza della Signoria, the civic center of Florence and front yard of the Palazzo.
Once inside, head to the ticket office to request your free ticket and then to the exhibit entrance.
The doors are open everyday from 9 am to 7 pm, except for Thursdays when it closes at 2 pm. Wait, no siesta? No random 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays of the month closings? Open on Mondays? That’s right! But don’t let these remarkable (well for Italy) opening hours be your excuse to procrastinate. This exhibit will only be on display until March of 2013.
Traces of Florence illustrates not only the social and political changes that the city has undergone, but the consequences that these changes had on the fabric of the city as well. Sketches, prints, photographs and engravings map the city throughout its history allowing the visitor to understand the transformation of the streets and palazzi over the centuries. See how the dark labyrinth of strade in medieval Florence was unwound at the dawn of the Renaissance, where the ancient Roman theater was situated (spoiler alert: right beneath your feet!), or how the devastating flood of 1966 widened the banks of the Arno. These maps, photographs and diagrams allow you to be transported back to Firenze com’era. Speaking of, now would be a good time to give a shout out to the former Museo di Firenze Com’era (Florence as it was), which provided the majority of the works for Traces of Florence.
Other paintings and engravings capture details of the city and moments from everyday life, documenting the lives of the Florentines within each era. These images also illustrate how our favorite piazze and palazzi looked hundres of years ago. Hopefully you make this visit with a friend as, if you’re anything like me, you’re sure to have lots of loud “no way!” and “aha!” moments, that might be a bit uncomfortable if you’re by yourself. For example, check out the paintings below. Can you tell which present-day piazzas these depict?
As you reemerge into the streets of Florence after your educational afternoon, hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised to realize that somehow everything and nothing has changed about this city.