Città metropolitana, English

Florence: a stroll around San Lorenzo

sabato 7 Marzo 2020

Discovering the beauty of the historic Medici district, and the new gem of the former monastery of Sant’ Orsola

Piazza San Lorenzo is the beating heart of the district in central Florence bearing the same name. The Square is dominated by The Basilica named after Saint Lawrence, whose chapels house the mortal remains of members of the Medici, the prominent family that made Florence great.

The Basilica of San Lorenzo is one of the most important places of worship in Florence. The construction started in the 4th century and the project was finished in 1461 by Brunelleschi.

The great condottiere from the Medici family, Giovanni Dalle Bande Nere is the symbolic custodian of San Lorenzo: Standing in the square, his statue watches over the entrance of Palazzo Medici Riccardi, the Renaissance House commissioned by Cosimo the Elder, which today hosts the seat of the Metropolitan City of Florence.

San Lorenzo is one of the most lively neighbourhoods in the historic city centre, surrounded by bars and trattorias where to taste traditional local dishes like the Florentine steak, the ribollita soup, Trippa and Lampredotto.

Just a few steps from the Square, are the stalls of one of the most famous markets in Europe, Mercato of San Lorenzo. Towering over the market’s stalls is the impressive structure of Mercato Centrale which was opened in 1874 with the International Exhibition of Agriculture.

Sneaking down the alleyways of the market district, we arrive in front of the majestic facade of the former monastery of Sant’ Orsola, which is now ready to shine again in the eternal beauty of Florence.
Built in 1300, the structure has suffered various vicissitudes, becoming a symbol of degradation and neglect. The derelict building has been an open wound in the heart of the city for way too many years. Several restoration attempts have failed in the past decade, but we are now at a turning. The Metropolitan City of Florence, owner of the complex, has approved a regeneration project that was presented to the citizens by Mayor Dario Nardella.

After a long, dark period, the former monastery has finally hit the headlines with the excavation of the tomb of Lisa Gherardini, the famous Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo, who was buried here in 1542.
The refurbished complex of Sant’ Orsola will be a crucial piece of the mosaic of innovations due to be implemented in the area by 2030, through the “Metrocittà” strategic plan, which, not surprisingly is entitled Metropolitan Renaissance.
The restoration work has started between the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 with the reconstruction of the roof while the second stage of the project will focus on renewing the facade. The investment of over 4 million euros represents the first step towards the transformation of Sant’Orsola into San Lorenzo’s new gem.