Italy is known throughout the world as that small piece of land surrounded by the sea where art (in all its forms) and man have always coexisted in perfect harmony. Once you get there, you have the feeling that everything has existed, where you see it, for much longer than it seems. As with monuments and buildings, sometimes the locals also begin to be part of the history of a neighbourhood, a street, or the city as a whole.
But Italy is not all monuments and tradition, Italy has a side that you do not expect, almost hidden, that strives to get noticed.
Italian architecture has developed through the conservative style of the great masters of the past, a style that even the new had to maintain. Little by little, almost disguising itself, modern architecture made its way into the 1920s and 30s with a new and unconventional form.
Now down there, in the midst of buildings from the 1400s, there are new buildings of immense architectural value, symbol of an artistic and cultural renaissance.
One of the cities where the architectural history of the past prevails over the present and in part also the future is undoubtedly Florence. A city that has made its ancient roots an added value that echoes to the present day. It is precisely in this hyper-conservative context that the production of modern and contemporary architecture has been greatly reduced and mitigated but has not prevented the birth of great works.
So if you are in Florence and you love design and architecture, here is a list of (unconventional) places that are worth visiting at least once in a lifetime.
FLORENCE CITY CENTER
Stazione Santa Maria Novella (1929) & Palazzina Reale (1935) – Italian Rationalism
These two examples of early twentieth century architecture celebrate the magnificence and grandeur of modern Italian architecture. We recommend a visit to the station ticket office and the Royal Palace Hall.
Manifattura tabacchi (1940) – Italian Rationalism
Ancient production area of the famous Tuscan cigars a stone’s throw from the Parco delle Cascine today the subject of an important redevelopment plan that will lead it to be the new expansion area of the city, with residences, schools, museums and bars; today already partially open to the public, it has a bar-restaurant with small workshops of emerging artisans / artists.
Le Murate (2001) – Recovery of the former Florentine prisons
Excellent example of the redevelopment of a vast complex of historic buildings that remained abandoned from the 1980s to the early 2000s in a social housing complex designed by the architect Renzo Piano. Stop by the literary café inside to enjoy the neighborhood’s atmosphere.
Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (2014) – Winner of Concorso di Architettura Internazionale
Contemporary building built to give a new home to Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, an annual Italian arts festival. Completed in 2014 this theatre has a large public arena on the roof from whose top you can enjoy an unprecedented glimpse of the city.
OUTSKIRTS OF FLORENCE
Cantine Antinori (2012) – Finalist of the 2015 Mies Van Der Rohe International Prize
The synthesis of how contemporary architecture and the landscape can perfectly combine, we recommend a guided tour with wine tasting.
Tribunal of Florence (1970) – Contemporary Architecture
Contemporary masterpiece of the architect Ricci whom Daniel Libeskind took inspiration from to develop his own unmistakable style.
Church of San Giovanni Battista (1964) – Known as the “church of the Autostrada del Sole”
Masterpiece by architect Michelucci who is inspired by the Chapel of Ronchamp (Le Corbusier) to give shape to an organic building where the union of reinforced concrete mixed with stones seems to have been shaped by nature.
Certosa del Galluzzo (1300 – 1500) – Monastery
At the beginning of his career, Le Corbusier stayed inside one of the cells of the monastery from which he then took inspiration to develop some of his famous theories.