Romantic things to see in Florence

A special tour of hidden corners of the city, each one boasts a love story

Here is an itinerary devoted to love not only for Valentine's Day! Seek out some of the most famous places of love in the city of Florence.

The love story linked to the Ponte Vecchio involves a young Florentine nobleman from the early 1200s: Buondelmonte de’ Buondelmonti was young, handsome and cultured. He was stabbed to death as he mounted his white horse. Buondelmonte made an mistake when it came to love: he first fell in love with a girl from the Casa Amidei, promising to marry her; then changing his mind at the altar with empty excuses.

Ponte Vecchio - Credit: masseffect84

There's a small church in Florence, called the Chiesa di Dante, which is believed to be where Dante met Beatrice for the first time and he fell in love with her immediately. Dating back to 1032, the church is very old and it holds the tombs of Beatrice Portinari, who died in 1291, and her wet-nurse Monna Tessa. Inside the church is a fresco that depicts Dante's first meeting with Beatrice, which was created on the 700th anniversary of her death.

When Brunelleschi's dome was being constructed (1419-36) wood scaffolding was erected; the side where the Porta della Mandorla opens out faced onto the adjacent homes, where via dei Servi begins today. In one of these homes lived a young and beautiful woman, a seamstress, who used to look out of the window at the men as they worked. She began to exchange glances with one of them and they soon began to meet secretly in her house, when the young woman's husband was away at work. Besides the damage done, the adulterous worker wanted to leave a sign on the Duomo of the affair: he created a cow's head with two horns and put it on the Duomo, facing the direction of the women's home. It was meant for his lover's husband, who was "cornuto", a man who was cheated on by their spouse! Another reason for the cow's head was because, at the time, along via dei Servi, there was a trail that the cows would travel to transport the material needed to construct the Duomo. As a sign of gratitude towards these animals that worked alongside the workers, they erected the cow's head.

Duomo Firenze - Credit: Claudia D'Aliasi

In 1777, at the Santa Croce Basilica in Florence, there was an important encounter for the poet Vittorio Alfieri: he met Luisa Stolberg, Countess of Albany, who had a very famous literary salon in Florence at the time. A relationship started between the two and continued until Alfieri's death.

Santa Croce - Credit: Alessandro Farese

However, the most famous love story in Florence occurred between Francesco I dei Medici and Bianca Cappello. Bianca Cappello was the daughter of a Venetian gentleman from the ancient noble family. Her parents were Bartolommeo Cappello and Pellegrina Morosini. In 1563, she fell in love with Pietro Bonaventuri and fled with him to Florence, where on December 12 that same year, the two lovers got married. The Palazzo del Mondragone, on via dei Banchi, at the corner of via del Giglio, is where Bianca Cappello and Francesco de’ Medici met during a party. It was love at first sight. The Palazzo di Bianca Cappello, on via Maggio, 26, with the decorated facade, was renovated by architect Bernardo Buontalenti.

Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the celebrated English couple, both poets, moved to Florence to flee from Elizabeth's obsessive father; their love for one another lasted for 11 years. When Elizabeth died in 1862, Robert returned to England with their son. Elizabeth Barrett Browning is buried at the English Cemetery in Piazza Donatello.

The hill of Bellosguardo was where Ugo Foscolo and his love, Quirina Mocenni Magiotti, lived. They resided in Villa Torricella, destroyed in the early 1900s, where Foscolo wrote the verses of Le Grazie (1813), dedicated to his lover.

View from Bellosguardo - Credit: Herry Lawford

The beautiful hillside overlooking Florence, in Settignano, is linked to the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, who lived there from 1989 to 1909; back then he had a relationship with the actress Eleonora Duse. This is also where he wrote the book Il Fuoco, published in 1900 and authorized by Duse. In the publication he describes his passionate love affair for Buse.

At the time when Florence was the capital of Italy, the Villa Medicea de La Petraia was the summer residence of King Victor Emanuel II of Savoy. In 1919, it became the property of the Italian State. Visitors can visit the gardens as well as interior of the villa, whose furnishings are all from the era of the reign of the Savoy monarchy. On the first floor, visitors can see the bedroom of the “Beautiful Rosina”, the lover of Victor Emanuel II. When his wife died, she became his regale consort, after being given the title of "Countess of Mirafiori”.

Villa la Petraia - Credit: Andreas Jungherr

Cover image credit: C. D'Aliasi

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