One of the wonderful things about Florence is its accessibility. You can walk most places (especially if you are more fit than I!) and you can easily orient yourself with the Duomo and the Arno River. Several times I have just started walking in a new direction to see where I end up. I found the Santa Maria Novella, The Hard Rock Cafe and the Oblate Library and Basilica della Santissima Annunziata this way.
The Oblate Library is a small public library in the building of the 14th century Oblate Order Convent. The Oblate complex formed the core of a hospital complex. The ground level was built in 1329! There is a cute little courtyard with trees and benches and this interesting sculpture. The building itself is rather run down but it seems to have a nice library and is filled with students. I took a couple of pictures of the duomo while I was upstairs visiting the little cafe
My flat is very near the Santa Maria del Fiore, the duomo and the Baptistry.
On the Piazza di Santa Maria del Fiore there are many artists selling paintings or offering portraits. Some of the art is quite good. As I was wandering through the piazza one morning I saw this man with the pigeons and was so moved by his love for them. Most people shoo them away and kick at them as they are a bit of a nuisance, but this man obviously loves them and they know it!
I took back streets back to my flat and came upon this little square. The Hotel Loggiato Dei Serviti is in this complex There is a statue there and a couple of fountains, and of course a church! The church, Basilica della Santissima Annunziata was founded in 1250. It looks plain on the outside but inside is quite beautiful. The facade was built in 1601. There is art work inside dating from the mid 1400’s. The organ is from 1648 and the oldest in Florence. Discovered because I took a different path home!
The Santa Maria Novella is a lovely church competed in 1420 although the foundation stone was blessed in 1279. There is a convent complex attached to the church. The facade, like the Cathedral di Santa Maria Del Fiore and the Baptistry, is inlaid with green and white marble. It contains many beautiful and old works of art including pieces by Ghibertti, Botticelli and Lippi.
Adjacent to the cloister is the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella. It is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world. It was started by Dominican Monks in 1221. As best I can tell the sales building dates back to the early 1600’s and was formerly a chapel. The building is quite large and also serves a museum.