Empoli Travel Guide

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This town appears in documents of the 8th century as a castle, but the city was recognised in 1119 as organised around the Parish church of Sant’Andrea. Today the town is still organised around Piazza Farinata degli Uberti where the most important historical buildings of the city are to be found: the Palazzo Ghibellino, which houses the Museo Paleontologico and the Archivio Storico, and the Palazzo Pretorio, which was at one time the town hall. But the most noteworthy building, both for its age and importance, is the Collegiata di Sant’Andrea, which dates back to 1093. The two-tone marble facade marks the furthest western reach of the aristocratic architectural influence of the Florentine Romanesque style.

The church of Santo Stefano (14th-15th Century) and its connected Convento degli Agostiniani (16th century) lie not far away. The church contains remains of many important frescoes and synopties by Masolino da Panicale and a splendid marble Annunciation by Bernardo Rossellino. It is also possible to visit the Casa Natale di Ferrucio Busoni (Birthplace of Ferruccio Busoni) (1866-1924), which now houses a museum dedicated to the great musician and the Study Centre named after him.

The parish church of San Michele in Pontorme, home of the painter Jacopo Carrucci, also known as il Pontormo (1494-1556), contains the two famous paintings of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Michael Archangel. The painter’s birthplace is to be found on the main street that crosses the hamlet.

Due to a centuries-long tradition of artists and craftsmen the glass industry represents one of the oldest production activities of the Empolese area. Even today, objects made of glass, crystal and the traditional Empolese green glass are created in an environment that has changed very little.

One of the oldest ecclesiastical museums, its architectural origins were founded in the background of the Renaissance movement. The current layout dates back to 1990. There is an attractive Baptistery with a monumental baptismal font attributed to Bernardo Rossellino and among the frescoes there is the masterpiece by Masolino depicting The Deposed Christ, from where we move on to the sculpture hall.

The Painting gallery is on the upper floor, where the works are arranged chronologically, from the polyptych by the Pistoiese artist named Maestro Pistoiese in 1336 to the interesting products from Florentine workshops, most productive between the end of the 14th century and the start of the 15th century. We then move on to fully Quattrocento-style works, with masterpieces such as the two triptychs by Lorenzo Monaco and the small Madonna in Majesty by Filippo Lippi. The next room contains the works of the Botticini artists, whose workshop was active until the first decades of the 15th century. Finally there are other works from the late 15th and 16th centuries and also some 17th century works. The museum itinerary finishes in the upper part of the cloister, where some Robbia works are on display.

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