Liberty style in Florence: an unexpected itinerary
Follow the tracks of the Liberty style, sophisticated and refined buildings in Florence and beyond.
For the typical tourist in Florence, these buildings generally go unnoticed.
Yet despite their lack of visitors, the enchanting Liberty-style villas (also known as Art Nouveau) are real architectural masterpieces nestled in Renaissance Florence.
For the most part, tourists head to Florence for reasons beyond these modern villas, but if you’re craving something different and a bit outside the norm – maybe because you’re a fan of modern art or know Florence like the back of your hand – then don’t miss out on this itinerary.
Liberty style in the historic center
This may come as a surprise, but there are many Liberty-style buildings right in the center of Florence.
The first is Palazzo Pola e Podescan on the corner of via Brunelleschi and via de’ Pecori.
It’s a short walk from piazza della Repubblica, an area completely rebuilt in the mid-19th century. The main structure is pure 19th-century in style, but the façade is bursting with Art Nouveau decor, vaunting sculptures, colored-ceramic and wrought iron frontispieces.
You’ll also find the casa-galleria Vichi in Borgo Ognissanti, a masterpiece by the architect Giovanni Michelazzi.
Completed in 1911, it’s perhaps the most mesmerizing Liberty-style structure in the center of Florence, known for its perfectly mixed stone, steel and glass vertical façade, not to mention its striking decorative statues, such as the mythological eagles and dragons.
Last but not least is villino Uzielli in piazza d’Azeglio, one of the most sophisticated parts of the city (not far from the Sant’Ambrogio neighborhood). Built by the architect Paolo Emilio Andrè, it towers over the square and features bizarre decorations, such as two "obelisks" in the center of the façade.
Liberty style outside the city center
You’ll find other examples of the Liberty style (perhaps the most original ones) beyond piazza Beccaria.
On via Scipione Ammirato you’ll find more of Michelazzi’s work, who between 1907 and 1911 built two villas next door to one another: villino Broggi Caraceni (99), and villino Ravazzini (101).
The first is one of the most stunning example of Art Nouveau: its extravagant silhouette and vivid colors will be sure to astound you, as the entire building was constructed entirely in Liberty style, not just the decorations. The second building, though noticeably more austere, is known for its striking elegance and refined decor.
Not far from these beautiful structures you’ll find casa Antonini in via Orcagna, whose balcony, façade and gate boast the classic elements of Art Nouveau.
On the next street over, in via Ghirlandaio, you’ll find the casa studio di Galileo Chini, the former home of one of the major Italian figures of the Liberty style movement.
You’ll find other examples of Liberty-style buildings between the Campo di Marte station and Piazzale Donatello, including villino Ciuti, in via della Robbia 74, vaunting a panoramic terrace with a neo-Gothic feel, and villino Baroncelli, also built by Michelazzi, boasting an eccentric tower with splashes of Byzantine style. It can be found in via Duprè 75 (not far from the city’s stadium).
Finally, if you want to see more of Florence’s periphery, head to Porta Romana to admire the splendid wrought iron and ceramic décor of villino Lampredi, also built by Michelazzi and decorated by Galileo Chini (via Giano della Bella 9-13, parallel to Viale Petrarca).
Liberty style in Borgo San Lorenzo
But that's not all. If you’re starting to get a taste for this style, make your way out of Florence and head to Borgo San Lorenzo (in the Mugello area).
Here, the artist Galileo Chini, known worldwide for his works in the Fornaci di San Lorenzo (an old ceramics factory), decorated many private residences, such as villino Chini or villa Pecori Giraldi (today the Museo Chini).
Finally, you can opt to follow the Itinerario Liberty (the Liberty Itinerary), where you’ll trace elements of the Liberty style in churches and palaces around town.