Florence is famous worldwide for its history art and shopping
Florence initially originated from the small etruscan settlement of Fiesole in 200 BC, later developed as a Roman city by Julius Caesar in 59 BC (originally called Fluentia, which was later changed into Florentia - meaning "Flowering"). Later on, after a long period as a flourishing trading and banking medieval centre, it became the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. It was indeed politically, economically, and culturally one of the most important cities in Europe and the world from the 14th to 16th centuries. It was ruled by the Medici Family, powerful bankers of the Pope from the 15th Century up to the 18th century, but inbetween it was shaked by numerous religious and republican revolutions.
Thanks to Lorenzo De Medici, great patron of arts known nowadays as "Lorenzo the Magnificent", famous masterpieces of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli came to light. They widely contributed to the fame of the city, commonly considered as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, renowned for its history, culture, Renaissance art and architecture. Many notable figures also lived in Florence, like the fathers of Italian painting, Giotto and Cimabue; figures who renewed architecture and sculpture, like Arnolfo and Andrea Pisano; the first exponents of the Renaissance, such as Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio; Ghiberti and the Della Robbia; Filippo Lippi and L'Angelico; Botticelli and Paolo Uccello.
The works of these great men and artist, sling with those from the generations that followed until today, are gathered in numerous museums and art galleries throughout the city, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Pitti Palace.
In addition, thanks to the importance of the masterpieces by important writers such as Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Dante Alighieri Niccolò Machiavelli, the Florentine dialect rose to represent the basis of Standard Italian and the language of culture in Italy.
From 1865 to 1870 the city became the capital of the newly established Kingdom of Italy as well.
It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.
Florence is also an important city of the Italian fashion, as well as a major national economic, tourist and industrial centre,
The most important site of Florence is the city cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore with its sculptures, built in brick and mortar, whose dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi. Nearby also the famous Campanile, partly designed by Giotto and the Baptistry, with its mosaics.
The centre of the city is surrounded by "defensive" medieval walls built in the 14th century, as a sign of the city's economic and commercial importance.
At the heart of the city, Piazza della Signoria, with its magnificent Bartolomeo Ammannati's Fountain of Neptune (1563-1565), made of marble and some private and public palazzos, such as the Palazzo Vecchio, former residence of the Medici Family, Palazzo Pitti, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Palazzo Davanzati.
The Renaissance architecture in strongly present in all the city. Nevertheless, traces of medieval, Baroque, Neoclassical and modern architecture can also be found.
Many medieval churches, monasters, cloisters and convents and their cycle of frescos are to be found around the city as well.
The Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), plenty of shops built upon its edges, held up by stilts, is another attraction of the city. It was originally built by the Etruscan, but rebuilt later on in the 14th century and surprisingly the only bridge of the city to keep intact after the massive bombarding of the World War II.
The bridge also carries the famous Vasari's elevated corridor linking the Uffizi to the Medici residence (Palazzo Pitti).
The church of San Lorenzo with the internal Medici Chapel, the mausoleum of the Medici family, is another point of great interest for tourists.
Nearby is the Uffizi Gallery, art museum renowned in all the world and located on the corner of Piazza della Signoria. It was founded from the last member of the Medici family.
In front of the Palazzo della Signoria, it to be found the Michelangelo's David, installed in 1504 and now replaced by a replica, since the original was moved in 1873 to the Galleria dell'Accademia.
Within the Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria find their place remarkable statues by sculptors such as Donatello, Giambologna, Ammannati and Cellini (though some replaced with copies).
Squares of Florence
In addition to such monuments, Florence is provided with several main squares and streets.
The Piazza della Repubblica is a famous location of cultural cafés, such as Caffè Gilli, Paszkowski or the Hard Rock Cafè and the Giubbe Rosse café, traditional meeting place for artists and writers, especially the Futurists.
The Piazza Santa Croce, dominated by the Basilica of Santa Croce, is another one, where the Calcio Fiorentino is played every year.
At the end of the famous fashion street Via de' Tornabuoni, there is finally to be found the Piazza Santa Trinita.
Concerning the streets, the Via dei Calzaiuoli, linking Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Signoria, is the core of the city, with its interesting shops and boutiques.
Via de' Tornabuoni, full of fashion boutiques, is a luxurious street in the city centre across Piazza Santa Trinita,
Furthermore, Florence can also count various parks and gardens, such as the Boboli Gardens, the wide Parco delle Cascine and the Giardino Bardini.
Art and museums
The Uffizi Gallery
Museo dell'opera del Duomo
The Cappelle Medicee
The Galleria dell'Accademia
The Galleria Palatina
Palazzo Medici Riccardi
The Archaeological Museum
The Museum of the History of Science
The Zoological Museum "La Specola"
The Museum of Argenti
The Museum of Pietre dure
The Stibbert Museum
Events and Historical evocations
Florence's annual calendar is rich in events, traditional festivals, art exhibits, expositions and cultural manifestations that represent the core of the city and its inhabitants.
June is probably the best month to visit Florence: the Patron Saint Feast Day and the Calcio Storico Fiorentino are the most awaited manifestations of the city calendar. They always attract hundreds of people coming from everywhere in Tuscany as well as crowds of foreign visitors.
Calcio Storico Fiorentino ("Historic Florentine Football"), sometimes called "Calcio in costume", is a traditional sport, maybe a forerunner of soccer, though the actual gameplay most closely resembles rugby. The event originates from the Middle Ages, when the most important Florentine nobles amused themselves playing while wearing bright costumes.
Scoppio del Carro
The Scoppio del Carro ("Explosion of the Cart") is a celebration of the First Crusade held during the day of Easter with the aim of bringing prosperity and fortune to the city for the new year
Early Summer and Fall are also the best times of the year for enjoying the many sagre - or food festivals - dedicated to a particular and seasonal local product, like chestnuts, porcini mushrooms, truffle, extra virgin olive oil and wine (from September to November and early December); culinary traditions have always played an important role in Florence's history and culture.
Last but not least, there are those events dedicated to national festivities, like Christmas or Easter: many are annual manifestations organized every year.