Florence

Florence (Italian: Firenze, alternate obsolete spelling: Fiorenza; Latin: Florentia) is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 367,569 inhabitants (1,500,000 in the metropolitan area).

The city lies on the River Arno; it is known for its history and its importance in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, especially for its art and architecture and, more generally, for its cultural heritage. A centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time, Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance; it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. A turbulent political history included periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, religious and republican revolution. From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy. Florence is often known as the "Jewel of the Renaissance".

The historic centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Florence is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and the impact of its artistic, historic and cultural heritage in the world remains to this day. The city has a major impact in music, architecture, education, cuisine, fashion, philosophy, science and religion. The historic centre of Florence contains elegant squares (piazze), Renaissance palaces (palazzi), academies, parks, gardens, churches, monasteries, museums, art galleries and ateliers. The city has also been nominated, according to a 2007 study, as the most desirable destination for tourists in the world.

The city boasts a wide range of collections of art, especially those held in the Pitti Palace and the Uffizi, (which receives about 1.6 million tourists a year). Florence is arguably the last preserved Renaissance city in the world and is regarded by many as the art capital of Italy. It has been the birthplace or chosen home of many notable historical figures, such as Dante, Boccaccio, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Niccolò Machiavelli, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Donatello, Galileo Galilei, Catherine de' Medici, Luigi Cherubini, Antonio Meucci, Guccio Gucci, Franco Zeffirelli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli, Leonardo Bruni, Coluccio Salutati, and Emilio Pucci.

History of Florence

Florence has had a long and eventful history, being a Roman city, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance (or the "Florentine Renaissance"), and being considered, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, as politically, economically, and culturally one of the most important cities in Europe and the world for around 250 years – from the 14th century to the 16th century.

Such was the artistic and cultural dominance of Florence, that the language spoken there during the 14th century was, and still is, accepted as a pan-Italian language. Almost all the writers and poets in the Italian literature of the golden age are somewhat connected with Florence, leading ultimately to the adoption of the Florentine dialect above all the local dialects, as a literary language of choice.

Florentines reinvented money – in the form of the gold florin – which was the engine that drove Europe out of the "Dark Ages" – a term invented by Petrarch, a Florentine. They financed the development of industry all over Europe – from Britain to Bruges, to Lyon, to Hungary. They financed the English kings during the Hundred Years War. They financed the papacy, including the construction of Avignon and the reconstruction of Rome when the papacy returned from the so-called Babylonian Captivity.

Florence was home to the Medici, one of history's most important noble families, who revolutionized high culture and the arts. Just to cite one example: Catherine de Medici (1519–1589), married Henry II of France (reigned 1547–1559). After he died, Catherine ruled France as regent for her young sons and was instrumental in turning France into Europe's first nation-state. She brought the Renaissance into France, introducing everything from the chateaux of the Loire to the fork. She also was to 16th and 17th century European royalty what Queen Victoria was to the 19th and 20th centuries. Her children included three kings of France, Francis II (ruled 1559–1560), Charles IX (ruled 1560–1574) and Henry III (ruled 1574–1589). Her children-in-law included a fourth king of France, Henry IV (ruled 1589–1610), plus Elizabeth of Habsburg, Philip II of Spain (of Armada fame), and Mary, Queen of Scots.

Roman origins

A wooden model of Florence as it would have probably looked during Roman times, showing the ancient amphitheatre.

Florence was established by Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 80 BC as a settlement for his veteran soldiers and was named originally Fluentia, owing the fact that it was built between two rivers, which was later corrupted to Florentia. It was built in the style of an army camp with the main streets, the cardo and the decumanus, intersecting at the present Piazza della Repubblica. Situated at the Via Cassia, the main route between Rome and the north, and within the fertile valley of the Arno, the settlement quickly became an important commercial centre. The Emperor Diocletian is said to have made Florentia the seat of a bishopric around the beginning of the 4th century AD, but this seems impossible in that Diocletian was a notable persecutor of Christians.

In the ensuing two centuries, the city experienced turbulent periods of Ostrogothic rule, during which the city was often troubled by warfare between the Ostrogoths and the Byzantines, which may have caused the population to fall to as few as 1,000 people. Peace returned under Lombard rule in the 6th century. Florence was conquered by Charlemagne in 774 and became part of the Duchy of Tuscany, with Lucca as capital. The population began to grow again and commerce prospered. In 854, Florence and Fiesole were united in one county.

Second millennium

Margrave Hugo chose Florence as his residency instead of Lucca at about 1000 AD. The Golden Age of Florentine art began around this time. In 1013, construction began on the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte. The exterior of the baptistery was reworked in Romanesque style between 1059 and 1128. This period also saw the eclipse of Florence's formerly powerful rival Pisa (defeated by Genoa in 1284 and subjugated by Florence in 1406), and the exercise of power by the mercantile elite following an anti-aristocratic movement, led by Giano della Bella, that resulted in a set of laws called the Ordinances of Justice (1293).

Middle Ages and Renaissance

Rise of the Medici

Of a population estimated at 94,000 before the Black Death of 1348, about 25,000 are said to have been supported by the city's wool industry: in 1345 Florence was the scene of an attempted strike by wool combers (ciompi), who in 1378 rose up in a brief revolt against oligarchic rule in the Revolt of the Ciompi. After their suppression, Florence came under the sway (1382–1434) of the Albizzi family, bitter rivals of the Medici. Cosimo de' Medici was the first Medici family member to essentially control the city from behind the scenes. Although the city was technically a democracy of sorts, his power came from a vast patronage network along with his alliance to the new immigrants, the gente nuova (new people). The fact that the Medici were bankers to the pope also contributed to their ascendancy. Cosimo was succeeded by his son Piero, who was, soon after, succeeded by Cosimo's grandson, Lorenzo in 1469. Lorenzo was a great patron of the arts, commissioning works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli. Lorenzo was an accomplished musician and brought some of the most famous composers and singers of the day to Florence, including Alexander Agricola, Johannes Ghiselin, and Heinrich Isaac. By contemporary Florentines (and since), he was known as "Lorenzo the Magnificent" (Lorenzo il Magnifico).

Following the death of Lorenzo de' Medici in 1492, he was succeeded by his son Piero II. When the French king Charles VIII invaded northern Italy, Piero II chose to resist his army. But when he realized the size of the French army at the gates of Pisa, he had to accept the humiliating conditions of the French king. These made the Florentines rebel and they expelled Piero II. With his exile in 1494, the first period of Medici rule ended with the restoration of a republican government.

Savonarola and Machiavelli

During this period, the Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola had become prior of the San Marco monastery in 1490. He was famed for his penitential sermons, lambasting what he viewed as widespread immorality and attachment to material riches. He blamed the exile of the Medicis as the work of God, punishing them for their decadence. He seized the opportunity to carry through political reforms leading to a more democratic rule. But when Savonarola publicly accused Pope Alexander VI of corruption, he was banned from speaking in public. When he broke this ban, he was excommunicated. The Florentines, tired of his extreme teachings, turned against him and arrested him. He was convicted as a heretic and burned at the stake on the Piazza della Signoria on 23 May 1498.

A second individual of unusual insight was Niccolò Machiavelli, whose prescriptions for Florence's regeneration under strong leadership have often been seen as a legitimization of political expediency and even malpractice. Commissioned by the Medici, Machiavelli also wrote the Florentine Histories, the history of the city. Florentines drove out the Medici for a second time and re-established a republic on 16 May 1527. Restored twice with the support of both Emperor and Pope, the Medici in 1537 became hereditary dukes of Florence, and in 1569 Grand Dukes of Tuscany, ruling for two centuries. In all Tuscany, only the Republic of Lucca (later a Duchy) and the Principality of Piombino were independent from Florence.

18th and 19th centuries

The extinction of the Medici dynasty and the accession in 1737 of Francis Stephen, duke of Lorraine and husband of Maria Theresa of Austria, led to Tuscany's temporary inclusion in the territories of the Austrian crown. It became a secundogeniture of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty, who were deposed for the Bourbon-Parma in 1801, themselves deposed in December 1807 when Tuscany was annexed by France. Florence was the prefecture of the French department of Arno from 1808 to the fall of Napoleon in 1814. The Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty was restored on the throne of Tuscany at the Congress of Vienna but finally deposed in 1859. Tuscany became a province of the United Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

Florence replaced Turin as Italy's capital in 1865 and, in an effort to modernise the city, the old market in the Piazza del Mercato Vecchio and many medieval houses were pulled down and replaced by a more formal street plan with newer houses. The Piazza (first renamed Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele II, then Piazza della Repubblica, the present name) was significantly widened and a large triumphal arch was constructed at the west end. This development was unpopular and was prevented from continuing by the efforts of several British and American people living in the city. A museum recording the destruction stands nearby today.

The country's first capital city was superseded by Rome six years later, after the withdrawal of the French troops made its addition to the kingdom possible.

20th century

After doubling during the 19th century, Florence's population was to triple in the 20th, resulting from growth in tourism, trade, financial services and industry.

During World War II the city experienced a year-long German occupation (1943–1944) and was declared an open city. The Allied soldiers who died driving the Germans from Tuscany are buried in cemeteries outside the city (Americans about nine kilometres (6 mi) south of the city, British and Commonwealth soldiers a few kilometres east of the centre on the right bank of the Arno). In 1944, the retreating Germans blew up the bridges along the Arno linking the district of Oltrarno to the rest of the city, making it difficult for the British troops to cross. However, at the last moment Charle Steinhauslin, at the time consulate of 26 countries in Florence, convinced the German general in Italy that the Ponte Vecchio was not to be blown up, as it was too beautiful.

Instead, an equally historic area of streets directly to the south of the bridge, including part of the Corridoio Vasariano, was destroyed using mines. Since then the bridges have been restored to their original forms using as many of the remaining materials as possible, but the buildings surrounding the Ponte Vecchio have been rebuilt in a style combining the old with modern design. Shortly before leaving Florence, as they knew that they would soon have to retreat, the Germans murdered many freedom fighters and political opponents publicly, in streets and squares including the Piazza Santo Spirito.

In November 1966, the Arno flooded parts of the centre, damaging many art treasures. Around the city there are tiny placards on the walls noting where the flood waters reached at their highest point.

Architecture of Florence

Florence is known as the "cradle of the Renaissance" (la culla del Rinascimento) for its monuments, churches and buildings. The best-known site and crowning architectural jewel of Florence is the domed cathedral of the city, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as The Duomo. The magnificent dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi. The nearby Campanile (partly designed by Giotto) and the Baptistery buildings are also highlights. Both the dome itself and the campanile are open to tourists and offer excellent views; the dome, 600 years after its completion, is still the largest dome built in brick and mortar in the world.

In 1982, the historic centre of Florence (Italian: centro storico di Firenze) was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. The centre of the city is contained in medieval walls that were built in the 14th century to defend the city.

At the heart of the city, in Piazza della Signoria, is Bartolomeo Ammanati's Fountain of Neptune (1563–1565), which is a masterpiece of marble sculpture at the terminus of a still-functioning Roman aqueduct.

The River Arno, which cuts through the old part of the city, is as much a character in Florentine history as many of the people who lived there. Historically, the locals have had a love-hate relationship with the Arno — which alternated between nourishing the city with commerce, and destroying it by flood.

One of the bridges in particular stands out — the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), whose most striking feature is the multitude of shops built upon its edges, held up by stilts. The bridge also carries Vasari's elevated corridor linking the Uffizi to the Medici residence (Palazzo Pitti). Although the original bridge was constructed by the Etruscans, the current bridge was rebuilt in the 14th century. It is the only bridge in the city to have survived World War II intact. It is the first example in the western world of a bridge built using segmental arches, that is, arches less than a semicircle, to reduce both span-to-rise ratio and the numbers of pillars to allow lesser encumbrance in the riverbed (being in this much more successful than the Roman Alconétar Bridge).

The church of San Lorenzo contains the Medici Chapel, the mausoleum of the Medici family – the most powerful family in Florence from the 15th to the 18th century. Nearby is the Uffizi Gallery, one of the finest art museums in the world – founded on a large bequest from the last member of the Medici family.

The Uffizi is located at the corner of Piazza della Signoria, a site important for being the centre of Florence's civil life and government for centuries. (Signoria Palace is still home of the community government.) The Loggia dei Lanzi provided the setting for all the public ceremonies of the republican government. Many significant episodes in the history of art and political changes were staged here, such as:

The Piazza della Signoria is the location of a number of statues by other sculptors such as Donatello, Giambologna, Ammannati and Cellini, although some have been replaced with copies to preserve the priceless originals.

In addition to the Uffizi, Florence has other world-class museums. The Bargello concentrates on sculpture, containing many priceless works by sculptors including Donatello, Giambologna and Michelangelo. The Accademia dell'Arte del Disegno (often simply called the Accademia) collection's highlights are Michelangelo's David and his unfinished Slaves.

Across the Arno is the huge Palazzo Pitti, containing part of the Medici family's former private collection. In addition to the Medici collection, the palace's galleries contain many Renaissance works, including several by Raphael and Titian, large collections of costumes, ceremonial carriages, silver, porcelain and a gallery of modern art dating from the 18th century. Adjoining the palace are the Boboli Gardens, elaborately landscaped and with many interesting sculptures.

The Santa Croce basilica, originally a Franciscan foundation, contains the monumental tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Dante (actually a cenotaph), and many other notables.

Other important basilicas and churches in Florence include Santa Maria Novella, San Lorenzo, Santo Spirito and the Orsanmichele, and the Tempio Maggiore Great Synagogue of Florence.

Religious architecture

List of churches in Florence

Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral

The fourth largest church in Europe, its length being 153 metres (502 ft) and its height 116 metres (381 ft).

San Giovanni Baptistery

Located in front of the Florence Cathedral, it is decorated by many artists, notably by Lorenzo Ghiberti with the Gates of Paradise.

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

Located in Santa Maria Novella square (near the big Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station), it contains works by Masaccio, Paolo Uccello, Filippino Lippi and Domenico Ghirlandaio. The great façade was made by Leon Battista Alberti.

Basilica of Santa Croce

The principal Franciscan church in Florence, Italy, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 metres south east of the Duomo. The site was in marshland outside the city walls. It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile, Rossini, and Marconi, thus it is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell'Itale Glorie).

San Marco, Florence

A complex comprising a church and a convent. The convent, which is now a museum, has three claims to fame: during the 15th century it was home to two famous Dominicans, the painter Fra Angelico and the preacher, Girolamo Savonarola. Also housed at the convent is a famous collection of manuscripts in a library built by Michelozzo.

Basilica of San Lorenzo,

one of the largest churches of Florence, Italy, is situated at the centre of the city's main market district, and the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III.

Santo Spirito,

located in the Oltrarno quarter, facing the square with the same name. The building on the interior is one of the pre-eminent examples of Renaissance architecture.

Orsanmichele,

this building was constructed on the site of the kitchen garden of the monastery of San Michele, which is now gone.

Santissima Annunziata

is a Roman Catholic basilica and the mother church of the Servite order. It is located on the north-eastern side of the Piazza Santissima Annunziata.

Ognissanti,

founded by the lay order of the Umiliati, this was among the first examples of Baroque architecture built in the city. Its two orders of pilasters enclose niches and windows with fantastical cornices. To the left of the façade is a campanile of 13th and 14th-century construction.

Santa Maria del Carmine in the Oltrarno district of Florence,

it is famous as the location of the Brancacci Chapel, housing outstanding Renaissance frescoes by Masaccio and Masolino da Panicale, later finished by Filippino Lippi.

Santa Trinita

It is the mother church of the Vallumbrosan Order of monks, founded in 1092 by a Florentine nobleman. Nearby is the Ponte Santa Trinita over the river Arno. The church is famous for its Sassetti Chapel, containing notable frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio.

Medici Chapel in San Lorenzo

The Medici Chapel are the resting place of most of the Medici as Grand Dukes of Tuscany. One is the Sagrestia Nuova, the "New Sacristy", designed by Michelangelo. The other is the Capella dei Principi, the 16th and 17th-century "Chapel of the Princes", which is covered with a revetment of colored marbles inlaid with pietra dura.

San Marco

comprises a church and a convent. The convent, which is now a museum, has three claims to fame: In the 15th century, it was home to two famous Dominicans, the painter Fra Angelico and the preacher, Girolamo Savonarola. Also housed at the convent is a famous collection of manuscripts in a library built by Michelozzo.

Santa Felicita

is a church in the downtown, probably the oldest in the city after San Lorenzo. it shrines the celebrated Deposizione, masterpiece of Florentine Painter Pontormo

Badia Fiorentina,

famous as the parish church of Beatrice Portinari, the love of Dante's life, and the place where he watched her at mass, for Dante grew up across the street in what is now called the 'Casa di Dante', rebuilt in 1910 as a museum to Dante.

San Gaetano,

one of the most important examples of the Baroque style in Florence, a city better known for its Renaissance architecture.

San Miniato al Monte,

standing at one of the highest points in the city, has been described as the finest Romanesque structure in Tuscany and one of the most beautiful churches in Italy.

Florence Charterhouse

is a charterhouse, or Carthusian monastery, located in the Florence suburb of Galluzzo. The building is a walled complex located on Monte Acuto, at the point of confluence of the Ema and Greve rivers.

Great Synagogue of Florence

is a magnificent building erected between 1874 and 1882. The design integrates Islamic and Italian architectural traditions.

Orthodox Russian church of Nativity,

located in a quarter built in the 19th and 20th centuries, it was erected in the Russian style of the 8th century.

Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence

It is a church of the Carmelite Order, in the Oltrarno district of Florence. It is famous as the location of the Brancacci Chapel housing outstanding Renaissance frescoes by Masaccio and Masolino da Panicale, later finished by Filippino Lippi.

Museums

Proclaimed as the "art capital of Italy", Florence has immense artistic and cultural richness, and contains numerous museums and art galleries where some of the world's most important works of art are held. The city is one of the best preserved Renaissance centres of art and architecture in the world and has a high concentration of art, architecture and culture. In the ranking list of the 15 most visited Italian art museums, 2/3 are represented by Florentine museums.

Uffizi

This is one of the most famous and important art galleries in the world, with an incomparable collection of international and Florentine art. The gallery is articulated in many halls, cataloged by schools and chronological order. Engendered by the Medici family's artistic collections through the centuries, it houses works of art by Giotto, Cimabue, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raffaello, Tiziano, Caravaggio, Bernini, Beato Angelico, Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Francisco Goya, Tintoretto, Paolo Uccello, Chardin, Piero della Francesca, Masaccio, Giorgio Vasari, Correggio, Canaletto, El Greco, Dürer, Lucas Cranach, Antonello da Messina, Mantegna, Simone Martini and many others. It has the largest collection of Botticelli's works in the world.

Vasari Corridor

The Vasari Corridor is a gallery which connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Pitti Palace passing by the Uffizi and over the Ponte Vecchio. Was built for the Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici.

Galleria dell' Accademia

La Galleria dell'Accademia is famous for its Michelangelo collection, including the famous David. It has a collection of Russian icons and works by Bronzino, Botticelli, Perugino, Ghirlandaio, Paolo Uccello, Giambologna, Pontormo, Lorenzo Monaco, Lorenzo Bartolini and others artists.

Palazzo Vecchio

Palazzo Vecchio was (and still is) the political heart of the city for two centuries, before to become the residence of grand duke Cosimo I de' Medici; its history reflects in the magnificent interior decorating and artistic collections. It homes in many halls works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, Baccio Bandinelli, Bronzino, Giambologna, Giorgio Vasari, Ammannati, Francesco Salviati, Pontormo and many florentine artists.

The Florentine Royal Palace is an important art museum, with five main art galleries and eight museums:

Palatine Gallery

The Palatine Gallery, on the first floor of the piano nobile, contains a large ensemble of over 500 principally Renaissance paintings, which were once part of the Medicis' and their successors' private art collection. The gallery, which overflows into the royal apartments, contains works by Raphael, Titian, Correggio, Rubens, and Pietro da Cortona. The character of the gallery is still that of a private collection, and the works of art are displayed and hung much as they would have been in the grand rooms for which they were intended rather than following a chronological sequence, or arranged according to school of art.

Royal Apartments

This is a suite of 14 rooms, formerly used by the Medici family, and lived in by their successors. These rooms have been largely altered since the era of the Medici, most recently in the 19th century. They contain a collection of Medici portraits, many of them by the artist Giusto Sustermans. In contrast to the great salons containing the Palatine collection, some of these rooms are much smaller and more intimate, and, while still grand and gilded, are more suited to day-to-day living requirements. Period furnishings include four-poster beds and other necessary furnishings not found elsewhere in the palazzo. The Kings of Italy last used the Palazzo Pitti in the 1920s. By that time it had already been converted to a museum, but a suite of rooms (now the Gallery of Modern Art) was reserved for them when visiting Florence officially.

Modern Art Gallery

This gallery originates from the remodeling of the Florentine academy in 1748, when a gallery of modern art was established. The gallery was intended to hold those art works which were prize-winners in the academy's competitions. The Palazzo Pitti was being redecorated on a grand scale at this time and the new works of art were being collected to adorn the newly decorated salons. By the mid-19th century so numerous were the Grand Ducal paintings of modern art that many were transferred to the Palazzo Croncetta, which became the first home of the newly formed "Modern Art Museum".

Following the Risorgimento and the expulsion of the Grand Ducal family from the palazzo, all the Grand Ducal modern art works were brought together under one roof in the newly titled "Modern gallery of the Academy". The collection continued to expand, particularly so under the patronage of Vittorio Emanuele II. However it was not until 1922 that this gallery was moved to the Palazzo Pitti where it was complemented by further modern works of art in the ownership of both the state and the municipality of Florence. The collection was housed in apartments recently vacated by members of the Italian Royal family. The gallery was first opened to public viewing in 1928. Today, further enlarged and spread over 30 rooms, this large collection includes works by artists of the Macchiaioli movement and other modern Italian schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The pictures by the Macchiaioli artists are of particular note, as this school of 19th-century Tuscan painters led by Giovanni Fattori were early pioneers and the founders of the impressionist movement. The title "gallery of modern art" to some may sound incorrect, as the art in the gallery covers the period from 1700 to early 1900. No examples of later art are included in the collection since In Italy, "modern art" refers to the period before World War II; what has followed is generally known as "contemporary art" (arte contemporanea). In Tuscany this art can be found at the Centro per l'arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci at Prato, a city about 15 km (9 mi) from Florence.

Silver Museum

Sometimes called "The Medici Treasury", this contains a collection of priceless silver, cameos, and works in semi-precious gemstones, many of the latter from the collection of Lorenzo de' Medici, including his collection of ancient vases, many with delicate silver gilt mounts added for display purposes in the 15th century.

Palazzo Pitti

These rooms, formerly part of the private royal apartments, are decorated with 17th-century frescoes, the most splendid being by Giovanni di San Giovanni, from 1635 to 1636. The Silver Museum also contains a fine collection of German gold and silver artifacts purchased by Grand Duke Ferdinand after his return from exile in 1815, following the French occupation.

Costume Gallery

Situated in a wing known as the "Palazzina della Meridiana", this gallery contains a collection of theatrical costumes dating from the 16th century until the present. It is also the only museum in Italy detailing the history of Italian fashions. One of the newer collections to the palazzo, it was founded in 1983 by Kristen Aschengreen Piacenti; a suite of fourteen rooms, the Meridiana apartments, were completed in 1858. In addition to theatrical costumes, the gallery displays garments worn between the 18th century and the present day. Some of the exhibits are unique to the Palazzo Pitti; these include the 16th-century funeral clothes of Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici, and Eleonora of Toledo and her son Garzia, both of whom died of malaria. Their bodies would have been displayed in state wearing their finest clothes, before being reclad in plainer attire before interment. The gallery also exhibits a collection of mid-20th century costume jewellery. The Sala Meridiana originally sponsored a functional solar meridian instrument, built into the fresco decoration by Anton Domenico Gabbiani.

Porcelain Museum

First opened in 1973, this museum is housed in the Casino del Cavaliere in the Boboli Gardens. The porcelain is from many of the most notable European porcelain factories, with Sèvres and Meissen near Dresden being well represented. Many items in the collection were gifts to the Florentine rulers from other European sovereigns, while other works were specially commissioned by the Grand Ducal court. Of particular note are several large dinner services by the Vincennes factory, later renamed Sèvres, and a collection of small biscuit figurines.

Carriages Museum

This ground floor museum exhibits carriages and other conveyances used by the Grand Ducal court mainly in the late 18th and 19th century. The extent of the exhibition prompted one visitor in the 19th century to wonder, "In the name of all that is extraordinary, how can they find room for all these carriages and horses". Some of the carriages are highly decorative, being adorned not only by gilt but by painted landscapes on their panels. Those used on the grandest occasions, such as the "Carrozza d'Oro" (golden carriage), are surmounted by gilt crowns which would have indicated the rank and station of the carriage's occupants.

Other carriages on view are those used by the King of the Two Sicilies, and Archbishops and other Florentine dignitaries.

Boboli Gardens

Connected to the Belvedere fort, the garden receives every year further 800.000 visitors, and it's one of the most important italian garden in the world. It's real open-air museum, due to the architectural and landscape's layout, and the sculptures collections, since the Roman antiquity to the XIX century. Among other building we can find the historical Kaffeehaus (built in rococò style) or the Limonaia.

Bargello

This museum houses masterpieces by Michelangelo, such as his Bacchus, Pitti Tondo (or Madonna and Child), Brutus and David-Apollo. Its collection includes Donatello's David and St. George Tabernacle, Vincenzo Gemito's Pescatore ("fisherboy"), Jacopo Sansovino's Bacco, Giambologna's L’Architettura and his Mercurio and many works from the Della Robbia family. Benvenuto Cellini is represented with his bronze bust of Cosimo I.

Museo dell' Opera del Duomo

This museum contains many of the original works of art and sculpture from the Florence Cathedral, including important works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Luca and Andrea della Robbia, and others.

Museo dell' Opificio delle Pietre Dure

L'Opificio delle Pietre Dure, whose base is in Florence, is one of the country's most important museums, even at international level.

The Galleria Monumentale (monumental gallery) of the Palazzo Borghese, one of the most important Neoclassical palace in Florence

Museo di Storia Naturale

The Museo di Storia Naturale di Firenze is a natural history museum in 6 major collections, located in Florence. It is part of the University of Florence. Museum collections are open mornings except Wednesday, and all day Saturday; an admission fee is charged. The museum was established on 21 February 1775 by Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo as the Imperial Regio Museo di Fisica e Storia Naturale. At that time it consisted of several natural history collections housed within the palazzo Torrigiani on Via Romana. Through the past two centuries, it has grown significantly and now forms one of the finest collections in Italy.

Museo Galileo

The Museo Galileo, known until 2010 as The Institute and Museum of the History of Science (Italian: Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, IMSS), is based in Florence, Italy. It was founded in 1927 by the University of Florence. The museum is located in the Palazzo Castellani, by the River Arno and close to the Uffizi Gallery. Among the more famous of its collections is the middle finger from the right hand of Galileo Galilei, which was removed when Galileo's remains were transported to a new burial spot on 12 March 1737.

National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum of Florence (Italian – Museo archeologico nazionale di Firenze) is an archaeological museum in held within the city. It is located at 1 piazza Santissima Annunziata, in the Palazzo della Crocetta (a palace built in 1620 for princess Maria Maddalena de' Medici, daughter of Ferdinand I de Medici, by Giulio Parigi).

National Museum of San Marco

In the ancient convent of San Marco in the namesake square, it holds the largest artistic collection in the world of Beato Angelico, that lived and worked in this building. There are also exposed other works of Renaissance's art.

Palaces

Palazzo Vecchio

The town hall of Florence is also a major art museum. This massive Romanesque crenellated fortress-palace is among the most impressive town halls of Tuscany. Overlooking the Piazza della Signoria with its copy of Michelangelo's David statue as well the gallery of statues in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi, it is one of the most significant public places in Italy. Originally called the Palazzo della Signoria, after the Signoria of Florence, the ruling body of the Republic of Florence, it was also given several other names: Palazzo del Popolo, Palazzo dei Priori, and Palazzo Ducale, in accordance with the varying use of the palace during its long history. The building acquired its current name when the Medici duke's residence was moved across the Arno to the Palazzo Pitti. It's linked to the Uffizi and the Palazzo Pitti through the Corridoio Vasariano. It houses many important Renaissance masterpieces.

Palazzo Medici Riccardi

The palace was designed by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo for Cosimo il Vecchio, of the Medici family, and was built between 1445 and 1460. It was well known for its stone masonry that includes rustication and ashlar. Today it is the head office of the Florence province and hosts museums and the Riccardiana Library.

Palazzo Strozzi

A splendid example of civil architecture with its rusticated stone, inspired by the Palazzo Medici, but with more harmonious proportions. Today the palace is used for international expositions like the annual antique show (founded as the Biennale del'Antiquariato in 1959), fashion shows and other cultural and artistic events. Here also is the seat of the Istituto Nazionale del Rinascimento and the noted Gabinetto Vieusseux, with the library and reading room.

Palazzo Rucellai

Designed by Leon Battista Alberti between 1446 and 1451 and executed, at least in part, by Bernardo Rossellino. Its splendid façade was one of the first to announce the new ideas of Renaissance architecture based on pilasters and entablatures in proportional relationship to each other, in a design that probably owed a great deal to Alberti's studies of Roman architecture, particularly the Colosseum, but which is also full of originality.

Palazzo Davanzati

Housing the museum of the Old Florentine House, this building's façade integrates a group of earlier medieval tower homes. It is constructed in sandstone, with three large portals on the horizontal axis, and three stories of mullioned windows. The topmost floor has a loggia supported by four columns and two pilasters that was added in the 16th century. The façade displays the Davanzati coats of arms and has traces of other decorations. The interior courtyard has arches, vaults, and capitals in 14th century-style.

Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali

was designed in the Neo-Renaissance style in 1871, and is one of the very few purpose-built commercial buildings in the centre of the city, located in Piazza della Signoria.

Palazzo Spini Feroni

located in Piazza Santa Trinita, is a historic 13th-century private palace, owned since the 1920s by shoe-designer Salvatore Ferragamo.

Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali

At the second floor we can find the Ferragamo Museum. The edifice's original appearance can be seen in Ghirlandaio's frescoes in the Cappella Sassetti of the neighbouring church of Santa Trinita.

Palazzo Borghese

is one of the most beautiful and important Neoclassical palaces in the city, it is well-known for its lavish interior.

Palazzo di Bianca Cappello

It is located in the Oltrarno district, marked by the graffiti on its facade and the kneeling windows by Bernardo Buontalenti. Bianca Cappello was the venetian lover of Francesco I de' Medici, and her palace is today the venue of conservation and restoration's laboratories of the Gabinetto Vieusseux.

Palazzo Antinori

It is considered one of the most beautiful Renaissance's palace of Florence, and it's located in the namesake Antinori square, at the end of Via de' Tornabuoni.

Royal building of Santa Maria Novella

This building is placed beside the Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station, and in front of Palace of Affairs. Was inaugurated in 1935 by King Vittorio Emanuele III and the minister Costanzo Ciano, and was used like temporary accommodation for the king and his court.

Arches

Arco di Trionfo (Triumphal Arch)

Found in Piazza della Libertà, it is a grand arch built in the 18th century by architect Jean-Nicolas Jadot, with statues of mythological deities and heroes, inspired by the work of the Accademia.

Arco di San Pierino

is a small arched-underpass between Piazza San Pier Maggiore e Via dell' Oriuolo, in one of the city's most picturesque quarters. Realized in pietraforte is considered a remains of the anchient walls of Florence of XII century.

Parks and Gardens

Boboli Gardens

The Boboli Gardens form a famous park in Florence, Italy, that is home to a collection of sculptures dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries, with some Roman antiquities. The gardens have passed through several stages of enlargement and restructuring work. They were enlarged in the 17th century to their present extent of 45,000 metres² (11 acres). Behind the Pitti Palace, the main seat of the Medici grand dukes of Tuscany, are some of the first and most familiar formal sixteenth century Italian gardens. The mid-16th century garden style, as it was developed here, incorporated longer axial developments, wide gravel avenues, a considerable "built" element of stone, the lavish employment of statuary and fountains, and a proliferation of detail, coordinated in semi-private and public spaces that were informed by classical accents: grottos, nympheums, garden temples and the like. The openness of the garden, with an expansive view of the city, was unconventional for its time.

Parco delle Cascine

This public park, with its 160 hectares is the largest park in Florence; it begins at the Vittorio Veneto square on the Viali di Circonvallazione and ends at the Indiano Bridge, delimited by the Mugnone torrent and the Macinante canal. Popular sport place, it has many sports structures among others soccer fields, a velodrome, a shooting, the archery, swimming pools and two racetracks. Besides locals and clubs it houses the memorial to the Indian prince Rajaram Chuttraputti, the Cascine's pyramid, the amphitheater and the Military Aviation School Giulio Douhet.

Giardino Bardini

It is an Italian Renaissance garden, it boasts many statues and panoramic views over the city. Wildlife in the garden includes rock pigeons, blackbirds and woodpigeons. A good part of the garden is visible from the Piazzale Michelangelo.

Giardino dell'Orticultura

The Giardino dell'Orticultura is located in Bolognese street, and it hosted national exhibitions and important shows. In this garden we can find the Loggetta Bondi, and a great greenhouse, the biggest in Italy when it was built.

Giardino dei Semplici

is a botanical garden maintained by the University of Florence. The garden was established on December 1, 1545, by Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and is Europe's third oldest. Today the garden contains some 9,000 plant specimens laid out in a roughly square site surrounded by walls, crossed by a grid of walkways, and with a central fountain. Some trees are quite old, including a Taxus baccata (1720) and Quercus suber (1805).

Giardino della Gherardesca

The Giardino della Gherardesca is the biggest private garden in the historical centre of Florence, and has the main entrace in Piazzale Donatello in from of the English Cemetery. Beside it is located the Palazzo della Gherardesca. Today is an estate of Four Seasons luxury-hotel.

Giardino Torrigiani

It is a big park inside the Oltrarno's walls, and represents a typical example of romantic style. Inside we find the Grotta di Merlino, the Gymnasium and the torrino.

Villas

Surrounding Florence, there are numerous villas, especially built by the Medicis. There are also a fair number of parks and gardens in Florence.

Villa Le Balze

Le Balze is a garden villa in Fiesole, Tuscany, central Italy, very close to Florence. The villa is owned by Georgetown University and hosts year round study abroad students. Planned in 1911 by Cecil Pinsent for American Charles Augustus Strong, it was built in a tight space along the Tuscan hills overlooking the city of Florence. "Balze" is Italian for cliffs, referring to this situation.

The Belvedere Fort

The Forte di Belvedere or Fortezza di Santa Maria in San Giorgio del Belvedere (often called simply Belvedere) is a fortification in Florence, Italy. It was built by Grand Duke Ferdinando I de' Medici during the period 1590–1595, with Bernardo Buontalenti as the designer, to protect the city and its rule by the Medici family. In particular, it was used to hold the Medici treasury. On the same side of the river as the Grand Ducal palace, the Pitti Palace in the Oltrarno district of the city, today the grounds provide spectacular outlooks over Florence; the buildings are used to hold works of art, and as a venue for exhibitions of contemporary sculpture.

Villa Medici at Careggi

The Villa Medici at Carreggi was a patrician Florentine house. The villa was among the first of a number of Medici villas, notable as the site of the Platonic academy founded by Cosimo de' Medici, who died at the villa in 1464. Like most villas of Florentine families, the villa remained a working farm that helped render the family self-sufficient. Cosimo's architect there, as elsewhere, was Michelozzo, who remodelled the fortified villa which had something of the character of a castello. Its famous garden is walled about, like a medieval garden, overlooked by the upper-storey loggias, with which Michelozzo cautiously opened up the villa's structure. Michelozzo's Villa Medici in Fiesole has a more outward-looking, Renaissance character.

Villa di Castello

The Villa di Castello is one of the Medici villas in Florence, Tuscany, central Italy. Niccolò Tribolo was one of the architects involved in its construction.

Villa Medici in Fiesole

The Villa Medici is a patrician villa in Fiesole, Tuscany, Italy, the fourth oldest of the villas built by the Medici family. It was built between 1451 and 1457.

Villa La Petraia

The Villa La Petraia is one of the Medici villas in the city, built in a Renaissance style.

Villa Palmieri, Fiesole

The Villa Palmieri, is a patrician villa in the picturesque town of Fiesole that overlooks Florence. The villa's gardens on slopes below the piazza S. Domenico of Fiesole are credited with being the paradisal setting for the frame story of Boccaccio's Decamerone. The villa's entrance from the town is in via Giovanni Boccaccio. The villa was certainly in existence at the end of the 14th century, when it was a possession of the Fini, who sold it in 1454 to the noted humanist scholar Marco Palmieri, whose name it still bears. In 1697, Palmiero Palmieri commenced a restructuring of the gardens, sweeping away all vestiges of the earlier garden to create a south-facing terrace, an arcaded loggia of five bays and the symmetrically paired curved stairs (a tenaglia) that lead to the lemon garden in the lower level. The often-photographed lemon garden survives, though postwar renovation stripped the baroque decors from the villa's stuccoed façade.

Villa del Poggio Imperiale

Villa del Poggio Imperiale (English: Villa of the Imperial Hill) is a predominantly neoclassical former grand ducal Villa to the south of Florence in Tuscany, central Italy. From obscure beginnings, it became in succession a seized possession of the Medici, the home of a homicidal and unfaithful husband, and a lavish retreat for a Grand Duchess with imperial pretensions. Later given to Napoleon's sister, it was reclaimed by the hereditary rulers of Tuscany before being finally converted to a prestigious girls' school. During its long history, it has often been at the centre of Italy's turbulent history, and has been rebuilt and redesigned many times.

Villa Salviatino, Maiano

The Villa Salviatino, Maiano, in the frazione of Maiano on the steep slope south of Fiesole, is a Tuscan villa overlooking Florence. A modest farmhouse in the 14th century, set among informally terraced slopes planted with vines and olives, the house in its vigna was purchased in 1427 by the Bardi family, bankers of Florence, who rebuilt it in such palatial fashion that when it was subsequently sold to Nicola Tegliacci in 1447, the new owner named it Palagio (palazzo) dei Tegliacci. In the 16th century it passed to Alamanno Salviati, who had it sumptuously frescoed and furnished; thus it gained its name as the Villa Il Salviatino, to distinguish it from the grander Villa Salviati "le Selve", near Lastra, to the west. The villa was celebrated by Francesco Redi, in his Bacco in Toscana (1685): "viva il nome Del buon Salviati, ed il suo bel Maiano.

Torre del Gallo

The Torre del Gallo is located in Florence at Pian de 'Giullari, in the hills of Arcetri, on top of a ridge overlooking the city where there is a magnificent panorama. The villa, which is dominated by the tall tower, has a large hall with an octagonal vaulting, and an entry with graffiti, perhaps from the Renaissance. The court attributed to Brunelleschi is surrounded by Corinthian columns and arches on three sides, while the second neo-gothic courtyard is decorated with many coats of arms belonging to the owners of the villa and ones Bardini added.

Villa di Quarto

The Villa di Quarto is a villa on via di Quarto in Florence, in the hilly zone at the foot of the Monte Morello. Quarto (fourth) is one of the toponyms relating to the Roman milestones, the most famous of which in this area is Sesto Fiorentino, of 45,000 inhabitants. The villa was built in the 15th century and, after various changes of ownership, in 1613 it passed to the Pasquali family, who had it rebuilt by Alfonso Parigi, designer of the Boboli extension. In the 19th century the villa took on its present appearance – it then belonged to Jérôme Bonaparte, former king of Westphalia, who left it to his daughter Mathilde Bonaparte, wife of the Russian nobleman and industrialist Anatole Demidov. It then changed hands again a few more times before being acquired in 1908 by baron Ritter de Zahony, who totally restored it. The villa's guests included the French historian and statistician Adolphe Thiers and the American writer Mark Twain. – Twain's wife died here.

Villa Feri

Villa Feri is a villa in Florence located at the corner of Via del Podestà and Via Martellini. It is known as "gentleman's villa" (villa da seniore) already in the 15th century. The first known documents about this villa are dated back to 1472, when Agostino di Lotto Tanini and Agnolo di Zanobi Da Diacceto sold it to Bernardo d'Antonio degli Alberti. In 1481, it became property of the brothers Agnolo and Benedetto Bartolommei, then, at the beginiing of the 16th century, was acquired by Raffaello and Miniato Miniati. It was then property of Bartolini-Salimbeni, that modified the structure of the main building, of the Vinci family and, more lately, of the Boni family. In 1863, it was finally acquired by the Feri family, which eventually gave the actual naming. (The Feri family Coat of Arms is still visible on top of the main gate.)

Villa Rusciano

The Villa Rusciano is an historic villa in the neighbourhood of Florence which includes work by Brunelleschi. The villa is located at 37, Via Benedetto Fortini, Firenze. Set in a hilly area on the outskirts of Florence, the Villa has one of the most magnificent views over the city. The name is derived from the area, once a prominent agricultural estate. The villa is very old, cited by Franco Sacchetti in Trecentonovelle, and once belonged to the Salviati.

Villa San Michele Hotel

The Villa San Michele Hotel, situated on the hill of Fiesole overlooking Florence, Italy, is named after the church of St Michael the Archangel. Today, it is owned by Orient-Express Hotels and operated as a luxury hotel.

Squares of Florence

Piazza del Duomo

Piazza del Duomo is located in the heart of the historic centre of Florence. Here one can find the Florence Cathedral with the Cupola del Brunelleschi, Giotto's Campanile, the Florence Baptistry, the Loggia del Bigallo, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, and the Arcivescovile and Canonici's palace. The west zone of this square is called San Giovanni square.

Piazza della Repubblica

Is a square in the center of Florence, location of the cultural cafes and bourgeois palaces. Among the square's cafes (like Caffè Gilli, Paszkowski or the Hard Rock Cafè), the Giubbe Rosse cafe has long been a meeting place for famous artists and writers, notably those of Futurism.

Piazza Santa Croce

Dominated by the Basilica of Santa Croce it is a rectangular square in the centre of the city. Here the Calcio Fiorentino is played every year and when can find on this square the Palazzo dell'Antella, the Palazzo Cocchi-Serristori (main office of center of Florence quarter) and the Dante's statue. In Christmas time is venue of typical German's markets.

Piazza della Signoria

It is the focal point of the origin and of the history of the Florentine Republic and still maintains its reputation as the political hub of the city. The impressive 14th century Palazzo Vecchio is still preeminent with its crenellated tower. The square is also shared with the Loggia della Signoria, the Uffizi Gallery, the Palace of the Tribunale della Mercanzia (now the Bureau of Agriculture), and the Uguccioni Palace (16th century, with a facade by Raphael). Located in front of the Palazzo Vecchio is the Palace of the Assicurazioni Generali.

Piazza San Lorenzo

It offers the great Basilica of San Lorenzo with the Cappelle Medicee, a lively open market of souvenirs and handmade products, and the Laurentian Library. Near this square is located the central market of the city.

Piazza Santa Maria Novella

With the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella ,the Alinari National Phography Museum, and many luxury hotels, is one of the principal squares of Florence. It is opposite of Piazza della Stazione, accessible by Via degli Avelli.

Piazza della Santissima Annunziata

Located near piazza San Marco and piazza del Duomo is an harmonious square which overlook the Ospedale degli Innocenti, the Loggia dei Servi di Maria, the Budini Gattai palace and the National Archaeological Museum

Piazza della Stazione

It is a big square in the center of the city, one of the main focal point of transport in Florence. Here converge almost the entire bus-line, and tramways, and the central railway station of Florence the biggest and masterpiece of Rationalism Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station, that is used by 59,000,000 people every year. On piazza della Stazione we can also find the Palazzina Reale di Santa Maria Novella (where the king of Italy stayed), and the Palazzo degli Affari.

Piazza dell' Indipendenza

It is a wide square located near Piazza della Stazione and San Lorenzo Market, with palaces typically bourgeois where lived Guido Nobili and Theodosia Gorrow Trollope wife of the writer Anthony Trollope.

Piazza San Marco

Located in the north zone of the historic centre of Florence near Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, it hosts the Basilica of San Marco, the headquarters of the University of Florence and the renowned Academy of Fine Arts of Florence.

Piazza Santa Trinita

It is a square near the Arno that mark the end of the elegant fashion-street of Via de' Tornabuoni. On Piazza Santa Trinita overlooks the Santa Trinita church (that gives the name to the square), the Palazzo Spini Feroni, the Palazzo Buondelmonti, the Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni and the Column of Justice.

Piazza dei Ciompi

It hosts the Loggia del Pesce made by Giorgio Vasari and the house of Lorenzo Ghiberti.

Piazza d' Azeglio

Near the viali di Circonvallazione it shows of the Villino Uzielli Palace.

Piazza Goldoni

In front of Ponte alla Carraia, in the Piazza Goldoni we can find the Palazzo Ricasoli and the statue dedicated to Carlo Goldoni.

Piazza Beccaria

Piazza Beccaria is a square on the viali di Circonvallazione and on this square overlook the State Archives, La Nazione's headquarters and the Porta alla Croce.

Piazza della Libertà

It is the northernmost point of the historic centre of Florence. It was created in the 19th century during works to produce the Viali di Circonvallazione around the city. In this square is located the beautiful triumphal arch of Florence.

Streets

Via Camillo Cavour

Via Camillo Cavour is one of the main roads of the northern area of the historic city centre of Florence. It was created in 1861 from two older streets, Via Larga and Via Leopoldo (as far as Piazza della Libertà, renamed Piazzale Cavour at the same time), and renamed after Camillo Cavour on 17 June 1861, just 11 days after his death.

Via Ghibellina

One of central Florence's longest streets, it leads directly towards the National Museum of Bargello, and contains numerous palaces, shops and theatres. In this street we can find among others the Borghese palace, the Teatro Verdi and the Casa Buonarroti. At the west end of this street (via del Proconsolo) is placedthe Badia Fiorentina, and at the east end the street leads at Piazza Cesare Beccaria where is located the State Archives and the Porta alla Croce.

Via dei Calzaiuoli

It's one of most central streets of the historic centre of the city. It link Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Signoria, winding parallel to via Roma and Piazza della Repubblica. On this pedestrian street look out many elegant shops and other commercial activities. At the beginning of via dei Calzaiuoli, at the corner with piazza del Duomo we find the Loggia del Bigallo.

Via de' Tornabuoni

Via de' Tornabuoni, or Via Tornabuoni, is a luxurious streets of the centre of Florence that goes from Antinori square to ponte Santa Trinita, across Piazza Santa Trinita, characterised by the presence of fashion boutiques. It contains numerous upscale fashion and jewery labels, such as Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo and Bulgari, to name a few. In the past on via' de Tornabuoni was present the Casoni cocktail where the famous Negroni Café was invented in 1920 by earl Camillo Negroni. On this street there are some bars and elegant cafés, such as the well-known Gran Caffé Doney.

Viali di Circonvallazione

The Viali di Circonvallazione are a series of 6-lane boulevards surrounding the northern part of the historic centre of Florence. The boulevards follows the outline of the ancient walls of Florence, that were demolished since 1865 according to the Giuseppe Poggi's project to make Florence, then the capital of Italy, a modern and big city like the others European capitals.

Via Roma

A central street near Piazza della Repubblica, which is built in mainly 18th-19th century style architecture.

Via degli Speziali

The Via degli Speziali is an elegant street, built mainly in the 19th century neo-classical style, near Piazza della Repubblica.

Via de' Cerretani

It's a wide street in the historical centre of the city, which it winds from Piazza della Stazione (through via Panzani) to the baptistery in Piazza San Giovanni. On this street overlook many commercial activities, and great palaces like the Palazzo Del Bembo or the Santa Maria Maggiore church.

Viale dei Colli

This important avenue cross the hills around Florence, and it link the Oltrano district to Piazzale Michelangelo. On this avenue we can find many gardens with gazebos and chalet, and the Giardino delle rose and Giardino dell'Iris.

Lungarno

The Arno river covers an important role in the Florence's landscape as the streets along it, that are called Lungarno (along the Arno). Oh these streets overlook many landmarks like the Corridoio Vasariano, Uffizi, the Parco delle Cascine, the National Central Library, the Ponte alle Grazie and the other bridges like Ponte Vecchio etc., San Frediano in Cestello, Piazza Demidoff, as well as the towers. The main Lungarni are: Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli, Lungarno Corsini, Lungarno Diaz, Lungarno Torrigiani, Lungarno delle Grazie, Lungarno della Zecca Vecchia, Lungarno Vespucci, Lungarno Soderini, Lungarno Guicciardini, Lungarno Serristori and Lungarno Benvenuto Cellini.

Art in Florence

Florence has a legendary artistic heritage. Cimabue and Giotto, the fathers of Italian painting, lived in Florence as well as Arnolfo and Andrea Pisano, renewers of architecture and sculpture; Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio, forefathers of the Renaissance, Ghiberti and the Della Robbias, Filippo Lippi and Angelico; Botticelli, Paolo Uccello and the universal genius of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

Their works, together with those of many other generations of artists, are gathered in the several museums of the town: the Uffizi Gallery, the Palatina gallery with the paintings of the "Golden Ages", the Bargello with the sculptures of the Renaissance, the museum of San Marco with Fra Angelico's works, the Academy, the chapels of the Medicis Buonarroti's house with the sculptures of Michelangelo, the following museums: Bardini, Horne, Stibbert, Romano, Corsini, The Gallery of Modern Art, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, the museum of Silverware and the museum of Precious Stones.

Great monuments are the landmarks of Florentine artistic culture: the Florence Baptistery with its mosaics; the Cathedral with its sculptures, the medieval churches with bands of frescoes; public as well as private palaces: Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Palazzo Davanzati; monasteries, cloisters, refectories; the "Certosa". In the archeological museum includes documents of Etruscan civilization. In fact the city is so rich in art that some first time visitors experience the Stendhal syndrome as they encounter its art for the first time.

The Florentines – perhaps most notably Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1466) and Leon Batist'Alberti (1404–1472) – invented both Renaissance and Neoclassical architecture, which revolutionized the way Rome, London and Paris and every other major city in Europe – from Barcelona to St. Petersburg – were built. The cathedral – one of the largest churches, topped by Brunelleschi's dome, dominates the Florentine skyline. The Florentines decided to start building it – late in the 13th century – knowing they did not know how they were going to do it. It was "technology forcing" – like the Kennedy Administration's decision to put a man on the moon. The dome was the largest ever built at the time, and the first major dome built in Europe since the two great domes of Roman times – the Pantheon in Rome, and Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. As a matter of fact, as mentioned in sections above, the Santa Maria del Fiore dome remains the largest brick dome of its kind in the world. In front of it is the medieval gem of the Baptistery, where every Florentine was baptized until modern times. The two buildings incorporate in their decoration the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. In recent years, most of the important works of art from the two buildings – and from the wonderful Bell Tower, designed by Giotto, have been removed and replaced by copies. The originals are now housed in the spectacular Museum of the Works of the Duomo, just to the east of the Cathedral.

Florence has large numbers of art-filled churches, such as San Miniato al Monte, San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Novella, Santa Trinita, the Brancacci Chapel at Santa Maria della Carmine, Santa Croce, Santo Spirito, SS Annunziata, Ognissanti and many more.

The Palazzo della Signoria, better known as the Palazzo Vecchio (English:The Old Palace) Artists associated with Florence range from Arnolfo and Cimabue to Giotto, Nanni di Banco, and Uccello; through Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Donatello and Massaccio and the various della Robbias; through Fra Angelico and Botticelli and Piero della Francesca, and on to Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Others include Benvenuto Cellini, Andrea del Sarto, Benozzo Gozzoli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Fra Lippo Lippi, Buontalenti, Orcagna, Pollaiuolo, Filippino Lippi, Verrocchio, Bronzino, Desiderio da Settignano, Michelozzo, the Rossellis, the Sangallos, and Pontormo Near-Florentines includes Raphael, Andrea Pisano, Giambologna, Sodoma and Peter-Paul Rubens — all of whom spent time in Florence and were nurtured by it.

The Uffizi and the Pitti Palace are two of the most famous picture galleries in the world. Two superb collections of sculpture are in the Bargello and the Museum of the Works of the Duomo. They are filled with the creations of Donatello, Verrochio, Desiderio da Settignano, Michelangelo and others. The Accademia has Michelangelo's David – perhaps the most well-known work of art anywhere, plus the unfinished statues of the slaves Michelangelo created for the tomb of Pope Julius II.

Other sights include the medieval city hall, the Palazzo della Signoria (alsdo known as the Palazzo Vecchio), the Archeological Museum, the Museum of the History of Science, the Palazzo Davanzatti, the Stibbert Museum, St. Marks, the Medici Chapels, the Museum of the Works of Santa Croce, the Museum of the Cloister of Santa Maria Novella, the Zoological Museum ("La Specola"), the Bardini, and the Museo Horne. There is also a collection of works by the modern sculptor, Marino Marini, in a museum named after him. The Strozzi Palace is the site of special exhibits.

Notable residents of Florence:




Tuscany

Tuscany (Italian: Toscana) is a region in Central Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres (8,900 sq mi) and a population of about 3.7 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence.

Tuscany is known for its beautiful landscapes, its rich artistic legacy and vast influence on high culture. Tuscany is widely regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and has been home to some of the most influential people in the history of arts and science, such as Petrarch, Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Amerigo Vespucci, Luca Pacioli and Puccini. Due to this, the region has several museums (such as the Uffizi, the Pitti Palace and the Chianciano Museum of Art). Tuscany has a unique culinary tradition, and is famous for its wines (most famous of which are Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano and Brunello di Montalcino).

Six Tuscan localities have been designated World Heritage Sites: the historic centre of Florence (1982), the historical centre of Siena (1995), the square of the Cathedral of Pisa (1987), the historical centre of San Gimignano (1990), the historical centre of Pienza (1996) and the Val d'Orcia (2004). Furthermore, Tuscany has over 120 protected nature reserves. This makes Tuscany and its capital city Florence very popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of tourists every year. Florence itself receives an average of 10 million tourists a year by placing the city as one of the most visited in the world (in 2007, the city became the world's 46th most visited city, with over 1.715 million arrivals).

History

Appennini and Villanovan cultures

The pre-Etruscan history of the area in the late Bronze and Iron Ages parallels that of the early Greeks. The Tuscan area was inhabited by peoples of the so-called Apennine culture in the late second millennium BC (roughly 1350–1150 BC) who had trading relationships with the Minoan and Mycenaean and the Etruscan civilisation rose.

The Etruscans created the first major civilisation in this region, large enough to lay down a transport infrastructure, to implement agriculture and mining and to produce vibrant art. The Etruscans lived in Etruria well into prehistory. The civilisation grew to fill the area between the Arno River and Tiber River from the 8th century, reaching its peak during the seventh century BC and sixth century BC, finally succumbing to the Romans by the 1st century. Throughout their existence, they lost territory (in Campania) to Magna Graecia, Carthage and Celts. Despite being seen as distinct in its manners and customs by contemporary Greeks, the cultures of Greece, and later Rome, influenced the civilisation to a great extent. One reason for its eventual demise was this increasing absorption by surrounding cultures, including the adoption of the Etruscan upper class by the Romans.

Romans

Soon after absorbing Etruria, Rome established the cities of Lucca, Pisa, Siena, and Florence, endowed the area with new technologies and development, and ensured peace. These developments included extensions of existing roads, introduction of aqueducts and sewers, and the construction of many buildings, both public and private. The Roman civilization in the West collapsed in the 5th century and the region was left to the Goths, and others. In the 6th century, the Longobards arrived and designated Lucca the capital of their Duchy of Tuscia.

The Medieval Period

Pilgrims travelling along the Via Francigena between Rome and France brought wealth and development during the medieval period. The food and shelter required by these travellers fuelled the growth of communities around churches and taverns. The conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, factions supporting the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire in central and northern Italy during the 12th and 13th centuries, split the Tuscan people. These two factors gave rise to several powerful and rich medieval communes in Tuscany: Arezzo, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, and Siena. Balance between these communes were ensured by the assets they held; Pisa, a port; Siena, banking; and Lucca, banking and silk. By the renaissance, however, Florence had become the cultural capital of Tuscany. Another family that befitted from Florence's growing wealth and power were the ruling Medici Family. Lorenzo de' Medici was one of the most famous and the benefits of his time are still being observed today in the fantastic art and architecture in Florence today. One of his famous descendants Caterina Catherine de Medici married Prince Henry(later as King Henry II) of France in 1533.

The Black Death epidemic hit Tuscany, starting in 1348. It eventually killed 50% to 60% of Tuscans.[12][13] According to Melissa Snell, "Florence lost a third of its population in the first six months of the plague, and from 45% to 75% of its population in the first year." In 1630 Florence and Tuscany were once again ravaged by the plague.

The Renaissance

Blue-and-white faience albarello with Pseudo-Kufic designs, Tuscany, 2nd half of 15th century.

Tuscany, especially Florence, is regarded as the birthplace of the Renaissance. Though "Tuscany" remained a linguistic, cultural and geographic conception, rather than a political reality, in the 15th century, Florence extended its dominion in Tuscany through the annexation of Arezzo in 1384, the purchase of Pisa in 1405 and the suppression of a local resistance there (1406). Livorno was bought as well (1421).

From the leading city of Florence, the republic was from 1434 onward dominated by the increasingly monarchical Medici family. Initially, under Cosimo, Piero the Gouty, Lorenzo and Piero the Unfortunate, the forms of the republic were retained and the Medici ruled without a title, usually without even a formal office. These rulers presided over the Florentine Renaissance. There was a return to the republic from 1494 to 1512, when first Girolamo Savonarola then Piero Soderini oversaw the state. Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici retook the city with Spanish forces in 1512, before going to Rome to become Pope Leo X. Florence was dominated by a series of papal proxies until 1527 when the citizens declared the republic again, only to have it taken from them again in 1530 after a siege by an Imperial and Spanish army. At this point Pope Clement VII and Charles V appointed Alessandro de' Medici as the first formally hereditary ruler.

The Sienese commune was not incorporated into Tuscany until 1555, and during the 15th century Siena enjoyed a cultural 'Sienese Renaissance' with its own more conservative character. Lucca remained an independent Republic until 1847 when it became part of Grand Duchy of Tuscany by the will of its people. Piombino was another minor independent state, under both Spanish and Tuscan influence.

Modern Era

In the 15th century, the Medicis, who ruled Florence, annexed surrounding land to create modern Tuscany. The War of Polish Succession in the 1730s meant the transfer of Tuscany from the Medicis to Francis, Duke of Lorraine and Holy Roman Emperor. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire by Napoleon, Tuscany was inherited by the Austrian Empire as successor to the Holy Roman Empire. In the Italian Wars of Independence in the 1850s, Tuscany was transferred from Austria to the newly unified nation of Italy.

Under Benito Mussolini the area came under the dominance of local National Fascist Party leader Dino Perrone Compagni. Following the fall of Mussolini and the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Italy, the Italian Social Republic was established in the northern regions of Italy, with its de facto border at the Gothic Line, a defensive position just north of Florence. Following the end of the Social Republic, and the transition from a Kingdom to the modern Italian Republic, Tuscany once more flourished as a cultural center of Italy.

Culture and Art

Tuscany has an immense cultural and artistic heritage, expressed in the region's numerous churches, palaces, art galleries, museums, villages and piazzas (pizza stalls/shops). Much of these artifacts are found in the main cities, such as Florence and Siena, but also in smaller villages scattered around the region, such as San Gimignano. The UNESCO estimated that Tuscany has the 10% of the World Cultural Heritage!

Tuscany has a unique artistic legacy, and Florence is one of the world's most important water-color centres, even so that it is often nicknamed the "art palace of Italy" (the city is also believed to have the largest concentration of Renaissance art and architecture in the world). Painters such as Cimabue and Giotto, the fathers of Italian painting, lived in Florence and Tuscany as well as Arnolfo and Andrea Pisano, renewers of architecture and sculpture; Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio, forefathers of the Renaissance, Ghiberti and the Della Robbias, Filippo Lippi and Angelico; Botticelli, Paolo Uccello and the universal genius of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

The region contains numerous museums and art galleries, most of which store some of the world's most precious and valuable works of art. Such museums include the Uffizi, which keeps Botticelli's Birth of Venus, the Pitti Palace, and the Bargello, to name but a few. But most of the frescos, sculptures and paintings in Tuscany are also held in the region's abundant churches and cathedrals, such as Florence Cathedral, Siena Cathedral, Pisa Cathedral and the Collegiata di San Gimignano.

Art Schools

In medieval period and in the Renaissance, there were four main Tuscan art schools which competed against each other: the Florentine School, the Sienese School, the Pisan School and the Lucchese School.

The Florentine School originated from refers to artists in, from or influenced by the naturalistic style developed in the 14th century, largely through the efforts of Giotto di Bondone, and in the 15th century the leading school of the world. Some of the best known artists of the Florentine School are Brunelleschi, Donatello, Michelangelo, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Lippi, Masolino, and Masaccio.

The Sienese School of painting flourished in Siena between the 13th and 15th centuries and for a time rivaled Florence, though it was more conservative, being inclined towards the decorative beauty and elegant grace of late Gothic art. Its most important representatives include Duccio, whose work shows Byzantine influence; his pupil Simone Martini; Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti; Domenico and Taddeo di Bartolo; Sassetta and Matteo di Giovanni. Unlike the naturalistic Florentine art, there is a mystical streak in Sienese art, characterized by a common focus on miraculous events, with less attention to proportions, distortions of time and place, and often dreamlike coloration. In the 16th century the Mannerists Beccafumi and Il Sodoma worked there. While Baldassare Peruzzi was born and trained in Siena, his major works and style reflect his long career in Rome. The economic and political decline of Siena by the 16th century, and its eventual subjugation by Florence, largely checked the development of Sienese painting, although it also meant that a good proportion of Sienese works in churches and public buildings were not discarded or destroyed by new paintings or rebuilding. Siena remains a remarkably well-preserved Italian late-Medieval town.

The Lucchese School, also known as the School of Lucca and as the Pisan-Lucchese School, was a school of painting and sculpture that flourished in the 11th and 12th centuries in western and southern part of the region, with an important center in Volterra. The art is mostly anonymous. Although not as elegant or delicate as the Florentine School, Lucchese works are remarkable for their monumentality.

Main artistic centres

In the province of Arezzo:

In the province of Florence:

In the Province of Grosseto:

In the province of Livorno:

In the province of Lucca:

In the province of Massa-Carrara:

In the province of Pisa:

In the province of Prato:

In the province of Pistoia:

In the province of Siena:



Source: English Wikipedia: [1], [2].