FLORENCE

Ann.

GUIDE OF FLORENCE: 100 PAGES OF COMPLETE INFORMATION

 

Many have left a piece of their heart in Florence, a piece of their youth and the illusion of eternity. Florence is one of the most famous cities in the world. It has been for many years the cradle of culture and art; in Florence many of the greatest artists of the Renaissance and of the whole history of humanity were born or have worked.

It is thanks to their works that every year hundreds of thousands of tourists choose the Tuscan capital as their holiday destination.  View from above Florence appears superb, beautiful, beautiful, almost asleep from time. Incredibly rich in history and culture, the city immediately captures the imagination of those who visit it, with the streets overlooking the imposing palaces, the alleys, the slow flowing river Arno, the crowded squares and large museums. Florence must be lived with passion to be understood, cannot and should not be visited as if it were a parade of postcards, in one of those many tours that claim to make you know the city in just 20 minutes or a little more. We are dealing with a precious jewel that everyone envies us, take some time, it will be worth it.

 

Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore Surrounded by the hills of Settignano, Fiesole, Careggi, Arcetri and Bellosguardo, the city today lives mainly on tourism, even if it has other economic activities such as textile, optical and pharmaceutical industries and a discreet craftsmanship (weather goods, goldsmith's, straw processing and production of leather goods).

Seat of a famous and historic university, Florence is today also synonymous with research and science, with the development of two important areas, the Scientific Pole of Sesto Fiorentino and the National Research Council (CNR); many and historical libraries and numerous prestigious higher education institutions.

The historic Florence is located in a fairly compact area, so that the main places of interest can be reached on foot. Piazza del Duomo is still today its most representative center, ideal starting point for a visit to the city. Florence, cradle of the Italian Renaissance, on the political, economic and cultural level, has been the most important city in Europe for over two centuries, from 1300 to 1550. It was the Florentines who reinvented the "money" - in the form of the golden florin and Florence was the engine that pushed Europe out of the dark period of the Middle Ages. It was the Florentine bankers, in those fortunate centuries, who partly financed the economic development of half of Europe, from Great Britain to Bruges , Lyon and Central and Eastern Europe.

"When I entered Florence, Dante, Petrarca, Macchiavelli, Pazzi, Poliziano, Michelangelo and a thousand others, it seemed to me that they looked from the windows of those dark buildings bordering the streets". Alphonse de Lamartine

Renaissance FlorenceThanks to the great Florentine writers of the past such as Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio, the use of the Tuscan vulgar became the basis of modern Italian language. Art found here such a rich humus that we witnessed a cultural, artistic and scientific bloom that the world had never known before and that never again, unfortunately, it would be reproposed. The man placed at the centre of the world, the man who created his destiny. It was incredible the atmosphere of Renaissance Florence, optimism, hope and strength behind every idea!

Ponte Vecchio - FirenzeThe age of discoveries, however, seems to have started again in Florence. Florentine banks were able to finance Portuguese explorers in Africa and the Far East. A Florentine, Amerigo Vespucci, gave his name to the American continent. Key personalities such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, Donatello, (but also Raphael for a short time) contributed in an invaluable way to give the world a new artistic, architectural, political and geographical structure. The Medici family made a great contribution to Florence, which through its decisions influenced the entire European history of the period.

Anna Maria Luisa de MediciAlongside their role as patrons of the arts and sciences, the Doctors were also skilled statesmen and politicians, able to influence the fate of other kingdoms in Europe. Caterina de Medici, Lorenzo called the Magnificent and the great dean of the family, Cosimo il Vecchio, are just some of the names that have forever linked the name of the family in Florence. We like to add to these names the name of Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, who with her political gesture saved the memory of Florence to the Florentines forever. Anna Maria Luisa was in fact the last heir of the glorious family and in 1737 she stipulated with her successors (the Habsburg-Lorraine), the so-called "Family Pact" which established that they could not transport "or raise them out of the capital and state of the Grand Duchy..... Galleries, paintings, statues, libraries, Gioje and other precious things... so that they would remain for the State ornamentation, for the benefit of the Public and to attract the curiosity of the Foreigners". This pact was respected by the Habsburg-Lorana, and allowed Florence not to lose any works of art and preserve so intact its heritage (as had happened to other Italian cities such as Mantua or Urbino, that at the extinction of the Gonzaga or Della Rovere family had been deprived of artistic and cultural treasures that had ended up in other European cities and courts).

While much of the city still retains a Renaissance aspect, the area between Palazzo Vecchio and the Cathedral projects tourists into a typically medieval atmosphere. For centuries, together with Piazza della Signoria, these have been the real heart of political and social life in the city. The value of Florence's artistic heritage is inestimable, among elegant Renaissance palaces, the Ponte Vecchio (surviving the bombing of the Second World War) basilicas and splendid churches, but the city remains perhaps more popular for the artistic attractions exhibited in museums, academies and numerous churches.

Firenze arteFrom Michelangelo to Botticelli, Florence is the undisputed home of Art. And it is also true for its museums: the Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Pitti, the Palazzo del Bargello, the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo; the libraries: Laurenziana, Riccardiana, Marucelliana, Nazionale Centrale; the academies: of Crusca, Cimento, Colombaria and last but not least, the gardens: the giant and monumental garden of Boboli, a real open-air museum and the city park, the Cascine, a favourite place for those who do sports and suggestive scenery for many shows in summer.

Florence ViewThe religious monuments constitute a great artistic complex: the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore), surmounted by Brunelleschi's immense dome and Giotto's bell tower, which houses a Pietà by Michelangelo; the Baptistery with bronze doors by Ghiberti and Andrea Pisano; Santa Maria Novella; Santa Croce, in which there are the tombs of great Italians such as Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Galileo, Foscolo, Rossini; and how not to mention the church of San Lorenzo with the sacristies of Brunelleschi (old) and Michelangelo (new).

Civil architecture has also expressed itself in grandiose works, to name just a few: Palazzo Vecchio, the Loggia dell'Orcagna, the Spedale degli Innocenti (Brunelleschi) with an elegant loggia, the Medici palaces, Palazzo Pitti (painting gallery), the Uffizi Gallery (Vasari's work) and the Ponte Vecchio, characteristic for its double row of exclusive goldsmiths' shops (16th century).

As a soundtrack of these lines on Florence I thought that this piece by the Florentine Stefano Bollani could be suitable.

Ann.

If you have time, also visit the less touristic districts, such as those of Santa Croce and San Niccolò. The first, remains one of the oldest districts of the city, founded in the sixth century by some Benedictine nuns who had the opportunity to build a monastery here. Both neighborhoods hide the typical melting pot of bars, cafes, bars, restaurants, bookshops, of the latest trend, such as those in the area of Sant' Ambrogio, with the large colorful open-air market in the morning. The art galleries, located in the lower floors of ancient aristocratic palaces such as Palazzo Bardini or Palazzo Canegiani, are not unnoticed, while the sounds of the wooden and leather workshops still echo as they once were.

During the year in Florence there are also many cultural events of various kinds. These include the following: in Piazza del Duomo, at Easter, the explosion of the chariot, with fireworks lit by the "columbine", together with a small rocket that starts from the Altar Maggiore; the Feast of St. John's Day on June 24, which celebrates the patron saint, with processions and fireworks; Florentine May, one of the most important festivals of classical music and dance in Europe; the Pitti Moda, for many years a renowned appointment with a series of fashion shows dedicated to men, women and children (from June to September at Palazzo Pitti). Don't forget also the Florentine Football, a historical appointment in June, in Piazza Santa Croce: the teams of four Florentine neighborhoods challenge each other wearing sixteenth-century costumes in a tournament with few rules where the brawls on the field and outside are the order of the day.

Among the many European cities twinned with Florence are: Reims, Kassel, Edimburgo, Kiev, Dresda, Turku, Riga, Tirana, Atene, Valladolid, Budapest, Cracovia, Istanbul, Malmö, Cannes, Sarajevo, Olomouc, Porto Vecchio e Madrid.

Further information on the city can be found at the Tourist Information Office in Via Cavour 1/r (Tel 055 290832).

Enjoy Florence!

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