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Contatta Romolini Immobiliare

THE ARTISTIC PATRIMONY OF FLORENCE

Florence is the regional capital of Tuscany and the 8th Italian city for residents. What’s more, it was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy (1865-1871) and the cradle of Renaissance. Its historic centre, as a whole, is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited locations of Italy. Undisputed ruler of the scene is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with its white and green marbles façade. The church is mainly known for the impressive Dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and Giotto’s bell tower. Many of the best Florentine artists contributed to this wonder: Giotto, Vasari, Talenti, Arnolfo di Cambio, Lorenzo Ghiberti and Brunelleschi. Piazza del Signoria has been for centuries the heart of the political life and still nowadays is one of the most fascinating and captivating landmarks of Florence. Here, one can find Palazzo Vecchio, a perfect example of 14th century civic architecture. The building is still nowadays a place of power and is easily recognizable for the Arnolfo’s Tower (built 1310 and 94 m tall). Many statues (often copies of the originals) can be seen in the square such as Michelangelo’s David, Cellini’s Perseus, Ammannati’s Neptune’s Fountain...

Everybody in the world knows Ponte Vecchio for its unique look, but the river Arno is crossed by other four bridges, all rebuilt after World War II when they were blown up by the retreating Germans in the attempt of slowing down the Allies marching northward: Ponte Santa Trinità, Ponte alle Grazie, Ponte alla Carraia, Ponte San Niccolò and Ponte alla Vittoria.

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most known and visited museums in the world and is particularly sought by Renaissance’s lovers.

The Corridoio Vasariano is a long elevated gallery linking Palazzo Pitti to Palazzo Vecchio, passing through Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery, designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1565. Palazzo Pitti was originally built by the Pitti family in 1457 and soon became Medici’s residence. Nowadays the palace is a museum and is connected with the magnificent Giardino di Boboli, one of the finest examples of Italian garden. Santa Maria Novella was designed by Leon Battista Alberti and marked the birth of the Italian Renaissance. Santa Croce, similar in appearance to Santa Maria Novella hosts the tombs of many important Florentine and Tuscan artists and personalities (Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Vittorio Alfieri and Niccolò Machiavelli). On the other bank of the Arno one can find Piazzale Michelangelo, a panoramic terrace offering a unique view over the historic centre of Florence.

Florence’s walls were almost entirely demolished during the Risanamento of 1865, when the Capital of Italy was moved from Turin to Florence and the city felt the need to build new boulevards to increase its prestige. Today, the ancient doors are the only parts of the walls still standing up: Porta San Frediano, Porta al Prato, Porta Romana, Porta San Giorgio, Porta alla Croce, Porta San Miniato and Porta San Gallo.

Several cultural association and academies have their headquarter in Florence: among these the most important there are the Accademia della Crusca, the Accademia dei Georgofili, the Gabinetto Viesseux, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure and the Società Dantesca Italiana.

 

A BIT OF HISTORY…

Traces of human settlements in the area of Florence can be dated back to the Villanovan civilization (between the 10th and the 8th century b.C.). The Etruscans chose the place for a bridge (or even a ferry) given how easy it was to cross the river in that point.

The history of Florence starts traditionally in 59 b.C. when the Romans founded the castrum of Florentia for the retired veterans of the army. The city probably had a very militaresque plan but was blessed by the crossing point the Etruscans had already exploited and the vicinity to the Cassia Nova (a really important commercial route). In 123 a.D. the first stone bridge was built over the Arno and the small military hamlet became a city with the realization of theaters, temples, forums and aqueducts.

Right as the city started to become Christian, Florence started to depopulate, mainly because its citizens started to fear a possible attack by the Barbarians ravaging through the Empire. In the end, the city was never attacked and entered the Ostrogothic Kingdom without any problem. The first severe blow to Florence was dealt by the Goths of Totila in 550 during the Gothic Wars as retaliation against the Byzantines.

The final blow for Florence came with the Longobards choosing Lucca as Capital of the Duchy of Tuscia, a decision which moved the commercial routes towards the sea, leaving Florence isolated in favor of the Via Francigena. Florence’s decadence went on until the kingdom of Lothair I, when the city managed to recover a bit of its previous life.

The real rebirth came in 1013, with the construction of the church of San Miniato al Monte, whose architectural features can be seen as features of a so-called proto-Renaissance. The rule of Matilde of Canossa led to the construction of Florence’s fortifications and a period of social and economic growth.

With Matilde’s death, Florence became a Commune with a consular government. While it was still behind Siena, Lucca and Pisa, the city lived a period of great prosperity where commerce retook their role and allowed Florence to establish that network which would make its fortune in the following centuries. From a military point of view, Florence reinforced its presence in Tuscany by signing an alliance with Pisa against the German forces led by Frederick I Barbarossa. This alliance broke the relationships with Lucca and Siena, starting a long lasting war until the 16th century.

The 13th century saw the rise of the podestarile power and the conflicts between Guelphs and Ghibellines so often recalled by Dante Alighieri in its Divina Commedia.

The 14th century was a period of economic prosperity and growth, but of military regression, with numerous defeats and retreats. Several riots hit the city (the Ciompi Revolt and the uprising led by Ciuto Brandini) and the Black Death of 1348 wiped out a good part of Florence’s inhabitants.

The 15th century saw the unstoppable rise of the Medici, a power banker family which managed to monopolize the government in Florence until the first half of the 18th century. The Medici, under the lead of Lorenzo, worked towards the financing and protection of the greatest artists of the time starting the Renaissance in all of its glory. It was a culturally incredible period, which saw the construction of the most beautiful monuments in the historic centre of Florence.

In the 16th century, the role of Cosimo the Elder was pivotal in Florence’s politics: the war against the eternal rival Siena was finally ended and the city conquered. Tuscany was for the first time after the Roman Empire united under the Medici; only Lucca remained independent and just for a few years.

With Giangastone’s death, in 1373, the Medici family was extinct and the power was traded (after a complex “game of thrones” which interested the whole Europe) to the Lorena family. Its most important representative was without any doubt the Grand Duke Leopoldo which introduced many social and political reformations which led Tuscany to a new glory.

In 1861, the last Grand Duke of Tuscany willingly accepted the result of the referendum and left its throne, allowing Tuscany to enter the Kingdom of Italy. In 1865, Florence was chosen as the new capital and a great work of remodeling started: during this Risanamento, the walls of the city were largely demolished to build those boulevards and residential neighborhoods we can still see nowadays.


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