Executive summary by darmansjah
Florence (Italian: Firenze, alternative obsolete form: 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 approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area.
Florence is famous for its history: a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time, it is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages". A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865-71 the city was the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy.
The Historic Centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year, and Euromonitor International ranked the city as the world's 72nd most visited in 2009, with 1.7m visitors. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Due to Florence's artistic and architectural heritage, it has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and the city is noted for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments. The city also contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, amongst others, and still exerts an influence in the fields of art, culture and politics.
Florence is an important city in Italian fashion, being ranked in the top 50 fashion capitals of the world; furthermore, it is a major national economic centre, as a tourist and industrial hub. In 2008, the city had the 17th highest average income in Italy.
Florence is known as the "cradle of the Renaissance" (la culla del Rinascimento) for its monuments, churches and buildings. The best-known site of Florence is the domed cathedral of the city, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as The Duomo, whose dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi. The nearby Campanile (partly designed by Giotto) and the Baptistery buildings are also highlights. 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.
Ponte Vecchio, which spans the Arno river
The layout and structure of Florence in many ways harkens back to the Roman era, where it was designed as a garrison settlement. Nevertheless, the majority of the city was built during the Renaissance. Despite the strong presence of Renaissance architecture within the city, traces of medieval, Baroque, Neoclassical and modern architecture can be found. The Palazzo Vecchio as well as the Duomo, or the city's Cathedral, are the two buildings which dominate Florence's skyline.
Ponte Santa Trinita with the Oltrarno district
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).
Ponte Santa Trinita with the Oltrarno district
Palazzo Pitti on Boboli Gardens' side
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. The Palazzo della Signoria facing it is still home of the municipal 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:
In 1301, Dante was sent into exile from here (commemorated by a plaque on one of the walls of the Uffizi).
On 26 April 1478, Jacopo de' Pazzi and his retainers tried to raise the city against the Medici after the plot known as The congiura dei Pazzi (The Pazzi conspiracy), murdering Giuliano di Piero de' Medici and wounding his brother Lorenzo. All the members of the plot who could be apprehended were seized by the Florentines and hanged from the windows of the palace.
In 1497, it was the location of the Bonfire of the Vanities instigated by the Dominican friar and preacher Girolamo Savonarola
On 23 May 1498, the same Savonarola and two followers were hanged and burnt at the stake. (A round plate in the ground marks the spot where he was hanged)
In 1504, Michelangelo's David (now replaced by a replica, since the original was moved in 1873 to the Galleria dell'Accademia) was installed in front of the Palazzo della Signoria (also known as Palazzo Vecchio).
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 originals.
Sculptures in the Loggia dei Lanzi
See also: List of churches in Florence and Theatres in Florence
Florence contains several palaces and buildings from various eras. The Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and also an art museum. This large Romanesque crenellated fortress-palace overlooks the Piazza della Signoria with its copy of Michelangelo's David statue as well the gallery of statues in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi. 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 is linked to the Uffizi and the Palazzo Pitti through the Corridoio Vasariano. Palazzo Medici Riccardi, designed by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo for Cosimo il Vecchio, of the Medici family, is another major edifice, 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. The Palazzo Strozzi, an 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. Aside from these palaces and buildings, there are several others, including the Palazzo Rucellai, designed by Leon Battista Alberti between 1446 and 1451 and executed, at least in part, by Bernardo Rossellino; the Palazzo Davanzati, which houses the museum of the Old Florentine House; the Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali, designed in the Neo-Renaissance style in 1871; the Palazzo Spini Feroni, in Piazza Santa Trinita, a historic 13th-century private palace, owned since the 1920s by shoe-designer Salvatore Ferragamo; as well as various others, including the Palazzo Borghese, the Palazzo di Bianca Cappello, the Palazzo Antinori, and the Royal building of Santa Maria Novella.
Palazzo Pitti on Boboli Gardens' side
Florence 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. The Uffizi is one of these; one of the most famous and important art galleries in the world, it has a very large 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 various painters and artists. The Vasari Corridor is another gallery, built connecting the Palazzo Vecchio with the Pitti Palace passing by the Uffizi and over the Ponte Vecchio. The Galleria dell' Accademia houses a Michelangelo collection, including the David. It has a collection of Russian icons and works by various artists and painters. Furthermore, other museums and galleries include the Bargello, which concentrates on sculpture works by artists including Donatello, Giambologna and Michelangelo; the 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 numerous sculptures.
There are several different churches and religious buildings in Florence. The Cathedral is the Santa Maria del Fiore. The San Giovanni Baptistery is located in front of the Florence Cathedral, and it is decorated by numerous artists, notably by Lorenzo Ghiberti with the Gates of Paradise. Other churches in Florence include the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, located in Santa Maria Novella square (near the Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station) which contains works by Masaccio, Paolo Uccello, Filippino Lippi and Domenico Ghirlandaio; the Basilica of Santa Croce, the principal Franciscan church in the city, which is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 metres south east of the Duomo, and 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); the Basilica of San Lorenzo, which is one of the largest churches in the city, situated at the centre of Florence'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, in the Oltrarno quarter, facing the square with the same name; Orsanmichele, whose building was constructed on the site of the kitchen garden of the monastery of San Michele, now demolished; Santissima Annunziata, a Roman Catholic basilica and the mother church of the Servite order; Ognissanti, which was founded by the lay order of the Umiliati, and is among the first examples of Baroque architecture built in the city; the Santa Maria del Carmine, in the Oltrarno district of Florence, which is the location of the Brancacci Chapel, housing outstanding Renaissance frescoes by Masaccio and Masolino da Panicale, later finished by Filippino Lippi; the Medici Chapel, in the San Lorenzo; as well as several others, including Santa Trinita, San Marco, Santa Felicita, Badia Fiorentina, San Gaetano, San Miniato al Monte, Florence Charterhouse, and Santa Maria del Carmine. The city additionally contains the Orthodox Russian church of Nativity, and the Great Synagogue of Florence, built in the 19th century.
Additionally, Florence contains various theatres and cinemas. The Odeon Cinema of the Palazzo dello Strozzino is one of the oldest movie theatres in the city. Established from 1920 to 1922 in a wing of the Palazzo dello Strozzino, it used to be called the Cinema Teatro Savoia (Savoy Cinema-Theatre), yet was later called Odeon. The Teatro della Pergola, located in the centre of the city on the eponymous street, is an opera house built in the 17th century. Another theatreis the Teatro Comunale (or Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino), originally built as the open-air amphitheatre, the Politeama Fiorentino Vittorio Emanuele, which was inaugurated on 17 May 1862 with a production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and which seated 6,000 people. There are several other theatres, such as the Saloncino Castinelli, the Teatro Puccini, the Teatro Verdi, the Teatro Goldoni and the Teatro Niccolini.
Squares, streets and parks
Piazza della Repubblica
Aside from such monuments, Florence contains numerous major squares (piazze) and streets. The Piazza della Repubblica is a square in the city centre, 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 artists and writers, notably those of Futurism. The Piazza Santa Croce is another; dominated by the Basilica of Santa Croce, it is a rectangular square in the centre of the city where the Calcio Fiorentino is played every year. Furthermore, there is the Piazza Santa Trinita, a square near the Arno that mark the end of the Via de' Tornabuoni street. Other squares include the Piazza San Marco, the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, the Piazza Beccaria and the Piazza della Libertà. The centre additionally contains several streets. Such include the Via Camillo Cavour, one of the main roads of the northern area of the historic centre; the Via Ghibellina, one of central Florence's longest streets; the Via dei Calzaiuoli, one of most central streets of the historic centre of the which links Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Signoria, winding parallel to via Roma and Piazza della Repubblica; the Via de' Tornabuoni, a luxurious street in the city centre that goes from Antinori square to ponte Santa Trinita, across Piazza Santa Trinita, characterised by the presence of fashion boutiques; the Viali di Circonvallazione, 6-lane boulevards surrounding the northern part of the historic centre; as well as others, such as Via Roma, Via degli Speziali, Via de' Cerretani, and the Viale dei Colli.
Florence also contains various parks and gardens. Such include the Boboli Gardens, the Parco delle Cascine, the Giardino Bardini and the Giardino dei Semplici, amongst others.
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.
bottcelli's venus, stored in the Uffizi
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.
Florentine architects such as Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1466) and Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) were among the fathers of both Renaissance and Neoclassical architecture.
The cathedral, topped by Brunelleschi's dome, dominates the Florentine skyline. The Florentines decided to start building it – late in the 13th century, without a design for the dome. The project proposed by Brunelleschi in the 14th century 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. The dome of Santa Maria del Fiore remains the largest brick construction of its kind in the world. In front of it is the medieval Baptistery. 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 nearby Giotto's Campanile, have been removed and replaced by copies. The originals are now housed in the Museum dell'Opera del 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, Santa Maria del Carmine, Santa Croce, Santo Spirito, the Annunziata, Ognissanti and numerous others.
The Palazzo della Signoria, better known as the Palazzo Vecchio (The Old Palace)
Artists associated with Florence range from Arnolfo di Cambio and Cimabue to Giotto, Nanni di Banco, and Paolo Uccello; through Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Donatello and Massaccio and the della Robbia family; 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, Filippo Lippi, Bernardo Buontalenti, Orcagna, Pollaiuolo, Filippino Lippi, Verrocchio, Bronzino, Desiderio da Settignano, Michelozzo, the Rossellis, the Sangallos, and Pontormo. Artists from other regions who worked in Florence include Raphael, Andrea Pisano, Giambologna, Il Sodoma and Peter Paul Rubens.
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 Galleria dell'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 (also 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.
UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre
Florentine food grows out of a tradition of peasant eating rather than rarefied high cooking. The majority of dishes are based on meat. The whole animal was traditionally eaten; tripe, (trippa) and (lampredotto) were once regularly on the menu and still are sold at the food carts stationed throughout the city. Antipasti include crostini toscani, sliced bread rounds topped with a chicken liver-based pâté, and sliced meats (mainly prosciutto and salame, often served with melon when in season). The typically saltless Tuscan bread, obtained with natural levain frequently features in Florentine courses, especially in its soups, ribollita and pappa al pomodoro, or in the salad of bread and fresh vegetables called panzanella that is served in summer. The bistecca alla fiorentina is a large (the customary size should weigh around 1200 grams – "40 oz.") – the "date" steak – T-bone steak of Chianina beef cooked over hot charcoal and served very rare with its more recently derived version, the tagliata, sliced rare beef served on a bed of arugula, often with slices of Parmesan cheese on top. Most of these courses are generally served with local olive oil, also a prime product enjoying a worldwide reputatio.
A display of proboscideans in the Museo di Storia Naturale di Firenze, or the Natural History Museum of Florence (flornce-museo).
The principal public transport network within the city is run by the ATAF and Li-nea bus company, with tickets available at local tobacconists, bars and newspaper stalls. Individual tickets, or a pass called the Carta Agile with multiple rides (10, 21 or 35), may be used on ATAF&Li-nea buses, Tramvia, and 2nd class local trains but only within city railway stations. Once on the bus, tickets must be stamped (or swiped for the Carta Agile) using the machines on board, unlike train tickets which must be validated before boarding. The main bus station is next to Santa Maria Novella railway station. Trenitalia runs trains between the railway stations within the city, and to other destinations around Italy and Europe. The central railway station, Santa Maria Novella railway station, is located about 500 metres (1,600 ft) northwest of the Piazza del Duomo. There are two other important stations: Campo Di Marte and Rifredi. Most bundled routes are Firenze-Pisa, Firenze-Viareggio and Firenze-Arezzo (along the main line to Rome). Other local railways connect Florence with Borgo San Lorenzo in the Mugello area (Faentina railway) and Siena.
Long distance 10 km (6.21 mi) buses are run by the SITA, Copit, CAP companies. The transit companies also accommodate travellers from the Amerigo Vespucci Airport, which is five kilometres (3.1 miles) west of the city centre, and which has scheduled services run by major European carriers such as Air France and Lufthansa.
The centre of the city is closed to through-traffic, although buses, taxis and residents with appropriate permits are allowed in. This area is commonly referred to as the ZTL (Zona Traffico Limitato), which is divided into five subsections. Residents of one section, therefore, will only be able to drive in their district and perhaps some surrounding ones. Cars without permits are allowed to enter after 7.30 pm, or before 7.30 am. The rules shift during the tourist-filled summers, putting more restrictions on where one can get in and out.
In an effort to reduce air pollution and car traffic in the city, a multi-line tram network called Tramvia is under construction. The first line began operation on 14 February 2010 and connects Florence's primary intercity railway station (Santa Maria Novella) with the southwestern suburb of Scandicci. This line is 7.4 km (4.6 mi) long and has 14 stops. The construction of a second line began on 5 November 2011, construction was stopped due to contractors' difficulties but should restart in a few months, completion is now previewed in 2017. This second line will connect Florence's airport with the city centre. A third line (from Santa Maria Novella to the Careggi area, where are the most important hospitals of Florence) has gained governmental approval, its construction will follow the second line's timeline.
Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station is the main national and international railway station in Florence and is used by 59 million people every year. The building, designed by Giovanni Michelucci, was built in the Italian Rationalism style and it is one of the major rationalist buildings in Italy. It is located in Piazza della Stazione, near the Fortezza da Basso (a masterpiece of the military Renaissance architecture) and the Viali di Circonvallazione, and in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella's apse, from which it takes its name.
A new high-speed rail station is under construction and is contracted to be operational by 2015. It is planned to be connected to Vespucci airport, Santa Maria Novella railway station, and to the city centre by the second line of Florence's tram system, Tramvia, which is currently under construction. The architectural firms Foster + Partners and Lancietti Passaleva Giordo and Associates designed this new rail station.
Florence's "Amerigo Vespucci" is one of two main airports in the Tuscany region, the other being Galileo Galilei International Airport in Pisa.