A Month in Tuscany

Florence: your travel guide to know history and art

The vastness of attractions that Florence offers, often makes it difficult for tourists to organize a tour of the city capable of capturing all that it has to offer.

Therefore we propose our mini-guide, a sort of Bignami of the Tuscan chief town. So, inside this article there are numerous ‘Tips’, suggestions on what must-do Florence has to offer.

Where is Florence?

Florence is somehow the beating heart of Italy and is located in the center of Tuscany.

The city is immersed in an area as enchanting as the urban center itself. In fact, it is surrounded by  Terre del Chianti, Mugello and Valdelsa. These rural areas, with their soft hills and endless vineyards, are able to amplify the magic of the beautiful city.

Its strategic position has always made Florence a place of passage and exchange, particularly important for the Italian economy. In fact, the city is located between the northern Milan, Turin and Venice and the southernmost Rome and Naples.

Florence-city of florence

Art in Florence: 5 things to see

One of the greatest pride of Florence is certainly the abundance of Renaissance artistic productions it hosts. In fact, the Italian Renaissance began properly in the Tuscan chief town, through the work of the great architect Brunelleschi.

Furthermore, the museum complexes that enrich the city offers true masterpieces, of inestimable value, made by brilliant minds such as those of Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Titian.

Now we present you some of the treasures that you will have the chance to admire in Florence.

CATHEDRAL OF FLORENCE

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo of Florence, is a remarkable architectural work having Gothic style and located at the beginning of the historical center of the city.

This splendid Cathedral, designed by Brunelleschi, was inaugurated in 1436 and presents interesting and precious works such as the building itself.

In particular, indoors it is possible to admire L’ultimo Giudizio, a work made by Giorgio Vasari, and a particular clock built on the Ora Italica (it shows, therefore, all 24 hours of the day).

cattedrale-city of florence

PONTE VECCHIO

It is probably possible to consider the Ponte Vecchio as one of the main symbols of the city of Florence.

This bridge represents the oldest building able to cross the banks of the Arno. Specifically, it was designed and built by Taddeo Gaddi from 1345.

Initially, this architectural work welcomed the meat market along its parapets. To date, however, the bridge mainly houses jewelers and luxury watches.

GARDENS OF BOBOLI

Located next to Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Gardens is a verdant area whose construction was commissioned by the Medici family.

The garden does not have a flat structure and covers 30 hectares. The area is enriched by numerous statues and marble fountains, so many to consider the park an open-air museum.

Moreover, always in the green oasis stands the Kaffeehaus which, as the name suggests, is a rococo style structure that was used in the nineteenth century to drink a very Italian coffee.

LA PRIMAVERA

Inside the Uffizi Gallery, Botticelli’s wonderful work ‘La Primavera’ is performed. It was made at the end of the 15th century.

This painting reproduces various figures of classical mythology immersed in a forest of orange and dark laurel. The goal and meaning of the work is largely hidden, but the author certainly want to celebrate love and prosperity, among other things.

What denotes the artist’s ability in this context is certainly the attention to detail. In particular, among the vegetation, it is possible to distinguish 138 different plants.

uffizi-city of florence

BACCO

Still in the Uffizi Gallery, it is possible to admire Bacchus, an original product by Caravaggio, made between 1596 and 1597.

The remarkable element of the painting is the extremely naturalistic rendering of the fruit basket and the cup of wine that adorn the human figure. Bacchus is depicted as stunned by a lot of wine and tries to convey the freedom of the senses that characterized the classical era.

History in Florence: 5 things to know

The history of Florence is inevitably intertwined with the history of the entire peninsula. As I anticipated, the Tuscan capital was a place of passage, much appreciated and contested, since the times of the Roman Empire.

The city was founded in 59 BC and called Florentia, when the Roman civilization assimilated the Etruscan one. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city became the theater of clashes between the Goths and the Byzantines, and then find themselves under the Lombard domination.

In the 8th century, Florence became part of the Holy Roman Empire and Charlemagne himself stopped there two different times.

We are now reporting some of the main and most important events that, starting from the thirteenth century, had as their protagonist the Tuscan capital, then a simple municipality.

GUELFI AND GHIBELLINI

The war between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines is certainly one of the most famous and tragic historical moments in Florence.

Between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, while the city was at its maximum economic and demographic splendor, the two factions disputed the succession to the crown.

The Guelphs were spokesmen for the power of Pope Clement IV, who supported them openly. This fringe, formed mainly by people of the people, represented the majority of Florence and was contrary to noble privileges.

Among Ghibellines, however, the Florentine nobility was almost entirely placed. Their faction was supported by the German Emperor and was particularly contrary to the church’s interference in political matters.

The violent struggles ended in 1293 when the Ghibellines, strongly weakened and injured by the loss of the emperor’s support were expelled from the organs of power.

TUMULTO DEI CIOMPI

With Tumulto dei Ciompi is indicated a revolt activated by one of the most humble classes of workers in Florence in the 14th century.

In fact, in 1378 the ciompi, or the battilani, started to protest for the impossibility of creating their own art, a Guild.

On 24 June, therefore, led by Michele di Lando, this poor part of the population managed to enter Palazzo Priore and obtain the much-desired permission.

I MEDICI

The Medici, who had been the richest family in Florence for a long time managed to take possession of it and gain control of it in 1434, thanks to the political ambitions of Cosimo il Vecchio.

This wealthy family had no noble or dynastic origin, but was able, gradually and without causing too much clamor, to make a successful social and economic climb.

The rich family had obtained their wealth mainly through the exchange of works of art and other business, conducted mainly with the State of the Church. In particular, they had become bankers of the pope and had, always with the latter, made an agreement for the monopoly of alum.

The Medici family was at the head of Florence for almost 350 years, interspersed with short periods of the Republic.

Who was able to distinguish himself within this time frame is Lorenzo the Magnificent, whose patronage has given a push and decisive incentives to the development of the artistic heritage for which the city is renowned today.

palazzo-pitti-city of florence

FLOOD IN THE FIRST AFTERNOON

Because of its foundation right around the banks of the Arno, floods are a phenomenon that has unfortunately often affected the beautiful Florence.

In particular, in 1966 this natural disaster violently struck the city and caused the death of 34 people.

In addition to the significant human loss, this violent penetration of water inexorably ruined or destroyed various works of art. Fortunately, this event captured international attention in a special way and after a short time a large number of volunteers from all over the world became active in the recovery and restoration of many works of great artistic value damaged.

PESTE NERA

A phenomenon that strongly marked Florence and the whole of Europe was the epidemic of the Black Death in 1348.

The infection spread rapidly and it is estimated that it caused a reduction in the population of the Tuscan chief town of a quantity between 40% and 60%.

The tragic moment was a great inspiration to Boccaccio, who in the Decameron best portrayed the destroyed and dispersed Florentine society due to the fear and pain caused by the epidemic.

santa-croce-city of florence

Accommodation in Florence: the 5 best choices

One of the main sources of well-being for the Florentine economy is tourism. Precisely because of this awareness the city and its surroundings are well equipped and able to offer visitors many proposals for different accommodation, able to grasp the needs of each.

THE CASTLE OF VOLOGNANO

Among the soft hills on the outskirts of Florence we find the wonderful Castello di Volognano. An enchanting and deeply Renaissance structure, equipped with numerous comforts and pleasures, such as a swimming pool and an internal cellar.

A wonderful choice for your stay and a magical location for weddings. Indeed, the furnishings of the Castle blend modern and traditional design and in its elegant interior it is possible to participate in interesting tastings.

FLORENCE GOLDEN CAMPING

Florence Camping in Town allows you to camp more or less luxuriously right in the middle of the wonderful city. Furthermore, the property features a swimming pool, a barbeque area and organizes excursions and tours.

The campsite is located near the Ponte Vecchio, on the banks of the Arno, and allows you to choose between three different accommodations: the Superior Bungalow, the Chalet or the Piazzola.

PORTRAIT

The Portrait Firenze is elegant and modern hotel, whose furniture is mainly handmade, especially recommended for those traveling as a couple.

The suites it offers are equipped with every comfort and entertainment system, such as an iPad, a coffee machine and a flat-screen TV.

Furthermore, the Caffè dell’Oro bistro the restaurant is located inside, run by a Michelin-starred chef, who offers special and original dishes.

PLUS FLORENCE

Plus Florence is a hostel located near the Santa Maria Novella station.

Its dormitories are equipped with free WI FI and flat-screen TVs. Furthermore, staying in the structure allows access to a fitness area and, in winter, a wellness area, with a Turkish bath, sauna, and indoor pool.

THE NINE MUSE GUESTHOUSE

Le Nove Muse Guesthouse is a Bed & Breakfast with air-conditioned rooms and free Wi-Fi, in which there are only 4 rooms.

The property is near the Central Market and offers smart rooms with TV and private bathroom.

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This post is also available in: Italian

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