1.It is the Birthplace of Renaissance
With the risk of sounding like a total nerd I want to talk a little bit about the Renaissance, which is a beautiful chapter in the history of Europe (and the world really) from the 14th and 17th Century but as you can see its traces extend up to present day. It basically represents a bridge between the Middle Ages and modern days. The whole European continent flourished during the Renaissance period which brought some light to the darkness of the Middle Ages. Even though humanity was always attracted by beauty, the Renaissance brought everything on a whole different level. Palaces, which were all about comfort, luxury and beauty started to take the place of castles and fortresses which were dark, plain, meant mainly for protection. The tight windows of medieval castles started to be replaces by generous sources of light, meant to evidential the treasures and masterpieces housed in the residence of some of the wealthiest people of the time.
2. It changed the World Forever
The Renaissance period gave the tone to cultural and scientific revolution which upgraded the quality of life. The Renaissance meant a revolution in art, paintings became more natural, more realistic but the Renaissance brought reforms for other domains, such as science, politics, philosophy, music, education, architecture and literature.
3. Important personalities developed during Renaissance
Notable personalities of this period, which brought a huge contribution to their disciplines are:
- Michelangelo, Leondardo Da Vinci, Donatello, Sandro Botticelli for art
- Galileo Galilei in mathematics
- William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes in literature, Niccolo Machiavelli, Desiderius Erasmus in philosophy
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozard, Claudio Monteverdi in music
- Christopher Columbus , Amerigo Vespucci, Ferdinand Magellan, Bartolomeu Dias in the world of explorers and navigators.
4. Birthplace of the Medici Family
They were one of the most influential houses in Europe. The house was founded 847 years ago, in 1169 by Giambuono de’Medici and the original line ended in 1737 with John Gaston They were a banking family, political dynasty and royal house. They gave Europe three Popes (Pope Leo X, Pope Clement VII, Pope Leo XI), two regent queens of France (Catherine de’Medici and Marie de’Medici) and in 1531 the family became hereditary Dukes of Florence, only to be elevated to grand duchy in 1569 after territorial expansion.
House Medici founded the Medici Bank which became the largest bank in Europe in the 15th century, making them the wealthiest family in Europe for a while. Their wealth initially derived from the textile trade but their power grew to the point where they had enough influence to dominate Florence’s government and they managed to create an environment where art and humanism could flourish. They can actually be seen (among other families: Visconti, Sforza, Este, Ferrara, Gonzaga) as one of the families who inspired and fostered the birth of Renaissance.
5.Home to Galleria deli Uffizi (Uffizi Gallery)
Which contains the world’s greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art. It also represents one of the first modern museums, being open to the public since 1765. The art works were inherited by the city of Florence when the Medici Family extinguished with the death of its last official member, Anna Maria Luisa, with the condition that the artistic treasures will never leave the city. The construction took place between 1560 and 1580 and it was built by the Medici Family with the purpose to house government offices.
The gallery includes famous paintings by:
Sandro Botticelli: The Birth of Venus, La Primavera and Adoration of the Magi
Leondardo da Vinci: Annunciation, Adoration of the Maggi, Baptism of Christ (Verrochino and Leonardo da Vinci)
Michelangelo: Doni Tondo
Rembrandt: Portrait of Johan Comenius, Self-Portrait
Pieter Paul Rubens: Triumph of Henry IV in Paris
6. Let’s you visit Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace)
In case you are wondering why this palace is so special here is the answer: it is a huge and luxurious Renaissance palace. Taking a tour almost make you feel royal (or at least rich $$$). The construction of the palace was commissioned in 1458 by the Florentine banker Luca Pitti, a principal supporter and friend of Cosimo de’ Medici. Interestingly enough, even if the palace would have not been able to compete with the Medici homes in terms of size, decorations and art but it succeeded at being unique, as the architectural style goes completely agains the Renaissance style. The rusticated stonework and the Roman aqueduct pattern of the three-times-repeated series of seven arch-headed apertures make the palace look powerful and severe.
The Palace was bought by Eleonora di Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I de’Medici, from Buonaccorso Pitti, a descendent of Luca Pitti. The building has been updated to fit the taste of its new owners by no other than the famous Italian painter, architect, writer and historian: Giorgio Vasari.
Go to the Palace to see its amazing gardens (it must be amazing in spring and summer) and to see some of the masterpieces it houses, which represent the work of famous artists like: Raphael, Rubens and Bartolomeo.
7.Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore(Florence Cathedral)
Want to be left speechless? Then make your way to Piazza del Duomo and stare at the main church of Florence, Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (or in English “Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers”) or commonly known as Il Duomo di Firenze and admire one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. The architecture, the size and the decorations are simply breath taking and it makes you understand why it took around 140 years to build it (between 1296 and 1436). It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is one of the most beautiful things you will ever see.
8. Ponte Vecchio
It is sad when you realise that a bridge is more famous than you ever will but I still love Ponte Vecchio (meaning “The Old Bridge”). This bridge was initially built by romans and it was meant to connect Rome with the main cities from the North. The bridge was rebuilt in 1345 and it attracted merchants from the region as Florence was one of the main cities in the area so it was also a good place for business. Merchants started to open shops there since the 13th Century. At the beginning, it was a very popular place for those who used to sell fish and meat; they were attracted by the fact that they can dump their garbage straight into the river at the end of the day. Later on, tanners started to open shops on the bridge too, also attracted by the advantages offered by the river. There are still shops on the bridge today, even if merchants are not allowed to through their garbage in the water anymore.
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There are of course a lot more amazing things about Florence but these are by far my favourite.