Florence is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world and is synonymous with the Renaissance. Their heyday began in the 13th century. The pearl of Tuscany was mainly shaped by the Medici family. The outstanding monuments of the city, in which Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo left their traces, include the Baptistery, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the churches of San Miniato al Monte and Santa Croce, the Piazza della Signoria, the Casa di Dante, the Uffizi Gallery and the Pitti Palace.
|Official title:||Historic center of Florence|
|Cultural monument||Città d’arte with the baptistery (1060-1150) as well as the churches of Santa Maria del Fiore (cathedral), San Miniato (11th-12th centuries) and Santa Croce, the grave church of famous Italians, as well as the Piazza della Signoria, the Casa di Dante, the Uffizi Gallery and the Pitti Palace (around 1450), site of the masterpieces by Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo|
|1250||with the death of Frederick II. Beginning of the heyday|
|1333||Destruction of the Ponte Vecchio by floods|
|1334||Construction of the cathedral’s campanile|
|1406||Conquest of Pisa by Florence|
|1434||The Medici family came to power|
|1494||Occupation of Florence by the troops of Charles VIII of France|
|1532||Alessandro Medici becomes Duke of Florence|
|1559||Grand Duchy of Florence under Cosimo I.|
|1560-80||Construction of the Uffizi Gallery|
|1658||today’s extension of the Uffizi|
|1737||under the rule of Habsburg-Lorraine|
|1865-71||Kingdom of Italy with capital Florence|
|1993||Bomb attack on the Uffizi Gallery|
|1998||Opening of the “New Uffizi Gallery”|
Sensible serenity and strict aesthetics. Historic center of Florence
Dante, prevented from returning to his hometown by political disputes, could not even find his dead rest there. He was honored late at home with a memorial stone in Santa Croce. In the Gothic Franciscan basilica, the tombs of the painter Michelangelo, the astronomer Galileo Galilei, the state theorist Niccolò Macchiavelli and the composer Gioacchino Rossini are a pantheon – worthy of the country’s capital.
But Florence could no more remain that than Turin, the starting point for the unification of Italy. With the move of the king and administration to Rome after 1871, the Tuscan metropolis did not experience a similar break in its development as the Piedmontese center six years earlier. Florence can hardly be shaken in its solid self-confidence. The city – despite the abundance of beauty not a cheerful, open-hearted city – also does not have the sweaty ambition like the much larger Milan, which Rome wants to outstrip Rome again and again in many areas. For many “Fiorentini” their extremely splendid, self-sufficient city remains the secret capital anyway.
When the somewhat deeper city center on the other bank of the Arno is lit up with torches at a party in the illuminated Boboli Gardens at Palazzo Pitti, even the otherwise repellent stronghold of republican power, the Palazzo Vecchio, makes a friendly impression. Florence, as the center of the Renaissance oriented towards Europe, likes to celebrate itself. It seems irrelevant that the role of the actual capitals remained in cosmopolitan Rome. On warm evenings, the broad steps of the Renaissance church of Santo Spirito with its extravagant facade are as occupied as the seats in a sold-out theater. A strange stage because the actors and the spectators are identical. Seeing, being seen, talking and chatting, sitting and walking again – nothing remarkable happens. But this is how the city is inhabited.
According to businesscarriers, Florence is overwhelmed with superlatives: where else are there so many sights at once in the narrow space of strict grid squares that prove the classical Roman origins of urban planning? Where else have so many top artists been hired to participate in and complete the work of other top artists?
The cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, massive between not very generous streets, dominates the silhouette of the city from afar, be it from outside from the north-south highway, be it seen from the terrace of the Piazzale Michelangelo. Filippo Brunelleschi’s mighty dome seems like architecture’s answer to the hills on the outskirts of the city. Immediately in front of the cathedral, which was slowly built between Gothic and Renaissance, attention is drawn to Giotto’s campanile and Ghiberti’s bronze doors on the baptistery.
The city’s wealthy gentlemen were not satisfied with creating or commissioning beauty. Her passion for collecting was proverbial and seemingly limitless. With such vain patronage, they set in motion a permanent influx of onlookers. Does this overabundance of beauty even make an impression on you? Does the viewer have enough capacity for this? Can it make you sick, even drive you crazy, as the French poet Stendhal noted in his diary after visiting the city in 1817?
After two weeks in the city, the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote: “Florence does not open itself to passers-by like Venice.” that Florence is not a cheerful, open-hearted city. In this civilization there is reasonable measure. Its severity, however, is softened by the omnipresent Tuscan irony.