See A. Einstein, The Italian Madrigal (3 vol., 1949, repr. 1971).
Florence (Italian: Firenze, Florentia and Fiorenza) is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany, and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany and has a population of approximately 364,779.
The city lies on the Arno River and is known for its history and its importance in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, especially for its art and architecture. A centre of medieval European trade and finance, the city is often considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance; in fact, it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. It was long under the de facto rule of the Medici family. From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the Kingdom of Italy.
Florence was originally established by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a settlement for his veteran soldiers. It was named Florentia (Flourishing) and built in the style of an army camp with the main streets, the cardo and the decumanus, intersecting at the present Piazza della Repubblica. Situated at the Via Cassia, the main route between Rome and the North, and within the fertile valley of the Arno, the settlement quickly became an important commercial center. Emperor Diocletian made Florentia capital of the province of Tuscia in the 3rd century AD.
Saint Minias was Florence’s first martyr. He was beheaded at about 250 AD, during the anti-Christian persecutions of the Emperor Decius. After being beheaded, it is said that he picked up his disembodied head and walked across the Arno River and up the hill Mons Fiorentinus to his hermitage, where the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte now stands.
The seat of a bishopric from around the beginning of the 4th century AD, the city experienced subsequent turbulent periods of Ostrogothic rule, during which the city was often troubled by warfare between the Ostrogoths and the Byzantines, which may have caused the population to fall to as few as 1,000 living persons.
Peace returned under Lombard rule in the 6th century. Conquered by Charlemagne in 774, Florence became part of the duchy of Tuscany, with Lucca as capital. Population began to grow again and commerce prospered. In 854, Florence and Fiesole were united in one county.
Margrave Hugo chose Florence as his residency instead of Lucca at about 1000 AD. This initiated the Golden Age of Florentine art. In 1013, construction began on the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte. The exterior of the baptistry was reworked in Romanesque style between 1059 and 1128.
This period also saw the eclipse of Florence's formerly powerful rival Pisa (defeated by Genoa in 1284 and subjugated by Florence in 1406), and the exercise of power by the mercantile elite following an anti-aristocratic movement, led by Giano della Bella, that resulted in a set of laws called the Ordinances of Justice (1293).
Of a population estimated at 80,000 before the Black Death of 1348, about 25,000 are said to have been supported by the city's wool industry: in 1345 Florence was the scene of an attempted strike by wool combers (ciompi), who in 1378 rose up in a brief revolt against oligarchic rule in the Revolt of the Ciompi. After their suppression, Florence came under the sway (1382-1434) of the Albizzi family, bitter rivals of the Medici. Cosimo de' Medici was the first Medici family member to essentially control the city from behind the scenes. Although the city was technically a democracy of sorts, his power came from a vast patronage network along with his alliance to the new immigrants, the gente nuova. The fact that the Medici were bankers to the pope also contributed to their rise. Cosimo was succeeded by his son Piero, who was shortly thereafter succeeded by Cosimo's grandson, Lorenzo in 1469. Lorenzo was a great patron of the arts, commissioning works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli. Lorenzo was also an accomplished musician and brought some of the most famous composers and singers of the day to Florence, including Alexander Agricola, Johannes Ghiselin, and Heinrich Isaac. By contemporary Florentines (and since), he was known as "Lorenzo the Magnificent" (Lorenzo il Magnifico).
Following the death of Lorenzo in 1492, he was succeeded by his son Piero II. When the French king Charles VIII invaded northern Italy, Piero II chose to resist his army. But when he realized the size of the French army at the gates of Pisa, he had to accept the humiliating conditions of the French king. These made the Florentines rebel and they expelled Piero II. With his exile in 1494, the first period of Medici rule ended with the restoration of a republican government.
During this period, the Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola had become prior of the San Marco monastery in 1490. He was famed for his penitential sermons, lambasting what he viewed as widespread immorality and attachment to material riches. He blamed the exile of the Medicis as the work of God, punishing them for their decadence. He seized the opportunity to carry through political reforms leading to a more democratic rule. But when Savonarola publicly accused Pope Alexander VI of corruption, he was banned from speaking in public. When he broke this ban, he was excommunicated. The Florentines, tired of his extreme teachings, turned against him and arrested him. He was convicted as a heretic and burned at the stake on the Piazza della Signoria on 23 May 1498.
A second individual of unusual insight was Niccolò Machiavelli, whose prescriptions for Florence's regeneration under strong leadership have often been seen as a legitimisation of political expediency and even malpractice. Commissioned by the Medici, Machiavelli also wrote the Florentine Histories, the history of the city. Florentines drove out the Medici for a second time and re-established a republic on May 16 1527. Restored twice with the support of both Emperor and Pope, the Medici in 1537 became hereditary dukes of Florence, and in 1569 Grand Dukes of Tuscany, ruling for two centuries. In all Tuscany, only the Republic of Lucca (later a Duchy) and the Principality of Piombino were independent from Florence.
The extinction of the Medici line and the accession in 1737 of Francis Stephen, duke of Lorraine and husband of Maria Theresa of Austria, led to Tuscany's temporary inclusion in the territories of the Austrian crown. It became a secundogeniture of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty, who were deposed for the Bourbon-Parma in 1801 (themselves deposed in 1807), restored at the Congress of Vienna; Tuscany became a province of the United Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
Florence replaced Turin as Italy's capital in 1865, hosting the country's first parliament, but was superseded by Rome six years later, after the withdrawal of the French troops made its addition to the kingdom possible. After doubling during the 19th century, Florence's population tripled in the 20th with the growth of tourism, trade, financial services and industry. During World War II the city experienced a year-long German occupation (1943-1944) and was declared an open city. The Allied soldiers who died driving the Germans from Tuscany are buried in cemeteries outside the city (Americans about south of the city, British and Commonwealth soldiers a few kilometers east of the center on the north bank of the Arno)
A very important role is played in those years by the famous café of Florence Giubbe Rosse from its foundation until the present day. Piazza del Mercato Vecchio was destroyed (Old Market Square), and then was renamed Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. It is known today as Piazza della Repubblica, and is the location of the Giubbe Rosse. In those years (the end of the l9th century) the city administration of Florence decided to raze the old neighborhood of Mercato Vecchio to the ground, in favour of a new square dedicated to Victor Emmanuel II. "Non fu giammai così nobil giardino/ come a quel tempo egli è Mercato Vecchio / che l'occhio e il gusto pasce al fiorentino", claimed Antonio Pucci (poet) in the fourteenth century, "Mercato Vecchio nel mondo è alimento./ A ogni altra piazza il prego serra". The area had decayed from its original medieval splendor". Nowadays the literary café Giubbe Rosse is publishing books of famous Italian authors such: Mario Luzi, Manlio Sgalambro, Giovanni Lista, Menotti Lerro, Leopoldo Paciscopi.
In November 1966, the Arno flooded parts of the center, damaging many art treasures. There was no warning from the authorities who knew the flood was coming, except a phone call to the jewelers on the Ponte Vecchio. Around the city there are tiny placards on the walls noting where the flood waters reached at their highest point.
There were crises in the Roman Catholic church (especially the controversy over the French Avignon Papacy and the Great Schism). There were catastrophic results from the Black Death and a some re-evaluation of medieval values.
Florence is known as the “cradle of Renaissance” (la culla del Rinascimento) for its monuments, churches and buildings. The best-known site and crowning architectural jewel of Florence is the domed cathedral of the city, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as The Duomo. The magnificent dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi. The nearby Campanile tower (partly designed by Giotto) and the Baptistery buildings are also highlights. Both the dome itself and the campanile are open to tourists and offer excellent views; The dome, 600 years after its completion, is still the largest dome built in brick and mortar in the world.
In 1982, the historic center of Florence (Italian: centro storico di Firenze) was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO for the importance of its cultural heritages. The center of the city is contained in medieval walls that were built in the 14th century to defend the city after it became famous and important for its economic growth.
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.
The Arno river, 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 from nourishing the city with commerce, and destroying it by flood.
One of the bridges in particular stands out as being unique — 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). First constructed by the Etruscans in ancient times, this bridge is the only one in the city to have survived World War II intact.
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 ("offices") itself is located at the corner of Piazza della Signoria, a site important for being the centre of Florence civil life and government for centuries (Signoria Palace is still home of the community government): the Loggia dei Lanzi was the set of all the public ceremonies of the republican government. Many well known episodes of history of art and political changes were staged here, such as:
It is still the setting for a number of statues by other sculptors such as Donatello, Giambologna, Ammannati and Cellini, although some have been replaced with copies to preserve the priceless originals.
In addition to the Uffizi, Florence has other world-class museums. The Bargello concentrates on sculpture, containing many priceless works of art created by such sculptors as Donatello, Giambologna, and Michelangelo. The Accademia dell'Arte del Disegno (often simply called the Accademia) collection's highlights are Michelangelo's David and his unfinished Slaves.
Across the Arno is the huge Pitti Palace containing part of the Medici family's former private collection. In addition to the Medici collection the palace's galleries contain a large number of Renaissance works, including several by Raphael and Titian as well as a large collection of modern art, costumes, cattiages, and porcelain. Adjoining the Palace are the Boboli Gardens, elaborately landscaped and with many interesting sculptures.
Today, 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.
Florence is in a noteworthy geographic position, in a sort of basin between the Senese Clavey Hills, especially the hills of Careggi, Fiesole, Settignano, Arcetri, Poggio Imperiale and Bellosguardo. The city lies on Arno river and others three minor rivers.
Although usually perceived to have a Mediterranean climate, under the Köppen climate classification Florence is sometimes classified as having a Humid subtropical climate (Cfa). It experiences hot, humid summers with little rainfall and cool, damp winters. Due to the geographical position of the city (surrounded by hills in a valley traversed by the Arno river), Florence can be hot and humid from June to August. Summer temperatures are higher than those along coastlines, due to the lack of a prevailing wind. The small amount of rain which falls in the summer is convectional in type. Relief rainfall dominates in the winter, with occasional snow.
During the day of Easter, a cart, which the Florentines call the Brindellone and which is lead by four white oxen, is taken to Piazza del Duomo between the Baptistry of St. John the Baptist (Battistero di San Giovanni) and the Florence Cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore).
The cart is connected by a rope to the interior of the church. Near the cart there is a model of a dove which, according to legend, is a symbol of good luck for the city: at the end of the Easter's Mass the cart is exploded, and the dove is pushed towards the church, passing across the rope.
Calcio Storico Fiorentino' (“Historic Florentine Football”), sometimes called Calcio in costume, is a traditional sport, regarded as an forerunner of soccer, though the actual gameplay most closely resembles rugby.
The event originates from the Middle Ages, when the most important Florentine nobles amused themself playing while wearing magnificent costumes. The most important match was played on 17 February 1530, during the siege of Florence. That day Papal troops besiged the city while the Florentines, with contempt of the enemies, decided to play the game notwithstanding the situation.
The game is played in the Piazza di Santa Croce. A temporary arena is constructed, with bleachers and a sand-covered playing field. A series of matches are held between four teams representing each quartiere (quarter) of Florence during late June and early July.
As of 2006, 90.45% of the population was Italian. The largest immigrant group came from other European countries (mostly from Albania and Romania): 3.52%, East Asia (mostly Chinese and Filipino): 2.17%, the Americas: 1.41%, and North Africa (mostly Moroccan): 0.9%.
Florence keeps an exceptional 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.
Their works, together with those of many other generations of artists up to the artists of our century, are gathered in the several museums of the town: the Uffizi, the most selected gallery in the world, the Palatina gallery with the paintings of the "Golden Ages".
The Bargello Tower with the sculptures of the Renaissance, the museum of San Marco with 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 museum of the Opera del Duomo, the museum of Silverware and the museum of Precious Stones.
Great monuments are the landmarks of Florentine artistic culture: the Baptistry 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 (fiorentino), spoken by inhabitants of Florence and its environs, is a Tuscan dialect and an immediate parent language to modern Italian. (Many linguists and scholars of Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch consider standard Italian to be, in fact, modern Florentine.)
Its vocabulary and pronunciation are largely identical to standard Italian, though the hard c [k] between two vowels (as in ducato) is pronounced as a fricative [h], similar to an English h. This gives Florentines a distinctive and highly recognizable accent (the so-called gorgia toscana). Other traits include using a form of the subjunctive mood last commonly used in medieval times, a frequent usage of the modern subjunctive instead of the present of standard Italian, and a reduced pronunciation of the definite article, [i] instead of "il".
Florentine food grows out of a tradition of peasant eating rather than rarefied high cooking. The vast majority of dishes are based on meat. The whole animal was traditionally eaten; various kinds of tripe, (trippa) and (lampredotto) were once regularly on the menu and still are sold at the remaining 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 salami, often served with melon when in season). The typically saltless Tuscan bread, obtained with natural levain frequently features in Florentine courses, especially in its famous soups, ribollita and pappa al pomodoro, or in the salad of bread and fresh vegetables called panzanella that is served in summer. The most famous main course is the bistecca alla fiorentina, a large (the customary size should weigh around 600 grams) 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 reputation.
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 or 21) may be used on buses. Once on the bus, tickets must be stamped (or swiped for the Carta Agile) using the machines on board unlike the train tickets which must be validated before boarding. The main bus station is next to Santa Maria Novella train station. Trenitalia runs trains between the railway stations within the city, and to other destinations around Italy and Europe. The central station, Santa Maria Novella Station, is located about NW of Piazza del Duomo. There is also another important station, Campo Di Marte, but it is not as well-known as Santa Maria Novella; 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 and Siena.
Long distance buses are run by the SITA, Copit, CAP and Lazzi companies. The transit companies also accommodate travellers from the Amerigo Vespucci Airport, which is five kilometers (3.1 mi) west of the city center, 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 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 seven-thirty at night, or before seven-thirty in the morning. The rules shift somewhat unpredictably during the tourist-filled summers, putting more restrictions on where one can get in and out.
Due to the high level of air pollution and traffic in the city, an urban tram network called the TramVia is currently under construction in the City. It will run from Scandicci to the southwest through the western side of the city, cross the river Arno at the Cascine Park and arrive to the main station of Santa Maria Novella. Two other lines are in the final design phase.
Florence being historically the first home of Italian fashion (the 1951-1953 soirées held by Giovanni Battista Giorgini are generally regarded as the birth of the Italian school as opposed to french haute couture) is also home to the legendary Italian fashion establishment Salvatore Ferragamo, notable as one of the oldest and most famous Italian fashion houses. Many others, most of them now located in Milan, were founded in Florence. Gucci, Prada, Roberto Cavalli, and Chanel have large offices and stores in Florence or its outskirts.
Certain textile industries employing largely immigrant populations can be found to the north and north-west of the city, continuing its long tradition as a centre of fine fabrics.
Food and wine have long been an important staple of the economy. Florence is the most important city in Tuscany, one of the great wine-growing regions in the world. The Chianti region is just south of the city, and its Sangiovese grapes figure prominently not only in its Chianti Classico wines but also in many of the more recently developed Supertuscan blends. Within twenty miles (32 km) to the west is the Carmignano area, also home to flavorful sangiovese-based reds. The celebrated Chianti Rufina district, geographically and historically separated from the main Chianti region, is also few miles west of Florence. More recently, the Bolgheri region (about southwest of Florence) has become celebrated for its "Super Tuscan" reds such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia.
The current Mayor of Florence is Leonardo Domenici (elected in June 1999) who in February 2008 sued Wikipedia for reporting that his wife is on the board of directors of a company that manages parking in Florence