Florence Italy: A Historical, Artistic & Cultural Gem

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Florence Italy Exploring The Cradle of the RenaissanceFlorence, Italy, is often nicknamed “the cradle of the Renaissance” and with the city’s rich history and natural beauty, a good deal of travelers heading to cannot be content with a single visit. It can take more than one trip to appreciate all that Florence has to offer, as well as to take advantage of nearby attractions such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the smaller town of Pisa and the enduringly charming Tuscan countryside upon which such movies as “Under the Tuscan Sun” were filmed.

There are many movies that have been shot in or near the city of Florence, in part because of its rich historical significance and in part simply because of its natural beauty. There is also a university in the city, which contributes to a delightfully studious atmosphere as students mingle with tourists, families, and residents to explore and appreciate all that Florence has to offer.

Learn why Florence is called “the cradle of the Renaissance” and decide whether you want to make this lovely city your next vacation destination.

The History of Florence

Florence came into being following the Roman conquest by the Medici family of an ancient Etruscan city named Fiersole, upon which the modern day city of Florence now stands. You can still see the ruins of Fiersole scattered around the nearby hills that border the city. The Medici family, conquering royalty after the taking of Fiersole, set up Florence as their home base and the city’s art, culture, music and political atmosphere began to flourish. All of this conspired to establish Florence as the cradle of the Renaissance beginning right around the time of the conquest in first century B.C. and all of Renaissance Europe modeled itself after Florence’s example.

Because so many famous artists, writers, poets and philosophers, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dante Alighieri and others lived and worked in Florence, many students of their enduring legacy come just to view the city with their own eyes. The Medici family itself produced two popes, Pope Leo X and Pope Clement VII; Catherine de Medici eventually ruled France after the passing of her husband, King Henry II. The domination of Florence and the surrounding provinces by the Medici family lasted more than a century, with the family battling back many rebellions to cling to its reign and suffering the occasional crushing defeat before finally ceding power to Austria’s Francis Stephen in 1737, when Florence temporarily fell under Austrian rule.

As you are planning your trip to Florence, whether you prefer museum tours, enjoying the delicacies of the historic Tuscan wine country, hiking and natural scenic tours, lectures, shopping, or a combination thereof, you will not lack for full days and nights while you are visiting. For tourists with a strong faith background, students of architecture and history and just cultural enthusiasts, there are many lovely chapels and cathedrals to visit, including the Santa Croce, the Santo Spirito, the Santa Maria del Carmine and of course the San Lorenzo and Medici Chapels, constructed to glorify (some say deify) the royal Medicis. Michelangelo’s sculptures are a continual selling point for the Medici Chapels, while others come to enjoy a tour and then partake of the delicacies at the nearby farmer’s market where fresh cheeses, wines, produce and other delights are in ready supply.

What Else Is There About Florence?

However, Florence is not just known for art, museums, and cuisine and wines. The city was not just the cradle of Renaissance artistry, but also was the cradle of developing international trade and commerce, and during the Medieval period was one of the world’s richest and most decadent, luxurious cities. Finally, another way in which Florence has served as the cradle of the Renaissance is in the world of haute couture fashion.

Today, it still ranks as one of the 50 most influential cities in the world for international fashion and the eyes of the fashionable world are trained there annually to see what next year’s fashion trends will be. All of this combines to outline why UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) recently declared Florence as a World Heritage Site (WHS). The city has also recently been ranking by Forbes magazine as one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Just a scant few years ago it was the 72nd most visited city in the world and its popularity continues to hold firm because it quite simply offers so much to so many.

Contributed by Marta Petruccino who was born in Florence, Italy, but spent much of her youth and young adult years in Canada.

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