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—  Comune  —
Comune di Firenze
A collage of Florence showing the Uffizi (top left), followed by the Pitti Palace, a sunset view of the city and the Fontana del Nettuno in the Piazza della Signoria.

Coat of arms
Florence is located in Italy
Location of Florence in Italy
Coordinates: 43°47′N 11°15′E / 43.783°N 11.25°E / 43.783; 11.25Coordinates: 43°47′N 11°15′E / 43.783°N 11.25°E / 43.783; 11.25
Country Italy
Region Tuscany
Province Florence (MI)
 - Mayor Matteo Renzi (Democratic Party)
 - Total 102.41 km2 (39.5 sq mi)
Elevation 50 m (164 ft)
Population (30 April 2009)[1]
 - Total 368,362
 Density 3,596.9/km2 (9,316/sq mi)
 - Demonym Fiorentini
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 50121-50145
Dialing code 055
Patron saint John the Baptist
Saint day 24 June
Website Official website
Historic Centre of Florence*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Historic Centre of Florence
State Party  Italy
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iii, iv, vi
Reference 174
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1982  (6th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Florence (Italian: Firenze About this sound listen , pronounced [fiˈrɛntse]; alternative desuete spelling: Fiorenza, Latin: Florentia) is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 367,569 inhabitants (1,500,000 in the metropolitan area).[2]

The city lies on the River Arno 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 and one of the richest and wealthiest cities of the time,[3] Florence is often considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance; in fact, it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages.[4] 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.

The historic centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Florence is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world,[5][6] and its artistic,[7] historic and cultural heritage and impact in the world remains vast up to this day. The city has also a major European impact in music, architecture, education, cuisine, fashion, philosophy, science and religion. The historic centre of Florence contains numerous elegant piazzas, Renaissance palazzi, academies, parks, gardens, churches, monasteries, museums, art galleries and ateliers. The city has also been nominated, according to a 2007 study, as the most desirable destination for tourists in the world.[8]

The city boasts a wide range of collections of art, especially those held in the Pitti Palace and the Uffizi, (which receives about 1.6 million tourists a year).[9] Florence is arguably the last preserved Renaissance city in the world[10] and is regarded by many as the art capital of Italy. It has been the birthplace or chosen home of many notable historical figures, such as Dante, Boccaccio, Botticelli, Niccolò Machiavelli, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Donatello, Galileo Galilei, Catherine de' Medici, Antonio Meucci, Guccio Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli, Florence Nightingale and Emilio Pucci.



The façade of the Cathedral, called "il Duomo" from the Latin word domus

Florence has had a long and eventful history, being a Roman city, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance (or the "Florentine Renaissance), and being considered, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica as politically, economically, and culturally one of the most important cities in Europe and the world for around 250 years - from the 1300s to the 1500s.[11]

Florentines reinvented money - in the form of the gold florin - which was the engine that drove Europe out of the "Dark Ages" a term invented by Petrarch, a Florentine. They financed the development of industry all over Europe - from Britain to Bruges, to Lyon, to Hungary. They financed the English kings during the Hundred Years War. They financed the papacy, including the construction of Avignon and the reconstruction of Rome when the papacy returned from the "Babylonian captivity".

And that is just a smidgen of what went on in this city, which never had a population above 60,000 from the first attack of the plague, in 1348, until long, long after it became unimportant.

The Medici, one of history's most important noble families who revolutionised high culture and the arts. Forget all the art for which they paid. They taught first the other Italians how to conduct state-craft, and then they taught the rest of the Europeans. Just to cite one example: Catherine de Medici (1519–1589), married Henry II of France (reigned 1547–1559). After he died, Catherine ruled France as regent for her young sons and was instrumental in turning France into Europe’s first nation-state. She brought the Renaissance into France, introducing everything from the chateaux of the Loire to the fork. She also was to 16th and 17th century European royalty what Queen Victoria was to the 19th and 20th centuries. Her children included three kings of France, Francis II (ruled 1559-1560), Charles IX (ruled 1560-1574) and Henry III (ruled 1574-1589). Her children-in-law included a fourth king of France, Henry IV (ruled 1589-1610), plus Elizabeth of Hapsburg, Philip II of Spain (of Armada fame), and Mary, Queen of Scots.


Roman origins

A wooden model of Florence as it would have probably looked like during Roman times, showing the ancient amphitheatre.

Florence was originally established by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a settlement for his veteran soldiers. It was named Florentia ('the 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 centre. The Emperor Diocletian is said to have made Florentia the seat of a bishopric around the beginning of the 4th century AD, but this seems impossible in that Diocletian was a notable persecutor of Christians.[citation needed] Florence is often called the "Jewel of the Renaissance".

In the ensuing two centuries, the city experienced 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 people. Peace returned under Lombard rule in the 6th century. Florence was conquered by Charlemagne in 774 and became part of the Duchy of Tuscany, with Lucca as capital. The population began to grow again and commerce prospered. In 854, Florence and Fiesole were united in one county.

Second millennium

Margrave Hugo chose Florence as his residency instead of Lucca at about 1000 AD. At this time began the Golden Age of Florentine art. In 1013, construction began on the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte. The exterior of the baptistery 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).

Middle-Ages and Renaissance

Rise of the Medici

Of a population estimated at 94,000 before the Black Death of 1348,[12] 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 (new people). The fact that the Medici were bankers to the pope also contributed to their ascendancy. Cosimo was succeeded by his son Piero, who was, soon after, 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).

Statue of Giovanni Villani in the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo. Villani wrote the Nuova Cronica (New Chronicles) on the history of Florence.

Following the death of Lorenzo de' Medici 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.

Savonarola and Macchiavelli

Girolamo Savonarola being burnt at the stake in 1498.

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 legitimization 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 16 May 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.

18th and 19th centuries

Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor and his family. Leopold was, from 1765 to 1790, the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

The extinction of the Medici dynasty 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 and, in an effort to modernise the city, the old market in the Piazza del Mercato Vecchio and many medieval houses were pulled down and replaced by a more formal street plan with newer houses. The Piazza (first renamed Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele II, then Piazza della Repubblica, the present name) was significantly widened and a large triumphal arch was constructed at the west end. This development was unpopular and was prevented from continuing by the efforts of several British and American people living in the city.[citation needed] A museum recording the destruction stands nearby today. The country's first capital city was superseded by Rome six years later, after the withdrawal of the French troops made its addition to the kingdom possible. A very important role is played in these years by the famous café of Florence Giubbe Rosse from its foundation until the present day. "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 in the 14th century, "Mercato Vecchio nel mondo è alimento./ A ogni altra piazza il prego serra". The area had, however, decayed from its original medieval splendor.

Twentieth century

After doubling during the nineteenth century, Florence's population was to triple in the twentieth, resulting from growth in 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 9 kilometres (6 mi) south of the city, British and Commonwealth soldiers a few kilometres east of the centre on the right bank of the Arno). In 1944, the retreating Germans decided to blow up the bridges along the Arno linking the district of Oltrarno to the rest of the city, thus making it difficult for the British troops to cross. However, at the last moment, Hitler ordered that the Ponte Vecchio must not be blown up, as it was too beautiful[citation needed]. Instead, an equally historic area of streets directly to the south of the bridge, including part of the Corridoio Vasariano, was destroyed using mines. Since then the bridges have been restored exactly to their original forms using as many of the remaining materials as possible, but the buildings surrounding the Ponte Vecchio have been rebuilt in a style combining the old with modern design. Shortly before leaving Florence, as they knew that they would soon have to retreat, the Germans murdered many freedom fighters and political opponents publicly, in streets and squares including Piazza Santo Spirito.

In November 1966, the Arno flooded parts of the centre, damaging many art treasures. There was no warning from the authorities, who knew the flood was coming, except a phone call to the jewellers on the Ponte Vecchio.[citation needed] Around the city there are tiny placards on the walls noting where the flood waters reached at their highest point.


Florence lies in a sort of basin among the Senese Clavey Hills, particularly the hills of Careggi, Fiesole, Settignano, Arcetri, Poggio Imperiale and Bellosguardo (Florence). The Arno river and three other minor rivers flow through it.


Florence is usually said to have a Mediterranean climate, although under the Koppen climate classification it may be borderline humid subtropical (Cfa).[13] It has hot, humid summers with little rainfall and cool, damp winters. Due to being surrounded by hills in a river valley, Florence can be hot and humid from June to August. Because of the lack of a prevailing wind, summer temperatures are higher than along the coast. The rain which does fall in summer is convectional. Relief rainfall dominates in the winter, with some snow. The highest officially recorded temperature was 42.6 °C (108.7 °F) in 26 July 1983 and the lowest was −23.2 °C (−9.8 °F) on 12 January 1985.[14]

Climate data for Florence
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 19.0
Average high °C (°F) 10
Average low °C (°F) 1
Record low °C (°F) -23.2
Precipitation mm (inches) 73
Source: Weather.com[15] 2008


The traditional subdivision of Florence into four quarters dates from the fourteenth century (that today compose the old town):

  • Santa Maria Novella
  • San Giovanni
  • Santa Croce
  • Santo Spirito

The modern administrative subdivision into five wards follows the boundaries of the traditional quarters in the outer areas, as can be seen on the maps:

Subdivision of Florence: The traditional quarters and current wards (Quartiere)
Historical quarters
Current administrative wards

The five current administrative divisions with their neighbourhoods:

(May 2006)
Neighbourhoods (frazioni) within ward
Quartiere 1
Historic Centre
11.396 67,170 5,894 San Jacopino · Il Prato · La Fortezza · Viali · Duomo–Oltrarno · Collina sud · San Gaggio
Quartiere 2
Campo di Marte
23.406 88,588 3,784 Campo di Marte–Le Cure · Viali · La Rondinella · Settignano · Collina nord · Bellariva–Gavinana
Quartiere 3
22.312 40,907 1,833 Collina sud · Galluzzo · San Gaggio · Bellariva–Gavinana · Sorgane · Ponte a Ema
Quartiere 4
16.991 66,636 3,921 Argingrosso · Cintoia · I Bassi · Il Casone · Isolotto · La Casella · Legnaia · Le Torri · Mantignano · Monticelli · Pignone · San Lorenzo a Greve · Soffiano · San Quirico · Torcicoda · Ugnano
Quartiere 5
28.171 103,761 3,683 Castello–Le Panche · Piana di Castello · Pistoiese · Brozzi · Peretola · Il Lippi–Barsanti (Florence) · Firenze Nova · Novoli · Parco delle Cascine–Argingrosso · San Jacopino · La Fortezza · Careggi · Leopoldo–Rifredi · Collina nord · Viali
Florence 102.276 367,062 3,589


Panoramic nightview of Florence.

Florence is known as the “cradle of the 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 (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.[16]

In 1982, the historic centre of Florence (Italian: centro storico di Firenze) was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO for the importance of its cultural heritages. The centre of the city is contained in medieval walls that were built in the fourteenth 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 between 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). Although the original bridge was constructed by the Etruscans, the current bridge was rebuilt in the fourteenth century. It is the only bridge 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 fifteenth to the eighteenth 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 itself is located at the corner of Piazza della Signoria, a site important for being the centre of Florence's civil life and government for centuries. (Signoria Palace is still home of the community government.) The Loggia dei Lanzi provided the setting for all the public ceremonies of the republican government. Many significant episodes in the history of art and political changes were staged here, such as:

  • In 1301, Dante was sent into exile from here (commemorated by a plaque on one of the walls of the Uffizi).
  • On 26 April 1478, Jacopo de'Pazzi and his retainers tried to raise the city against the Medici after the plot known as The congiura dei Pazzi (The Pazzi conspiracy), murdering Giuliano di Piero de' Medici and wounding his brother Lorenzo. All the members of the plot who could be apprehended were seized by the Florentines and hanged from the windows of the palace.
  • In 1497, it was the location of the Bonfire of the Vanities instigated by the Dominican friar and preacher Girolamo Savonarola
  • On 23 May 1498, the same Savonarola and two followers were hanged and burnt at the stake. (A round plate in the ground marks the spot where he was hanged)
  • In 1504, Michelangelo's David (now replaced by a replica, since the original was moved indoors to the Accademia dell'Arte del Disegno) was installed in front of the Palazzo della Signoria (also known as Palazzo Vecchio).

The Piazza della Signoria is the location of 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 by sculptors including 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 Palazzo Pitti, containing part of the Medici family's former private collection. In addition to the Medici collection, the palace's galleries contain many Renaissance works, including several by Raphael and Titian, large collections of costumes, ceremonial carriages, siver, porcelain and a gallery of modern art dating from the eighteenth century. Adjoining the palace are the Boboli Gardens, elaborately landscaped and with many interesting sculptures.

The Santa Croce basilica, originally a Franciscan foundation, contains the monumental tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Dante (actually a cenotaph), and many other notables.

Other important basilicas and churches in Florence include Santa Maria Novella, San Lorenzo, Santo Spirito and the Orsanmichele, and the Tempio Maggiore Great Synagogue of Florence.

Landmarks and main sights


Proclaimed as the "art capital of Italy", Florence has immense artistic and cultural richness and contains numerous museums and art galleries where some of the world's most important works of art are held. The city is one of the best preserved Renaissance centres of art and architecture in the world and has a high concentration of art, architecture and culture.[10]

Michelangelo's David
This is one of the most famous and important art galleries in the world, which contains works of art from Giotto, Cimabue, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael, to name but a few.
Vasari corridor
The Vasari corridor is a gallery which collects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Pitti Palace passing by the Uffizi and over the Ponte Vecchio.
Galleria dell'Accademia
La Galleria dell'Accademia is famous for its Michelangelo collection, including the famous David.
Pitti Palace
The Florentine palace is an important art museum, with five main art galleries:
  • Palatine Gallery
The Palatine gallery, on the first floor of the piano nobile, contains a large ensemble of over 500 principally Renaissance paintings, which were once part of the Medici's and their successors' private art collection. The gallery, which overflows into the royal apartments, contains works by Raphael, Titian, Correggio, Rubens, and Pietro da Cortona.[17] The character of the gallery is still that of a private collection, and the works of art are displayed and hung much as they would have been in the grand rooms for which they were intended rather than following a chronological sequence, or arranged according to school of art.
  • Royal apartments
This is a suite of 14 rooms, formerly used by the Medici family, and lived in by their successors.[17] These rooms have been largely altered since the era of the Medici, most recently in the 19th century. They contain a collection of Medici portraits, many of them by the artist Giusto Sustermans.[18] In contrast to the great salons containing the Palatine collection, some of these rooms are much smaller and more intimate, and, while still grand and gilded, are more suited to day-to-day living requirements. Period furnishings include four-poster beds and other necessary furnishings not found elsewhere in the palazzo. The Kings of Italy last used the Palazzo Pitti in the 1920s.[19] By that time it had already been converted to a museum, but a suite of rooms (now the Gallery of Modern Art) was reserved for them when visiting Florence officially.
Piazzale degli Uffizi
  • Modern art gallery
This gallery originates from the remodeling of the Florentine academy in 1748, when a gallery of modern art was established.[20] The gallery was intended to hold those art works which were prize-winners in the academy's competitions. The Palazzo Pitti was being redecorated on a grand scale at this time and the new works of art were being collected to adorn the newly decorated salons. By the mid-19th century so numerous were the Grand Ducal paintings of modern art that many were transferred to the Palazzo Croncetta, which became the first home of the newly formed "Modern Art Museum". Following the Risorgimento and the expulsion of the Grand Ducal family from the palazzo, all the Grand Ducal modern art works were brought together under one roof in the newly titled "Modern gallery of the Academy".[20] The collection continued to expand, particularly so under the patronage of Vittorio Emanuele II. However it was not until 1922 that this gallery was moved to the Palazzo Pitti where it was complemented by further modern works of art in the ownership of both the state and the municipality of Florence. The collection was housed in apartments recently vacated by members of the Italian Royal family.[21] The gallery was first opened to public viewing in 1928. Today, further enlarged and spread over 30 rooms, this large collection includes works by artists of the Macchiaioli movement and other modern Italian schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[22] The pictures by the Macchiaioli artists are of particular note, as this school of 19th-century Tuscan painters led by Giovanni Fattori were early pioneers and the founders of the impressionist movement.[23] The title "gallery of modern art" to some may sound incorrect, as the art in the gallery covers the period from 1700 to early 1900. No examples of later art are included in the collection since In Italy, "modern art" refers to the period before World War II; what has followed is generally known as "contemporary art" (arte contemporanea). In Tuscany this art can be found at the Centro per l'arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci at Prato, a city about 15 km (9 mi) from Florence.
The interior of the Palazzo Vecchio
  • Silver museum
Sometimes called "The Medici Treasury", this contains a collection of priceless silver, cameos, and works in semi-precious gemstones, many of the latter from the collection of Lorenzo de' Medici, including his collection of ancient vases, many with delicate silver gilt mounts added for display purposes in the 15th century. These rooms, formerly part of the private royal apartments, are decorated with 17th-century frescoes, the most splendid being by Giovanni di San Giovanni, from 1635 to 1636. The Silver Museum also contains a fine collection of German gold and silver artefacts purchased by Grand Duke Ferdinand after his return from exile in 1815, following the French occupation.[24]
The Costume Gallery in the Pitti Palace
  • Costume gallery
Situated in a wing known as the "Palazzina della Meridiana", this gallery contains a collection of theatrical costumes dating from the 16th century until the present. It is also the only museum in Italy detailing the history of Italian fashions.[25] One of the newer collections to the palazzo, it was founded in 1983 by Kristen Aschengreen Piacenti; a suite of fourteen rooms, the Meridiana apartments, were completed in 1858.[26] In addition to theatrical costumes, the gallery displays garments worn between the 18th century and the present day. Some of the exhibits are unique to the Palazzo Pitti; these include the 16th-century funeral clothes of Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici, and Eleonora of Toledo and her son Garzia, both of whom died of malaria. Their bodies would have been displayed in state wearing their finest clothes, before being reclad in plainer attire before interment. The gallery also exhibits a collection of mid-20th century costume jewellery. The Sala Meridiana originally sponsored a functional solar meridian instrument, built into the fresco decoration by Anton Domenico Gabbiani.
The interior of the Pitti Palace
  • Porcelain museum
First opened in 1973, this museum is housed in the Casino del Cavaliere in the Boboli Gardens.[27] The porcelain is from many of the most notable European porcelain factories, with Sèvres and Meissen near Dresden being well represented. Many items in the collection were gifts to the Florentine rulers from other European sovereigns, while other works were specially commissioned by the Grand Ducal court. Of particular note are several large dinner services by the Vincennes factory, later renamed Sèvres, and a collection of small biscuit figurines.
The internal Baroque galleria of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi.
  • Carriages museum
This ground floor museum exhibits carriages and other conveyances used by the Grand Ducal court mainly in the late 18th and 19th century. The extent of the exhibition prompted one visitor in the 19th century to wonder, "In the name of all that is extraordinary, how can they find room for all these carriages and horses".[28] Some of the carriages are highly decorative, being adorned not only by gilt but by painted landscapes on their panels. Those used on the grandest occasions, such as the "Carrozza d'Oro" (golden carriage), are surmounted by gilt crowns which would have indicated the rank and station of the carriage's occupants. Other carriages on view are those used by the King of the Two Sicilies, and Archbishops and other Florentine dignitaries.
This museum houses masterpieces by Michelangelo, such as his Bacchus, Pitti Tondo (or Madonna and Child), Brutus and David-Apollo.[29] Its collection includes Donatello's David and St. George Tabernacle,[30] Vincenzo Gemito's Pescatore ("fisherboy"),[31] Jacopo Sansovino's Bacco,[29] Giambologna's L’Architettura[32] and his Mercurio[29] and many works from the Della Robbia family.[30][33][34][35] Benvenuto Cellini is represented with his bronze bust of Cosimo I.[29]
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo

This museum contains many of the original works of art and sculpture from the Florence Cathedral, including important works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Luca and Andrea della Robbia, and others.

Museo dell'Opificio delle Pietre Dure
L'Opificio delle Pietre Dure, whose base is in Florence, is one of the country's most important museums, even at international levels.
Medici Chapels
Museo di Storia naturale
The Museo di Storia Naturale di Firenze is a natural history museum in 6 major collections, located in Florence. It is part of the University of Florence. Museum collections are open mornings except Wednesday, and all day Saturday; an admission fee is charged. The museum was established on 21 February 1775 by Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo as the Imperial Regio Museo di Fisica e Storia Naturale. At that time it consisted of several natural history collections housed within the palazzo Torrigiani on Via Romana. Through the past two centuries, it has grown significantly and now forms one of the finest collections in Italy.
Institute and Museum of the History of Science
The Institute and Museum of the History of Science (Italian: Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, IMSS) is based in Florence, Italy. It was founded in 1927 by the University of Florence. The museum is located in the Palazzo Castellani, by the River Arno and close to the Uffizi Gallery. Among the more famous of its collections is the middle finger from the right hand of Galileo Galilei, which was removed when Galileo's remains were transported to a new burial spot on 12 March 1737.
National Archaeological Museum (Florence)
The National Archaeological Museum of Florence (Italian - Museo archeologico nazionale di Firenze) is an archaeological museum in held within the city. It is located at 1 piazza Santissima Annunziata, in the Palazzo della Crocetta (a palace built in 1620 for princess Maria Maddalena de' Medici, daughter of Ferdinand I de Medici, by Giulio Parigi).


Palazzo Vecchio
The town hall of Florence is also a major art museum. This massive Romanesque crenellated fortress-palace is among the most impressive town halls of Tuscany.[36]
Palazzo Medici Riccardi
The palace was designed by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo for Cosimo il Vecchio, of the Medici family, and was built between 1445 and 1460. It was well known for its stone masonry that includes rustication and ashlar.
Palazzo Strozzi
A splendid example of civil architecture with its rusticated stone, inspired by the Palazzo Medici, but with more harmonious proportions. Today the palace is used for international expositions like the annual antique show (founded as the Biennale del'Antiquariato in 1959), fashion shows and other cultural and artistic events. Here also is the seat of the Istituto Nazionale del Rinascimento and the noted Gabinetto Vieusseux, with the library and reading room.
Palazzo Rucellai
Designed by Leon Battista Alberti between 1446 and 1451 and executed, at least in part, by Bernardo Rossellino. Its splendid façade was one of the first to announce the new ideas of Renaissance architecture based on pilasters and entablatures in proportional relationship to each other, in a design that probably owed a great deal to Alberti's studies of Roman architecture, particularly the Colosseum, but which is also full of originality.
Palazzo Davanzati
Housing the museum of the Old Florentine House, this building's façade integrates a group of earlier medieval tower homes.
Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali
was designed in the Neo-Renaissance style in 1871, and is one of the very few purpose-built commercial buildings in the centre of the city, located in Piazza della Signoria.
Palazzo Spini Feroni
is a historic 13th-century private palace, owned since the 1920s by shoe-designer Salvatore Ferragamo.

Villas, parks and arches

Villa di Poggio Imperiale
The Arco di Trionfo

Surrounding Florence, there are numerous villas, especially built by the Medicis. There are also a fair number of parks and gardens in Florence.

Arco di Trionfo (Triumphal Arch)
Found in Piazza della Libertà, it is a grand arch built in the 18th century by architect Jean-Nicolas Jadot, with statues of mythological deities and heroes, inspired by the work of the Accademia.
Arco di San Pierino
Is a small arched-underpass between Piazza San Pier Maggiore e Via dell'Oriuolo, in one of the city's most picturesque quarters.
Giardino di Boboli
The Boboli Gardens form a famous park in Florence, Italy, that is home to a distinguished collection of sculptures dating from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, with some Roman antiquities. The gardens have passed through several stages of enlargement and restructuring work. They were enlarged in the 17th century to their present extent of 45,000 metres² (11 acres).[37]
Villa Demidoff
Villa Le Balze

Le Balze is a garden villa in Fiesole, Tuscany, central Italy, very close to Florence. The Villa is owned by Georgetown University and hosts year round study abroad students. Planned in 1911 by Cecil Pinsent for American Charles Augustus Strong, it was built in a tight space along the Tuscan hills overlooking the city of Florence. "Balze" is Italian for cliffs, referring to this situation.

Belvedere (fort)

The Forte di Belvedere or Fortezza di Santa Maria in San Giorgio del Belvedere (often called simply Belvedere) is a fortification in Florence, Italy. It was built by Grand Duke Ferdinando I de' Medici during the period 1590–1595, with Bernardo Buontalenti as the designer, to protect the city and its rule by the Medici family. In particular, it was used to hold the Medici treasury. On the same side of the river as the Grand Ducal palace, the Pitti Palace in the Oltrarno district of the city, today the grounds provide spectacular outlooks over Florence; the buildings are used to hold works of art, and as a venue for exhibitions of contemporary sculpture.

Villa Medici at Careggi

The Villa Medici at Carreggi ias a patrician Florentine house The villa was among the first[38] of a number of Medici villas, notable as the site of the Platonic academy founded by Cosimo de' Medici, who died at the villa in 1464. Like most villas of Florentine families, the villa remained a working farm that helped render the family self-sufficient. Cosimo's architect there, as elsewhere, was Michelozzo, who remodelled the fortified villa which had something of the character of a castello. Its famous garden is walled about, like a medieval garden, overlooked by the upper-storey loggias, with which Michelozzo cautiously opened up the villa's structure. Michelozzo's Villa Medici in Fiesole has a more outward-looking, Renaissance character.

Villa di Castello

The Villa di Castello is one of the Medici villas in Florence, Tuscany, central Italy. Niccolò Tribolo was one of the architects involved in its construction.

Villa Medici in Fiesole

The Villa Medici is a patrician villa in Fiesole, Tuscany, Italy, the fourth oldest of the villas built by the Medici family. It was built between 1451 and 1457.

Villa La Petraia

The Villa La Petraia is one of the Medici villas in the city, built in a Renaissance style.

Villa Palmieri, Fiesole

The Villa Palmieri, is a patrician villa in the picturesque town of Fiesole that overlooks Florence. The villa's gardens on slopes below the piazza S. Domenico of Fiesole are credited with being the paradisal setting for the frame story of Boccaccio's Decamerone. The villa's entrance from the town is in via Giovanni Boccaccio. The villa was certainly in existence at the end of the fourteenth century, when it was a possession of the Fini, who sold it in 1454 to the noted humanist scholar Marco Palmieri, whose name it still bears. In 1697, Palmiero Palmieri commenced a restructuring of the gardens, sweeping away all vestiges of the earlier garden to create a south-facing terrace, an arcaded loggia of five bays and the symmetrically paired curved stairs (a tenaglia) that lead to the lemon garden in the lower level. The often-photographed lemon garden survives,[39] though postwar renovation stripped the baroque decors from the villa's stuccoed façade.[40]

Villa del Poggio Imperiale

Villa del Poggio Imperiale (English: Villa of the Imperial Hill) is a predominantly neoclassical former grand ducal Villa to the south of Florence in Tuscany, central Italy. From obscure beginnings, it became in succession a seized possession of the Medici, the home of a homicidal and unfaithful husband, and a lavish retreat for a Grand Duchess with imperial pretensions. Later given to Napoleon's sister, it was reclaimed by the hereditary rulers of Tuscany before being finally converted to a prestigious girls' school. During its long history, it has often been at the centre of Italy's turbulent history, and has been rebuilt and redesigned many times.

Villa Petraia
Villa Salviatino, Maiano

The Villa Salviatino, Maiano, in the frazione of Maiano on the steep slope south of Fiesole, is a Tuscan villa overlooking Florence. A modest farmhouse in the 14th century, set among informally terraced slopes planted with vines and olives, the house in its vigna was purchased in 1427 by the Bardi family, bankers of Florence, who rebuilt it in such palatial fashion that when it was subsequently sold to Nicola Tegliacci in 1447, the new owner named it Palagio (palazzo) dei Tegliacci.[41] In the 16th century it passed to Alamanno Salviati, who had it sumptuously frescoed and furnished; thus it gained its name as the Villa Il Salviatino, to distinguish it from the grander Villa Salviati "le Selve", near Lastra, to the west.[42] The villa was celebrated by Francesco Redi, in his Bacco in Toscana (1685): "viva il nome Del buon Salviati, ed il suo bel Maiano.

Torre del Gallo

The Torre del Gallo is located in Florence at Pian de 'Giullari, in the hills of Arcetri, on top of a ridge overlooking the city where there is a magnificent panorama. The villa, which is dominated by the tall tower, has a large hall with an octagonal vaulting, and an entry with graffiti, perhaps from the Renaissance. The court attributed to Brunelleschi is surrounded by Corinthian columns and arches on three sides, while the second neo-gothic courtyard is decorated with many coats of arms belonging to the owners of the villa and ones Bardini added.

Villa di Quarto

The Villa di Quarto is a villa on via di Quarto in Florence, in the hilly zone at the foot of the Monte Morello. Quarto (fourth) is one of the toponyms relating to the Roman milestones, the most famous of which in this area is Sesto Fiorentino, of 45,000 inhabitants. The villa was built in the 15th century and, after various changes of ownership, in 1613 it passed to the Pasquali family, who had it rebuilt by Alfonso Parigi, designer of the Boboli extension. In the 19th century the villa took on its present appearance - it then belonged to Jerome Bonaparte, former king of Westphalia, who left it to his daughter Mathilde Bonaparte, wife of the Russian nobleman and industrialist Anatole Demidov. It then changed hands again a few more times before being acquired in 1908 by baron Ritter de Zahony, who totally restored it. The villa's guests included the French historian and statistician Adolphe Thiers and the American writer Mark Twain - Twain's wife died here.

Villa Feri

Villa Feri is a villa in Florence located at the corner of Via del Podestà and Via Martellini. It is known as "gentleman's villa" (villa da seniore) already in the 15th century. First known documents about this villa are dated back to 1472, when Agostino di Lotto Tanini and Agnolo di Zanobi Da Diacceto sold it to Bernardo d'Antonio degli Alberti. In 1481 becam property of the brothers Agnolo and Benedetto Bartolommei, then, at the beginiing of the 16th century, was acquired by Raffaello and Miniato Miniati. It was then property of Bartolini-Salimbeni, that modified the structure of the main building, of the Vinci family and, more lately, of the Boni family. In 1863 was finally acquired by the Feri family, which eventually gave the actual naming (the Feri family Coat of Arms is still visible on top of the main gate).

Villa Rusciano

The Villa Rusciano is an historic villa in the neighbourhood of Florence which includes work by Brunelleschi. The villa is located at 37, Via Benedetto Fortini, Firenze. Set in a hilly area on the outskirts of Florence, the Villa has one of the most magnificent views over the city. The name is derived from the area, once a prominent agricultural estate. The villa is very old, cited by Franco Sacchetti in Trecentonovelle, and once belonged to the Salviati (bankers).

Villa San Michele Hotel

The Villa San Michele Hotel, situated on the hill of Fiesole overlooking Florence, Italy, is named after the church of St Michael the Archangel. Today it is owned by Orient-Express Hotels and operated as a luxury hotel.


  • Piazza della Repubblica
    Is a square in the center of Florence, location of the cultural cafes and bourgeois palaces. Among the square's cafes, the Giubbe Rosse cafe has long been a meeting place for famous artists and writers, notably those of Futurism.
  • Piazza Santa Croce
    Dominated by the Basilica of Santa Croce it is a rectangular square in the center of the city. Here the Calcio Fiorentino is played every year and when can find on this square the Palazzo dell'Antella, the Palazzo Cocchi-Serristori (main office of center of Florence quarter) and the Dante's statue.
  • Piazza Santa Maria Novella
    With the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella and the Alinari phography museum, is one of the principal squares of Florence. It is opposite of piazza della Stazione, accessible by Via degli Avelli.
  • Piazza della Stazione
    It is a big square in the center of the city, one of the main focal point of transport in Florence. Here converge almost the entire bus-line, and tramways, and the central station of Florence the biggest and masterpiece of Rationalism Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station, that is used by 59,000,000 people every year.[43] On piazza della Stazione we can also find the Palazzina Reale di Santa Maria Novella (where the king of Italy stayed), and the Palazzo degli Affari.
  • Piazza dell'Indipendenza
    It is a wide square located near piazza della Stazione and San Lorenzo market, with palaces typically bourgeois where lived Guido Nobili and Theodosia Gorrow Trollope wife of the writer Anthony Trollope.
  • Piazza Goldoni
    In front of Ponte alla Carraia, in the piazza Goldoni we can find the Palazzo Ricasoli and the statue dedicated to Carlo Goldoni.


Via degli Speziali
Via Roma
  • Via Camillo Cavour
    Via Camillo Cavour is one of the main roads of the northern area of the historic city centre of the Italian city of Florence. It was created in 1861 from two older streets, Via Larga and Via Leopoldo (as far as Piazza della Libertà, renamed Piazzale Cavour at the same time), and renamed after Camillo Cavour on 17 June 1861, just 11 days after his death.
  • Via Ghibellina
    One of central Florence's longest streets, it leads directly towards the Bargello, and contains numerous palazzi, shops and theatres.
  • Via Roma
    A central street near Piazza della Repubblica, which is built in mainly 18th-19th-century style architecture.
  • Via degli Speziali
    The Via degli Speziali is an elegant street, built mainly in the 19th century neo-classical style, near Piazza della Repubblica.

Religious architecture

Cathedral detail
Santa Maria Novella
San Lorenzo
Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral
The fourth largest church in Europe, its length being 153 metres (502 ft) and its height 116 metres (381 ft).
San Giovanni Baptistery
Located in front of the Florence Cathedral, it is decorated by many artists, notably by Lorenzo Ghiberti with the Gates of Paradise.
Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
Located in Santa Maria Novella square (near the big Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station) this contains works by Masaccio, Paolo Uccello, Filippino Lippi and Domenico Ghirlandaio. The great façade was made by Leon Battista Alberti.
Basilica of Santa Croce
The principal Franciscan church in Florence, Italy, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 metres south east of the Duomo. The site, when first chosen, was in marshland outside the city walls. It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile, Rossini, and Marconi, thus it is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell'Itale Glorie).
San Marco, Florence
A complex comprising a church and a convent. The convent, which is now a museum, has three claims to fame: during the 15th century it was home to two famous Dominicans, the painter Fra Angelico and the preacher, Girolamo Savonarola. Also housed at the convent is a famous collection of manuscripts in a library built by Michelozzo.
Basilica of San Lorenzo
One of the largest churches of Florence, Italy, situated at the centre of the city’s main market district, and the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III.
Santo Spirito
Located in the Oltrarno quarter, facing the square with the same name. The building on the interior is one of the pre-eminent examples of Renaissance architecture.
This building was constructed on the site of the kitchen garden of the monastery of San Michele, now gone.
Santissima Annunziata
A Roman Catholic basilica and the mother church of the Servite order. It is located on the north-eastern side of the Piazza Santissima Annunziata.
Founded by the lay order of the Umiliati, this was among the first examples of Baroque architecture built in the city. Its two orders of pilasters enclose niches and windows with fantastical cornices. To the left of the façade is a campanile of thirteenth and fourteenth-century construction.
Santa Maria del Carmine
in the Oltrarno district of Florence, it is famous as the location of the Brancacci Chapel, housing outstanding Renaissance frescoes by Masaccio and Masolino da Panicale, later finished by Filippino Lippi.
Santa Trinita
It is the mother church of the Vallumbrosan Order of monks, founded in 1092 by a Florentine nobleman. Nearby is the Ponte Santa Trinita over the river Arno. The church is famous for its Sassetti Chapel, containing notable frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio.
Medici Chapel in San Lorenzo
The Medici Chapel are the resting place of most of the Medici as Grand Dukes of Tuscany. One is the Sagrestia Nuova, the "New Sacristy", designed by Michelangelo. The other is the Capella dei Principi, the 16th and 17th-century "Chapel of the Princes", which is entirely covered with a revetment of colored marbles inlaid with pietra dura.
San Marco
Comprises a church and a convent. The convent, which is now a museum, has three claims to fame: In the 15th century, it was home to two famous Dominicans, the painter Fra Angelico and the preacher, Girolamo Savonarola. Also housed at the convent is a famous collection of manuscripts in a library built by Michelozzo.
Santa Felicita
is a church in the downtown, probably the oldest in the city after San Lorenzo.
Badia Fiorentina
Famous as the parish church of Beatrice Portinari, the love of Dante's life, and the place where he watched her at mass, for Dante grew up across the street in what is now called the 'Casa di Dante', rebuilt in 1910 as a museum to Dante.
San Gaetano
One of the most important examples of the Baroque style in Florence, a city better known for its Renaissance architecture.
San Miniato al Monte
Standing at one of the highest points in the city, this has been described as the finest Romanesque structure in Tuscany and one of the most beautiful churches in Italy.
Florence Charterhouse
A charterhouse, or Carthusian monastery, located in the Florence suburb of Galluzzo, in central Italy. The building is a walled complex located on Monte Acuto, at the point of confluence of the Ema and Greve rivers.
Great Synagogue of Florence
A magnificent synagogue built between 1874 and 1882. The design integrates Islamic and Italian architectural traditions.
Chiesa Russa Ortodossa della Natività


Teatro della Pergola
Auditoriun of the Duomo

There are numerous important historical and modern theatres in Florence. The main ones are:

  • Teatro della Pergola
    The Teatro della Pergola is an opera house in Florence, Italy. It is located in the centre of the city on the Via della Pergola. It was built in 1656 under the direction of the architect Ferdinando Tacca and its inaugural production was the opera buffa, Il podestà di Colognole by Jacopo Melani.[45] The opera house is considered to be the oldest in Italy, having occupied the same site for more than 350 years.
    Teatro Comunale di Firenze
    The Teatro Comunale di Firenze (or Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino) is an opera house in Florence. It was originally built as the open-air amphitheatre, the Politeama Fiorentiono Vittorio Emanuele which was inaugurated on 17 May 1862 with a production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and which seated 6,000 people. It became the focus on cultural life in the city. After closure caused by fire, it reopened in April 1864 and acquired a roof in 1882. By 1911 it had both electricity and heating.
    Teatro Verdi
    Situated in central Florence, it is known for its lighter, comical plays.
    Teatro Goldoni
    The theatre was inaugurated on 17 April 1817. Nowadays, it is mainly used for dance.
Teatro di Villa Strozzi
  • Teatro Niccolini
    Also known as Teatro del Cocomero, it is found in via Ricasoli, very near to Florence Cathedral. It was frequently utlilized by Lorenzo de' Medici.
    Parco della musica e della cultura
    It is a vast musical complex whichi is being built in the Cascine park, and it will be a major centre of musical and theatrical culture. It will host a lyrical theatre containing 2,000 places, a concert hall for 1,000 watchers, a hall with 3,000 seats and an open-air amphitheatre with 3,000 spaces. It will host numerous ballets, concerts, lyrical operas and numerous musical festivals. The theatre will be inaugurated on 28 April 2011, in honour of the 150th anniversary of the Italian unification.[46]


Historical populations
Year Pop.  %±
1861 150,864
1871 201,138 33.3%
1881 196,072 −2.5%
1901 236,635 20.7%
1911 258,056 9.1%
1921 280,133 8.6%
1931 304,160 8.6%
1936 321,176 5.6%
1951 374,625 16.6%
1961 436,516 16.5%
1971 457,803 4.9%
1981 448,331 −2.1%
1991 403,294 −10.0%
2001 356,118 −11.7%
2008 367,569 3.2%
Source: ISTAT 2001

The population of the city proper is 365,744 (30 November 2008), while Eurostat estimates that 696,767 people live in the urban area of Florence. The Metropolitan Area of Florence, Prato, and Pistoia, constituted in 2000 over an area of roughly 4,800 square kilometres, is home to 1.5 million people. Within Florence proper, 46.8% of the population was male in 2007 and 53.2% were female. Minors (children aged 18 and younger) totalled 14.10 percent of the population compared to pensioners, who numbered 25.95 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of Florence resident is 49 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Florence grew by 3.22 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.56 percent.[47] The current birth rate of Florence is 7.66 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.

As of 2006, 90.45% of the population was Italian. An estimated 60,000 Chinese live in the city.[48] 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%.[49]


Tourism is, by far, the most important of all industries and most of the Florentine economy relies on the money generated by international arrivals and students (especially Americans) studying in the city.[50] Manufacturing and commerce, however, still remain highly important.

Industry, commerce and services

Florence is a major production and commercial centre in Italy, where the Florentine industrial complexes in the suburbs produce all sorts of goods, from furntiture, rubber goods, chemicals, and food.[50] However, traditional and local products, such as antiques, handicrafts, glasswear, leatherwork, art reproductions, jewelry, souvenirs, elaborate metal and iron-work, shoes, accessories and high fashion clothes also dominate a fair sector of Florence's economy.[50] The city's income relies partially on services and commercial and cultural interests, such as annual fairs, theatrical and lyrical productions, art exhibitions, festivals and fashion shows, such as the Calcio Fiorentino. Heavy industry and machinery also take their part in provinding an income. In Nuovo Pignone, numerous factories are still present, and small-to medium industrial businesses are dominant. As a matter of fact, the Florence-Prato-Pistoia industrial districts and areas were known as the 'Third Italy' in the 1990s, due to the exports of high-quality goods and automobile (especially the Vespa) and the prosperity and productivity of the Florentine entrepreneurs. Some of these industries even rivalled the traditional industrial districts in Emilia-Romagna and Veneto due to high profits and productivity.[50]


Tourists flock the Fontana del Porcellino

Tourism is the most significant industry within the centre of Florence. On any given day between April and October, the local population is greatly outnumbered by tourists from all over the world.[citation needed] The Uffizi and Accademia museums are regularly sold out of tickets, and large groups regularly fill the basilicas of Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella, both of which charge for entry. In 2007, according to a Travel + Leisure magazine study, the city has been declared as being the most desirable for tourists in the world, even surpassing Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Rome, Sydney and New York City which arrived 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th in the chart respectively.[8]

Florence has approximately 35,000 hotel beds and 23,000 other facilities (campsites, guesthouses and farmhouses). Attendance (total number of nights) in total non-hotel and hotel businesses come to tap the 10 million a year by placing the city as one of the most visited in the world (in 2007, the city became the world's 46th most visited city, with over 1.715 million arrivals).[51] Just under one third of the tourists are represented by the Italians, while the remainder is composed of foreigners, with the increased presence of:

Given the vast artistic wealth of the city (Florence has of the largest concentration of art in proportion to its extension in the world),[52] cultural tourism is very strong, with notable museums such as the Uffizi, which are amongst the most important art galleries of the world, selling as something more than 1.6 million tickets[9] a year, which are flanked by other important museums. The tourism industry conference and exhibition (the Firenze Fiera held in the Fortezza da Basso, in the Palazzo dei Congresie and the Palazzo degli Affari, which are contiguous with each other) has experienced huge growth with the restructuring of the convention centre in the early 1990s, and sees exhibitions, conferences, meetings, social forums, concerts and international events all year.[53]

Food and wine production

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 east of Florence. More recently, the Bolgheri region (about 100 miles / 200 kilometres southwest of Florence) has become celebrated for its "Super Tuscan" reds such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia.[54]



Botticelli's Venus, stored in the Uffizi.
The Piazza della Signoria by night, showing some of the many sculptures and works of art present in the square.

Florence has a legendary 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.[55][56]

Their works, together with those of many other generations of artists, are gathered in the several museums of the town: the Uffizi Gallery, the Palatina gallery with the paintings of the "Golden Ages",[57] the Bargello with the sculptures of the Renaissance, the museum of San Marco with Fra 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 Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, the museum of Silverware and the museum of Precious Stones.[58]

The "Circumcision of Jesus", a Renaissance painting by Andrea Mantegna.

Great monuments are the landmarks of Florentine artistic culture: the Florence Baptistery 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.[59] 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.[60]

The 15th century early-Renaissance frescos in the Cappella dei Magi in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi.

The Florentines - perhaps most notably Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1466) and Leon Batist'Alberti (1404–1472) - invented both Renaissance and Neoclassical architecture,[61] which revolutionized the way Rome, London and Paris and every other major city in Europe - from Barcelona to St. Petersburg - were built. The cathedral - one of the largest Christian churches, topped by Brunelleschi's dome, dominates the Florentine skyline. The Florentines decided to start building it - late in the 1200s - knowing they did not know how they were going to do it. It was "technology forcing" - like the Kennedy Administration's decision to put a man on the moon. The dome was the largest ever built at the time, and the first major dome built in Europe since the two great domes of Roman times - the Pantheon in Rome, and Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. In front of it is the medieval gem of the Baptistery, where every Florentine was baptized until modern times. The two buildings incorporate in their decoration the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. In recent years, most of the important works of art from the two buildings - and from the wonderful Bell Tower, designed by Giotto, have been removed and replaced by copies. The originals are now housed in the spectacular Museum of the Works of the Duomo, just to the east of the Cathedral.

Florence has got several amounts of art-filled churches,[11] such as San Miniato al Monte, San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Novella, Santa Trinita, the Brancacci Chapel at Santa Maria della Carmine, Santa Croce, Santo Spirito, SS Annunziata, Ognissanti, and more.

The Palazzo della Signoria, better known as the Palazzo Vecchio (English:Old Palace).

And that is without mentioning any "artists". From Arnolfo and Cimabue to Giotto, Nanni di Banco, and Uccello; through Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Donatello and Massaccio and the various della Robbias; through Fra Angelico and Botticelli and Piero della Francesca, and on to Michelangelo and Leonardo, the Florentines dominated the visual arts like nobody before or since. And this list does not include many who, in any other place would be considered among the greatest of artists, but in Florence must be considered among the near-great: Benvenuto Cellini, Andrea del Sarto, Benozzo Gozzoli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Fra Lippo Lippi, Buontalenti, Orcagna, Pollaiuolo, Filippino Lippi, Verrocchio, Bronzino, Desiderio da Settignano, Michelozzo, the Rossellis, the Sangallos, Pontormo, just to name a few. And this list does not include the prolific Ignoto. Nor does it include the near-Florentines, such as Raphael, Andrea Pisano, Giambologna, the wonderfully nicknamed Sodoma and so many more, such as Peter-Paul Rubens — all of whom spent time in Florence and were nurtured by it.

The statue of Perseo by Cellini in the Loggia dei Lanzi.

Then there are the art galleries. The Uffizi and the Pitti Palace are two of the most famous picture galleries in the world.[62] But the heart and soul of Florence are in the two superb collections of sculpture, the Bargello and the Museum of the Works of the Duomo. They are filled with the brilliant, revolutionary creations of Donatello, Verrochio, Desiderio da Settignano, Michelangelo, and so many other masterpieces that create a body of work unique in the world. And, of course, there is the Accademia, with Michelangelo's David - perhaps the most well-known work of art anywhere, plus the superb, unfinished prisoners and slaves Michelangelo worked on for the tomb of Pope Julius II.

In all, Florence has a great amount of museums. Among those at the top of most lists - other than those above - are: The impressive medieval city hall, the Palazzo della Signoria (a.k.a Palazzo Vecchio), a wonderful building with magnificent rooms and some great art; the Archeological Museum, the Museum of the History of Science, the Palazzo Davanzatti, the Stibbert Museum, St. Marks, the Medici Chapels, the Museum of the Works of Santa Croce, the Museum of the Cloister of Santa Maria Novella, the Zoological Museum ("La Specola"), the Bardini, and the Museo Horne. There is also a wonderful collection of works by the modern sculptor, Marino Marini, in a museum named after him. If you are interested in photography, you should not miss the superb collection of works by the early photographers, the Alinari brothers. The magnificent Strozzi Palace is the site of many special exhibits


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,[citation needed] a frequent usage of the modern subjunctive instead of the present of standard Italian[citation needed], and a reduced pronunciation of the definite article, [i] instead of "il"[citation needed].

Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio pioneered the use of the vernacular - the use of a language other than Latin, in their case, Tuscan, which, because of them, became Italian. Because Dante, et al., wrote in Tuscan, Geoffrey Chaucer - who spent a lot of time in Northern Italy and who stole Boccaccio's little stories - wrote in English. And others started writing in French and Spanish and so on. This was the beginning of the end of Latin as a common language throughout Europe.


Florence became a significant musical centre during the Middle Ages and music and the performing arts remain an important part of its culture. During the Renaissance there were four kinds of musical patronage in the city with respect to both sacred and secular music: state, corporate, church, and private.[63] and it was here that the Florentine Camerata convened in the mid-1500s and experimented with setting tales of Greek mythology to music and staging the result—in other words, the first operas, setting the wheels in motion not just for the further development of the operatic form, but for later developments of separate "classical" forms such as the symphony.

Opera was invented in Florence in the late 16th century.[64]

Composers and musicians who have lived in Florence include Piero Strozzi (1550 – after 1608), Giulio Caccini (1551–1618) and Mike Francis (1961–2009).


Florence has been a setting for numerous works of fiction and movies, including the novels and associated films, such as Calmi Cuori Appassionati, Hannibal, A Room with a View, Tea with Mussolini and Virgin Territory. The city is also home to numerous renowned Italian actors and actresses, such as Roberto Benigni, Leonardo Pieraccioni and Vittoria Puccini.


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 1200 grams – "40 oz.") – the "date" steak – 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.[65]

Research activity

Many research institutes and University Departments are located within the Florence Area and within two campus recently developed at Polo di Novoli and Polo Scientifico di Sesto Fiorentino[66] as well as in the Research Area of Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche.[67]

Science and discovery

A display paleontological scientific display of dinosaurs in the Museo di Storia Naturale di Firenze, or the Natural History Museum of Florence.

Florence has been an important scientific centre for centuries, notably during the Renaissance, where there was a great period of discovery and innovation, with scientists such as Leonardo da Vinci.

Florentines were one of the driving forces behind the Age of Discovery. Florentine bankers financed Henry the Navigator and the Portuguese explorers who pioneered the route around Africa to India and the Far East. It was a map drawn by the Florentine Paulo del Pozzo Toscanelli, a student of Brunelleschi, that Columbus used to sell his "enterprise" to the Spanish monarchs, and which he used on his first voyage. Mercator's famous "Projection" is a refined version of Toscanelli's - taking into account the Americas, of which the Florentine was, obviously, ignorant. The western hemisphere, itself, is named after a Florentine explorer and mapmaker, Amerigo Vespucci.

Gallileo and other scientists pioneered the study of optics, ballistics, astronomy, anatomy, and so on. Pico della Mirandola, Leonardo Bruni, Machiavelli, and many others laid the groundwork for our understanding of political science.


Luxury boutiques along Florence's prestigious Via de' Tornabuoni.

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[68] 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. Florence's main upscale shopping street is Via de' Tornabuoni, where major luxury fashion houses and jewelry labels, such as Armani, Ferragamo and Bulgari, have their elegant boutiques.[44]

There are also a few places to buy things, from the high-end jewelry stores lining the Ponte Vecchio to some of the most famous shops in the world - Gucci, Pucci, Ferragamo, Valentino, Prada, Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna, Buccellati, Frette, etc., as well as several less-well known or more recent minor fashion boutiques. It is increasingly difficult to find bargains, but keen-eyed shoppers can still find good deals on smaller, side streets running off of those above and elsewhere in the center of town. The San Lorenzo market is now largely for tourists. There are also a couple of collections of "outlets" in the suburbs. Great places to walk include along the Arno and across any of its bridges, through narrow, medieval back streets in the Santa Croce area and in the Oltr'Arno - on the south side of the river, in many ways like Rome's Trastevere or Paris's Left Bank - but far, far smaller. There are also superb shopping streets, such as the Via Tornabuoni, the Via del Parione, and the Via Maggio.

Historical evocations

Scoppio del Carro

The Scoppio del Carro (“Explosion of the Cart”) is a celebration of the First Crusade. During the day of Easter, a cart, which the Florentines call the Brindellone and which is led by four white oxen, is taken to the Piazza del Duomo between the Baptistery 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 mass, the dove emerges from the nave of the Duomo and ignites the fireworks on the cart.

Calcio Storico

Calcio storico

Calcio Storico Fiorentino (“Historic Florentine Football”), sometimes called Calcio in costume, is a traditional sport, regarded as a 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 themselves 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.[69] There are four teams: Azzurri (light blue), Bianchi (white), Rossi (red) and Verdi (green). The Azzurri are from the quarter of Santa Croce, Bianchi from the quarter of Santo Spirito, Verdi are from San Giovanni and Rossi from Santa Maria Novella.


The Third Countship of Florence

The four counts and four countesses of Florence have a large but hidden tradition dating back to the early 20th century when a favoured Tuscan family left the city to Malta and the youngest daughter of the family was declared Contessa Morabitto di Florenze Countess Morabitto of Florence. To the present date there are eight members of the countship, six living in Malta, one in England and one living in Italy.


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 500 metres (1,640 ft) NW of Piazza del Duomo. There are two other important stations: Campo Di Marte and Rifredi. 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 kilometres (3.1 mi) west of the city centre, 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.[citation needed] 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.[70] 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.[citation needed]

Railway station

Inside Santa Maria Novella railway station.
Florence airport
Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station
is the main national and international train station in Florence and is used by 59.000.000 people every year.[71]
  • Firenze Rifredi railway station
  • Firenze Campo di Marte railway station
  • Firenze Belfiore railway station
  • Firenze Cascine railway station
  • Firenze Castello railway station
  • Firenze Rovezzano railway station
  • Firenze San Marco Vecchio railway station
  • Firenze Statuto railway station
  • Firenze Porta al Prato railway station
  • Firenze Le Cure railway station
  • Firenze Le Piagge railway station
  • Firenze Salviati railway station
  • Firenze Piazza Puccini Station


Florence's Peretola Airport is one of two main airports in the Tuscany region, the other being Galileo Galilei International Airport near Pisa.



Florence is represented by ACF Fiorentina, who plays in Serie A, the top league of Italian football. They play their games at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. The city is also home of Coverciano, the main training ground of the Italian national team, and the technical department of the Italian Football Federation.


The current Mayor of Florence is Matteo Renzi (Democratic Party, elected in June 2009).[72]

International relations

Twin towns—Sister cities

Florence is twinned with:


Notable residents

See also



  • Brucker, Gene A. (1983). Renaissance Florence. 
  • Brucker, Gene A. (1971). The Society of Renaissance Florence: A Documentary Study. 
  • Chamberlin, Russell (22 May 2008). Travellers Florence & Tuscany, 3rd: Guides to Destinations Worldwide. Thomas Cook Publishing. ISBN 9781841578446. http://books.google.com/books?id=sdekGAAACAAJ. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  • Chaney, Edward(2003), A Traveller's Companion to Florence.
  • Goldthwaite, Richard A. (1982). The Building of Renaissance Florence: An Economic and Social History. 
  • Hibbert, Christopher (1999). The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall. 
  • Lewis, R.W.B. (1996). The City of Florence: Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings. 
  • Najemy, John (2006). A History of Florence 1200–1575. 
  • Schevill, Ferdinand (1936). History of Florence: From the Founding of the City Through the Renaissance. 
  • Trexler, Richard C. (1991). Public Life in Renaissance Florence. 
  • Ferdinand Schevill, History of Florence: From the Founding of the City Through the Renaissance (Frederick Ungar, 1936) is the standard overall history of Florence.

Primary sources

  • Niccolò Machiavelli. Florentine Histories numerous editions


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External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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