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Interesting Facts about Florence

1.Weird Fact: Florence streets can be one name at one end of the street and another name at the other end.  For example, Via Martelli is the street leading away from Piazza del Duomo then at the first intersection it turns into Via Cavour.  

2.Fun Fact: Florence is the capital city of the province of Florence and the Italian region of Tuscany.

3.Interesting Fact: Via Chiantigiana is the most beautiful road in all of Italy.  Winding through the vineyards and woodlands surrounding Florence connecting to Siena.

4.Weird Fact: Fiasco is an Italian word referring to a glass bottle or flask with a long neck.  According to the Oxford English dictionary fiasco--meaning a failure or complete breakdown--comes from the Italian expression fare fiasco, to make a bottle.  Nobody knows how this Italian expression came to be in the English language.  Today, old trattorie are still called fiaschetteria--working men's taverns.  Back in the day was known as taverns with hearty, cheap Tuscan wines and later for a more homey Tuscan specialities that paired with the wines.

5.Fun Fact: How do the Italians really eat pasta?  The correct technique involves piercing some pasta near the edge of the bowl, not in the center but at the twelve o'clock position, then twirling the pasta around the fork against the rim of the bowl.

6.Historical Fact: In 1339, Florence became the first city in Europe with paved streets.

7.Random Fact: Florence was home to the infamous Medici family from the 14th century to the 18th century. Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolo Machievelli, Galileo Galilei, Amerigo Vespucci, Donatello, Raffaele, Roberto Cavalli, and Guccio Gucci, fashion designer and Gucci fashion was founded in Florence 1921.

8.Historical Fact: The Grand Duchy of Tuscany was the first state to abolish capital punishment in November 1786.

9.Interesting Fact: Florence has had two floods; one on November 4, 1333 and November 4, 1966.  

10.Fun Fact:
What would come to be thought of as Italian was first formalized in the first years of the 14th century through the works of Dante Alighieri, who mixed southern Italian languages, especially Sicilian, with his native Florentine in his epic poems known collectively as theDivine Comedy. Dante's much-loved works were read throughout Italy and his written dialect became the standard that all educated Italians could understand. Dante is still credited with standardizing the Italian language and, thus, the dialect of Florence became the basis for what would become the official language of Italy.

11.Historical Fact: Florence Nightingale, famous for revolutionizing the field of nursing, was named for the city of her birth.

Fun Fact: Florence is best known for leather and gold

Things to See in Florence

  1. Amerigo Vespucci Airport
  2. The Cathedral (Il Duomo)
  3. Ponte Vecchio
  4. Piazzale Michelangiolo
  5. Uffizi Gallery
  6. Santa Croce
  7. Palazzo Pitti
  8. Santo Spirito
  9. Santa Maria Novella Train Station
  10. Artemio Franchi Stadium

Florence History

The history of Florence stretches back as far as the 8th Century BCE when a primitive settlement lived in the valley, close to the Arno. "Florentia" is recorded as an official Roman colony in 59 BCE and was designed according to the typical Roman road system, which can be seen in many Italian cities today. There are two principal roads: the cardus descends from the Baptistery to Via Roma and continues on to Via Calimala, while the decumanus stretches from via del Corso to via degli Speziali until it reaches via degli Strozzi. The Forum (public meeting place and market) was built at the point where the roads meet, on what is now the Piazza della Repubblica. During Roman rule, Florence was the most important city in Roman Tuscany.

Florentia was invaded by numerous tribes in the following centuries: Goths, "Silicone", Ostrogoths and Longobards. Many inhabitants adopted Christianity at the time of the Silicone, and the first churches appeared outside the Roman walls of Florentia: San Lorenzo and Santa Felicita were built during the 4th Century CE and can be visited today.

Charlemagne's arrival put an end to the colony's expansion. Buildings were still constructed however, and the Baptistery dates back to this time. The city flourished in the 9th and 10th Centuries, a great deal of money was spent on the construction of many religious buildings, e.g. the Badia Fiorentina. Many public works were undertaken, including the building of the city walls in 1078. Florentia was a cultural and economic success!

Florence's wealth and power grew at an enormous pace; a second set of city walls had to be built; the district of Oltrarno became part of the city and Romanesque-style architecture ruled (e.g. San Miniato and Santi Apostoli churches). Florentine craftsmen became involved in textiles (beginning with the trading of wool and silk), which lead to gradual urbanization. Political tension began to rear its ugly head in the 13th Century as two political factions (the Guelphs and the Ghibellines) fought for power. At the end of the 13th Century, there was something of a cultural revolution. A major player in this revolution was the architect Arnolfo di Cambio who designed the Palazzo dei Priori (which became the Palazzo della Signoria a century later and then the Palazzo Vecchio) and also started work on the reconstruction of Santa Maria del Fiore, which was completed in successive centuries. Arnolfo also continued with the construction of the third and final set of city walls.

The city was devastated by plague in 1348, and political conflicts were still rife. The Ciompi Revolt of 1378 occurred as a result of the people's frustration—the poor reacted against their unjust governor. Meanwhile, Florentine merchants and bankers were already working hard to increase their wealth in order to attain power over the nobility.

Lorenzo de'Medici played an important role in Florence's history; he strengthened the political interests of the nobility, while dedicating himself to his love of the Arts and philosophy. The city underwent a cultural rebirth. After Lorenzo's death in 1492, the city came under the harsh, puritanical rule of the fanatical Dominican friar, Girolamo Savonarola, who was elected to the leadership of the Republic. He was so unpopular for his preachings that he was burned at the stake six years later by angry citizens. The leadership of the city was unstable for several years after that with the arrival of French troops under King Charles VIII, but the de'Medici clan regained power and Florence had her first Duke in 1530, and then Grand Duke in 1569. The succession of the Grand Dukes of the Medici family continued until the end of the 18th century, but Florence gradually lost the central role it had occupied in preceding centuries. The last heir of the Medici's handed over power and all the family's riches to the House of Lorena, whose rule continued until 1859, when Florence was united with the rest of Italy (which later became the Kingdom of Italy). Florence was only the capital of this kingdom for a few years (1865-1871) and the court transferred its official residence to the Palazzo Pitti. A lot of urban design and restructure took place during the 19th century, including the construction of embankments along the Arno and piazzas in the centre of the new districts of Barbano and Mattonaia (which are now Piazza dell'Indipendenza and Piazza D'Azeglio). The "arnolfiane" wall and the Jewish Ghetto (which was situated in the current location of the Piazza della Repubblica) demolished to make way for a series of ring roads which were to lead to the Piazzale Michelangelo and the Piazza della Repubblica.

World War Two had a devastating effect on Florence. The city sustained many damages, especially to its bridges and the area inside the Ponte Vecchio. The flood of 1966 further hindered the preservation of valuable Florentine treasures, resulting in a restoration process that will be on-going well into the 21st and 22nd Centuries.

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