Florence is one of the most visited cities in Italy: about ten million tourists every year from the artistic wonders of this city.
Florence was founded in 59 BC by Julius Caesar as a Roman army camp. After the fall of the Roman Empire and after the period of Lombard domination, Florence became a city-state managed by the guilds.
In the thirteenth century it assumed an important position thanks to the rich trade in wool and fabrics, and to its banking system. From this activity emerged the Medici family, which with a skilful management of relations with the people, took control of the city and for three centuries ruled Florence and a large part of Tuscany. These bankers were also great patrons, lovers of arts and culture. Thanks to them, Florence became a great and rich intellectual, cultural and artistic center of Europe.
It was the Renaissance period, full of famous artists such as Dante, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Donatello and Petrarca, which made Florence famous throughout the world. And it still is, thanks to the splendid works of art they left us.
In particular Lorenzo Il Magnifico was one of the greatest promoters of the arts and culture in Florence: he financed artists who perhaps would not have become so famous and would not have created works so admired, if they had lived in another period or in another place.
In addition to art, Florence has a historical tradition in craftsmanship and a more recent one in haute couture, which combines the elegance of Made in Italy with the most competitive prices of Parisian fashion.
From Florence come internationally known stylists and maisons, such as Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Emilio Pucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Enrico Coveri, Patrizia Pepe, Ermanno Scervino and many others.
The major high fashion boutiques are concentrated in the historic center, in the luxury shopping district (via de 'Tornabuoni, via della Vigna Nuova).
What to see in Florence
The Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore) with the 115 meter high dome and the bell tower and the Baptistery are the most visible and best known complex of the city skyline.
Two Gothic churches are also well known, Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella, where the Strozzi Chapel inspired by the Divine Comedy is located.
Palazzo Vecchio was for centuries the government palace of Florence. Also important are the residential palace of the Medici family and the imposing Palazzo Pitti, which has become a museum that exhibits everything from clothing to art. The splendid Boboli Gardens are associated with this.
The Uffizi Gallery is the most famous museum in Florence and one of the most important in Italy. The most famous work of art is Botticelli's The Birth of Venus. The aforementioned Palazzo Pitti The accompanying Boboli Gardens are also a museum in their own right. For sports enthusiasts there is a special museum dedicated to the Florentine cyclist Bartali, who has won the Giro three times.
The Ponte Vecchio over the Arno is a symbol of Florence. It is characterized by the numerous jewelry shops built on the bridge itself.