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HISTORY OF FLORENCE  Florence (Florence)   (6) Mi garba
 
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Florence - Florence (Florence) History of Florence in Florence - Museums in Florence works of art and hotel reservation in Florence - Tuscany with tuscaning.com
 
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The first traces of civilization in the Arno valley, where the city of Florence now stands, date back to the Villanovan period (Iron Age). The Etruscans later ruled over the area; their domination persisted for several centuries, until they were eventually conquered by the Romans who founded a municipium with the auspicious name of ´Florentia´, with the aim of guarding the important ford over the Arno.It was, after the fall of the Roman Empire, at first a feud of the marquesses of Tuscany, among whom Matilda of Canossa particularly distinguished herself at the time of the Investiture Contest between Pope Gregory VII and the Emperor Henry IV. Subsequently it became the theatre of violent struggles between the ancient aristocratic houses and the pQwerful class of the craft workers incorporated in the various guilds of arts and crafts: these rivalries gave rise to the two factions of the Guelfs favourable to the Pope, and the Ghihellines, favourable to the Emperor. Yet the ferocious civil strife that hedevilled Florence in the Middle Ages did not impede the political, cultural and economic development of the city which, by the close of the 13th century, had extended its rule over the rival cities of Siena, Arezzo and Pistoia. At the same time it witnessed the extra ordinary flowering of the arts expressed in the masterpieces of Cimabue, Giotto, Dante and Arnolfo di Camhio. Meanwhile the political life of the city, as fertile and tormented as ever, saw the revolt of the common people against the magnates in the Ciompi Revolution (1378), the rise to power of the great banking houses destined to monopolise civic life, and the emergence of the Signoria (lordship) of the Medici under Cosimo the Elder (1389-1464); Medici rule over the city was to persist, despite periods of interruption, for almost three centuries.Cosimo was succeeded by his sun Piero di Cosimo (Piero the Gouty: 1416-1469), and then by his nephew Lorenzo, nicknamed the Magnificent (1449-1494), a patron, poet and politician of consummate skill who led Florence to the height of her splendour. A few years after the death of Lorenzo, the Republican faction, hostile to the rule of the patriciate and inflamed by the violent and passionate preaching of the Dominican friar Cerolamo Savonarola, gained the upper hand and entertained the hope, or rather the delusion, that it could resto re the life of the city to its original purity of custom that had, according to Savonarola, been vitiated by the taste for luxury, the thirst for profit, and a prevailing spirit of profanity and superficiality. Restored to power, the Medici continued to govern the city, with the exception of one or two brief interregnums, until 1737, when the dynast was finally extinguished on the death of Giangastone. Having in the meantime become a GrandDuchy, Florence was then governed by the House of Lorraine, which retained it until the annexation of Florence and Tuscany to the Kingdom of Italy, whose capital Florence became in 1865. From this time onwards the particular history of Florence was incorporated into the wider horizon of the history of Italy as a whole.Florence stands 50 m. above sea level on the banks of the Arno River, in a hollow surrounded by the first Chianti hills to the south and the Fiesole hills to the north; these hills are green and undulating dotted with small towns and isolated homesteads. A city of art and culture, Florence is the destination of a high proportion of international tourism.Originally a Roman centre (Florentia), it began to acquire a certain importance under the Carolingians but its fortunes date from the time (1115) of its constitution as a Republic. Torn in the 13th-beginning 14th centuries, by internal strife between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, and later between White Guelphs and Black Guelphs, this did not, however, prevent it, aided by increasing economic importance from undertaking a policy of expansion directed at the largest Tuscan towns. In 1406, once Pisa had fallen, only Siena and Lucca remained free of Florentine rule. Shortly after (1434), the Republic became a Signoria under the Medici family; in 1530 Charles V created the Dukes of Florence, a title which, in 1569, was changed to Grand Dukes of Tuscany as, in the meantime, also the strong Republic of Siena had fallen (1555).Under this Signoria the town gained great masterpieces by the foremost artists of the time (Brunelleschi, Donatello, Botticelli, Masaccio, etc.) becoming the most important European centre of Renaissance culture. When the Medici family died out, the Lorenas gained power in 1737 and, apart from the Napoleonic period (1800-1815), governed Florence and the region until 1859, the year in which Duke Leopold II was expelled and Tuscany became part of the Kingdom of Italy; it was even the capital city from 1865 to 1870.The city´s urban structure has evolved from the historical cen tre characterized by roads of Roman origin, in successive concentric expansions demarcated by surrounding walls (12th and 14th centuries). Expansion beyond the walls started in the second half of last century, partly the result of building the railway stations, though it rose to considerable proportions in the 1950´s owing to the increase in population and the city´s economic importance. Today Florence stretches towards Prato to the northeast and Siena to the south.It is impossible to mention all the countless important monuments and works of artistic attraction, however, limiting the list to the really outstanding, Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria draw the attention of all tourists. Piazza del Duomo is the site of the principal palaces of religious interest: the Baptistry, a Romanesque building (11th-12th century) perhaps over an older structure, with beautiful bronze doors (14th-15th century by A. Pisano and L. Ghiberti) and mosaics; the Giotto campanile (14th century, 84.7 m high) and the Duomo, in Gothic style (14th-15th century), surmounted by the famous Brunelleschi cupola (15th century), housing works, among others, by Paolo Uccello, Luca della Robbia, Andrea del Castagno, Michelangelo (the Pieta sculpture). In Piazza della Signoria stand the Loggia della Signoria (14th century), decorated with 16th century statues, and Palazzo Vecchio (early 14th century), dominated by the Torre d´Arnolfo (94 m.), with an interesting Renaissance interior. Other monuments include: Palazzo Medici-Riccardi (15th century), Palazzo Pitti (15th century, to a design by Brunelleschi), Palazzo Strozzi (15th - early 16th centuries), Palazzo Rucellai (15th century), Palazzo Davanzati (14th century). Churches include: S. Lorenzo (15th century) with the Sagrestia Vecchia (by Brunelleschi, decorated by Donatello) and the Sagrestia Nuova, housing the Medici family tombs sculpted by Michelangelo, S. Spirito (15th century), S. Maria Novella (Gothic, with façade by L. B. Alberti), Orsanmichele (15th century), Santa Croce (13th century, Gothic), containing the tombs of Michelangelo, Galilei, Alfieri, Machiavelli, Foscolo and other great men, with the adjacent Cappella dei Pazzi, a Brunelleschi creation (15th century); S. Miniato al Monte (Romanesque, with rich interior). Further attractions are the stupendous Italian gardens at Boboli, created in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the inspiring Ponte Vecchio (14th century).
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Sources and References Index
www.tematuscany.com, http://www.welcometuscany.it/tuscany/florence/florence.htm
 
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