A city that prides in its historic glory, Florence is truly a sight to behold. The capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, Florence was founded by the Romans in the first century. Some even claim that it was Julius Caesar himself who established the city as a military colony for his soldiers.
Enveloped by rolling hills, Florence is dotted with many villas and vineyards apart from countless historic architectural marvels.
With many historic personalities calling it home, Florence is studded with the work of great artists to the likes of Michelangelo, Galileo, Donatello, and many more. Some were invited by the Medici family who ruled the city for almost three centuries.
Without a doubt, it is surely a World Heritage Site that sits on the bucket list of millions of travellers, worldwide.
Interesting Florence Facts
1. Florence is the home ground of Renaissance
Not many are aware that Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. Having drawn many intellectuals to itself, Florence became a hub of art and literature which instrumental towards Renaissance.
It also came to be known as ‘Athens of the Middle Ages’’ and has served as the capital of the Italian kingdom for six long years. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence currently is home to one of the largest art collections pertaining to the Renaissance period. You can find the inestimable ‘Doni Tondo’ by Michelangelo and Leonardo de Vinci’s ‘Annunciation’, only here.
2. Hitler saved the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence during the Second World War
The Ponte Vecchio, meaning the old bridge is built over the Arno river. Apart from the beauty it possesses, it is an architectural feat of the European middle ages, built-in stone.
Germans blew up all the bridges in Florence during World War 2, except one – Ponte Vecchio, an interesting fact about Florence. Actually, when Mussolini invited Hitler on a tour of Italy, Hitler was left in awe of the beauty of this bridge. So during the war, Hitler had ordered them not to destroy this particular bridge as he considered it too beautiful to be destroyed. The rest were reduced to rubble.
3. Served as home to world-renowned intellectuals, philosophers and artists
Being a visual treat, Florence has lured a number of intellectuals and philosophers. Naturally, a lot of them chose to settle here. But surprisingly, many were born Florentines. From Florence Nightingale (the famous nurse) to Amerigo Vespucci (after whom America has been named), were born in Florence itself. Even the not so famous Carlo Lorenzini, who invented the character of Pinnochio was also a resident. Apart from them, Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Galileo Galilei, Raffaele and Roberto Cavalli also called it home.
4. Florence’s Duomo took 140 years to build
Almost every street of Florence is studded with architectural delights, with many dating back to centuries ago. The Piazza Della Signoria is the epicentre of social and cultural events in the city, while the Neptune Fountain in its middle is its eye candy.
But most of all, the 600 year old Cathedral of Florence is central to the city and took 140 years to build, an interesting fact about Florence. Commonly called the Duomo, it is the largest brick and mortar dome in the world, till date. In fact, the cathedral along with its Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile have been declared as World Heritage Sites. You can even climb up to the top of the Duomo, but after climbing around 463 stone steps. The sight, however, is totally worth it!
5. Opera, Piano and the Italian language, were all born in Florence
The Opera is also said to have been invented in Florence in the late 16th century. Florence has also been the city where the piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori. Even the posh fashion brand Gucci was founded here in 1921 by Guccio Gucci. The Italian language too traces its roots from the city of Florence.
6. You can buy tax free luxury goods here
The famous Via de’ Tornabuoni, in the city, houses many small and large luxury designer stores, including Bulgari and Dior. Though the best part is that you can even buy premium luxury items, sans tax. Naturally, it is thronged by multiple tourists, all year round.
7. Florence was the first city in the world to have paved streets
Way back in the 14th century, Florence became the first city in Europe to have paved streets, long before Rome and Venice, a unique fact about Florence. Actually, Romans were known to build excellent roads which served as easy transits for their commerce goods and soldiers. Gradually, since Florence was blessed with handsome donations from its wealthy residents, paved all its streets.
8. Florence Syndrome comes from Florence
Florence or Stendhal Syndrome is a psychological disorder in which a person perceives a work of art to be extremely overwhelming. Its first occurrence was when French author Henri-Marie Beyle saw the famous Giotto’s ceiling in a cathedral and was overwhelmed with ecstasy, an interesting fact about Florence.
Increase heart rate and dizziness are common symptoms of this syndrome. Surprisingly, the same has been witnessed with many visitors after visiting the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
9. It abolished capital punishment way back in the 18th century
Florence was way more modern than its counterparts of the time. One excellent example is the state of Tuscany for whom Florence served as a capital, had abolished both torture and capital punishment. That too in the year 1786. Tuscany was also the first European state to do so.
10. It has a footwear heaven
Apart from the Arno river, Florence also has a sea of footwear. The Salvatore Ferragamo Shoe Museum is a paradise for footwear fanatics, as it has tens of thousands of footwear, all commissioned privately. The Museum is dedicated to the shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo and houses his very own creations and collections.
Apart from these fascinating facts about Florence, it is also one of the top fashion capitals of the world, and also an economic and tourist hotspot. From the breathtaking sites of nature to man-made wonders, there’s plenty that this little city beholds.
I hope that this article on Florence facts was helpful! If you are interested, visit the City Facts Page!