Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It was the center of Medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the world at that time. Florence is considered to be the birthplace of Renaissance and has been called “the Athens of the Middle Ages”. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Florence is noted for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and various monuments. It is an important city of Italian fashion.
The Arno River which originates in the Apennines passes through the city of Florence where it flows below the Ponte Vecchio and Santa Trinita Bridge. The river flooded the city of Florence in historical times. The most recent was in 1966 which collapsed the embankment in Florence, killing at least 40 people and damaging or destroying millions of works of art and rare books.
The Palazzo Vecchio (English “The Old Palace”) is the town hall of Florence. Originally it was called Palazzo della Signoria after the Signoria of Florence the ruling body of the Republic of Florence.
The Loggia dei Lanzi also called the Loggia della Signoria is a building on a corner of the Palazzo adjoining the Uffizi Gallery. It consists of wide arches open to the street. The arches rest on clustered rectangular columns. The wide arches appealed so much to the Florentines, that Michelangelo even proposed that they should be continued all around the Piazza della Signoria. The Loggia dei Lanzi is effectively an open-air sculpture gallery of antique and Renaissance art. On the steps of the Loggia are the Medici Lions, marble statues of the lions, heraldic symbols of Florence.
On the back of the Loggia are five marble female statues (three are identified as Matidia, Marciana and Agrippina Minor). They were discovered in Rome in 1541.
Piazz della Repubblica is a city square in Florence.
The National Central Library of Florence is the largest in Italy and one of the most important in Europe along with the one in Rome. The library was founded in 1714 when scholar Antonio Magliabechi bequeathed his entire collection of books, encompassing approximately 30,000 volumes, to the city of Florence. Unfortunately during the flood of the Arno River in 1966, nearly one third of the library’s holding were damaged. The subsequent Restoration Center which was established to restore the collection could manage to save many of the books. However some items are lost forever.
The main tourist attraction of Florence is the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (in English “Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers”). This is the main church of Florence and the most prominent structure in the city. It is ordinarily called “Il Duomo di Firenze”. The construction of the church begun in 1296, in the Gothic style with the design of Amolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436, with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi.
The cathedral complex, located in Piazza del Duomo includes the Baptistery and Giotto’s bell tower. These three buildings are part of the UNESCO world heritage site covering the historic center of Florence. This is one of Italy’s largest churches, and until development of new structural materials in the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed.
Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square) is a square with a panoramic view of Florence located in the Oltrarno district of the city. This square was designed by architect Giuseppe Poggi and built in 1869 on a hill just south of the historic center.
The square dedicated to Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo, has bronze copies of some of his marble works, the David in bronze. Poggi designed the loggia in the neoclassical style that dominates the whole terrace, which today houses a restaurant. One will get an amazing aerial view of the city of Florence from this terrace.