"Florence" Florence by smschley

Florence Travel Guide: 5,247 reviews and 11,821 photos

Florence started as a colony of the Etruscan city of Fiesole in about 200 BC, it later became the Roman Florentia, a garrison town controlling the Via Flaminia. In the early 12th century the city became a free commune and by 1138 it was ruled by 12 consuls, assisted by the Council of One Hundred, a bunch of rich merchants. In 1207, due to problems with faction fighting, the council was replaced by a foreign governor.
The great plague of 1348 decimated the population. In the latter part of the 14th century the Medicis gained power, but in 1494 they went broke and lost their hold on power. The city fell under the control a Dominican monk who led a puritanical republic until he fell from public favor and was hanged and burned as a heretic in 1498. The Medicis returned to Florence in the 16th century, having united themselves by marriage with Emperor Charles V, and ruled for the next 200 years. In 1737 the Grand Duchy of Tuscany passed to the House of Lorraine, which was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy in 1860. Florence became capital of the Kingdom and remained so until Rome took over in 1875.
The 20th century was in many ways disastrous for Florence. WWI left it spent, shocked, and vulnerable to Fascist rhetoric. The city was one of Mussolini's most faithful strongholds. Florence was badly damaged during WWII by the retreating Germans, who blew up all its bridges except the Ponte Vecchio. Devastating floods ravaged the city in 1966, causing inestimable damage to its building and artworks, some of which are still being restored. One good thing to come of the disaster, which left the city covered in a mantle of slimy mud and left countless families homeless, was the evolution of modern restoration techniques. The salvage operation led to the refining of methods which have since saved artworks throughout the world.
Florence has rarely hit the headlines in recent times. It leads the quiet dignified life of a regional capital, under a constant influx of tourists. In 1995, a car bomb killed five people and damaged works in the Uffizi gallery and this attack was attributed to the Sicilian Mafia. Otherwise Florence has been relatively untouched by sensation. Its streets could almost beguile you into thinking you've walked into a former age, untouched by the clamor of the wider world

  • Last visit to Florence: Jan 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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  • starship's Profile Photo
    Jul 24, 2006 at 5:12 PM

    Excellent, well-written information on outstanding sights. Photos are great too!


“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.”

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