History of Florence - History & Culture - Florence attractions - Florence art - Florence history guide

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Florence History, Italy

Florence’s origins date back to the Etruscan era, when Fiesole, an important center in Etruria, dominated the valley. Before conquering Fiesole in the first century B.C., the Romans set up camp by the River Arno in a place that then became Florentia, "destined to flower". Florence survived the dark centuries of the Middle Ages and then became an important city, until it became a Municipal Borough in 1115.

The rivalry was famous between the Guelphs, loyal to the Pope, and the Ghibellines, loyal to Emperor Frederick II, which led to the exile of the Guelphs from the city.  With the death of the emperor, the Guelphs once again took the upper hand and Florence enjoyed a period of prosperity. Great importance was given to the "Corporazione delle Arti" (Arts Guild) and creation began of works that made Florence a unique city in the world. Art and culture were in turmoil, and the people's desire to educate themselves gave life to the first works in the vernacular language, in the poetic style of "Dolce Stil Novo", after which came Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio and finally, a century later, the Accademia della Crusta.  It was Boccaccio himself who documented the tragedy of the plague in Florence which laid the foundation for popular discontent, reaching its climax during the "Tumulto dei Ciompi", riots that took place in 1378.

Art and culture were in great ferment and the people’s desire to educate themselves gave rise to the first work in the vernacular language, in the poetic style of "Dolce Stil Novo", which then brought about the works of Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio and finally, a century later, the “Accademia della Crusca”. It was Boccaccio who documented the plague of Florence, a tragedy that started off the people’s dissatisfaction, which culminated in the “tumulto dei Ciompi” riots in 1378.

After a short period in which the people ruled the city, the Medici dynasty then took over, first with Cosimo and then with Lorenzo il Magnifico, who brought the Humanist Age to Florence, together with the wonderful architecture by Brunelleschi. After Lorenzo il Magnifico’s death (1492), and in later centuries, the city oscillated between Republican agitation and Medici revenge, while geniuses such as Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci became famous names in art and literature.

In 1865, Florence was chosen as the capital of the Kingdom of Italy and remained so until 1871.  In the following years, until the early twentieth century, the city was known for its literary happenings, with works like Pinocchio bringing writers to the forefront such as Papini, Palazzeschi and Pratolini, who gathered in the historical cafe, "Giubbe Rosse".

Florence's population has considerably grown in the nineteenth century, even tripling in the 1900's due to the significant growth in trade, industry and tourism. During the Second World War it was occupied by the Germans from 1943 to 1944 when, in the month of August, it was freed by the Resistance.

A leading cultural and economic hub for the entire country in the twentieth century, Florence is now a multiethnic city that optimizes public services and sets a brilliant example of political and administrative innovation, soon to have a subway, a new Sports Arena and multi-purpose Music and Culture center.

Author:Nozio



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