last updated: 2 Feb. 2015


Over the past few years we have visited Florence many, many times, and each time we have found something new.

From the statues in the streets, through the museums, to friends often met, Florence has been a place well seen but never fully understood!

Florence is both the capital of a modern, rich industrial region called Tuscany and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts millions of tourists every year. Some people may know Tuscany for its food and wine, but everyone remembers Florence as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.

And now for a little bit of history to set the scene and excite your interest for the visit!

They say that Julius Caesar established a place called Florentia ('the flourishing') in 59 BC as a settlement for his retired soldiers. Situated on the main route between Rome and the north, the Via Cassia, and on the fertile river Arno, the settlement quickly became an important commercial centre.

For nearly 700 years the city was almost constantly at war, and peace only returned under Charlemagne when it became part of the Duchy of Tuscany. Things started to pickup when Florence's powerful rival Pisa was defeated by Genoa in 1284 and later subjugated by Florence in 1406. By then the city had adopted a form of democracy, although rich families exercised power through a patronage network and with the support of immigrants workers. The Medici family emerged as the most powerful family in the city. And the fact that they were the bankers to the Pope certainly also contributed to their rise. Initially Cosimo exercised power, but he was succeeded by his son Piero, who was shortly thereafter succeeded by Cosimo's grandson, Lorenzo in 1469. It was “Lorenzo il Magnifico” that commissioning works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli. His son Piero II (“the unfortunate”) fought against the French king Charles VIII but lost, and he had to accept the humiliating conditions of the French king. He was expelled from Florence. Later the Medici regained their power but were again exiled in 1527. Restored again with the support of both the Emperor and Pope, the Medici in 1537 became hereditary dukes of Florence, and in 1569 Grand Dukes of Tuscany. They ruled for another two centuries.

The extinction of the Medici dynasty occurred when Tuscany was temporary included in the territories of the Austrian crown, and in 1861 Tuscany finally became a province of the United Kingdom of Italy. Florence even replaced Turin as Italy's capital in 1865, but it was superseded by Rome six years later.

Recently the city has grown substantially because of tourism and a strong regional industrial sector.

Florence was occupied by the Germans for a year but it was liberated by the Allied forces in late 1944.

On 4th November 1966, the Arno flooded parts of the city centre, damaging many art treasures.

“Lorenzo il Magnifico” (1449 - 1492)

Piero II (1472 - 1503)

And many thanks to wikipedia - I have drawn liberally from both its collection of photo’s and its well researched commentaries.

River Arno

In a recent FT “howtospendit” they mentioned 3 restaurants, namely Querciabella (a winery), Trattoria Mario (bistecca alla Fiorentina), and Villa La Massa (with the restaurant Il Verrocchio). My wife and I have fond memories of the following restaurants: Coco LezzoneEnoteca Pinchiorri, il Latini, Taverna del Bronzino, Trattoria Enzo e Piero, La Biritullera, Pallottino, and La Giostra.

Cosimo de’ Medici (1389-1464)