Firenze capital of Renaissance
Florence is a cultural and artistic Italian city that doesn’t need to be introduced in Italy, not even abroad.
World capital of Renaissance culture and art, Florence gave life to the most important artists in the history of the world, such as:
Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, Michelangelo, Verrocchio, Botticelli are only some of the most famous genius of the Reinassance.
And again, we don’t forget Dante Alighieri lived some centuries before. The world will remember him for his masterpiece, “The Divine Comedy“. I’ve been three times in Florence and eveytime it was always a very special experience.
In the beginning, Florence Firenze capital of Renaissance was a fortified camp called Florentia that lay on the Via Cassia, a Roman road that ran between the foothills of the Apennines and the western coast of Italy, on the Tyrrhenian sea. It was the principal route between Rome and the North.
Although I know Italy very well and I have seen many of its beauties I have to say that the city that succeeds, more than many others to reconcile serenity and efficiency, beauty and art, but curiosity too, is without doubts, Florence.
Crossed by the river Arno and built on an Etruscan site, the city of Florence is surely the first and most important symbol of the Italian Renaissance.
The world knows it as the capital of the art, with its great masterpieces of the painting and sculpture. But what makes it so unique is that this is a city that for its social services and for its dimensions is absolutely pleasant to live and it makes the life comfortable and very little stressful.
Second city of Italy after Rome for annual influx of tourists, is one of the European destinations more desired by the Americans, Europeans and Japanese.
Also being one of the first cities of Italy for the quality of the life, there is a strange and unusual contradiction of which is worth to talk about. During the last decade many interviewed Florentines, have shown a strong impatience for the old part of their city. An impatience that springs due the difficulties to live the ancient part with less liberty and convenience if compared to the old times. In fact, during the last five years, the 42% of the people have declared to frequent less the downtown Florence in the evening. Many of them justify this choice with a growth of the crime and many others underline the fact that has become nearly impossible to park a car in the city center.
It seems to be incomprehensible for who like me, originates from a chaotic and dangerous city like Naples, where blood flows every day and of which we will talk about in another occasion. Many of my American friends, that every year come to Italy (Florence) to spend one month, would like to sell their soul to devil in order have the possibility to move here for the rest of their life.
In the last century, the history of this city has been marked by a process of disintegration in which the ancient structure has become almost insufficient to resolve all the demands of the modern urban life and it is felt as “problem” of a very complex reality. Due these changes, we should underline that, unlike the great international towns such as Paris, London, New York or Tokyo, Florence since different years does not offer to its visitors a great variety of relaxations or night life diversions. In fact it is considered only a calm working city and few frantic. For example during the evening the restaurants do not allow the entry after 10.00 and many cafes close before midnight. If is wanted to stay with friends up to late evening, it needs therefore to be organized in some other way. In few words, Florence can be considered a city for diurnal “animals”.
Its beauty and the beauty of Tuscany, the greenest Italian region, are simply amazing.
Here, among the ancient medieval suburbs was born the Italian language that is expressed, above all, through the literature of Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca and Giovanni Boccaccio. But it is also the land of the Renaissance – an artistic and cultural movement that has deeply characterized the Italian and the European culture.
The six centuries of extraordinary artistic creativeness of the city are illustrated, above all, in the Cathedral of Saint Maria of the Flower (XIII century), in the Church of Saint Cross, in the Museum of Uffizi and in Palazzo Pitti, real living testimonies of the work of artists like Filippo Brunelleschi, Sandro Botticelli, Raffaello Sanzio, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Leonardo da Vinci. We have to say that the era of the humanism has produced a great change in the Italian civilization.
This deep connotation and cultural identity has made of Florence, at the eyes of Italians, a very beloved city and for many aspects also a very envied land. These feelings, sometimes, involve in particular way the human relationships.
Many Florentines are accused to believe to be culturally superior to the others and sometimes, even if I do not agree, it seems that these voices find a certain truth.
Somewhere has been read that the Florentines, from the top of the stately dome of Brunelleschi, they look at the other cities of Tuscany with arrogance and haughtiness. The cities react cursing Florence, but at the same time they are looked suspicious the one with the other. Siena against Arezzo, Pistoia against Lucca and Prato. Lucca against Pisa. And Florence against all!
On the subject, there is a proverb that underlines this connection.
“When Siena cries, Florence laughs (and vice versa)” or try to ask to a Florentine what does he think about a Pisanos or vice versa.
In reality does not exist one reason only that has given origin to such rivalries, but is possible to speak about a centenary tradition of mutual antipathy with historical roots through the centuries and under different point of view: cultural, culinary, sporting, architectural, etc. For example, once Siena was in rivalry with Florence for the artistic, cultural and political dominion in the center Italy. Instead Pisa waged war and lost against Florence on the waters of the river Arno. Defeated to the Meloria, the pisanis pretended the maximum respect while the Florentines instead picked them around saying that in the their city they had “a punctured ninepin” and they was not able “to keep it upright.” But if that ninepin that hangs and does not fall, (the tower in Pisa), has become after many years an illustrious and famous monument, this is another discourse.
Can be very amusing and exhilarating talking to Tuscans about these arguments because their extraordinary and sharp sense of humour has national fame just because they love to tease the rivals with wisecracks and amusing comparisons. Unfortunately, rivalry is still today deeply felt and sometimes it can becomes reason for resentment and very sour quarrels. Sometime into some popular districts can occur brawls or accidents between people belonging to different cities. If it is true that no other Italian region distinguishes themselves for this point of view, Tuscany makes of this historical and ancient tradition a unique and strongly rooted characteristic.
The Florentines’ rapport with the tourists is absolutely valuable. The attention, the care and the respect towards the tourism is very felt and we can immediately realize it. The continuous alternation in Florence of different ethnics belonging to the whole world makes it, under the external view, a cosmopolitan city. The Florentine people give the impression to be very detached or cold, but I would like to call it discretion and privacy. This is an extremely civil, clean and well administered city. Briefly, if from a side we should not expect to find in Florence the human heat so well known between Brazilians, from the other side we can be sure to find here a safe, clean and calm way of life.
Unfortunately it needs to say that the city of Florence, in May 27 th 1993, has known the horror of a slaughter of mafia occurred in Via dei Georgofili where 5 people lost their lives and others 41 remained seriously wounded by a bomb. A terrible and scurvy slaughter planned against the Italian Government that opposed to the mafia with hard manners when, in 1992, the judges Giovanni Falcone and Paul Borsellino was murdered in Sicily.
In front of slaughters and profanations as those that stained with blood the spring and the summer of the year 1993, reaping innocent victims and defacing the most precious symbols in the history of the Italian humanism and in front of a so deep wounds of our collective conscience, the memory becomes a civil duty and is also a duty for the tourists that should tribute a thought to that innocent persons. After the dismay and the incredulity for the attack followed the anger and the disdain that were transformed into solidarity and desire of reconstruction. Hundreds of masterpieces of the art were destroyed or damaged in the Uffizi’s gallery proving that the attack was really addressed to the Italian Government. For Florentines this tragedy still represents an open wound, for a violated and stunned city; it was a cruelty that the city did not deserve.
Florence today, after twelve years, has become one of the most safe and controlled Italian cities. All the main roads, squares, hotels, trade centers, churches are under the continuous careful and discreet control of the vigilance cameras. Even many shops and some courtyards are monitored from the electronic eye. Many of these measures were intensified after September 11.
For the ones who love the art, this is the best city that can be visited. The most representative site is the Uffizi’s gallery in Piazza della Signorìa. Here are guested masterpieces of inestimable value that have marked the most important steps of the Italian Renaissance art. Here can be admired the pictures of Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Brunelleschi and many others. The Uffizi’s gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday from the 8,15 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. A complete visit could take more than a whole day (http://www.uffizi.firenze.it). To have access to the gallery visitors must have a lot of patience and be prepared to stand in line for long time. Every day, in fact, are thousand the visitors that visit these extraordinary art pieces envied by the whole world.
Not so far from the Uffizi there is the famous Ponte Vecchio the oldest bridge of the city under which flows the river Arno. It is important to remember that Florence boasts the record of an ancient goldsmith tradition, unique in the world. Fancy and ingeniousness give the measure of a creativeness based on the constant and profitable research of actual expressive formulas and of new techniques of execution.
The most important goldsmiths in Florence can be found here in Ponte Vecchio, where they have their ancient, refined and historical shops.
In order to better understand how the points of view about the urban way of life can be subjective we should ask ourselves how, for who comes from a crowded metropolis, many Florentines, don’t succeed in having a good rapport with their wonderful and famous downtown and above all, strange but true, there are so many Tuscans who live at the doors of the city who say that if they should live in Florence they would became crazy due the hard conditions of life. Definitively, this is a city to love and I love all of it. I really hope, one day, to have the possibility to move here definitely. Land of the art, land of tranquillity and homeland of civility.
Photos by Fabrizio Fiorenzano
HIGH RESOLUTION PICTURES (Tiff or Jpeg) are available for sale upon regular request at the address: https://www.frcreations.it/contacts/ using the contact form with subject “Photo request”.