Florence is a heavenly city, theorized to be named after a flower, relating to its flourishing beauty. It is the capital of Tuscany in Central Italy and is hence renowned for its landscapes and views. From the River Arno to the Chianti Hills, Florence is famous for many things in addition to its natural attractions.
What Is Florence Known For?
Florence is known for being the birthplace of the Renaissance, its stunning architecture, charming streets, and delectable Tuscan cuisine.
Nicknamed the Capital Of Artists, the city is the origin of renowned painters like Michelangelo and Botticelli. The innovation and talent of its residents allowed The Renaissance to become so fruitful, allowing Italy to boost its economy and gain more power.
Florence is also famous for its picturesque landscapes and historic attractions, from natural landmarks to man-made masterpieces. The city is a captivating destination with its timeless beauty and artistic treasures.
History, Culture, And Traditions Florence Is Known For
Maggio Musical Fiorentino
The May Music Festival, known as the Maggio Musical Fiorentino, is a festival during the early summer. Originally, it began with the purpose of remembering great operas that would otherwise be forgotten. After 1937, the festival became a yearly celebration and over the years more and more operas have been performed.
Nowadays the festival covers a broad range of arts, not limited to concerts. Most of the operas take place in the Opera di Firenze, but there are also concerts and ballet.
Scoppio del Carro
The Explosion of the Cart, known as Scoppio del Carro in Italy, is a huge festival that Florence is famous for. It takes place every Easter Sunday.
Since the 15th century, the government designed this celebration to purify the citizens and help them prosper in the upcoming year.
Essentially, a cart is loaded with fireworks and dragged from Porta a Prato to the Duomo by oxen. Eventually, the fireworks are ignited along a wire, resembling the Holy Spirit. Over 150 men take part in this event, and it is watched by millions.
The Renaissance was a revival period after the Middle Ages symbolizing rebirth. The rebrand included greater fashion, better paintings, and a more prosperous economy. It began in Italy before influencing the surrounding countries, and Florence is famous for playing a huge role in this.
A dynasty that kickstarted this era was the Medici Family, who traded successfully to help boost the financial status of Florence. Production of fine goods, like wool and silk, is a prime example.
Later on, genius artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Filippo Lippi thrived.
A Previous Capital Of Italy
In 1861, Italy became a whole nation, called the Kingdom of Italy. Before this, the peninsula was divided into separate entities that were ruled by different leaders. Originally its capital was Turin, however, for a brief period between 1865 and 1871, Florence became the capital.
The nephew of Napolean decided that Turin was susceptible to siege by the French Empire, and hence moved the capital. Transforming the city into a more contemporary area stuck, as buildings were upgraded and the culture became richer.
Due to political aggravation, Rome eventually became the last capital of Italy. Nonetheless, the success of Florence can be attributed to its past as capital.
Origin Of The Piano
As mentioned, Florence is famous for its art scene. However, it is lesser known that the piano was invented in Italy by a man called Bartolomeo Cristofori.
In 1688, Cristofori was ordered to care for the instruments belonging to the Medici family. As their keeper, at the Florentine Court, he spent a lot of time with them and eventually the modern piano was conceived.
Altogether, this explains why music has evolved so much from Italy, especially Florence.
Roughly one-third of leather in Italy is made in Tuscany. The biggest producer is Florence.
A huge reason that the city is so successful is because of its strategic position on the Arno River. During the production of the material, the tanning process treats the raw material to transform it into leather. The main ingredient used for this is water, which is why Florence can quickly and efficiently manufacture leather.
Not only is this significant for the economy, but Florence is famous for its fashion. Whilst Milan is the fashion capital, the entire country is renowned for its trendsetting.
Districts And Areas Florence Is Known For
Santo Spirito is one of the most popular areas in Florence. It is home to the Basilica di Santo Spirito, a large 15th-century Church.
The impressive Renaissance architecture makes it a thing of beauty, coupled with the crucifix by Michelangelo. This is significant in history as Jesus Christ is sculpted without his cloth, a deliberate alteration Michelangelo chose.
After visiting the Church, be sure to explore Santo Spirito Piazza. This was the last square Brunelleschi designed, therefore it holds immense historical value.
Santa Croce is the perfect mix of contemporary and history.
Its past is reflected by the Basilica di Santa Croce, also called the Basilica of the Holy Cross. The church is a treasure for artists, as you can find a collection of mosaics, sculptures, and paintings. Furthermore, because of its sacred nature, it is the final resting place of Michelangelo, Rossini, and Galileo.
On the other hand, Santa Croce is also adored by students. You can visit the Theater Verdi for a magnificent show, or wander through Sant’Ambrogio market for a delicious snack.
Often considered the historical quarter, San Giovanni offers a wide array of old buildings that are remarkably well-preserved.
Arguably one of the biggest religious landmarks that Florence is famous for is the San Giovanni Baptistry. Otherwise known as Florence Baptistry and Saint John’s Baptistry, the catholic church boasts a white exterior and colored marble. In addition to its outside beauty, the inside contains sculptures by Michelangelo and Pisano.
Lastly, San Giovanni Square is renowned for its authentic coffee stores and traditional eateries.
Santa Maria Novella
Santa Maria Novella is a serene neighborhood found along the Arno River. Like its historical counterparts, it also has a catholic church with its name. The Basilica di Santa Maria Novella was opened in 1360, known for its Gothic elements like towering spires and buttresses.
Similarly, the Palazzo Antinori is a Renaissance palace originally built for the affluent Giovanni Boni. Later, the palace was taken over by the Antinori Family, prominent in the wine-making industry. It was designed by a student of Brunelleschi and displays familiar traits.
Arguably the most relaxing thing to do in Florence is amble along the Arno River. Whilst it is majestic and serene, the stream has a vital role in dividing the city into two. On the north bank is the busy Centro Storico, and the scenic Oltrarno lies on the south.
One of the magical ways to see Florence is by the Arno River Cruise, particularly during sunset. Sailing under the medieval bridge Ponte Vecchio and spotting traditional terracotta buildings are just some of the highlights of these trips.
Landmarks And Architecture Florence Is Known For
The Uffizi Gallery
A famous fact about Florence is that it is home to one of the oldest museums in the world. The Uffizi Gallery is a 16th-century art gallery in Centro Storico. The opulent building was built by The Medici, a dynasty and prominent family that shaped art culture in Florence.
Over 100 rooms house a vast collection of Renaissance art, so you can imagine this is an extremely popular attraction. We recommend reserving a ticket in advance to skip the line.
To get a real look and understanding of the works, rather than just scanning randomly, the Uffizi Gallery is a worthwhile place to take a guided tour. This glosses over the lesser-known pieces and concentrates on the rich history behind the most famous artworks.
You can find The Birth Of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, Tondo Doni by Michelangelo, and Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo Da Vinci.
The Accademia Gallery in Florence is famous for having the most sculptures by Michelangelo in the world. Its most renowned is the captivating statue of the shepherd David, which took Michelangelo a tumultuous three years to complete. The intricate piece is over 5 meters tall, yet was made from a scrap piece of marble.
If you are a regular joe like us, who has no real knowledge of art pieces, the gallery can seem overwhelming. In that case, consider a guided tour that brings you through a variety of enchanting paintings from Lippi to Ghirlandaio. The expert guides can help you discover interesting facts and valuable pieces of history embedded throughout the gallery.
The Duomo, known as the Cathedral Of Santa Maria Del Fiore, is one the biggest historic landmarks in Florence. The construction began in 1296 and was finally completed in 1436, because of the sheer size and intricate components incorporated in its structure.
Designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, the dome is the largest masonry vault in the world. It is pointed and topped with a white marble lantern, reminiscent of Renaissance architecture. Take a guided tour of the Brunelleschi dome to learn about this and explore the Duomo’s beautiful interior.
The Palazzo Vecchio is the historic town hall found in the square Piazza della Signoria. Now, it is a museum that can be explored but is still used by the council.
Constructed in 1299, the colossal stone building was nicknamed the Palace of the Priors, built to house royals and officials. As a result, there are a variety of styles and decors used in each room. Furthermore, the halls are huge and cascading, with many hidden structures.
Ultimately, Arnolfo’s Tower is the most frequently visited part of the building. It encompasses views of surrounding structures, such as The Duomo and Tuscan Hills.
The Piazzale Michelangelo is a buzzing square located on the hill of San Miniato. It can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to climb to the top but you will be rewarded handsomely. The panoramic view of Florence, along with the elegant River Arno, is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Many of the popular activities in Florence are found near the Piazzale Michelangelo. This includes the historical Basilica of San Miniato al Monte and the fragrant Rose Garden.
Food Florence Is Known For
From authentic local restaurants to the beautiful vineyards in Chianti, this Italian city has so much to offer foodies. One of the best way to explore the regional cuisine is through the food tours in Florence.
Florentine beefsteak, locally known as bistecca alla Fiorentina, is an aromatic dish that forms the cornerstone of Tuscan gastronomy. Whilst it differs from the typical Italian dishes, such as pizza and pasta, it is worth sampling for the sophisticated flavor and tenderness.
The main dish is made from sirloin steak, grilled on embers, and served rare. This cut of meat is known for its juiciness and therefore doesn’t need to be cooked for long. In addition, its unique taste requires little seasoning, as the already complex flavors are enough.
A huge part of the food scene is associated with beans, dating back to old Tuscany.
Fagioli all’uccelletto translates to bird-style beans and is a stew made up mainly of cannellini, which are white kidney beans. However, there is no bird meat in the dish, instead consists of sausage. The name is derived from the mixture of sage, garlic, and tomatoes that was traditionally used for stuffing birds.
Served with piping fresh bread that bakers in Florence are famous for perfecting, this is the ideal warm, home-cooked meal.
Lampredotto is an authentic sandwich made with the stomach of cattle. This is common for Florence, whilst the rest of Italy usually opts for tripe. The meat is gradually cooked and placed on a slice of warm panini bread with a herby green sauce.
Traditionally, this is paired with wine. You can learn about it through the wine tours in Florence. Explore the different dishes that complement the variety of wines.
The Chianti Wineries Tour is one of the most popular due to the region. Learn about the winemaking process, taste samples, and soak in the scenic views at the vineyards of Chianti Hills.
Crostini neri is an age-old snack beloved by all Tuscan residents. Translating to black crostini, this appetizer is a winner at any dinner party.
The main ingredient in crostini neri is chicken liver, which alongside anchovy paste and capers creates a creamy brown spread. Subsequently, this is served in a big bowl at the center of the table.
It usually comes with a side of crostini, a crusty bread drizzled with olive oil.
Every time you visit Italy, it would be criminal to leave without a sweet treat. Despite many dining places worldwide claiming to offer authentic, delicious gelato, the only place you can find true excellence is from the locals.
The Sunset Walking Food Tour not only explores the best wines and dishes Florence has to offer but even teaches you to differentiate between artisanal and fake gelato.
With such a large array of flavors, from simple milk chocolate to flashy fruit combinations, there is a gelato for everyone.
If you are looking for a more hands-on experience, you can even take up a pizza and gelato cooking class amidst the tranquil nature of Tuscany. It’s one of the most popular and interactive activities for both adults and teenagers.
Famous People From Florence
Roberto Cavalli is considered to be the biggest fashion designer from Italy. He founded his brand during the 1970s and has since been responsible for the haute couture Florence is famous for.
Roberto Cavalli is a tasteful fashion house with headquarters in Sesto Fiorentino. It is known for its vibrant colors, tropical motifs, and bold silhouettes. Cavalli is notorious for his leather usage, hence proving that Tuscany is right to be famed for its production.
Catherine de Medici
The Medicis are perhaps the most established family in Florentine history. The family of bankers was prosperous because of their successful business habits, for example, founding the Medici Bank. Their wealth played a huge role in The Renaissance, as they invested in art regularly.
Catherine de Medici is thought to be the most recognized member of the family, as she married King Henry II. Consequently, Catherine was Queen of France for over a decade.
Scandalously, Catherine was nicknamed The Black Queen, accused of spells and black magic responsible for her long list of executions.
Michelangelo was a sculptor and painter who contributed immensely to the masterpieces of the Renaissance.
He is responsible for sculptures such as David at the Galleria dell’Accademia and Florentine Pietà at the Duomo in Florence. A building he previously lived in, Casa Buonarrot, is now a museum of his best works.
Besides this, Michelangelo has paintings worldwide. The Sistine Chapel ceiling in Vatican City, which features The Creation of Adam, is one of them.
Sandro Botticelli was a painter during the early stages of the Renaissance, responsible for some of the greatest paintings known to date.
His masterpieces are displayed in some of the most popular landmarks that Florance is famous for. The Birth of Venus lies in the Uffizi Gallery, depicting the graceful emergence of the goddess from the sea.
Botticelli is also famed for his religious works, such as Adoration of the Magi, also in the same gallery.
Discovering More Things Florence Is Known For
It is impossible to capture all of the things Florence is famous for. For the most part, its most popular attractions include artistic churches, world-famous museums, vast galleries, and charming squares.
Florence’s remarkable art scene is a testament to its legacy. The city’s stunning architecture, including the iconic Duomo and Ponte Vecchio, showcases the ingenuity and craftsmanship of people who have walked these same streets.
It is perfect for those who enjoy relaxed holidays, wandering the streets aimlessly and taking in the picturesque sights. No matter which time of year you visit, there will be plenty of exciting things to do.