Ah la città del rinascimento! It cannot be a surprise that the ENTIRE historic center is a UNESCO Site. There is just too much awesomeness to contain in a couple of square miles. As you can see from the map below, the train station goes right into the city and it is at most a 20 minute walk to the church at the farthest end (labeled with a #10 on the map). So don’t worry too much about getting accommodations “in the middle,” they’re pretty much all in the middle.
History of Florence
Although arguably most famous for its Renaissance monuments, Florence is actually built on Etruscan ruins. Never heard of the Etruscans? That’s ok, most people haven’t. In brief, the Etruscans are the native people in Central Italy (that’s where Tuscany gets its name actually!). They were conquered by the Romans and their stuff was (literally and figuratively) buried by Roman achievements. The best place to see Etruscan ruins in the area are actually just outside Florence, in Fiesole.
The city however, became the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance in the 14th/15th centuries. Much like Paris in the 19th century or New York in the mid-20th, Florence was THE place to be for artistic development and new ideas. How does a city because “the” place to be for art? One word: money.
The Medici family of bankers incubated the Italian Renaissance by financially supporting artist such as Donatello and Botticelli. They supported new art that the rest of the population and the church were slow to recognize. Interestingly enough there are a few theories that the Black Death of 1348 killed off so many of the “old masters” so that young, experimental artists were able to fill the artistic vacuum and also contributed to the change in art.
My Journey in Florence
I did a summer abroad in college for my Italian minor and spent 6 weeks living in Florence and then Will and I found ourselves there again for New Year’s Eve a few years ago. I would absolutely love to go back, but the world is too big and there are so many new things to see! Most people only stop in Florence a day or so and that is such an injustice! It’s a small, walkable city where you can see a lot, but it takes a lifetime to experience:)
P.S. The blog History in High Heels’ review of the Medici on Netflix is particularly appropriate for this post!