Footprints in Florence

Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region in Italy. The city is considered a cultural, Renaissance art and architectural gem. Besides being well-known for its monuments, churches and buildings, Florence boasts of outdoor artworks, piazzas, bridges and elegant side streets. Its walls tell stories of a turbulent past – from the powerful Medici family and feudal battles to philandering kings and Renaissance masters.

Basilica San Miniato
First view of Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, known as The Duomo.

The list of Florence’s famous residents goes on and on, and are not limited to the following:-

  • Antonio Meucci (inventor of the telephone),
  • Dante Alighieri (poet and author of the masterpiece, Divine Comedy),
  • Donatello (sculptor),
  • Enrico Coveri (fashion designer),
  • Florence Nightingale (pioneer of modern nursing),
  • Galileo Galilei (Italian physicist, astronomer, and philosopher),
  • Giotto (early 14th-century painter, sculptor and architect),
  • Guccio Gucci (founder of the Gucci label),
  • Leonardo da Vinci (polymath),
  • Lorenzo Ghiberti (sculptor),
  • Michelangelo Buonarroti (sculptor, painter, author of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and David),
  • Niccolò Machiavelli (poet, philosopher and political thinker, author of The Prince and The Discourses),
  • Raphael (painter),
  • Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning (19th century English poets),
  • Robert Lowell (poet),
  • Roberto Cavalli (fashion designer),
  • Salvatore Ferragamo (fashion designer and shoemaker), and
  • Sandro Botticelli (painter),

Florence is also regarded by some as the birthplace of modern fashion in Italy. It has served as home to fashion label, Salvatore Ferragamo since 1928. Other luxury fashion houses like Gucci, Roberto Cavalli and Emilio Pucci are also headquartered in Florence. Prada and Chanel have set up large stores here, while brands such as Armani and Bulgari showcase their jewelry in elegant boutiques.

Florence’s has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.

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Florence’s Duomo has a place among Italy’s ‘Big Three’ (the other two being Pisa’s Leaning Tower and Rome’s Colosseum). Work started in 1296 and took almost 150 years to complete.

 

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The exterior of the Basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of white, green and pink with an elaborate 19th century Gothic facade.

 

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Its red-tiled dome, graceful Campanile (bell tower) and breathtaking marble facade are architectural masterpieces. Six hundred years after completion, this is still the world’s largest dome built from brick and mortar.

 

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Uffizi Museum

 

Piazza della Signoria is THE place in Florence. Edged by fine cafes, crammed with outdoor Renaissance sculptures and presided over by Palazzo Vecchio, this Square has been the centre of local life for centuries. Left: Perseus with the Head of Medusa & Right: Hercules and Cacus

 

Arno River
The River Arno, cuts through the old part of the city. During feudal times, it was used to transport soldiers from neighbouring cities, as well as bring in shipments from the sea. Historically, the Arno has a love-hate relationship with its local inhabitants – alternating between nourishing the city with commerce, and destroying it through floods.

 

In spite of engaging in many battles with each other, Florence and its neighbouring rival, Siena, have upheld their elegant appearance throughout the years. Their skylines of medieval towers, russet rooftops, lofty domes, striking buildings, exquisite galleries and treasure-filled churches are befitting testaments toward Italy’s beginnings, struggles and legacy.

 

 

Photographed in June 2014.

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