Florence - Watch out the Stendhal syndrome
Florence Travel Blog› entry 6 of 16 › view all entries
January 3rd, 2000 – by: lorenzmartins
"I was in a sort of ecstasy, from the idea of being in Florence, close to the great men whose tombs I had seen. Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty ... I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations ... Everything spoke so vividly to my soul. Ah, if I could only forget. I had palpitations of the heart, what in Berlin they call 'nerves.' Life was drained from me. I walked with the fear of falling.''Infact, who doesn't fall in love with Florence? Florence (Firenze in italiano) is known for its history and its importance in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, especially for its art and architecture. A centre of medieval European trade and finance, the city is often considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance (la culla del Rinascimento). It was long under the de facto rule of the Medidi family. From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the Kingdom of Italy.
The Florence Dome is fruit of the work done by various artists during the course of centuries. It was designed at the end of 1200 by Arnolfo di Cambio.
Filippo Brunelleschi created the cupola in Renaissance style and the facade dates back to late 1800. The structure was then enriched with the two sacristies, pavements in 16th century marmoreal, and frescoes by Paolo Uccello and Andrea del Castagno.
The Cathedral was named Santa Maria del Fiore in 1412 and rose above the original dedicated to Saint Reperata which existed up until its collapse in 1375; in the archeological area under the Duomo, remains from this cathedral with its two bell towers, in reduced dimensions as opposed to the ones we see today, can still be seen.
In 1293 the Florentine Republic decided to substitute the preexisting cathedral of Santa Reperata with one more sumptuous and therefore obligated the citizens to bequeath a sum for the building of the new Duomo. Arnolfo di Cambio worked on the project for 6 years from 1926 to 1302, the year he died. Not withstanding that the trend at the time was Gothic, Arnolfo conceived the Basilica with 3 naves that joined the main altar, the two bays and the new faÃ§ade. After his death, Giotto was summoned to construct the bell tower and after him, Andrea Pisano, author of the south door of the Baptistery, continued up until 1348 the year of the great plague that cut the population in half.
From 1349 to 1359 the work passed on to Franco Talenti who completed the bell tower and designed a new project; the central nave was divided into four bays, while the two laterals were made rectangular.
Perhaps already built back in the era of the Roman colony, it is the oldest bridge in the city. It was built in wood on piers of stone and crosses the Arno River at its narrowest point, at the place where the antique ferryboat for river crossing was found. Ruined in 1117 and later reconstructed, it was destroyed again in 1333 by flooding and rebuilt once again in 1345, perhaps by Neri di Fioravante, but this time in stone making it very solid.
Ponte Vecchio is wide enough to have two arched porticos on its sides where 43 bottegas were set, at first with butcher shops and green grocer's, until the grand duke Ferdinand I, at the end of 1500, wanted that their places be occupied by gold smiths and jewelry shops.
Thanks to the earnings from rental fees of these shops, another reconstruction of the bridge was made possible. Always crowed with people, it remains even today a symbol of Florence and although it was built with the sole aim of crossing the river, it has taken the form of a real street, a marketplace, a square.
Ponte Vecchio was saved from bombings by the Germans, who bombed the adjacent surroundings to bar access, while with the flood of 1966, which we may all remember, damages occurring to the shops were grave.
It was erected by Giorgio Vasari and completed by Bernardo Buontalenti. The aim of this construction was to enclose the 13 Offices, at the time arranged in separate seats, which is how this monument got its name.
The Mediceo Theater, inside the Uffizi Palace, is the work of Bernardo Buontalenti and at the time when Florence was capital of Italy it was the seat of the Senate. The building has the peculiar form of a horseshoe and sits over a loggia decorated with niches holding statues of valiant Florentine men who lived from the medieval and up to the 19th century. Today the Palace hosts the Uffizi Gallery, the most important art gallery in the world. Fundamental for Tuscan schools of art from 1200 and on, it holds works of Venetian, Roman, Flemish, German, Spanish and French painters. It presents masterpieces by Cimabue, Giotto, Gentile da Fabriano, Paolo Uccello, Piero della Francesca, Botticelli, Leonardo, Perugino, Giambellino, Correggio, Mantegna, Michelangelo, Raffaello, Tiziano, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Goya and many more.
Important as well, are the classic and Hellenistic statues, which document the collection of the Medici's and the collection of tapestries, antique marbles and miniatures. On the ground floor in the rooms of the once church of Saint Peter Scheraggio, valuable frescoes can be found.
PIAZZA DELLA SIGNORIA
In 1268 the Guelfs took control of Florence again and decided to demolish all the houses of their rivals the Ghibelines, beginning with the towers of Foraboschi and Uberti.
Thirty six houses in all were torn down and it is for this reason that the piazza today has the form of an "L" and the buildings on it are not aligned.
Its name derives from 'Palazzo della Signoria', seat of the Republic and Priory of Arts, designed in 1298 and completed in 1302 by Arnolfo di Cambio. It remained the same while under the Medici's and Duke Cosimo I who lived there from 1540 to 1565, having it enlarged by the architect Giorgio Vasari.
When the Duke transferred to the palace of Palazzo Pitti in 1565, Palazzo della Signoria became Palazzo Vecchio. Palazzo della Signoria is also a real open air museum. On the South side you find the little square of the Uffizi and right after the Loggia of Lanzi with its 15 statues, among which Perseo with the head of Medusa done by Benvenuto Cellini. Not far from the Piazza you can see the Fountain of Neptune by Ammannati and the equestrian statue of Cosimo I by Giambologna. Finally, a marble circle on the pavement of the piazza reminds us of the precise point where Girolamo Savonarola was burned (May 23rd, 1498).
Surrounding Piazza della Signoria are also the Tribunal of Mercanzia , the 16th century Palazzo Uguccioni and the palace which hosts the Alberto della Ragione Collection; 250 Italian paintings from the period between 1920-1950. Last of all, Palazzo of the Assicurazioni Generali (General Insurance) built in 1871 where the antique Loggia of Pisani and the church of Saint Cecilia both rose.
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