Florence has had a long and eventful history, being a Roman city, Florence is the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance (or the "Florentine Renaissance), and being considered, economically, and culturally one of the most important cities in Europe and the world for around 250 years - from the 1300s to the 1500s.
Florentines reinvented money - in the form of the gold florin - which was the engine that drove Europe out of the "Dark Ages" a term invented by Petrarch, a Florentine. They financed the development of industry all over Europe - from Britain to Bruges, to Lyon, to Hungary. They financed the English kings during the Hundred Years War. They financed the papacy, including the construction of Avignon and the reconstruction of Rome when the papacy returned from the "Babylonian captivity".
And that is just a smidgen of what went on in this city, which never had a population above 60,000 from the first attack of the plague, in 1348, until long, long after it became unimportant.
The Medici, one of history's most important noble families who revolutionised high culture and the arts. Forget all the art for which they paid. They taught first the other Italians how to conduct state-craft, and then they taught the rest of the Europeans. Just to cite one example: Catherine de Medici (1519–1589), married Henry II of France (reigned 1547–1559). After he died, Catherine ruled France as regent for her young sons and was instrumental in turning France into Europe’s first nation-state. She brought the Renaissance into France, introducing everything from the chateaux of the Loire to the fork. She also was to 16th and 17th century European royalty what Queen Victoria was to the 19th and 20th centuries. Her children included three kings of France, Francis II (ruled 1559-1560), Charles IX (ruled 1560-1574) and Henry III (ruled 1574-1589). Her children-in-law included a fourth king of France, Henry IV (ruled 1589-1610), plus Elizabeth of Hapsburg, Philip II of Spain (of Armada fame), and Mary, Queen of Scots.
Florence was originally established by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a settlement for his veteran soldiers. It was named Florentia and built in the style of an army camp with the main streets, the cardo and the decumanus, intersecting at the present Piazza della Repubblica. Situated at the Via Cassia, the main route between Rome and the north, and within the fertile valley of the Arno, the settlement quickly became an important commercial centre. The Emperor Diocletian is said to have made Florentia the seat of a bishopric around the beginning of the 4th century AD, but this seems impossible in that Diocletian was a notable persecutor of Christians. Florence is often called the "Jewel of the Renaissance".
Discover Florence and its four quarters
The traditional subdivision of Florence into four quarters dates from the fourteenth century (that today compose the old town):
Santa Maria Novella
The Marzocco was such a powerful symbol of the Florentine Republic that the republican Florentine troops in the Siege of Florence (1529–1530) were known as marzoccheschi, "sons of the Marzocco", and pro-Medici besiegers of the city in 1530 held a funeral and ritually buried a representation of it, with bells tolling.
Florence has a legendary artistic heritage. Cimabue and Giotto, the fathers of Italian painting, lived in Florence as well as Arnolfo and Andrea Pisano, renewers of architecture and sculpture; Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio, forefathers of the Renaissance, Ghiberti and the Della Robbias, Filippo Lippi and Angelico; Botticelli, Paolo Uccello and the universal genius of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Their works, together with those of many other generations of artists, are gathered in the several museums of the town: the Uffizi Gallery, the Palatina gallery with the paintings of the "Golden Ages", the Bargello with the sculptures of the Renaissance, the museum of San Marco with Fra Angelico's works, the Academy, the chapels of the Medicis, Buonarroti' s house with the sculptures of Michelangelo, the following museums: Bardini, Horne, Stibbert, Romano, Corsini, The Gallery of Modern Art, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, the museum of Silverware and the museum of Precious Stones
The four historical districts of Florence are Santa Maria Novella, San Giovanni, Santa Croce, Santo Spirito.
SANTA MARIA NOVELLA
The vast Piazza della Repubblica, which is at the heart of Florence's Santa Maria Novella Quarter, is a good place to start your day off with an espresso and a pasta (pastry) . Although these days frequented almost solely by tourists, its four large caffès - Donnini, Gilli, Giubbe Rosse and Pazzkowski – were a veritable institution in the early 19th century, when they were patronized by the top writers, artists and intellectuals. But impressive as this piazza is, it’s a little disheartening to remember that its construction (under the snobbish orders of Florence’s 19th-century bourgeoisie) annihilated some of the most atmospheric medieval quarters in town, including the site of the ancient Roman forum. Fortunately, public uproar staved off further destruction. The local town planners did not understand the protest, as the inscription on the arch above.
What to see in Santa Maria Novella Quarter of Florence:
Piazza Santa Maria Novella
Chiesa di Santa Maria Novella
Near Piazza Repubblica
Museo di Palazzo Davanzati
Chiesa di Santa Trinità and Ponte Santa Trinità
Piazza d’Ognissanti: Chiesa di San Salvatore a Ognissanti
The Corridoio Vasariano
Ponte Vecchio and Il Porcellino
In San Giovanni quarter you can see a lot of monuments by walking, without covering a large distance .
In fact there is a so big concentration of monuments and art works that you can stand for hours without going very far
What to see in San Giovanni quarter of Florence:
San Giovanni quarter:
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore
Campanile di Giotto
Battistero di San Giovanni
Loggia del Bigallo Palazzo Pazzi
Palazzo del Bargello
Badia Fiorentina Palazzo Strozzi
Piazza San Lorenzo
Piazza San Marco
Piazza della SS. Annunziata.
What to see in Santa Croce Quarter of Florence:
Piazza della Signoria
Loggia della Signoria
Campo di Marte
Ponte delle Grazie
Casa Buonarroti (Michelangelo&rsquo
Piazza dei Ciompi.
The district of Santo Spirito in Oltrarno, the picturesque neighborhood populated by craftsmen, restorers and antique dealers, gets its name from the Church of Santo Spirito. Designed by Brunelleschi and begun in 1444, it is one of the most beautiful examples of Renaissance architecture.
What to see in Santo Spirito Quarter of Florence:
Giardino di Boboli
Forte di Belvedere
Piazza Santo Spirito
San Miniato al Monte.