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7 Fun Facts About Florence

July 2, 2024 Sofia Collina No Comments

Florence is over 2,000 years old, meaning that there is so much history packed into the streets, the city is essentially a walkable museum. Before you dive into this magnificent destination on your ACIS Educational Tour, discover seven fun facts about the city at the heart of the Renaissance and more.

1. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore took over 100 years to build

We’re starting off strong with Florence’s iconic Santa Maria del Fiore, affectionately known as Il Duomo. This massive cathedral had four different architects working on it across multiple time periods. Their names were named Filippo Brunelleschi, Arnolfo di Cambio, Francesco Talenti and Emilio De Fabris. The construction of the Cathedral began in 1296 from Arnolfo di Cambio’s design. It was completed by 1436 with the help of Brunelleschi, who engineered the dome, bringing the total time for completion to 140 years. 

2. Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance

It’s commonly known Italy is where the Renaissance started. But did you know that Florence specifically is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance? This is because of Florence’s economic stability and its cultural climate, where wealthy patrons invested in the arts. Florence was also home to many artists during the Renaissance including Donatello, Botticelli and Michelangelo. Another interesting factor that contributed to Florence’s importance in the Renaissance is because of the city’s central location and its role at the center of the European wool trade, so ideas that began in Florence were spread through trade routes across the continent.

3. Florence is the birthplace of the piano

Florence was more than a hub for Renaissance visual arts: It was also critical to the history of music! Bartolomeo Cristofori, who was an expert harpsichord maker and employed by the Medici family, was dissatisfied by the lack of control that musicians had when it came to the volume level of the harpsichord. After much experimentation with sound quality, the piano was born in Florence. The first known record of a piano is from the 1700s belonging to the Medici instrument inventory. Cristofori’s design was ignored in Italy at the time, but it eventually became known and adopted in Germany.

4. Gucci was founded in Florence in 1921

Milan may be known as the fashion capital of the world; however, Florence is where many high end fashion brands were born, Gucci being one of them. Gucci was founded in Florence in 1921 by Guccio Gucci when he established his luggage workshop. Guccio Gucci was inspired to begin his business because of his experience as a porter at The Savoy hotel in London. Now, Gucci’s headquarters are in Florence, along with a flagship Gucci store and a museum dedicated to the history of the fashion house.  

5. The Duomo is one of the world’s largest cathedrals

Florence’s Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the fourth largest cathedral in the world, after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, St. Paul’s in London and Milan’s Duomo. Not only is it one of the largest cathedrals in the world, but it’s also one of the largest cathedrals in all of Christianity. 

6. Florence was once Italy’s capital

We all know Bella Roma as Italy’s current capital, but that was not always the case. Before Rome was considered to be Italy’s capital, Florence took the title. Florence replaced Turin as Italy’s capital in 1865 and remained the capital until 1870, when Rome took over. Florence was the capital because at the time, Rome was still under the Papacy’s control. In 1870, Rome replaced Florence, because once the French troops withdrew themselves from the area, Rome was added to the newly established Kingdom of Italy.  

7. Florence has its own signature dish

When you think about food, you usually think of Italy, right? Well, every region in Italy has a signature dish. Tuscany, and Florence in particular, has one of the most famous dishes out of all 20 Italian regions. This dish is Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Even though this is a dish eaten all throughout Tuscany, it was originally invented in Florence. Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a local loin steak that is on the bone and grilled until it’s rare. This steak is at least two inches thick and weighs around 1-1.2 kilos (this is over 2.5 lbs!!) No matter how hungry you are, you will definitely want to share this with another person! 

Ready to begin exploring Florence and the other amazing cities in Italy? Come travel with ACIS Educational Tours! Your group will experience premier quality hotels, meals and cultural activities, plus team support that continues from trip planning to the return home. Discover more about our brand of exceptional group travel at the brochure below!

Sofia Collina

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