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Monday, 9 February 2015



Florence was established by Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 80 BC as a settlement for his veteran soldiers and was named originally Fluentia, owing to the fact that it was built between two rivers, which was later corrupted to Florentia.

Florence,was the first city to mint its own gold coins in 1252. The fiorino became known as the Florence, then the Florin. The florin was widely recognized and trusted and was the hard currency of its day.

Zero and negative numbers were banned in Florence in the 13th century because thy were considered a thing of the devil.

The best-known site of Florence is the domed cathedral of the city, Santa Maria del Fiore (see below), known as The Duomo, whose dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi. Construction on Il Duomo started in 1296 but the building of the dome didn't begin until August 7, 1420. It was the first 'octagonal' dome in history to be built without a temporary wooden supporting frame. Containing four million bricks and weighing 37,000 tonnes, the dome is a spectacular feat of renaissance engineering.

The cathedral was consecrated by Pope Eugene IV on March 25, 1436, (the first day of the year according to the Florentine calendar).

The world's first patent was granted in 1421 to architect Filippo Brunelleschi in Florence to make a barge crane to transport marble.

In Renaissance Italian cities the successive plague outbreaks and other epidemics instigated the
foundation of hospitals ran by various Christian orders. By the end of the fifteenth century there were around forty hospitals in Florence alone.

Supporters of Dominican friar and preacher Girolamo Savonarola burnt Florentine luxury goods on February 7, 1497 at the carnival of Florence. Savonarola organised the “bonfire of the vanities” at the carnival celebration before Lent, in which thousands of works of art, pornographic books and gambling equipment were publicly burnt. Such bonfires were not invented by Savonarola, but had been a common accompaniment to the outdoor sermons of San Bernardino di Siena in the first half of the fifteenth century.

Savonarola Preaching in Florence, painting by Nikolay Lomtev (1850s)

The first public lottery to have paid money as prizes is believed to be La Lotto de Firenze in Florence in 1530. This was such a successful enterprise that the practice quickly spread to other Italian cities.

The first European attempts to make porcelain were at the Medici factory in Florence in the 1570s

Opera was invented in Florence in the late 16th century by a group of musicians, poets, and scholars who met regularly in the Italian city between 1580 and 1589. They became known as the Camerata. At their meetings they discussed problems concerning art and, more specifically, how to revive the tragic drama of the ancients. Among the circle of Florentines were the famed composers Jacopo Peri, Giulio Caccini, and Vincenzo Galilei.

The piano was first made by Bartolomeo Cristofori in Florence in the last years of the seventeenth century.

From 1865 to 1871 Florence was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy.

During World War II Florence experienced a year-long German occupation between 1943 and 1944 and was declared an open city.

The Arno River flooded Florence on November 4, 1966, to a maximum depth of 22 feet (6.7 metres), killing 101 people and leaving thousands homeless. Millions of masterpieces of art and rare books
were damaged or destroyed. It is considered the worst flood in the city's history since 1557.


Florence is famous for its fine art and architecture. It is said that, of the 1,000 most important European artists of the second millennium, 350 lived or worked in Florence.

Robert Redford studied art in Florence before taking up acting.

Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge spent a gap year studying at the British Institute in Florence.

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