The history of Florence begins in 59 B.C. with the foundation of a village(“Florentia”) for Roman veterans.
The city crossed over periods of Byzantine, Ostroghotic and Lombard dominations, during which the population barely decreased to 1000 citizens.
From 1115 it became an independent district. In the 13th century the town was divided by the inner battle between Ghibellini, supporters of the Sacred Roman Empire, and the Guelfi, Roman papacy’s supporters.
After alternating events, the Guelfi won the “battle of Colle” (on the 17th June 1269), but they soon divided themselves between the “white Guelfi” and the “Black Guelfi”. In Florence in 1265 the big Dante Alighieri was born, author of the “Divine Comedy”, fundamental work in vernacular that summarizes the medieval culture. The political inner conflicts didn’t prevent Florence from developing to one of the strongest and most prosperous European cities, supported by its gold currency, the florin(introduced in 1252).
It was under the lordship of the Medici that Florence reached its highest majesty.
Starting from 1437 and for several centuries, the Medici were great mercenaries towards their city and their people: they gathered at court the best artists, literates, humanists and philosophers of the time like Michelangelo, Pico della Mirandola, il Verrocchio, Michelozzo, Angelo Poliziano, Antonio Pollaiolo, Sandro Botticelli, Galileo Galilei, Filippo Brunelleschi and Leonardo da Vinci.
Florence became very rich because making business with the Medici family and with the Florentine banks represented at that time the best possible investment and the local currency, the florin, became very soon the strongest and most exchanged currency of Europe.
Florence is universally known as art city, with a huge architectures’ heritage like paints, sculptures, historical and scientific memories that build the city texture.
The heart of Florence is Piazza della Signoria with the majestic Palazzo Vecchio, the gallery of sculptural masterpieces in the Loggia dei Lanzi and the near Galleria degli Uffizi, one of the most renowned art museums of the world. Not far from here there is the religious centre of Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, with its grandiose cupola of Brunelleschi, the enormous Dom with the Giotto’s bell tower, one of the most beautiful in Italy, and San Giovanni baptistery, with the renowned amber portals.
The river Arno, that runs through the city, occupies a special place in the Florentine history.
The people of Florence have always had a hatred-love relationship with the river, perpetual water source, which has brought trade advantages as well as catastrophic floods.
Among the many bridges of Florence, Ponte Vecchio is unique in the world with its goldsmiths’ shops. It is crossed by the Corridoio Vasariano, that connects Palazzo Pitti with Palazzo Vecchio passing through the Galleria degli Uffizi.
Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge of the city that escaped to the bombing of the second world war.
Besides Uffizi, Florence counts many other museums: the Galleria dell'Accademia, the Bargello or the Realm of Palazzo Pitti with its eight museums among which the Galleria Palatina.
Florence has its masterpieces in Filippo Brunelleschi’s works(the Spedale degli Innocenti, San Lorenzo church and Santo Spirito church) and in Leon Battista Alberti’s (the facade of Santa Maria Novella and Palazzo Rucellai).
The left bank of the Arno is called Oltrarno and it is a very rich of monuments area, where you still can breath the atmosphere of the old Florence, with its many artisans’ shops. The Garden of Boboli is an historical park of the city. It was born to be a grand duke’s garden of Palazzo Pitti and it is connected to the Fort of Belvedere which was built for the safety of the sovereign and his family. The garden hosts each year over 800.000 visitors and it’s one of the most important examples of Italian garden as well as an en plein air museum thanks to its architectural and landscape context and for its sculptures’ collections, that go from the antique Roman ones to the 20th century’s works.
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