Florence: History

City of Stone

Florence History

In the fifteenth century a banking family named Medici rose to power in Florence and Lorenzo de' Medici used his money and position to patronise artists. This was eventually known as the Renaissance period, and among the artists employed by Lorenzo and his family were Donatello, Botticelli, Leonardo and Michelangelo. This era of extravagance was followed by revolts, with the preacher Savonarola organising the Bonfire of the Vanities, when precious art and jewels were burnt to a crisp in a big fire in Piazza della Signoria. After a time the preacher himself was burned in the same place and more unrest followed. Then, out of the blue, the Medici family were welcomed back into Florence. Much later, In the 1920s, Fascism and Mussolini took over Italy, who in 1938 entertained Hitler in Florence.

During the Second World War most of the city’s art was evacuated, although the area was left relatively undamaged by the bombing. When the Allies took the town back from its German occupiers the Germans blew up the city's bridges - apart from the Ponte Vecchio. All the bridges were rebuilt after the end of the war, but a great flood in 1966 caused major damage to the city and all its artistic treasures, with the waters reaching the Duomo. Once more, Florence had to be restored to its former glory. After this, tourism grew and as the twenty-first century dawned, Florence became one of the worlds’ most sought after holiday destinations and still is to this day.