Florence… this amazing cradle of Renaissance will take you and awe you at every corner, every street, every square with its timeless art and beauty – you’ll never forget this place!
Perhaps the most vivid testament of the other-worldly allure of this city is the book written by Graziella Magherini, the Italian psychologist (no, not the works of Michelangelo, or Brunelleschi, or Dante Alighieri, or Leonardo da Vi… but we are getting ahead of ourselves…).
The book is called The Stendhal Syndrome, and it is a detailed study carried out by this lady who treated many people, especially foreign visitors, who entered into an out-of-this-world state of mind due to the total overwhelming sensation by the art and the beauty of this city.
We are talking about really many unmatched masterpieces, and an abundance of beauty and stunning architecture.
Ponte Vecchio, the enduring bridge, the symbol of Florence
The French writer Stendhal first wrote of his art-attack in Florence in the 19th century, and hence the name of that phenomenon.
Well then, you’ve been warned…! 🙂
Florence is said to have been established in the Roman times, as a garrison for the war veterans, very much like the first traces of Barcelona, which gives both cities a loose grid-like layout and organization.
As the Roman Empire declined, the city became a frequent target of raids and attacks, and has been in constant boring wars with Pisa well into the Middle Ages.
However, as of early second millennium, Florence started to prosper as it became the center of trade, banking and political might.
And the Florence we all admire today has blossomed in the Middle Ages, with an explosion in art, architecture, literature, trade, power and politics.
All these elements were pushed into the stratosphere by the Medici family, who ruled from 15th to basically 18th century, with Lorenzo Il Magnifico (The Magnificent) being the mastermind of the Renaissance!
The Medici family were bankers/politicians/patrons of art/schemers behind the scenes.
Florentine bankers financed England in its 100-year war against France (just think of that – a 100-year war…!), and have also financed the Avignon HQ of the Pope in France, to name but a few lucrative deals.
But on a more positive side, they financed/built/helped create most of the spectacular architecture, sculptures and paintings the world has ever seen – that grace the Florence of today.
Just listing the names of extraordinary people who lived and created in Florence will make your head spin…
David, Michelangelo’s vision of a perfect man
Michelangelo (David) and Leonardo da Vinci (Mona Lisa) – all-rounders, true wonder-men, from painting, to sculpture, to architecture, to dissecting bodies and medicine.
Botticelli, Titian, Rafael in painting.
Brunelleschi in architecture – the famous Duomo is his creation, the dome of the Santa Maria del Fiore which you see on every postcard.
Dante Alighieri in literature, who wrote the “Divine Comedy” in something which was the first form of Italian language as we know it today, and was accepted by all Italian writers after him as their writing language.
Vasari, who built the famous Corridor for the Medici across the whole city.
Machiavelli, who put in words what every politician, dictator and hypocrite has followed since his times. The inventor of politics, deals, scheming, he explained it all in his work “The Prince”.
And on and on and on…
All their works are abundantly displayed throughout the city in its squares, galleries, palaces, churches, gardens. Florence is known for hosting some of the most famous galleries in the world, such as the Uffizi Gallery.
Its city center is in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Dome of its famous landmark church is the largest of its kind in the world.
The Uffizi Gallery in Florence
Here you will not be able to escape crowds. Millions of tourists come here constantly, hungry for art, history, and that special Florentine atmosphere.
The city survived so much, from Black Death (plague) in 14th century, to the fights with the Pope, to being the second capital of United Kingdom of Italy in 1865 (after Turin, and then giving that status to Rome when the French left), to bombing in WWII, to huge flood in 1966, to Mafia bombing in 1993, which destroyed part of Uffizi Gallery…
But Florence is very much alive, and besides its glorious past, the Renaissance and all, it is also the cradle of many fashion icons, from Gucci, to Salvatore Ferragamo, to Roberto Cavalli…
There’s no end to this story, dear traveller!
Come to Florence!
Allow yourself to get overwhelmed, let your spirit be elevated to the unknown heights by this glorious city of Art and Beauty!
Where is Florence?
- 52.1 miles/ 84 km from Pisa, Italy
- 56.5 miles/ 91 km from Livorno, Italy
- 70.2 miles/ 113 km from Bologna, Italy
- 105 miles/ 169 km from Rimini, Italy
- 147.2 miles/ 237 km from Genoa, Italy
- 170.2 miles/ 274 km from Rome, Italy
- 188.2 miles/ 303 km from Milan, Italy
- 8 miles/ 13 km from Florence Airport, Peretola, Italy
- 50.9 miles/ 82 km from Pisa International Airport, Italy
- 65.8 miles/ 106 km from Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport, Italy
Things to See
Piazza Del Duomo in Florence
- Michelangelo’s David
- Palazzo Vecchio
- Uffizi Gallery
- Vasari Corridor
- Santa Croce Church
- Ponte Vecchio
- Piazza della Signoria
- Classic Walk
Cruise and Stay Holidays
If you’re cruising the Mediterranean by ship, then you just can’t come to Florence for a day.
Not even a full day if you’re coming from a cruise ship that docks in Livorno or La Spezia. The traffic is tough as you might imagine, everybody is going to this place, so you’ll have 6-8 hours at best.
If you’re thinking about a destination for cruise and stay holidays, either before or after your Mediterranean cruise – this is the place.
You’ll do yourself a great disservice if you just fly in, embark, disembark 10 days later, and fly out. You just… you just really can’t do that! 🙁
Book a hotel for at least a couple of days in this extraordinary city, either before or after your cruise, and see it, feel it, touch it.
Eat its strong food, sip its superb coffee.
Take a walk up the hill to the Michelangelo square, and stare at the city’s skyline.
There is so much to see, do, enjoy, shop, visit, you’ll be amazed.
You’ll take so many memories with you, and will feel changed by this city from another dimension.
It’s absolutely worth it!
We wish you a fantastic Mediterranean cruise!