Sunday, 31 March 2019

INSIDE OLD FIRENZE, THE BEST MONUMENTS AND SIGHTS

Joseph de Ca'th Lon visits a Fiorentina shop
Today, The Grandma and her friends are walking along the streets of Firenze. The best way to discover a city is walking inside it, the best way to understand its history is seeing its monuments and places and the best way to understand its idiosyncrasy is talking to its inhabitants.

Before discovering Firenze, The Grandma has read a new chapter of Edith Warthon's Ethan Frome and she has also studied two new lessons of her Intermediate Language Practice manual (Grammar 50 & 51).



More information: Spelling and Pronunciation 2

Florence is known as the cradle of the Renaissance, in Italian la culla del Rinascimento, for its monuments, churches, and buildings. The best-known site of Florence is the domed cathedral of the city, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as The Duomo, whose dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi. The nearby Campanile, partly designed by Giotto, and the Baptistery buildings are also highlights. The dome, 600 years after its completion, is still the largest dome built in brick and mortar in the world.

In 1982, the historic centre of Florence, in Italian centro storico di Firenze, was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.


More information: UNESCO

The centre of the city is contained in medieval walls that were built in the 14th century to defend the city. At the heart of the city, in Piazza della Signoria, is Bartolomeo Ammannati's Fountain of Neptune (1563–1565), which is a masterpiece of marble sculpture at the terminus of a still functioning Roman aqueduct.

The layout and structure of Florence in many ways harkens back to the Roman era, where it was designed as a garrison settlement. Nevertheless, the majority of the city was built during the Renaissance.
 
Claire & The Grandma contemplate the Arno River
Despite the strong presence of Renaissance architecture within the city, traces of medieval, Baroque, Neoclassical and modern architecture can be found. The Palazzo Vecchio as well as the Duomo, or the city's Cathedral, are the two buildings which dominate Florence's skyline.

The river Arno, which cuts through the old part of the city, is as much a character in Florentine history as many of the people who lived there. Historically, the locals have had a love-hate relationship with the Arno, which alternated between nourishing the city with commerce, and destroying it by flood.

One of the bridges in particular stands out, the Ponte Vecchio, Old Bridge, whose most striking feature is the multitude of shops built upon its edges, held up by stilts. The bridge also carries Vasari's elevated corridor linking the Uffizi to the Medici residence, Palazzo Pitti.


Although the original bridge was constructed by the Etruscans, the current bridge was rebuilt in the 14th century. It is the only bridge in the city to have survived World War II intact. It is the first example in the western world of a bridge built using segmental arches, that is, arches less than a semicircle, to reduce both span-to-rise ratio and the numbers of pillars to allow lesser encumbrance in the riverbed, being in this much more successful than the Roman Alconétar Bridge.

More information: Firenze Turismo

The church of San Lorenzo contains the Medici Chapel, the mausoleum of the Medici family -the most powerful family in Florence from the 15th to the 18th century. Nearby is the Uffizi Gallery, one of the finest art museums in the world- founded on a large bequest from the last member of the Medici family.


The Uffizi is located at the corner of Piazza della Signoria, a site important for being the centre of Florence's civil life and government for centuries. The Palazzo della Signoria facing it is still home of the municipal government.

Florence contains several palaces and buildings from various eras. The Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and also an art museum. This large Romanesque crenellated fortress-palace overlooks the Piazza della Signoria with its copy of Michelangelo's David statue as well as the gallery of statues in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi.


Tina Picotes visits the Corridoio Vasariano, Firenze
Originally called the Palazzo della Signoria, after the Signoria of Florence, the ruling body of the Republic of Florence, it was also given several other names: Palazzo del Popolo, Palazzo dei Priori, and Palazzo Ducale, in accordance with the varying use of the palace during its long history. 

The building acquired its current name when the Medici duke's residence was moved across the Arno to the Palazzo Pitti. It is linked to the Uffizi and the Palazzo Pitti through the Corridoio Vasariano.

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, designed by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo for Cosimo il Vecchio, of the Medici family, is another major edifice, and was built between 1445 and 1460. It was well known for its stone masonry that includes rustication and ashlar. Today it is the head office of the Metropolitan City of Florence and hosts museums and the Riccardiana Library.


The Palazzo Strozzi, an example of civil architecture with its rusticated stone, was inspired by the Palazzo Medici, but with more harmonious proportions. Today the palace is used for international expositions like the annual antique show, founded as the Biennale dell'Antiquariato in 1959, fashion shows and other cultural and artistic events. Here also is the seat of the Istituto Nazionale del Rinascimento and the noted Gabinetto Vieusseux, with the library and reading room.

More information: Visit Florence

There are several other notable places, including the Palazzo Rucellai, designed by Leon Battista Alberti between 1446 and 1451 and executed, at least in part, by Bernardo Rossellino; the Palazzo Davanzati, which houses the museum of the Old Florentine House; the Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali, designed in the Neo-Renaissance style in 1871; the Palazzo Spini Feroni, in Piazza Santa Trinita, a historic 13th-century private palace, owned since the 1920s by shoe-designer Salvatore Ferragamo; as well as various others, including the Palazzo Borghese, the Palazzo di Bianca Cappello, the Palazzo Antinori, and the Royal building of Santa Maria Novella.

Florence contains numerous museums and art galleries where some of the world's most important works of art are held. The city is one of the best preserved Renaissance centres of art and architecture in the world and has a high concentration of art, architecture and culture.


Jordi visits the Palazzo Borghese, Firenze
In the ranking list of the 15 most visited Italian art museums, ⅔ are represented by Florentine museums. The Uffizi is one of these, having a very large collection of international and Florentine art. The gallery is articulated in many halls, catalogued by schools and chronological order. 

The Vasari Corridor is another gallery, built connecting the Palazzo Vecchio with the Pitti Palace passing by the Uffizi and over the Ponte Vecchio.

The Galleria dell'Accademia houses a Michelangelo collection, including the David. It has a collection of Russian icons and works by various artists and painters.

Other museums and galleries include the Bargello, which concentrates on sculpture works by artists including Donatello, Giambologna and Michelangelo; the Palazzo Pitti, containing part of the Medici family's former private collection. In addition to the Medici collection, the palace's galleries contain many Renaissance works, including several by Raphael and Titian, large collections of costumes, ceremonial carriages, silver, porcelain and a gallery of modern art dating from the 18th century. Adjoining the palace are the Boboli Gardens, elaborately landscaped and with numerous sculptures.

More information: Visit Tuscany

There are several different churches and religious buildings in Florence. The cathedral is Santa Maria del Fiore. The San Giovanni Baptistery located in front of the cathedral, is decorated by numerous artists, notably by Lorenzo Ghiberti with the Gates of Paradise.


Other churches in Florence include the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, located in Santa Maria Novella square, near the Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station, which contains works by Masaccio, Paolo Uccello, Filippino Lippi and Domenico Ghirlandaio; the Basilica of Santa Croce, the principal Franciscan church in the city, which is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 metres south east of the Duomo, and is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Rossini, thus it is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories, Tempio dell'Itale Glorie.

Tonyi leaves the Brancacci Chapel, Firenze
There is also the Basilica of San Lorenzo, which is one of the largest churches in the city, situated at the centre of Florence's main market district, and the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III; Santo Spirito, in the Oltrarno quarter, facing the square with the same name.

Orsanmichele, whose building was constructed on the site of the kitchen garden of the monastery of San Michele, now demolished; Santissima Annunziata, a Roman Catholic basilica and the mother church of the Servite order; Ognissanti, which was founded by the lay order of the Umiliati, and is among the first examples of Baroque architecture built in the city.

Another beautiful church is the Santa Maria del Carmine, in the Oltrarno district of Florence, which is the location of the Brancacci Chapel, housing outstanding Renaissance frescoes by Masaccio and Masolino da Panicale, later finished by Filippino Lippi; the Medici Chapel with statues by Michelangelo, in the San Lorenzo; as well as several others, including Santa Trinita, San Marco, Santa Felicita, Badia Fiorentina, San Gaetano, San Miniato al Monte, Florence Charterhouse, and Santa Maria del Carmine

The city additionally contains the Orthodox Russian church of Nativity, and the Great Synagogue of Florence, built in the 19th century.

Florence contains various theatres and cinemas. The Odeon Cinema of the Palazzo dello Strozzino is one of the oldest cinemas in the city. Established from 1920 to 1922 in a wing of the Palazzo dello Strozzino, it used to be called the Cinema Teatro Savoia, yet was later called Odeon.


The Teatro della Pergola, located in the centre of the city on the eponymous street, is an opera house built in the 17th century.

Another theatre is the Teatro Comunale or Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, originally built as the open-air amphitheatre, the Politeama Fiorentino Vittorio Emanuele, which was inaugurated on 17 May 1862 with a production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and which seated 6,000 people.

There are several other theatres, such as the Saloncino Castinelli, the Teatro Puccini, the Teatro Verdi, the Teatro Goldoni and the Teatro Niccolini.

More information: Lonely Planet


To see the sun sink down, 
drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, 
and overwhelm Florence with tides of color 
that make all the sharp lines dim and faint 
and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, 
is a sight to stir the coldest nature.

Mark Twain

Saturday, 30 March 2019

SANDRO BOTTICELLI PAINTS 'THE BIRTH OF VENUS'

Sandro Botticelli
Tina Picotes loves art and she is a great follower of Sandro Botticelli. Yesterday, she visited le Gallerie degli Uffizi with her friends and she was the best art guide for them, especially for The Grandma who asked Tina lots of questions.

Today, Tina and her friends have returned to the Gallerie degli Uffizi. It's impossible to see all masterpieces in only one day and they are very interested in the great figure of Botticelli, and especially, in his amazing work The Birth of Venus. Tina has explained lots of things about Botticelli and his works to her friends.

Before returning to the gallery, The Grandma has read a new chapter of Edith Warthon's Ethan Frome and she has also studied a new chapter of her Intermediate Language Practice manual (Grammar 49).


More information: Spelling and Pronunciation 1

Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi (c. 1445-May 17, 1510), known as Sandro Botticelli, was a Tuscan painter of the Early Renaissance. He belonged to the Florentine School under the patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici, a movement that Giorgio Vasari would characterize less than a hundred years later in his Vita of Botticelli as a golden age.

Botticelli's posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century; since then, his work has been seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting.

As well as the small number of mythological subjects which are his best known works today, he painted a wide range of religious subjects and also some portraits. He and his workshop were especially known for their Madonna and Childs, many in the round tondo shape. Botticelli's best-known works are The Birth of Venus and Primavera, both in the Uffizi in Florence. He lived all his life in the same neighbourhood of Florence, with probably his only significant time elsewhere the months he spent painting in Pisa in 1474 and the Sistine Chapel in Rome in 1481–82.

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
Only one of his paintings is dated, though others can be dated from other records with varying degrees of certainty, and the development of his style traced with confidence.

He was an independent master for all the 1470s, growing in mastery and reputation, and the 1480s were his most successful decade, when all his large mythological paintings were done, and many of his best Madonnas. By the 1490s his style became more personal and to some extent mannered, and he could be seen as moving in a direction opposite to that of Leonardo da Vinci, seven years his junior, and a new generation of painters creating the High Renaissance style as Botticelli returned in some ways to the Gothic style.

He has been described as an outsider in the mainstream of Italian painting, who had a limited interest in many of the developments most associated with Quattrocento painting, such as the realistic depiction of human anatomy, perspective, and landscape, and the use of direct borrowings from classical art. His training enabled him to represent all these aspects of painting, without adopting or contributing to their development.

More information: Virtual Uffizi

Botticelli was born in the city of Florence in a house in the street still called Via Borgo Ognissanti. He was to live within a minute or two's walk of this all his life, and to be buried in the Ognissanti, All Saints, parish church. His father was Mariano di Vanni d'Amedeo Filipepi, and Sandro was the youngest of his four children to survive into adulthood, all boys. The date of his birth is not known, but his father's tax returns in following years give his age as two in 1447 and thirteen in 1458 so, allowing for arguments as to what these statements really meant, dates between 1444 and 1446 are given.

From around 1461 or 1462 Botticelli was apprenticed to Fra Filippo Lippi, one of the top Florentine painters of the day, and one often patronized by the Medicis. He was rather conservative in many respects, but gave Botticelli a solid training in the Florentine style and technique of the day, in panel painting, fresco, and drawing.

Primavera by Sandro Botticelli
At the start of 1474 Botticelli was asked by the authorities in Pisa to join the work frescoing the Camposanto, a huge and prestigious project mostly being done by Benozzo Gozzoli, who spent nearly twenty years on it.

The Adoration of the Magi for Santa Maria Novella (c. 1475–76, now in the Uffizi, and the first of 8 Adorations), was singled out for praise by Vasari, and was in a much-visited church, so spreading his reputation. It can be thought of as marking the climax of Botticelli's early style.

In 1481, Pope Sixtus IV summoned Botticelli and other prominent Florentine and Umbrian artists to fresco the walls of the newly completed Sistine Chapel. This large project was to be the main decoration of the chapel; most of the frescos remain, but are now greatly overshadowed and disrupted by Michelangelo's work of the next century, to make room for which some of them were destroyed.

More information: Visit Tuscany

The masterpieces Primavera (c. 1482) and The Birth of Venus (c. 1485) are not a pair, but are inevitably discussed together; both are in the Uffizi. They are among the most famous paintings in the world, and icons of the Italian Renaissance. As depictions of subjects from classical mythology on a very large scale they were virtually unprecedented in Western art since classical antiquity.

Together with the smaller and less celebrated Mars and Venus and Pallas and the Centaur, they have been endlessly analysed by art historians, with the main themes being: the emulation of ancient painters and the context of wedding celebrations, the influence of Renaissance Neo-Platonism, and the identity of the commissioners and possible models for the figures.

Dante's Portrait by Botticelli
Botticelli returned from Rome in 1482 with a reputation considerably enhanced by his work there. As with his secular paintings, many religious commissions are larger and no doubt more expensive than before. Altogether more datable works by Botticelli come from the 1480s than any other decade, and most of these are religious.

Botticelli painted a number of portraits, although not nearly as many as have been attributed to him. Many portraits exist in several versions, probably most mainly by the workshop; there is often uncertainty in their attribution.

Often the background changes between versions while the figure remains the same. His male portraits have also often held dubious identifications, most often of various Medicis, for longer than the real evidence supports.

Botticelli had a lifelong interest in the great Florentine poet Dante Alighieri, which produced works in several media. He is attributed with an imagined portrait. According to Vasari, he wrote a commentary on a portion of Dante, which is also referred to dismissively in another story in the Life, but no such text has survived.

The Medici family were effective rulers of Florence, which was nominally a republic, throughout Botticelli's lifetime up to 1494, when the main branch were expelled. Lorenzo il Magnifico became the head of the family in 1469, just around the time Botticelli started his own workshop. He was a great patron of both the visual and literary arts, and encouraged and financed the humanist and Neoplatonist circle from which much of the character of Botticelli's mythological painting seems to come. In general Lorenzo does not seem to have commissioned much from Botticelli, preferring Pollaiuolo and others, although views on this differ.

Botticelli died of Old Age in Florence. After his death, Botticelli's reputation was eclipsed longer and more thoroughly than that of any other major European artist. His paintings remained in the churches and villas for which they had been created, and his frescos in the Sistine Chapel were upstaged by those of Michelangelo.

More information: Le Gallerie degli Uffizi


Sandro's drawing was much beyond the common level...
[and that other artists] strove to obtain examples.

Giorgio Vasari

Friday, 29 March 2019

GALLERIE DEGLI UFFIZI, ENJOY THE BEST RENAISSANCE

Ready to visit Le Gallerie degli Uffizi, Firenze
Today, The Grandma and her friends have visited Le Gallerie degli Uffizi in Firenze. All of them love art and this visit has been an incredible opportunity to contemplate some of the most important art works of the history.

Visiting this gallery is a must, if you are in Firenze and it is also an homage to all those people who believed in art and worked very hard to promoted it, conserved it and showed to the public.

Before discovering more things about the History of Firenze, The Grandma has read a new chapter of Edith Warthon's Ethan Frome and she has also studied a new chapter of her Intermediate Language Practice manual (Grammar 48).



The Uffizi Gallery, in Italian Galleria degli Uffizi, is a prominent art museum located adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria in the Historic Centre of Florence in the region of Tuscany. One of the most important Italian museums and the most visited, it is also one of the largest and best known in the world and holds a collection of priceless works, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance.


Today, the Uffizi is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Florence and one of the most visited art museums in the world.

After the ruling house of Medici died out, their art collections were gifted to the city of Florence under the famous Patto di famiglia negotiated by Anna Maria Luisa, the last Medici heiress.

Joseph de Ca'th Lon visits Le Gallerie degli Uffizi
The Uffizi is one of the first modern museums. The gallery had been open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century, and in 1765 it was officially opened to the public, formally becoming a museum in 1865.

The building of Uffizi complex was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de' Medici so as to accommodate the offices of the Florentine magistrates, hence the name uffizi, offices. The construction was later continued by Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti; it was completed in 1581. The top floor was made into a gallery for the family and their guests and included their collection of Roman sculptures.

More information: Le Gallerie degli Uffizi

The cortile, internal courtyard, is so long, narrow and open to the Arno at its far end through a Doric screen that articulates the space without blocking it, that architectural historians treat it as the first regularized streetscape of Europe.  

Vasari, a painter and architect as well, emphasised its perspective length by adorning it with the matching facades' continuous roof cornices, and unbroken cornices between storeys, as well as the three continuous steps on which the palace-fronts stand. The niches in the piers that alternate with columns of the Loggiato filled with sculptures of famous artists in the 19th century.

Jordi Santanyí visits Micheangelo's Hall
The Uffizi brought together under one roof the administrative offices and the Archivio di Stato, the state archive. 

The project was intended to display prime art works of the Medici collections on the piano nobile; the plan was carried out by his son, Grand Duke Francesco I. He commissioned the architect Buontalenti to design the Tribuna degli Uffizi that would display a series of masterpieces in one room, including jewels; it became a highly influential attraction of a Grand Tour. The octagonal room was completed in 1584.

Over the years, more sections of the palace were recruited to exhibit paintings and sculpture collected or commissioned by the Medici. According to Vasari, who was not only the architect of the Uffizi but also the author of Lives of the Artists, published in 1550 and 1568, artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo gathered at the Uffizi for beauty, for work and for recreation.

More information: Visit Uffizi

For many years, 45 to 50 rooms were used to display paintings from the 13th to 18th century. Because of its huge collection, some of the Uffizi's works have in the past been transferred to other museums in Florence -for example, some famous statues to the Bargello.

A project was finished in 2006 to expand the museum's exhibition space some 6,000 metres square to almost 13,000 metres square, allowing public viewing of many artworks that had usually been in storage.

The Grandma & Claire contemplate Galileo's portrait
The Nuovi Uffizi renovation project which started in 1989 was progressing well in 2015 to 2017. It was intended to modernize all of the halls and more than double the display space.

As well, a new exit was planned and the lighting, air conditioning and security systems were updated. During construction, the museum remained open, although rooms were closed as necessary with the artwork temporarily moved to another location. The major modernization project, New Uffizi, had increased viewing capacity to 101 rooms by late 2016 by expanding into areas previously used by the Florence State Archive.

The museum is being renovated to more than double the number of rooms used to display artwork.

On 27 May 1993, the Sicilian Mafia carried out a car bomb explosion in Via dei Georgofili and damaged parts of the palace. The blast destroyed five pieces of art and damaged another 30. Some of the paintings were fully protected by bulletproof glass. The most severe damage was to the Niobe room and classical sculptures and neoclassical interior, which have since been restored, although its frescoes were damaged beyond repair.

In early August 2007, Florence experienced a heavy rainstorm. The Gallery was partially flooded, with water leaking through the ceiling, and the visitors had to be evacuated. There was a much more significant flood in 1966 which damaged most of the art collections in Florence severely, including some of the works in the Uffizi.

More information: Visit Florence


Florence is perhaps best known for being
the seat of Renaissance art, and rightly so:
A greatest-hits collection of artists passed through
its streets -Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli,
and Brunelleschi among them.

 
Hanya Yanagihara

Thursday, 28 March 2019

VISITING FIRENZE, 'THE ATHENS OF THE MIDDLE AGES'

Republic of Florence
Today, The Grandma and her friends have started this trip around Tuscany discoverig more things about its capital. Florence has an incredible history and it has been always an important Europen city, especially since the moment it was independent and formed the Republic of Florence (1115–1532).

The Grandma loves history and she considers that when you visit a place, you must learn about its history and know as things as you can about its culture because we are the result of our ancestors and our history explains our present and forge our idiosincracy.

Before discovering more things about the History of Florence, The Grandma has started to read a new book titled Ethan Frome and written by Edith Warthon. She has also studied a new chapter of her Intermediate Language Practice manual (Grammar 47).


More information: Linking Words

Florence, in Italian Firenze, is the capital city of Tuscany. Florence was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era.

It is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family and numerous religious and republican revolutions.

From 1865 to 1871 the city was the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy. The Florentine dialect forms the base of Standard Italian and it became the language of culture throughout Italy due to the prestige of the masterpieces by Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini.

Dante Alighieri in Florence
The Historic Centre of Florence was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. The city is noted for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments. It contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, and exerts an influence in art, culture and politics.

Florence is an important city in Italian fashion, being ranked in the top 15 fashion capitals of the world; furthermore, it is a major national economic centre, as well as a tourist and industrial hub.

Florence originated as a Roman city, and later, after a long period as a flourishing trading and banking medieval commune, it was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.

The language spoken in the city during the 14th century was, and still is, accepted as the Italian language.

More information: DILIT

Almost all the writers and poets in Italian literature of the golden age are in some way connected with Florence, leading ultimately to the adoption of the Florentine dialect, above all the local dialects, as a literary language of choice.

Starting from the late Middle Ages, Florentine money -in the form of the gold florin- financed the development of industry all over Europe, from Britain to Bruges, to Lyon and Hungary. Florentine bankers financed the English kings during the Hundred Years War. They similarly financed the papacy, including the construction of their provisional capital of Avignon and, after their return to Rome, the reconstruction and Renaissance embellishment of Rome.

Charlemagne
The Etruscans initially formed in 200 BC the small settlement of Fiesole, Faesulae in Latin, which was destroyed by Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 80 BC in reprisal for supporting the populares faction in Rome.

The present city of Florence was established by Julius Caesar in 59 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 changed to Florentia, flowering.

In centuries to come, the city experienced turbulent periods of Ostrogothic rule, during which the city was often troubled by warfare between the Ostrogoths and the Byzantines, which may have caused the population to fall to as few as 1,000 people.

Peace returned under Lombard rule in the 6th century. Florence was conquered by Charlemagne in 774 and became part of the Duchy of Tuscany, with Lucca as capital. The population began to grow again and commerce prospered. In 854, Florence and Fiesole were united in one county.

Margrave Hugo chose Florence as his residency instead of Lucca at about 1000 AD. The Golden Age of Florentine art began around this time. In 1013, construction began on the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte. The exterior of the church was reworked in Romanesque style between 1059 and 1128. In 1100, Florence was a Commune, meaning a city state.

More information: The Culture Trip

Of a population estimated at 94,000 before the Black Death of 1348, about 25,000 are said to have been supported by the city's wool industry: in 1345 Florence was the scene of an attempted strike by wool combers or ciompi, who in 1378 rose up in a brief revolt against oligarchic rule in the Revolt of the Ciompi. After their suppression, Florence came under the sway (1382–1434) of the Albizzi family, who became bitter rivals of the Medici.

In the 15th century, Florence was among the largest cities in Europe, considered rich and economically successful. Life was not idyllic for all residents though, among whom there were great disparities in wealth.

Cosimo I de'Medici
Cosimo de' Medici was the first Medici family member to essentially control the city from behind the scenes. Although the city was technically a democracy of sorts, his power came from a vast patronage network along with his alliance to the new immigrants, the gente nuova, new people. The fact that the Medici were bankers to the pope also contributed to their ascendancy. Cosimo was succeeded by his son Piero, who was, soon after, succeeded by Cosimo's grandson, Lorenzo in 1469.

Lorenzo was a great patron of the arts, commissioning works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli. Lorenzo was an accomplished poet and musician and brought composers and singers to Florence, including Alexander Agricola, Johannes Ghiselin, and Heinrich Isaac. By contemporary Florentines and since, he was known as Lorenzo the Magnificent,  Lorenzo il Magnifico.

Following Lorenzo de' Medici's death in 1492, he was succeeded by his son Piero II. When the French king Charles VIII invaded northern Italy, Piero II chose to resist his army. But when he realised the size of the French army at the gates of Pisa, he had to accept the humiliating conditions of the French king. These made the Florentines rebel and they expelled Piero II. With his exile in 1494, the first period of Medici rule ended with the restoration of a republican government.

More information: World History Volume

Florentines drove out the Medici for a second time and re-established a republic on 16 May 1527. Restored twice with the support of both Emperor Charles V and Pope Clement VII (Giulio de Medici), the Medici in 1532 became hereditary dukes of Florence, and in 1569 Grand Dukes of Tuscany, ruling for two centuries.

In all Tuscany, only the Republic of Lucca, later a Duchy, and the Principality of Piombino were independent from Florence.

WWII, Santa Trinita Bridge, Arno River, Florence
The extinction of the Medici dynasty and the accession in 1737 of Francis Stephen, duke of Lorraine and husband of Maria Theresa of Austria, led to Tuscany's temporary inclusion in the territories of the Austrian crown.
From 1801 to 1807 Florence was the capital of the Napoleonic client state Kingdom of Etruria. Bourbon-Parma were deposed in December 1807 when Tuscany was annexed by France.

Florence was the prefecture of the French département of Arno from 1808 to the fall of Napoleon in 1814. The Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty was restored on the throne of Tuscany at the Congress of Vienna but finally deposed in 1859. Tuscany became a region of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

During World War II the city experienced a year-long German occupation (1943–1944). Hitler declared it an open city on July 3 1944 as troops of the British 8th Army closed in.

Florence was liberated by New Zealand, South African and British troops on 4 August 1944. The Allied soldiers who died driving the Germans from Tuscany are buried in cemeteries outside the city.

More information: BBC


Florence is charming, cozy, beautiful, inspiring 
-it has so many great places to go to 
and so many unique things to see that 
you won't find anywhere else!

Edgardo Osorio

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

TUSCANY, THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE

Tuscan Flag
Today, The Grandma is going to travel to Firenze (Florence). She is going to visit Tuscany, one of the most beautiful places around the world, birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

The Grandma is not going to be alone because her friends are going to stay with her. Joseph de Ca'th Lon, Tina Picotes, Claire Fontaine, Tonyi Tamaki and Jordi Santanyí will explain us their adventures and feelings during these days.

The Grandma and her friends are going to fly from Barcelona to Firenze in the afternoon and they are going to arrive to their Hotel, Villa Cora, to rest and be ready for tomorrow.

During the flight, The Grandma has read a new chapter of John Escott's The Railway Children and she has studied a new lesson of her Intermediate Language Practice manual (Grammar 46).


More information: Possession I & II

Tuscany, in Italian Toscana, is a region in central Italy. The regional capital is Florence (Firenze).

Tuscany is known for its landscapes, history, artistic legacy, and its influence on high culture. It is regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and has been home to many figures influential in the history of art and science, and contains well-known museums such as the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace.

Tuscany produces wines, including Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano and Brunello di Montalcino. Having a strong linguistic and cultural identity, it is sometimes considered a nation within a nation.

Wines in Tuscany
Seven Tuscan localities have been designated World Heritage Sites: the historic centre of Florence (1982); the Cathedral square of Pisa (1987); the historical centre of San Gimignano (1990); the historical centre of Siena (1995); the historical centre of Pienza (1996); the Val d'Orcia (2004), and the Medici Villas and Gardens (2013).

Tuscany has over 120 protected nature reserves, making Tuscany and its capital Florence popular tourist destinations that attract millions of tourists every year. Roughly triangular in shape, Tuscany borders the regions of Liguria to the northwest, Emilia-Romagna to the north, Marche to the northeast, Umbria to the east and Lazio to the southeast.

Tuscany has a western coastline on the Ligurian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea, among which is the Tuscan Archipelago, of which the largest island is Elba.

The climate is fairly mild in the coastal areas, and is harsher and rainy in the interior, with considerable fluctuations in temperature between winter and summer, giving the region a soil-building active freeze-thaw cycle, in part accounting for the region's once having served as a key breadbasket of ancient Rome.

More information: Visit Tuscany

The pre-Etruscan history of the area in the late Bronze and Iron Ages parallels that of the early Greeks. The Tuscan area was inhabited by peoples of the so-called Apennine culture in the late second millennium BC (roughly 1350–1150 BC) who had trading relationships with the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations in the Aegean Sea. Following this, the Villanovan culture (1100–700 BC) saw Tuscany, and the rest of Etruria, taken over by chiefdoms. City-states developed in the late Villanovan, paralleling Greece and the Aegean, before Orientalization occurred and the Etruscan civilization rose.

The Etruscans, in Latin Tusci, created the first major civilization in this region, large enough to establish a transport infrastructure, to implement agriculture and mining and to produce vibrant art. The Etruscans succumbed to the Romans. Throughout their existence, they lost territory (in Campania) to Magna Graecia, Carthage and Celts.

Tina Picotes arrives to Firenze, Tuscany
Soon after absorbing Etruria, to the north, northeast, east and a strip to the south, Rome established the cities of Lucca, Pisa, Siena, and Florence, endowed the area with new technologies and development, and ensured peace.

In the years following 572, the Lombards arrived and designated Lucca the capital of their subsequent Tuscia. Pilgrims travelling along the Via Francigena between Rome and France brought wealth and development during the medieval period. The food and shelter required by these travellers fuelled the growth of communities around churches and taverns.

The conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, factions supporting the Papacy or the Holy Roman Empire in central and northern Italy during the 12th and 13th centuries, split the Tuscan people. The two factions gave rise to several powerful and rich medieval communes in Tuscany: Arezzo, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, and Siena.

One family that benefitted from Florence's growing wealth and power was the ruling Medici family. Its scion Lorenzo de' Medici was one of the most famous of the Medici. The legacy of his influence is visible today in the prodigious expression of art and architecture in Florence. His famous descendant Catherine de' Medici married Prince Henry, later King Henry II, of France in 1533.

More information: Discover Tuscany

The Black Death epidemic hit Tuscany starting in 1348. It eventually killed 70% of the Tuscan population.

Tuscany, especially Florence, is regarded as the birthplace of the Renaissance. Though Tuscany remained a linguistic, cultural and geographic conception, rather than a political reality, in the 15th century, Florence extended its dominion in Tuscany through the annexation of Arezzo in 1384, the purchase of Pisa in 1405 and the suppression of a local resistance there (1406). Livorno was bought in 1421 and became the harbour of Florence.

From the leading city of Florence, the republic was from 1434 onward dominated by the increasingly monarchical Medici family. Initially, under Cosimo, Piero the Gouty, Lorenzo and Piero the Unfortunate, the forms of the republic were retained and the Medici ruled without a title, usually without even a formal office. These rulers presided over the Florentine Renaissance. There was a return to the republic from 1494 to 1512, when first Girolamo Savonarola then Piero Soderini oversaw the state.

More information: Lonely Planet

The Sienese commune was not incorporated into Tuscany until 1555, and during the 15th century Siena enjoyed a cultural Sienese Renaissance with its own more conservative character.

In the 16th century, the Medicis, rulers of Florence, annexed the Republic of Siena, creating the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

The Grandma & Claire arrive to Villa Cora, Firenze
The Medici family became extinct in 1737 with the death of Gian Gastone, and Tuscany was transferred to Francis, Duke of Lorraine and husband of Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, who let the country be ruled by his son.

The dynasty of the Lorena ruled Tuscany until 1860, with the exception of the Napoleonic period, when most of the country was annexed to the French Empire. After the Second Italian War of Independence, a revolution evicted the last Grand Duke, and after a plebiscite Tuscany became part of the new Kingdom of Italy. From 1864 to 1870 Florence became the second capital of the kingdom.

Under Benito Mussolini, the area came under the dominance of local Fascist leaders. Following the fall of Mussolini and the armistice of 8 September 1943, Tuscany became part of the Nazi-controlled Italian Social Republic, and was conquered almost totally by the Anglo-American forces during summer 1944. 

Following the end of the Social Republic, and the transition from the Kingdom to the modern Italian Republic, Tuscany once more flourished as a cultural centre of Italy. After the establishment of regional autonomy in 1975, Tuscany has always been ruled by centre-left governments.

More information: Tripavvy

Tuscany has a unique artistic legacy, and Florence is one of the world's most important water-colour centres, even so that it is often nicknamed the art palace of Italy, the region is also believed to have the largest concentration of Renaissance art and architecture in the world.

Painters such as Cimabue and Giotto, the fathers of Italian painting, lived in Florence and Tuscany, as well as Arnolfo and Andrea Pisano, renewers of architecture and sculpture; Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio, forefathers of the Renaissance; Ghiberti and the Della Robbias, Filippo Lippi and Angelico; Botticelli, Paolo Uccello, and the universal genius of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

The region contains numerous museums and art galleries, many housing some of the world's most precious works of art. Such museums include the Uffizi, which keeps Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, the Pitti Palace, and the Bargello, to name a few. Most of the frescos, sculptures and paintings in Tuscany are held in the region's abundant churches and cathedrals, such as Florence Cathedral, Siena Cathedral, Pisa Cathedral and the Collegiata di San Gimignano.

Apart from standard Italian, the Tuscan dialect, dialetto toscano, is spoken in Tuscany. The Italian language is a literary version of Tuscan. It became the language of culture for all the people of Italy, thanks to the prestige of the masterpieces of Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini.

It would later become the official language of all the Italian states and of the Kingdom of Italy, when it was formed.

More information: The Telegraph


The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.

Leonardo da Vinci