Learn About Florence. Its History and Society
The Strategic Location of Florence in Central Italy
Florence is centrally located in Italy, in one of the most important regions of the country, known as Tuscany.
Florentine art and education have been renowned across Europe since the 12th century A.D.
Because of this rich cultural history, Italian language courses, as well as the study of Italian culture, have always been prevalent in this location.
Florence has traditionally been the epicenter of these important disciplines from art to music to science.
For these reasons, language and art schools and cultural institutes are present today in Florence in great numbers.
Population and Size of Florence
Florence has a population of about 400,000 people and covers an area of about 102 square kilometers, which corresponds to 39 square miles.
It sits in the valley of the river Arno with an elevation of 50 me (164 feet) above sea level.
The city is located on the Arno River not far from all of the most important Tuscany cities.
From Florence, Rome is less than 2 hours and Milan about 3 hours by train.
Patron Saint of Florence
The patron Saint of Florence is San Giovanni (St John the Baptist), who is celebrated on June 24th with a day of celebrations and festivals throughout the city.
The Ancient History in Florence
Florence was originally designated by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a place for his veteran soldiers. Its name, Florentia, derives from “flourish” because it was a very fertile land which was covered in flowers.
Thanks to the Via Cassia, the important road that connected Rome with the North and throughout the fertile valley of the Arno, Florence became a thriving trade center.
In the third century AD, the city became the capital of an area called Tuscia. Charlemagne conquered Florentia in 774, annexed it to his existing Tuscan territories, and named Lucca the capital of this entire Tuscan area.
Commerce grew over the centuries in Florence and Fiesole, a neighboring hill-top town, until the 2 towns were united in the middle of ninth century AD.
The Medici Family and Their Role in Florence
In the middle of the fourteenth century, the Medici Family began ruling the city from the perspective of trade and commerce in order to forge beneficial political alliances.
The Medici were bankers and merchants with the Popes and thus increased the prominence and power of the family.
Florence gained so much power during this period that this ruling family invested vast wealth on the patronage of the arts leading to Florence being considered the place of birth of the Italian Renaissance.
In particular, Lorenzo di Medici, who became known as Lorenzo the Magnificent, was a great patron of the arts who commissioned works by:
- Leonardo Da Vinci
- Michelangelo (1475-1564)
- Botticelli (1445-1510) as well as many other artists
Parola Italian language school capitalizes on its location by organizing field trips, extracurricular activities and relevant supplementary courses such as our drawing course or art courses to take advantage of the rich cultural surroundings in Florence.
Our school also conducts visits to the Uffizi Gallery, where some of these outstanding art works by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Botticelli and others are displayed. Parola arranges visits to the beautiful Museum of the “Opera del Duomo” as well.
Girolamo Savonarola (1502-1498)
Another famous figure in the great history of Florence became famous for his sermons in which he harshly criticized the morality of the contemporary times.
After denouncing the Pope, the Florentines grew tired of his severe criticisms.
As a consequence, Savonarola was declared a heretic and burned at the stake in the “Piazza della Signoria” in 1498.
In our “History of Florence” course included in the supplementary list of courses, we study the events that led to the accusations against Savonarola and students learn the reasons he originally became popular and then subsequently fell out of favor in Florence.
Machiavelli was another great figure of the golden years of Florence.
Niccolò Machiavelli’s inscriptions were a sort of rebirth of Florence during those years, prescribing strong power and when necessary, the application of the rule in politics that “the ends justify the means” which gave authority to the ruler for any strong action as long as it provided the desired outcome.
Machiavelli’s thoughts are written in the outstanding book that students at Parola School may want to read, “Il Principe.”
In our course, “Renaissance Florence,” we discuss “The Prince” (Il Principe), still a benchmark for today’s political issues all over the world.
Machiavelli also wrote a book called “the Florentine Histories” which is an important history of Florence.
Discussion of Modern Florentine History
The Medici line was extinguished in 1737. And following years of Austrian rule in the region, Florence was named the capital of the newly-unified Italy, The United Kingdom of Italy, in 1865.
During World War II, there was a German occupation. After the war, Florence was declared an open city.
During the sixties, Florence experienced a period of expansion and once again became one the richest cities in Italy: from commerce and agriculture to tourism and culture.
In 1982, the historic and celebrated cultural center of Florence was admitted to the World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO.
We designed one of our courses to cover the development of Italian society by dealing with the issues concerning Italian history and the Italian way of living.
This lesson requires that students already possess a basic knowledge of Italy.
Today, not only is Florence a great cultural center, but it is also a capital of fashion and trade, as well as one of most visited cities in Italy and the world.
Because Florence is a renowned city of art, we offer art, culture and language courses here in the historical center.
Florence also hosts a wide variety of modern events such as concerts and contemporary exhibits, which our students are able to enjoy.
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