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A brief history of Florence

It was around the VII th Century B.C. that Etruscan citizen saw fit to establish a small village on the top of Fiesole Hill, overlooking the plain and the Arno river. Their decision was mostly dictated by strategic and military reasons. To see some colonization of the plains of Florence we have to wait until the I st century B.C. for  the Roman Empire. It was thanks to the Romans that “Florentia” was built, around the area where the Arno river is less broad. The name “Florentia” was given because the outpost soon “Flourished” into a striving city that connected the North and the South of the Italian peninsula. Originally the colony was built following the typical “castrum” shape, squared and fortified by a defensive palisade. The original centre of the “castrum” is the centre of the city that nowadays can be visited. The city grew through the centuries, and around the XIIth century A.C. it become a free city and started developing in a strong way all the commercial strengths that the area had. Exports of wool, textiles and several handicrafts. The commercial system was supported by a very modern and strong banking system, that allowed Florence to gain popularity and respect all through Europe. It was a turbulent time for the city, Guelfi and Ghibellini, two opposed factions that fought to gain political control of the city, the first supporting the Pope the seconds supporting the Emperor. Dante Alighieri, the father of modern Italian language, was himself caught in the midst of the political struggle and was forced to leave Florence and moved to Ravenna. Eventually the power struggle subsided and the local Art and Jobs Guild managed to keep the power for years to come, until the powerful and extremely rich noble families managed to take control of the public life in the city. It was the time for the Medici Family to come to power, and start the Renaissance period thanks to their great vision and investments. For centuries the Medici family ruled the city and Florence bloomed in its splendour, becoming the most important centre for art, handicrafts, commerce, finance and life style. Lorenzo de' Medici was the most important and famous exponent of the family through the centuries, famous for his political acumen and artistic patronage. Eventually in 1737 the Medici family lost control, at the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici. The Asburgo Lorena family came to power, in the person of Pietro Leopoldo. The family held the city until 1860, when Florence become part of the Italian Kingdom, unified by Garibaldi. Florence was capital of the Kingdom from 1865 till 1871.

Google Map  
View the interactive Google Map with most popular point of interest
   
PDF Florence map  

Print the map for access the Florence center

Walking distances 
  • Duomo - 1 min.
  • Piazza della Signoria - 2 min.
  • Galleria degli Uffizi - 3 min.
  • Ponte Vecchio - 4 min.
  • Galleria dell'Accademia - 6 min.
  • Palazzo Pitti e Giardino di Boboli- 10 min.
  • Cappelle Medicee e mercato San Lorenzo – 4 min.
  • Museo del Bargello – 3 min.
  • Museo di Storia della Scienza – 4 min.
  • Casa di Dante – 2 min.
  • Badia Fiorentina – 2 min.
  • Chiesa di Santa Maria Novella - 5 min.
  • Chiesa di Orsanmichele – 1 min.
  • Museo e Chiesa di S. Marco – 5 min.
  • Museo Archeologico – 5 min.
  • Museo dell’Opificio delle pietre dure – 6 min.

Other distances 

  • Stazione S.M.N. – 900 m.
  • Palazzo dei Congressi – 950 m.
  • P.zzale Michelangelo – 1,5 km
  • Fortezza da Basso – 1.2 km
  • Stadio A. Franchi – 3 km
  • Aeroporto – 6 km
  • Fiesole – 5.8 km

Art & history

Via de' Calzaiuoli was the most important street in ancient Florence as it linked the religious centre of the city, piazza Duomo is where the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, Battistero and Giotto's Bell tower are found, with the political centre in Piazza della Signoria represented by Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizzi Gallery.
 
Here you will find a brief explanation of the monuments close to Hotel Axial.
 
Fine Art Academy (Accademia delle Belle Arti o Galleria dell'Accademia). The Academy was build unifying two separate convents, the male only San Matteo convent and the female only San Niccolo' di Cafaggio one. Today the Fine Art Academy is house to one of the most important pieces of Renaissance art, the Michelangelo's David. Together with the David there are other works of Michelangelo, among which “i Prigioni” and “San Matteo”, and several other productions ranging from the late 1200 AC till 1500 AC, collected from churches that were dismissing them.
Opening Hours: 8.15 – 18.50.
Closed: Every Monday, 25th December, 1st January, 1st May .
 

Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. Also known as the Dome of Florence (Duomo di Firenze), the building was started in 1296, on the same spot where Basilica of Santa Reparata (the previous main church in Florence) was. The project was made by Arnolfo di Cambio (1240-1302), who started the works but did not see it finished due to his early death. It was not until 1436 that the Duomo was considered finished, at the end of the works of Brunelleschi's Dome.

Battistero di S.Giovanni. The main body of the Battistero has roman origins, and it was expanded as we see it today around the 4th-5th century AC. After the expansion several artists contributed to it's decorations, the mosaic that covers the inner part of the dome was started in the 13th century and depicts scenes of the Universal Judgment and the life of S.Giovanni Battista, saint patron of Florence. The beautiful brass doors have been recently restored, a special attention was given to the Door of Heavens made by Andrea Pisano and Lorenzo Ghiberti.

Giotto Belltower. Giotto begun the works on his belltower project in 1334. Unfortunately he could not see the completion of it as he died in 1337, at that time only the first part of the tower was made. The project was later continued by Francesco Talenti, in 1350. It was nine years after, in 1359, that the belltower was finally completed. The original project made by Giotto was changed only in the last stages, as Talenti preferred to have a spacious terrace on the top of the tower instead of the pointed roof that Giotto had planned. Andrea Pisano and Luca della Robbia are among the artists that worked at all the sculptural embellishments on the tower.

Palazzo Vecchio. Arnolfo di Cambio was the architect in charge of building Palazzo della Signoria, also known as Palazzo Vecchio. Originally it was intended as the headquarters of the Arts and Jobs guild, and that was the first use in 1359 when it was finished. During the 15th century at the time of the Florentine Republic, it become the place where political life was pressed on, and got the name of Palazzo della Signoria. In 1540 it was Cosimo I de' Medici to use it as the main court for the ruling family in Florence, but twentyfive years later, in 1565, it was the same Cosimo to leave it to move to the newer palace, Palazzo Pitti. After this Palazzo della Signoria was called Palazzo Vecchio (As “vecchio” means old). The Tower of Arnolfo, that can be see from the front side, is one of the emblems of Florence.

Orsanmichele. On the original spot where Orsanmichele was built there was a small church dedicated to San Michele dell'Orto, the new building was named after this church. Arnolfo di Cambio built a covered marketplace for trading crops (mostly grain), but as it lacked space to hold the stocks, the building was later expanded with two more floors. At that point the ground floor market was not needed anymore and it was re-converted into a church dedicated to San Michele.

The Uffizzi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizzi). The name Galleria degli Uffizzi was given since the building was finished by Vasari, the architect in charge of the works. Cosimo I de' Medici wanted a place close to Palazzo Vecchio where all the thirteen magistrates (called Uffici) could be unified. The magistrates managed each of the thirteen “regions” in which the Granducato di Toscana was divided. In 1565 when the family moved to Palazzo Pitti, Vasari was commissioned a further expansion, the so called Corridoio Vasariano. A corridor that linked Palazzo Pitti to Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizzi Gallery. It was Cosimo I son, Francesco de' Medici, who saw the possibility of creating a museum of the Gallery, and in 1581 started collecting all the works of art dated 1400 to make the first exhibit for the public. It was in 1591 that the Uffizzi Gallery become an actual museum and it was open to visitors. The Medici family lost power in 1769 to the Lorena family, but it was Maria Luisa de Medici sister of the last Medici ruler Gian Gastone, who made a “inter-family pact” between Medici and Lorena so that all the artistic patrimony was given to the city and could not be separated from the Uffizzi.
Opening Hours: 8.15 – 18.50.
Closed: Every Monday, 25th December, 1st January, 1st May.

Galleria Palatina. Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena had to rearrange all the beauties that were held at the Uffizzi Gallery, but as the space was quickly running out he had to look for other places, and decided to use the noble floors at Palazzo Pitti. This is how the Galleria Palatina was started, the gallery is a great display for works made in the 16th century, Raffaello, Caravaggi, Tiziano, Rubens and Van Dyck are among the artists featured.
Opening Hours: 8.15 – 18.50 (8.30 – 21.00 During Summer).
Closed: Every Monday, 25th December, 1st January, 1st May.

The House of Dante. The most important writer in Italian history, father of the modern Italian language, Dante Alighieri had several houses in Florence before he was eventually forced to leave the city for political reasons. In 1865 the city of Florence undergoes a very detailed reconstruction of the life of Dante io order to find the exact places where the poet had lived. In 1911 near Torre della Castagna the works for the restoration of the house of Dante begun, nowadays the museum holds several items that belonged to Dante, some antique copies of the Divina Comedia, a reconstruction of his life until his exile in Mantova and many more pieces from the time where he lived.

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Hotel Axial - Via dei Calzaiuoli 11, 50122 Florence  -  Tel: +39 055 218984   Fax: +39 055 211733   E-Mail: info@hotelaxial.it
Maioli Hotels s.n.c. di Paolo Maioli e figli - P.IVA 05658510481

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