Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Florence, Italy’s temporary capital

Many people see Florence as Italy’s cultural capital, but did you know it was once the country’s actual capital city? It was handed the honor in 1865, during the turbulent period that led to the unification of Italy. Florence was chosen to replace Turin, Italy’s first capital, which was considered vulnerable to attack from the French. 

The centrally-located Florence had a population of just 150,000 at the time, crammed behind its city walls. It put enormous strain on the city’s infrastructure when some 20,000 more people in government associated roles moved in and the size of the city quickly expanded as a result. 

After unification, in recognition of its standing as seat of the Roman Empire, Rome was handed the baton from Florence to beome the nation’s capital. It may have only served as capital for five years, but Florence will forever be associated with the liberation of Italy, something that was celebrated in the 150th anniversary in May and June 2015.