Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Florence – where Renaissance was born

Capital of Tuscany, Florence was one of Medieval Italy’s wealthiest cities. At the heart of finance and trade, it attracted the wealthy and intellectuals like no other city. As a result, over a period of around 300 years from the 14th century, ideas, art and literature bloomed and were spread far and wide across Europe. Spirituality changed too.

Nearly everyone was touched in some way by the Black Death which had swept through Europe. As a result, people began to have a greater sense of mortality and compassion, determined to make more of their time on Earth and enjoy a richer life experience. The arts in particular benefited as the ruling family became patrons of the arts and commissioned a wide range of works from emerging artists. Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, Michaelangelo, some of the words most celebrated artists all had renaissance Florence to thank for their success. You can still see many examples of their work proudly on display in the city.

With its feeling of being stuck in time, Renaissance Florence is a major draw for tourists – 10 million visit every year, which also brings problems. How can a city with a population of under 400,000 move forwards, when so much of its success is built on the past? Perhaps it’s time for a new renaissance.