While we are not travelling right now, it’s a great time for some virtual visits.
The Galleria degli Uffizi is a prominent art museum located in the historic center of Florence, Italy. It is one of the largest, best known, most important and most visited Italian museums. It holds a priceless collection of art, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance.
Fifteenth century Italy was unlike any place in Europe – divided between independent city-states each with a different form of government. Florence where the Italian Renaissance began was an independent republic. It was also a banking/commercial capital and the 3rd largest city in Europe after London and Constantinople (or do you say Istanbul?). Wealthy Florentines flaunted their money and power by becoming patrons of the arts.
I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time’. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance. – Steven Wright
GetAway Travel is taking a group of clients to Florence in October 2015 and here is why.
“The Creator Made Italy from Designs by Michelangelo” – Mark Twain
And one of Italy’s greatest places to see those designs is in Florence. In Italy, all roads lead to Rome, but in Florence all roads lead to the elegant Piazza della Signoria – the location where Michelangelo’s statue of David was originally unveiled in 1504. (Yes, over 500 hundred years ago!) At the time this was also where the seat of the civic government of Florence resided. Strategically positioned, the eyes of David with his warning glare were turned towards Rome. In 1873 the statue moved to the Galleria dell’Academia, where it is viewed today. A replica statue now stands in the Piazza on the exact spot where the original once stood.
Politically, economically, and culturally Florence was the most important city in Europe for around 250 years, from before 1300 until the early 1500s. Florentines reinvented money, in the form of the gold florin. This currency was the engine that drove Europe out of the “Dark Ages”, a term invented by a Florentine. They financed the development of industry all over Europe, from Britain to Bruges, Lyon and Hungary. They financed the English kings during the Hundred Years’ War. They financed the papacy, including the construction of the papal palace in Avignon and then reconstruction of St. Peter’s and the Vatican when the papacy returned to Rome.
Florentines were the driving force behind the Age of Discovery. Florentine bankers financed Henry the Navigator and the Portuguese explorers who pioneered the route around Africa to India and the Far East. It was a map drawn by the Florentine Paulo del Pozzo Toscanelli, a student of Brunelleschi, that Columbus used to sell his “enterprise” to the Spanish monarchs, and which he then used on his first voyage. Mercator’s famous “Projection” is a refined version of Toscanelli’s map. The western hemisphere itself is named after a Florentine writer who claimed to be an explorer and mapmaker, Amerigo Vespucci.
The greatest banking dynasty family that ever lived – the Medicis were centered in Florence. From there they changed the world more than any other family. The taught the rest of Europe how to conduct state-craft. Their offspring married into and influenced rulers in France, Spain and England.
Florence had a profound impact on the world of art. While your children may only know them as names of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the artists Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino) Donatello (Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi) and Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni are all forever linked to Florence.
Florence is the capital of Tuscany – and you know what that means….Italian hill towns and amazing wine – but that will be the subject of a future post.