By Patty Civalleri
There are many reasons why people find their way to Florence, some of which may be by accident. The simple facts that Florence is “on the route” between Rome and Venice, or it is “included in the Italy package” are some of the more common ways that people get to Florence.
Most time-constrained tourists tend to breeze through as many destinations that can be compressed into their limited holiday period. This often means that they are forced to zip into a city, find the best place for food and drink, look at a few buildings on the streets, then check it off their bucket list. “Yup, I’ve been there, and done that,” they say. But have they really?
The opportunity to stay longer in any single destination is truly a luxury that many travelers do not possess. But if you travel because you want to learn more about the world (besides just its restaurants), and you want to come away feeling smarter and more enlightened, then Florence is your destination.
But why is it that so many people find that Florence has become their ‘favorite city in the world?’ And why is it that so many travelers repeatedly return to Florence even as the rest of the world continues to beckon?
As difficult as it may seem, it is this one single scary word that holds the draw for so many people: no matter how you look at it, Florence simply has some of the coolest and most seductive “HISTORY” in the world.
Sure, every country has cool history. But Florence holds the key that connects so many of those little dots in our heads that were left by our school teachers so many years ago.
Let me show you. I’ll start simple, then get more fun as we go. Did you know:
- that Florence is the Capital of Tuscany? Surprisingly, few people are aware of this.
- that a bunch of familiar guys came from Florence?
- Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Galileo, Raphael, Dante, Machiavelli, the infamous Medici family, and scores more
- that most of these guys actually knew each other?
- that the combined genius of these men (along with many more great guys), turned history on its ear and yanked the Western World out of the Dark Ages?
- that this ‘yanking’ from the Dark Ages into an enlightened age of ‘free thinking’ is what we all know of as The Renaissance?
- that the “Pirate Pope” was from Florence?
- that the original “Bonfire of the Vanities” occurred in Florence?
- that Michelangelo hid underneath a chapel – for 3 months – to avoid imprisonment? And that while in there, he drew all over the walls to stay sane? And that you can visit this tiny little self-imposed prison/chamber?
- that the Bargello Museum used to be a prison where they would among other things hang prisoners by their feet from the crenellations over the streets to warn people not to commit crimes?
- that the Ponte Vecchio Bridge is the only bridge that remains intact after the Nazis bombed all other bridges in Florence?
- that Leonardo da Vinci would visit his ‘secret woman’ each time he returned to Florence?
- that the famous artists Filippo Lippi was kidnapped from the area and sold into slavery?
- that Raphael is the King of ‘selfies’?
Florence is truly the veritable who’s who of familiar names and events in Western History. In fact, her history reads like a Hollywood Magazine of the ins, outs and drama that has impacted our life in the West for the next 600 years.
This is why so many are compelled to return every few years. The city beckons and seduces with factoids and stories that will send you home as the smartest person in the room!
A stay in Florence can keep you busy every hour of every day that you spend there. Oh, and the restaurants and bars are pretty nice too!
Patty Civalleri, Author
“FLORENCE Gems & Giants”