Looking for the best facts about Florence? A haven for architecture, art & Tuscan charm, let’s take a journey to the birthplace of the Renaissance!
The city of Florence in Italy goes by many nicknames. The Birthplace of the Renaissance, the Jewel of the Renaissance, the Capital of Art, Museum City, and of course, not a nickname, but the Italian, Firenze.
It’s with good reason that Florence is known by so many different monikers, it’s one of the most important and influential cities in modern history.
As the home of Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Botticelli, art, culture and society during the Renaissance all centered on this picturesque city on the banks of the Arno River.
With these fun facts about Florence, we’ll not only take a look at the extensive history, but also guide you to some of the must-see attractions that make Florence so magical. After reading this you’ll really want to visit the city!
Imagine strolling down the paved streets with a famous Florentine gelato, crossing the iconic Ponte de Vecchio to the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze to see the Statue of David. And that’s just a small taste of what Florence has to offer!
From architecture to fine art to unmatched Italian cuisine, your next Italian adventure must include Florence.
Have we done a good job convincing you to visit this incredible city yet? Keep reading to discover even more fascinating Florence facts!
21 Fun Facts About Florence
1. Why is Florence called the birthplace of the Renaissance?
Between the 14th and 17th century, the Renaissance represented the rebirth of Europe after the Middle Ages. This societal evolution included cultural, economic, political and artistic growth that originated in Florence.
As the center of finance, trade, art and literature, the Renaissance spread quickly from Florence across Italy, then Europe.
2. Who were the Renaissance artists of Florence?
One of the main reasons Florence is considered the origin site of the Renaissance was the sheer number of prolific writers and artists that lived in Florence at the time.
Check out this list of historical icons: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Petrarch, and Dante Alighieri. It’s quite the honors list, isn’t it!?
3. Fun facts about Florence’s Arno River
The Arno River flows through the center of Florence, and at 241 km (150 mi) long it is the longest river in the Tuscany region.
In Florence alone, there are six bridges that cross the Arno including Ponte Santa Trinita, the oldest elliptical arch bridge in the world.
4. Take a picture of Ponte Vecchio
Another bridge that crosses the Arno river in Florence, is Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). Ponte Vecchio is unique in that it has shops built along the bridge.
It’s the most photographed bridge in Italy and was also the only bridge that wasn’t destroyed in Florence during World War II.
5. The art museums of Florence
It probably won’t shock you that Florence is known as the ‘Capital of Art’ and is home to some of the most iconic fine art in the world.
The most awe-inspiring has to be Michaelangelo’s David, but important works by Da Vinci, Botticelli, Carvaggio and more are all on display in some of the greatest art collections in the world.
6. Who was the Medici family?
Before Italy united, the country was made up of city states run by powerful families. The most influential in Italy was Florence’s Medici family.
An advocate of art and music Lorenzo de Medici was not only a wealthy financier, but commissioned art from Da Vinci and Michaelangelo, solidifying Florence as the center of the Renaissance in Italy.
7. Who was Florence Nightingale?
This was one of the Florence facts that took us totally by surprise! Did you know the mother of modern nursing Florence Nightingale was born in Florence?
Named after her place of birth, Florence would modernize nursing with improved sanitation, statistics, and prolific writings. She was the first woman to receive the Order of Merit in 1907.
8. Take a walking tour through Florence
If you’re sick of cobblestone or canals while on vacation in Italy, a trip to Florence will present something a little different. In 1339, with the donations of wealthy banks and merchants, Florence was the first city in Europe to pave its streets!
9. Do they speak Italian in Florence?
You’d think the answer to this question would be obvious, but did you know that Florence had its own Italian dialect known as Florentine?
In 1861 when Italy was unified, the new government chose Florentine as the standard language of the new nation, making it the parent language of modern Italian.
10. What’s a Florentine cookie?
Things are about to get downright delicious! The Florentine cookie consists of nuts, cherries, butter and sugar and typically contains no flour or eggs.
While some claim the cookie originated in Florence, others point to France, who may have named the cookie in honor of the city.
11. The spinach enthusiast
If you’ve been to a fancy brunch, one of the options for your eggs Benedict is always Florentine, meaning spinach.
When Catherine de Medici (of the famous Medici family) was married to the King of France, she brought her own chefs from Florence and her own spinach seeds. Since the new Queen loved spinach so much, the French began calling anything with the green ‘a la Florentine’.
12. What is Florence Syndrome?
Is it possible that there is too much fine art in Florence? The phenomenon known as Florence Syndrome is a state of overwhelm that is common among visitors to Florence.
Dizziness, fainting, irregular heartbeat, nausea and hallucinations are all symptoms of the syndrome, which occurs after tourists view the Statue of David or the fine art in the Uffizi Gallery.
13. The father of modern science jailed in Florence
The Italian astronomer and scientist Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, in the Tuscany region.
However, after his scientific discoveries were disputed by the Catholic Church, Galileo was put under house arrest in Florence, where he would spend the rest of his life.
14. The invention of gelato
We can’t resist going back to the food of Florence! Commissioned by the Medici family to create a new dessert to be presented to the King of Spain, a chef created the creamy delicacy that would become one of Italy’s most delicious exports. Two scoops of cioccolato please!
15. Is Florence the capital of Italy?
In 1865, Florence was named as the capital of Italy, taking over from Turin. However, Florence fell out of favor as the population of Rome grew and it was only six years later that Rome became the official capital of Italy in 1871.
16. A spectacular musical invention in Florence
Bartolomeo Cristofori, a renowned musician from Venice, was hired by the Medici family in 1688 to develop new instruments in Florence.
It was during this time that Cristofori invented many instruments, including the pianoforte in 1698-1700, which would go on to become the piano.
17. The neighborhoods of old Florence
Florence’s old town was separated into four quarters in the 14th century, and today, each quarter has its own tourist attractions and unique charm.
The four quarters are San Spirito, San Croce, San Maria Novella, and San Giovanni. Florence is a walkable city, so there’s no excuse not to visit them all!
18. When did Florence become a city?
Florence was founded by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a strategic location along the banks of the Arno River. The ancient road through Florence called Via Flaminia connected Rome to Northern Italy.
19. The major Florence flood of 1966
The worst natural disaster to hit the city of Florence was in 1966 when the Arno river rapidly rose over 20 feet, sending a torrent of water into the center of the city.
Paintings, manuscripts and artifacts held in libraries and museums were destroyed and 101 people were killed.
20. Visit Piazza della Signoria
Florence’s most historically significant square, Piazza della Signoria cannot be missed! A traditional gathering place for people in Florence, the square has been known for hosting political rallies and festivals.
The most famous gathering in the square was the 1497 Bonfire of the Vanities, where the Catholic church burned art, mirrors, instruments and books to protect against the temptation to sin.
21. Does Florence have any sister cities?
Everyone wants to be associated with Florence! Believe it or not, Florence has 21 sister cities around the world including; Budapest, Hungary, Fez, Morocco, Kyoto, Japan, Nanjing, China, Philadelphia, USA and Sydney, Australia.
Who wants more fun facts?
If you’re looking for some recommendations, these are a few of our favorite fact books to buy. We use these when planning fun trivia nights with family and friends!
We really hope you enjoyed all our fun facts about Florence! Did you learn something new?
If there’s any Florence facts we missed, you can let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to this article!