Another brand new veiw of Italy is Florence.

 Uffizi Gallery

It is stern and stony, impossibly crowded and often airless, but Florence still wins hands down for packing so much into so small an area. This tiny city– its centre measures barely a kilometre across– contains buildings, churches, paintings and sculpture which changed the face of the world forever and atill influence our modern ideas of aesthetic beauty. It is the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, that vivid and heady flowering of ideas and art that signalled the end of the Dark Ages and the entry into the light of a new, more rational world.

Whatever you see in Florence illustrates a mood of optimism that today is hard to grasp, and a sense of humanity’s potential and capability that continues to encourage so many of the millions who flock here. 

The string of great names that worked in Florence is well known — Giotto, Brunelleschi and Ghiberti, Botticelli and Donatello, Michelangelo, da Vinic and dozens of others. All were brought here by the commissions and money of Florence’s thriving and well — heeled bankers and merchants, men who surrounded themselves with beautiful things and fine minds, and were as interested in philosophy as the price of commodities.

 No family more perfectly symbolizes these Renaissance patrons than the Medici, Florence’s leading money men, whose power and wealth gave them control of the city by the 14th century and kept them at the top of geap until the 1700s. Their money and that of their associates, financed the building of the palazzi, the decoration of the churches and the sculptures and paintings they wanted for their town houses and country villas. The miracle is that it’s still here, endowed to the city by the last Medici, and waiting to be discovered.

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