Florence (Lat. Florentia; Ital. Firense), a city of Italy, capital of the former duchy of Tuscany, 194 miles NW. of Rome, and 62 E. of Leghorn. Pop. (1881) of town, 132,039, of commune, 169,001; in 1901, 205,589. The Arno, spanned by four fine bridges, divides the city into two unequal parts, the chief on the northern bank of the river. Beyond the line of the ancient walls (now razed) are thickly peopled suburbs, and a lovely, fertile, and healthy neighbourhood, encircled by sloping hills, and studded with picturesque villas and fruitful vineyards and gardens. The massive and austere forms of Florentine architecture impart an air of gloomy grandeur to the streets, for the most part regular and well kept. The Duomo or Cathedral was founded in 1298, and built from the plans of Arnolfo di Cambio, Giotto, and Brunelleschi; the facade was completed in 1887. The church contains sculptures by Ghiberti, Luca della Robbia, Michael Angelo, Sansovino, Bandinelli, and other famous artists. At the side of the cathedral springs Giotto's famous Campanile; and in front is the octagonal Baptistery of San Giovanni, with the glorious bronze gates in basso-rilievo by Ghiberti. The church of the Santa Croce, the Pantheon of Florence (built in 1294 - architect, Arnolfo), contains monuments to Galileo, Dante, Macchiavelli, Michael Angelo, Alfieri, etc. The church of San Lorenzo, consecrated in 393 by St Ambrose, and rebuilt by Brunelleschi in 1425, contains in its New Sacristy the two famous monuments by Michael Angelo to Julian and Lorenzo de' Medici. The Medicean chapel, gorgeous with the rarest marbles and most costly stones, agate, lapis lazuli, chalcedony, etc, stands behind the choir. Annexed to the church of San Lorenzo is the Laurentian Library, with its inexhaustible store of rare MSS., founded by Giulio de' Medici. The beautiful church of Santa Maria Novella, formerly Dominican, dates from 1278 to 1360, and has famous frescoes by Cimabue, Orcagna, Filippino Lippi, and Ghirlandajo. The church of San Marco dates from 1436; adjoining it is the former monastery of San Marco, now secularised as a museum. Fra Angelico, Savonarola, and Fra Bartolommeo were inmates, and it is still adorned with the famous frescoes of Fra Angelico. Amongst the numerous palaces Il Bargello, long a prison, now a national museum, was formerly the abode of the republican magistrate, the Podesta. The Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of the old republican government, is an imposing mass of building, surmounted by a lofty tower 260 feet high. Adjoining the palace is the Piazza della Signoria, a square with fine statues, and a noble arcade, the Loggia dei Lanzi, under the porticoes of which are magnificent groups of sculpture. The Palazzo degli Uffizi contains archives of public offices, also the Magliabecchi Library, now united with that of the Pitti Palace to form a national library of 300,000 volumes and 15,000 MSS. On the second floor, in a suite of twenty-three rooms, is contained the famous Florentine gallery of art, rich in paintings, engravings, sculpture, bronzes, coins, gems, and mosaics-one apartment, the Tribuna, containing the rarest treasures of the collection. The Palazzo Pitti, formerly the grand-ducal residence, boasts of a superb gallery of paintings; behind it are the beautiful Boboli Gardens. The Palazzo Riccardi is the residence of the prefect. The Palazzo Strozzi is a fine type of Tuscan architecture. The Institute di Studi Superiori has adopted the ordinary university curriculum, and confers various degrees. The School of Social Science, the school of art, the musical institute, the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova with its ancient college of medicine and surgery, the Academy of the Fine Arts, the Museum of Natural History, deserve mention, as do the Accademia della Crusca and the Accademia dei Georgofili. There are nearly a dozen theatres. Florence is the see of an archbishop, the seat of a prefecture and of numerous provincial courts, as well as the military headquarters of the district. The chief industrial occupations of the Florentines are the fabrication of silk and woollen textures, and of straw-plaiting for hats, etc, jewellery, and exquisite mosaics in rare stones. The Florentines are famous for their caustic wit and natural gifts of eloquence, as well as for their shrewd thrifti-ness and unflagging labour. The beauty of the city and neighbourhood, her grand historical monuments, and her unique collections of art, attract many foreigners to fix their residence here.
Florence originated in the old Etrurian town of Fiesole (q.v.), on the hill behind, was a Roman military colony under Sulla, but was not an important place till the time of Charlemagne, when it was governed by a duke. By the 11th century the Florentines were wealthy traders, and the city had practically republican government - at first aristocratic, but gradually becoming more popular. In 1215 Florence became involved in the deadly feud of Guelphs and Ghibellines, and was never free from the contests of these and other factions, native or alien, till the family of the Medici secured supreme power at the close of the 15th century. Her liberty was extinguished, but under the Medici the city was the focus of literature and art. In 1569 the Medici became grand-dukes of Tuscany, with Florence as their capital; and Tuscany, after several changes of dynasty, became part of the Italian kingdom in 1860, Florence being the capital of Italy from 1864 till 1871. Among Florentine worthies have been Dante, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Amerigo Vespucci, and Florence Nightingale. Savonarola laboured and was executed here; to the Florentine school belong the painters Cimabue, Orcagna, Masaccio, Ghirlandajo, the Lippis, Andrea del Sarto, Carlo Dolci; the sculptors Luca della Robbia, Donatello, and Ghiberti; and the musicians Lully and Cherubini.