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AUGUSTUS J.C. HARE

FLORENCE
 
 

The small Victorian/Edwardian travel book in its black and red covers with gold letters begins with a map of Florence, shown here portrait rather than landscape.

In 1896, this fourth edition of Augustus Hare's work, titled Florence, with map and twenty-two woodcuts, published by George Allen, 156, Charing Cross Road, London, cost 'Three Shillings'.

See also the book's Index, and its list of Works by Augustus J.C. Hare, with their contemporary reviews.
 
 

CONTENTS

CHAPTERS

I. GENERAL ASPECT

II. FROM THE SS. TRINITA' TO S. CROCE

II. APPENDIX: THE UFFIZI COLLECTION

III. THE NORTH-EASTERN QUARTER - OR S. MICHELE, THE CATHEDRAL AND BAPTISTERY, S. LORENZO, PALAZZO RICCARDI, S. MARCO, THE ACCADEMIA, THE ANNUNZIATA

IV. THIRD EXCURSION - THE NORTH-WESTERN QUARTER

V. FOURTH EXCURSION - OLTR'ARNO

VI. EXCURSIONS ROUND FLORENCE

VII. VALLOMBROSA AND THE CASENTINO

INDEX

WORKS BY AUGUSTUS J.C. HARE


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

FROM THE LOGGIA DE' LANZI

CASA DI DANTE, 1872

STAIRCASE OF THE BARGELLO

S. GEORGE OF DONATELLO

IL MERCATO VECCHIO

DIAVOLO DEL MERCATO VECCHIO

SAVONAROLA - S. MARCO

FANALE OF THE PALAZZO STROZZI

CROCE AL TREBBIO

MEETING OF SS. FRANCESCO AND DOMENICO

FROM THE LUNG'ARNO CORSINI

VIEW FROM THE BOBOLI GARDENS

LA MADONNA DELL'IMPRUNETA

BADIA DI SETTIMO

MALMANTILE

VALLOMBROSA

IN THE CASTLE OF POPPI

APPROACH TO LA VERNIA

THE GATE OF LA VERNIA

COURTYARD, LA VERNIA

CAMALDOLI



 

FLORENCE

CHAPTER I: GENERAL ASPECT
 

Hotels. Hotel Europa and Hotel du Nord, Piazza della Trinità, are good hotels in a central situation. Hotel New York, Hotel La Pace, Hotel de la Ville and Hotel Vittoria, on the Lung'Arno, have more sun and view. In a still better situation on the Lung'Arno, with a view of the Ponte Vecchio, are the Hotel del Arno and the Hotel de la Grande-Bretagne, which join, and contain curious old rooms with frescoes by Pocetti, once inhabited by the Cardinal Accajuoli, founder of the palace, who was murdered there. Hotel du Sud, lower down the Lung'Arno, is less expensive and very comfortable. Hotel Paoli, at the end of the Lung'Arno della Zecca, near S. Croce, is a comfortable hotel and pension in a healthy, quiet situation, well suited for permanent winter quarters. Nearly in the same situation, is the comfortable Pension Lucchesi. La Minerva, in a pleasant, quiet situation near S. Maria Novella, is a clean, old-fashioned hotel. The Hotel Milano, 12 Vie Cerretani, and Hotel Anglo-Americano, Via Garibaldi, are very tolerable and reasonable, receiving guests en pension. The Pension Piccioli, 1 Via Tornabuoni, is excellent, with an English landlady. The Pension Paganini, 7 Via Ferruccio, is very good and reasonable. The Pension Benini formerly Clark, is on the shady side of the river - Oltr'Arno. In the ugly Piazza dell'Independenza is the Pension Trollope. At 21 Via Pandolfini is the Pension Chapman. In the Piazza Curtatone is the Pension Alleanza. The Hotel Porta Rossa is an Italian second-class hotel. The Hotel de Rome has a view of S. Maria Novella. Americans may like the Savoy Hotel in the horrible Piazza Vittorio Emanuele.

Lodgings. Good single rooms may be obtained at 30 frs. a month and 5 frs. a month for service, in sunny situations. Most of the houses on Lung'Arno and in the Borgognissanti, which are not hotels, are let in lodgings. There are many pensions on or near the Lung'Arno.

Caffés. Doney, 16 Via Tornabuoni, has a European Restaurant reputation. There is an inferior restaurant of the same name next door. Capitani, 11 Via Tornabuoni, is an excellent restaurant.

Carriages. Excellent street carriages cost: the course 1 fr. The first half hour, 1 fr. 20 c; every half hour after, 80 c. Outside the walls the first half hour, 2 frs; each half hour after, 1 fr. Each large piece of luggage, 50 c.

Railways. Travellers may save themselves annoyance at the great ill-managed Stazione Centrale by taking their tickets beforehand at 5 Piazza della Signoria, or at the offices of Cook, 10 Via Tornabuoni, or Gaze, 20 Via Tornabuoni. There is a small station, at which slow trains to the south sometimes stop, at the Porta S. Croce, but it is seldom any advantage.

Church Services. English: S. Mark, 11 Via Maggio; Holy Trinity, Via La Marmora, behind S. Marco. American: 11 Piazza del Carmine.

Post Office. In the Piazza of the Uffizi, opposite the entrance of the Gallery.

Telegraph Office. 12 Via Proconsolo.

Reading Room and Circulating Library. Vieusseux, 2 Via Tornabuoni.

Booksellers. Fior & Findel, 24 Lung'Arno Acciajoli, close to Ponte S. Trinità; Loescher, 20 Via Tornabuoni; Paggi, 15 Via Tornabuoni; Cole, 16 Via Tornabuoni.

Photographers. For portraits, the Brothers Alinari, 8 Via Nazionale; Brogi, 15 Lung'Arno delle Grazie; Schemboch, 38 Borg'Ognissanti. For views of Florence, Brogi, 1 Via Tornabuoni.

Majolica. Cantagalli, outside Porta Romana.

Bankers. French & Co, 14 Via Tornabuoni; Haskard & Co., Piazza Antinori; Cook & Sons, 10 Via Tornabuoni.

Popular Festivals. On the Saturday before Easter, 'Lo Scoppio del Carro', laden with fireworks in front of the cathedral, is lighted at noon by an artificial dove, which descends by a string from the high altar. The success of the dove is watched by thousands, who believe that a good or bad harvest depends upon it. The Befana (the Eve of the Epiphany, January 6) is noisily honoured with torch-processions and singing. The Giorno dei Grilli (Feast of the Assumption) is an alfresco festa in the Cascine. The Festa del Statuto (1st Sunday in June) has an illumination and procession in the Cascine. S. Giovanni (June 24) is honoured by fireworks. The Fair of Impruneta is on October 18.

Sights. Those who sojourn long at Florence will probably make themselves acquainted with most of the buildings described in these pages. A week at least should be given to Florence. For those who are unfortunate enough to spend only two days here it may be suggested that they should -

1st day, Morning. Visit the Piazza della Signoria; the Uffizi (especially the Tribune); and walk through the Galleries to the Pitti, returning by the Ponte Vecchio.

Afternoon. See the frescoes of the Carmine, and drive by the Colle to S. Miniato; and, if possible, see the lower part of the Boboli Gardens afterwards.

2nd day, Morning. See the Medici statues in S. Lorenzo; the Cathedral and Baptistery; S. Croce; the Bargello, and return by the Casa di Dante.

Afternoon. See S. Maria Novella, and drive either to Fiesole or Careggi.

Of all the fairest cities of the earth,
None is so fair as Florence. 'Tis a gem
Of purest ray; and what a light broke forth
When it emerged from darkness! Search within,
Without; all is enchantment! 'Tis the Past
Contending with the Present; and in turn
Each has the mastery.         - Rogers
The radiant loveliness of the country immediately around Florence renders it the most delightful of all Italian cities for a spring residence, and no one who has once seen the glorious luxuriousness of the flowers which cover its fields and gardens, and lie in masses for sale on the broad grey basements of its old palaces, can ever forget them. May is perhaps the most perfect month for Florence. In winter the ice-laden winds from the Apennines blow bitterly down the valley of the Arno. Forsyth mentions that physicians say they can scarcely conceive how people can live at Florence in the winter or how they can die there in summer.

Florence, 'La bellissima e famosissima figlia di Roma', as Dante calls her, was, till 1888, less modernised than Rome has been since the change of government, and though, during the short residence here of the Sardinian court, the magnificent old walls of Arnolfo, the greatest glory of the town, were destroyed, to the great injury of the place, with the towers which Varchi described as 'encircling the city like a garland', several beneficial additions, such as the drive by the Colle, were introduced. Conservation was, till recently, a natural part of the Florentine character, and there is scarcely the site of an old building or a house once inhabited by any eminent person which is not marked by an inscription. But, in the last few years, building speculations, encouraged by the Municipality, have done as much as possible to destroy the harmonious beauty of the place.

Building anew, as though upon a barren land, without regard either to the architecture of the quarter, or any attention to the memories and associations of the past. - Franceschini.
Endless buildings of interest have been swept away or are doomed to destruction.
The ancient towers of the Amidei, the superb groups of the Piazza S. Biagio; the residence of the Arte della Seta, that of the Arte dei Rigaturi, and that of the Arte dei Linaioti, the house of the Lamberti, the palace of Dante di Castiglione, the towers of the Caponsacchi and the Ubaldini, the house and towers of the Amidei; two noble palaces of the Saosetti; the Anselmi, the Vecchietti, and the Buondelmonte palaces; the column of Santa Trinità, the interesting and ancient residences of the Via del Refe Nero and of the Vecchietti; and the mutilation or destruction of the fine XIV c. palace of the Martelli, between the Via dei Cerretani and the Piazza del Olio, and of the palace of the famous Arte della Lana - all these, one and all, are condemned to destruction by the Municipality of Florence . . .

It has been reserved for the thankless sons of Florence, of a venal and degenerate time, to efface all that the cannon of the Spaniard spared, all that the German and Frenchmen left unharmed. - Ouida

In few cities was the history of the place written more vividly and effectively upon its stones than in Florence.
Florence existed in Etruscan and Roman times, but never attained any importance till the Middle Ages. In 1198 it already stood at the head of a league of the Tuscan towns against Philip of Swabia. Dante complains of the changes which it strove to introduce in politics and civilisation: -
Quante volte del tempo che rimembre,
  Leggi, monete, officii e costume
  Hai tu mutato, e rinnovato membre?
The principle families at this time were the Buondelmonti and Uberti, the Amidei and Donati. A widow of the noble house of Donati being determined to have no other son-in-law than the head of the great family of Buondelmonte, persuaded him to marry her daughter, who was of matchless beauty, while he was engaged to one of the Amidei. When the marriage was known, the Amidei, and their relations the Uberti, fell upon the young Buondelmonte as he was riding across the Ponte Vecchio, and slew him at the foot of the statue of Mars. This murder threw the whole city into confusion, half the citizens siding with the Buondelmonte, half with the Uberti. But in 1246, when the Emperor Frederick II, favoured the Uberti, who as imperialists were now called Ghibellines, the Guelfs or Buondelmonti faction were expelled from Florence.

Upon the death of Frederick II, the Guelfs returned in 1250, and there was a reconciliation. A military confederation was then formed. The six divisions - Sestiere - of the town each chose two burgesses - Anziani - for a year, and, the better to avoid party spirit, two foreigners, one of whom was to serve as Podestà, the other as Capitano del Popolo. The confederation was divided under twenty standards, with an annual change of capitals - Gonfalonieri. In battle, the Carroccio, a huge car, drawn by oxen with scarlet trappings, and supporting the standard of Florence, and a bell which was to ring ceaselessly, was to be the great centre and rallying point.

When Manfred had gained possession of Naples, the Ghibellines hoped by his assistance once more to obtain the supreme power in Florence, but the Anziani discovered their plot and drove them out of the city. They fled to Siena, where, under Farinata degli Uberti, they completely defeated the Florentine army of the Guelfs in the Battle of Montaperto, and re-entered Florence in triumph. They would even have destroyed the city but for the noble defence of Farinata, who declared that he had only been induced to conduct the war by the hope of returning to his beloved native place. After Manfred, in fighting against Charles of Anjou, had lost his life and his kingdom, the Guelfs regained their lost power, and a new democratic constitution was formed. The town was then divided into guilds - Arti, and to each guild was give a responsible governor - Consul, with a Capitano and a peculiar standard - Bandiera. The guilds, orginally only twelve, of which seven were of the uper classes (il popolo grasso) and seven of the lower (il popolo minuto), were afterwards increased to twenty-cone, and even the nobles, if they wished to take part in the government of the town, were enrolled in a guild. When the Guelfs further established their power by calling in Charles of Anjou, before whom the Ghibellines took flight, the council called Signoria was formed for the government of Florence. In 1289, the Florentine Guelfs, having established their own power, assisted the popular party at Arezzo in gaining the bloody Battle of Campaldino, in which Dante, who had been received into the Guild of Doctors, fought amongst the Guelfic troops. In 1298 the Palazzo della Signoria was built at Florence - per maggiore magnificenza e più securità de' Signori, and many other new buildings were erected. Macchiavelli says - 'Never was the town in a more happy or flourishing condition than at this time, rich in population, treasure, and aspect, having 30,000 armed citizens, and 70,000 from its territory (suo contado); while the whole of Tuscany was either subject or allied to it'.

Florence had now such power as to fear neither the Empire nor its own exiles, but its strength continued to be wasted by internal strife. Fresh elements of discord were found in the quarrels of the great family of the Cerchi, who had become powerful through trade, and the noble race of the Donati. The Cerchi adopted the name of Bianchi, the Donati of Neri, names borrowed from the Ghibelline and Guelfic divisions of the neighbouring Pistoia. Both were banished in turn, and it was the anger excited by the recall of the Ghibelline Guido Calvancanti which led to the banishment of Dante, who was his personal friend, and who was condemned by a Guelfic court, under the influence of Corso Donati, afterwards himself exiled and put to death.

After the death of Charles of Calabria (in 1328), whose aggressions had made the foreign Signoria unpopular, foreigners were excluded from the government, till the successes of the Frenchman, Walter de Brienne, Duke of Athens, as general of the Florentine army, led to his so far gaining the affections of the people that, on Sept. 8, 1342, he was invested by popular acclamation with the sovereignty for life; but his rule of violence and pride was of short duration, and he was exiled in the following year. The Guelfs now returned to power, and strengthened their influence by the benevolence they showed during the great plague of 1348, which is described by Boccaccio (born 1313). The noble family of the Albizzi was now at the head of the Guelfs, and their arrogance was such that the Ghibellines, and not the Guelfs, became now eather the representatives of the popular party. Such was the case when the Revolution of the Ciompi took place under Michele Lando, who was chosen Gonfaloniere, and, in the words of Macchiavelli, 'overcame every citizen by his uprightness, cleverness, and kindness, like a true deliverer of his country'. The Ciompi, howver, were soon expelled, and the Ghibelline family of the Medici, who had risen to wealth under the banker Giovanni de' Medici, coming forward as patrons of the popolo minuto, began to rise to power in spite of the utmost efforts of the Albizzi, who felt that their star was waning. Giovanni, who died in 1428, left an enormous fortune to his two sons, Cosimo, born 1383, and Lorenzo, born 1394. Both these were banished for a time by the influence of Rinaldo Albizzi; on their recall, Cosimo, who was made Gonfaloniere, gained universal approbation by the magnificence with which his immense fortuen enabled him to receive the illustrious guests who came to the Council of Florence in 1439, while his intercourse with men of genius led to his being regarded as a typical patron of the arts and sciences. It was at this time that Brunelleschi and Michelozzi graced Florence as architects; Donatello and Ghiberti as sculptors; Massaccio and Filippo Lippi as painters. The enthusiasm of Cosimo for Platonic philosophy led to his founding the famous Platonic Academy of Florence, in which Marsilius Ficinus, the son of his physician, was the leading spirit. The wonderful learning of Cosimo in Greek, Hebrew, Arabic and other languages brought about the foundation of the Medicean Library, while his love of art led to the decorations of S. Marco by Fra Angelico. In the alliances of his children he thought rather of noble Florentine families than of foreign princes; in the financial world he was the Rothschild of his time, and he was so beloved by the people that shortly after his death the title of 'Father of his Country' was bestowed upon him by a public decree in 1464.

Lorenzo de' Medici, afterwards called 'the Magnificent', was only in his sixteenth year when his grandfather Cosimo died, but his brilliant powers at once enabled him to take part in public affairs, and to assist his feeble father Piero, who died five years afterwards. When the rich Luca Pitti (who was then employed in building the Pitti Palace) and others were discovered in a plot to overthrow the Medicean power, he turned them into friends, acting, in the words of Valori, on the principle that 'he who knows how to forgive, knows how to win everything'. At the famous tournament of the Piazza S. Croce (1468), which has been celebrated by Pulci and Politian, both Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano won prizes. Landino wrote a whole book upon the education of the Medici, which was chiefly carried on under Marsilio Ficino; they soon received the name of 'principi dello stato'.

Lorenzo married, in 1468, one of the noble Roman family of the Orsini. In 1469 his father died, and he was immediately requested to undertake the government of the State. He continued to seek the advice of the wisest counsellors, and then to act independently after mature consideration. He remained bound by the closest friendship to his brother Giuliano. He liberally expended for the benefit of the State the great treasure which he gained from trading speculation all over Europe. His encouragement made Florence at this time the capital of the Arts to the whole world; while a visit from Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan, introduced a fashion of display and luxury hitherto unthought of. In 1478, republican fears, mingled with private jealousies, led to the Conspiracy of the Pazzi, who leagued with the Riarii, nephews of Sixtus V (whose arrogant claims had been resisted by Lorenzo), to murder both the Medici in the Cathedral, and to raise a demonstration of freedom. Giuliano fell under the dagger of Francesco de' Pazzi as the Host was elevated, but Lorenzo, though wounded, was able to take refuge in the sacristy, and when Jacopo de' Pazzi rushed with shouts of 'Freedom' through the streets, no one responded, and the people only rose for the Medici, crying 'Vivano le palle' (the arms of the Medici). The Pazzi and their co-conspirator, the Archbishop of Pisa, were executed, Sixtus V, furious, having vainly demanded the exile of the Medici, stirred up the King of Naples against Florence, when Lorenzo, to save the republic, delivered up his person, and gained over his enemy by his magnanimity ('vicit praesentia famam', - Valori). Thenceforward the importance of Florence seemed to issue from Lorenzo as from a centre. Foreign courts sought not only his alliance, but his advice; even the Sultan placed himself in friendly relations with him, and sent him a giraffe and other animals. Commerce flourished, for since Florence had won the harbour of Leghorn from the Genoese in 1421, it had built its own ships, which traded in the ports of Asia Minor, the Black Sea, Africa, Spain, England, France and Flanders. Till 1480 the galleys all belonged to the State, under the command of an admiral, the State letting them to merchants as an assessment.

Florence, more than ever the centre of art and learning, had in 1471 its own printer, Cennini. Greek was the most popular of studies. Scholars, by their readiness of speech, had great weight in all political transactions; literary fame brought riches; and scientific conversation had its part in good society. Even ladies shone as philologists. Lorenzo, instructed by Landino, Filfelfo, Ficino, Lorenza Valla, Poliziano, Sannazaro, and brought up on the Platonic philosophy, was also a poet: his sonnet, 'O chiara stella, che co' raggi suoi' is still well known. Amongst the artists he encouraged were Antonio Pollajuolo and Luca Signorelli, the forerunners of Michelangelo, and he founded in the garden of S. Marco an academy for young artists, to which Michelangelo was admitted on the recommendation of Domenico Ghirlandajo. Lorenzo died at Careggi, April 8, 1492.

A partial reaction from the extreme luxury in which Florence had been revelling had been brought about two years before, by the sermons of Savonarola, the Dominican monk of S. Marco. His prophecies that a chastisement was at hand seemed to be fulfilled under the government of the weak Piero de' Medici, son of Lorenzo, who purchased the protection of Charles VIII by the surrender, in 1494, of all the fortified places of the republic. The disgrace was so keenly felt by Florence that Pietro Capponi in the Signoria declared Piero incapable of conducting affairs, and the Medici were expelled from Florence, amid cries of 'Abasso le palle'.

On November 17, 1494, Charles VIII made a triumphant entry into Florence, but his exactions were restrained by the dignity of the Florentine deputy Capponi. After his departure, Savonarola was made lawgiver of Florence. A council of 1000, with a select committee, like that of Venice, but with Christ as their King instead of a doge, was the government which he advocated. In 1495, the entire organisation of the State was given up to him as the representative of the 'Christocratic Florentine Republic'; his throne was the pulpit. For three years he ruled in a manner which induced even Macchiavelli to acknowledge his greatness. During this time such an inspiration of love and sacrifice breathed throughout Florence, that unlawful possessions were restored wholesale, mortal enemies embraced each other, hymns, not ballads, were sung in the streets, the people received the sacrament daily, and over the cathedral pulpit and over the gate of the Palazzo Vecchio was written - 'Jesus Christ is the King of Florence'. The public offices now included - Lustratori (purifiers of worship), Limosinieri (collectors of alms), and Moralisti, who cleared the houses of playing-cards, musical instruments, and worldly books. In 1497 an attempt was made to restore the amusements of Carnival, but the adherents of Savonarola went from house to house collecting the Vanità or Anatema, that is, all sensuous books and pictures, which they burnt on a huge pyramidal pyre on the last day of Carnival amid the blare of the trumpets of the Signory and the songs of the children.

But the old true Florentine spirit soon wearied of theocratic monkish government, and Pope Alexander VI, furious at Savonarola's having called his court the Romish Babylon, excommunicated the monk, who refused to recognise his prohibition to preach, saying that 'when the Pope orders what is wrong, he does not order it as Pope.' A Franciscan friar accused Savonarola of heresy, and challenged him to the ordeal by fire; he consented, but when the day came, the ordeal was postponed by trivial discussions, till a storm of rain had extinguished the flames. Then the prophet lost his glory, S. Marco was tormed, Savonarola was taken prisoner, was forced by the torture to confessions which he vainly recanted, and, on Ascension Day, 1498, he was hanged, and afterwards burnt, with his two principal followers, Fra Domenico and Fra Silvestro.

It was about this time that Amerigo Vespucci of Florence, who gave his name to America, explored the coast of Venezuela.

Pietro de' Medici had died in exile in 1505, but in 1512 the Medici returned to Florence in the person of his son Lorenzo and his youngest brother Giuliano. In the same year Giovanni de' Medici ascended the papal throne as Leo X. Both the Medici who were 'restored' died very young, Giuliano in 1516, and Lorenzo in 1519 after his marriage, leaving an only daughter, Catherine de' Medici, afterwards the famous Queen of France. Besides this infant, of descendants of Cosimo, Pater Patriae, there only remained Pope Leo X, who was son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Cardinal Giulio, afterwards Pope Clement VII, son of Lorenzo's brother Giuliano (killed by the Pazzi), and two illegitimate youths, Alessandro, supposed to be the son of Cardinal Giulio, and Ippolito, son of Giuliano.

The illegitimate Medici were brought up at Florence by guardians appointed by their papal relatives, but after the misfortunes of Clement VII - called by Ranke 'the very sport of misfortune and without doubt the most ill-fated Pontiff that ever sat upon the papal throne' - the Medici were once more expelled from Florence by a revolution under Filippo Strozzi and his wife Clarice, herself the daughter of Pietro de' Medici.

But the family fortunes again turned. Ippolito was created a Cardinal; and in 1529 a league was made between Clement VII and the Emperor, but which it was arranged that Alessandro should marry Margaret, the illegitimate daughter of the latter. Florence, defended by Michelangelo and his fortifications, was taken after an eleven months' seige, and its republican freedom was finally lost August 3, 1530, at the Battle of Gaviniana in the Appenines. On July 29, 1531, the imperial envoy announced to the Signoria the imperial decree which made Alessandro de' Medici hereditary Duke of Florence, under the supreme sovereignty of the Emperor. Alessandro, who surrounded himself with a body-guard of 1000 men and built a new citadel, was murdered by his relation Lorenzino in 1539, when Cosimo I, son of Giovanni delle Bande Nere, succeeded in his 18th year. Cosimo imitated the great Lorenzo in founding the Academy of Florence and beginning the glorious collections of the Uffizi. In 1569 he was made Grand-Duke by Pope Pius V, and the title was confirmed to his son in 1575 by the Emperor Maximilian II. In 1574 he was succeeded by Francesco I, who married first Joanna of Austria, sister of that Emperor, and secondly, the beautiful Venetian, Bianca Cappello, who had long been his mistress.

In 1587, upon the tragical death of Francesco and Bianca, his brother Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici succeeded, and was distinguished by his war against the Turks and his popularity. The next sovereign, Cosimo II, who succeeded in 1609, was also distinguished as the protector of art and science. But the prosperity of Florence began to wane under the weak Ferdinand II, and continued to do so under the vain Cosimo III, and the foolish Gian-Gastone, who was the last of the Medici except his sister, the widow of the Elector Palatine, whom Gray the poet (1740) describes as receiving him with much ceremony, standing under a huge black canopy', and as 'never going out but to church, and then with guards and eight horses to her coach'. With this childish princess the family came to an end.

After the extinction of the Medici, in accordance with the conditions of the Peace of Vienna of 1735, Tuscany fell to Duke Francis Stephen of Lorraine (afterwards the Emperor Francis I), the husband of Maria Teresa. Under his son and grandson it prospered exceedingly. In 1799 the French expelled the Grand-Duke, and in 1801 Tuscany was placed under the Infante Louis of Parma as the kingdom of Etruria; in 1808 it was ceded to France; in 1814 it was given back to the Grand-Duke Ferdinand, whose son Leopold II, raised to the sovereignty in his 18th year, was the great benefactor of the lands of Tuscany, under the ministry of Count Fossombrone. In 1848 the Grand-Duke was recalled, imprudently strengthened himself with 10,000 Austrian soldiers, and in 1852 abolished the constitution. In 1859 he was compelled to abdicate. In 1860 Tuscany was incorporated with the kingdom of Victor Emmanuel; from 1863 to 1871 it was the capital of that kingdom. In 1871 it resigned its rank to Rome, and has since then sunk into a mere provincial city, bereft of the presence of a court, and paying more than six times the amount of taxes it paid under the Grand-Dukes. To its Medici princes and their Austrian successors it owes most of its noble buildings, and all its incomparable galleries and museums; the reign of Victor Emmanuel is commemorated by the tasteless front of S. Croce, and the total destruction of the noble walls which encircled the city, and which made Florence, with the exception of Rome, unique amongst European capitals. Under Umberto I, the historic interest and importance of Florence has been constantly effaced.

In Architecture, Florence is richest in its Palaces, and these exceed those of any other city. The streets have been paved with stone slabs - lastrici - since the latter part of the XIII c. The earliest architect of distinction was Arnolfo di Cambio (Cathedral, Palazzo Vecchio, Bargello); the earliest painter of importance was Cimabue (S. Maria Novella, Academy). Then came Giotto, as both architect and artist (Cathedral Tower, pictures in the Academy and Uffizi), the Orcagna (Loggia de' Lanzi, Or S. Michele, S. Maria Novella), and Fra Angelico (S. Marco, Uffizi, Academy). With the Renaissance of the fifteenth century arose Brunelleschi in architecture (Cathedral, &c.), Masaccio (Carmine) in painting, and Donatello and Ghiberti (Or S. Michele, Bargello collection, Baptistery, &c.) in sculpture. At the same time flourished Leo Battista Alberti (Palazzo Rucellai, S. Maria Novella), Michelozzo Michelozzi (S. Marco), Giuliano di S. Gallo, and others; while in sculpture the Robbias, Andrea di Verocchio, Benedetto da Majano, Rovezzano, and others have left many incomparable works. With these came a host of noble artists, Filippo and Filippino Lippi (Carmine), Botticelli (Uffizi), Cosimo Roselli (S. Maria de' Pazzi), Domenico Ghirlandajo (S. Trinità), and Benozzo Gozzoli (Palazzo Riccardi), &c., whose glories only paled before their successors, Leonardo da Vinci (Uffizi, Pitti), Michelanagelo (S. Lorenzo, Uffizi, &c.), Andrea del Sarto (Scalzi, Pitti), Fra Bartolomeo (Uffizi, Pitti), Mariotto Albertinelli (Uffizi) and others.

After the fall of Florentine freedom in 1530, Art began to decline at Florence, only finding a noble representative in the sculptor Giovanni da Bologna - properly Jean Boullogne of Douai (Piazza della Signoria, Boboli Gardens). The works of the later architects, Buontalenti, Ammanati, &c., and of such artists as Vasari and Allori, do not make us regret that they are few in number with those of their predecessors.1

The Galleries and Museums are due for the most part to the Medici, and after them to the Austrian Grand-Dukes, under whom they were kept up, and liberally thrown open.2 Their treasures (including sixteen works attributed to Raffaele) are inexhaustible, and almost every taste may be satisfied there. In the Galleries of the Uffizi and Pitti alone, a walk of several miles may be taken on a wet day, entirely under cover, and through an avenue of Art treasures the whole way. When we add to these attractions the proverbially charming, genial, honest, simple character of the Tuscan people, we feel that it would be scarcely possible to find a pleasanter residence than Florence in autumn or spring.
Un ville complète pare elle-meme, ayant ses arts et ses batiments, animée et point trop peuplée, capitale et point trop grande, belle et gaie - voila la première idée sur Florence. - Taine.

Other, though not many, cities have histories as noble, treasures as vast; but not other city has them living and ever present in her midst, familiar as household words, and touched by every baby's hand and peasant's step, as Florence has.

Every line, every road, every gable, every twoer, has some story of the past present in it. Every tocsin that sounds is a chronicle; every bridge that unites the two banks of the river unites also the crowds of the living with the heroism of the dead.

In the winding dusky irregular streets, with the outlines of their loggie and arcades, and the glow of colour that fills their niches and galleries, the 'men who have gone before' walk with you; not as elsewhere, mere gliding shades clad in the pallor of misty memory, but present, as in their daily lives, shading their dreamful eyes against the noonday sun, or setting their brave brows against the mountain wind, laughing and jesting in their manful mirth, and speaking of great gifts to give to the world. All this while, though the past is thus close about you, the present is beautiful also, and does not shock you by discord and unseemliness, as it will ever do elsewhere. The throngs that pass you are the same in likeness as those that brushed against Dante or Cavalcanti; the populace that you move amidst is the same bold, vivid, fearless, eager people, with eyes full of dreams, and lips braced close for war, which welcomed Vinci and Cimabue and fought from Montaperto to Solferino.

And as you go through the streets you will surely see at every step some colour of a fresco on a wall, some quaint curve of a bas-relief on a lintel, some vista of Romanesque arches in a palace court, some dusky interior of a smith's forge or a wood-seller's shop, some renaissance seal-ring glimmering on a trader's stall, some lovely hues of fruits and herbs tossed down together in a Trecento window, some gigantic heap of blossoms being borne aloft on men's shoulders for a church festivity of roses, something at every step that has some beauty or some charm in it, some graciousness of the ancient time, or some poetry of the present hour.

The beauty of the past goes with you at every step in Florence. Buy eggs in the market, and you buy them where Donatello bought those which fell down in a broken heap before the wonder of the Crucifix. Pause in a narrow by-street in a crowd and it shall be that Borgo Allegri, which the people so baptized for love of the old painter and the new-born art. Stray into a great dark church at evening-time, where peasants tell their beads in the vast marble silence, and you are where the whole city flocked, weeping, at midnight, to look their last upon the dead face of Michelangelo. Pace up the steps of the palace of the Signoria, and you tread the stone that felt the feet of him to whom so latterly was known 'come'é duro calle lo scendere e'l salir per l'altrui scale'. Buy a knot of March anenomes or April arum lilies, and you may bear them with you through the same city ward in which the child Ghirlandajo once played amidst the gold and silver garlands that his father fashioned for the young heads of the Renaissance. Ask for a shoemaker, and you shall find the cobbler sitting with his board in the same old twisting, shadowy street-way where the old man Toscanelli drew his charts that served a fair-haired sailor of Genoa, called Columbus. Toil to fetch a tinker through the squalor of San Nicolò, and there shall on you the shadow of the great bell-tower, where the old sacristan saved to the world the genius of Night and Day. Glance up to see the hour of the evening, and there, sombre and tragical, will loom above you the walls of the communal palace on which the traitors were painted by the brush of Sarto, and the tower of Giotto, fair and fresh in its perfect grace as though angels had built it in the night just past, 'ond'ella toglie ancora e terza e nona', as in the noble and simple days before she brake the 'cerchia antica'. - Pascarel.

Il faut beaucoup aimer Florence, et on la doit étudier sans cesse, car elle est indispensable à l'humanité: elle a vu naître le poète de la Divine Comédie, engendré Michel-Ange - 'l'homme aus quatre âmes', a Galilée, le sublime aveugle qui lit dans les ténèbres et divine les secrets des mondes. Si Florence disparassait de la surface du globe, les archives de la pensée moderne auraient perdu leurs titres les plus précieux, et la race latine serait en deuil des ses aieux. - Charles Yriarte.

Fair Florence, a city so beautiful, that the great emperor (Charles V) said that she was fitting to be shown and seen only upon holidays. - Howell, Familiar Letters.

I love Florence; the place looks exquisitely beautiful in its garden grown of vineyards and olive-trees, sund roung by the nightingales day and night. If you take the one thing with another, there is no place like Florence, I am persuaded, for a place to live in - cheap, transquil, cheerful, beautiful, within the limits of civilisation, yet out of the crush of it. - Mrs. Barrett Browning, Letters.

O Florence, with thy Tuscan fields and hills,
Thy famous Arno, fed with all the rills,
Thou brightest star of star-bright Italy! - Coleridge

O Foster-nurse of man's abandoned glory,
Since Athena, its great mother, sunk in splendour,
Thou shadowest forth that mighty shape in story,
As ocean its wrecked fanes, severe yet tender:
The light-invested angel Poesy
Was drawn from the dim world to welcome thee. - Shelley


1 This account of the Florentine history is greatly indebeted to that in the German work of Dr. Gsell-Fels.
2 Now a fee is everywhere required.

Medici Family Tree


 
 
 

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