Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Florence (Firenze; Florentia Tuscorum), a North Italian town, capital of a province of the same name, 143 miles N.W. of Rome, and 50 miles N.E. of Leghorn. It is surrounded by hills, and it has extensive suburbs and villas upon the heights. The Arno, flowing through the city, divides it into two parts, most being to the N. The river is from 100 to 150 yards wide, and is crossed by four bridges - the marble Ponte della Santa Trinita (which has three arches and is adorned with statues), Ponte Vecchio (which is lined with shops and has a covered way), and two suspension bridges. On both sides of the river are quays called Lung'Arno, and, though the city walls have been removed, the towers of the gates still exist. The streets are narrow, but clean and well-paved. There are many piazzas, the chief of them being Piazza della Signoria, with its marble fountain and statue of Cosmo I, and that of Santa

Croce. But the great feature of Florence is the Duorao, or Cathedral, built 1298-1474, and completed as to the facade in 1887. This is said to possess the largest dome in the world. It was designed by Bruneleschli. It stands in the great square, and is built of brick, which is cased inside and out by mosaics, the outside casing consisting of black and white marble. The campanile, or bell-tower, 293 feet high, is by Giotto, and is also encased in marbles, and ornamented in relief by illustrations of the progress of civilisation. The octagonal church of San Giovanni has very beautiful bronze gates. In the church of Santa Croce are the tombs of Michael Angelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Alfieri, and in the piazza is a monument to Dante, erected in 1865. There is a famous gallery of painting and statuary in the Uffizi; and the Pitti Palace, once the residence of the King of Italy, has 500 examples of the great masters, and attached to it are large gardens. The Bargello, formerly a prison, is now a national museum, and the Medicean Library ranks next, to the Vatican for its collection of MSS. The Magliabecchian Library has a fine collection of books and MSS., and is the national library. There are two other public libraries. Of other palaces the Palazzo Vecchio was the residence of Cosmo I. Other points of interest at Florence are the Accademia della Crusca, which is the literary headquarters of the country, the University, which has a good natural history collection - many of the subjects in which are modelled in wax - the Observatory, and the Botanic Garden. There is a good railway connection with the other chief towns, and there is considerable trade in silk, woollens, straw hats, porcelain, mosaics, and works of art. The silkworm is reared in the neighbourhood. Florence was originally a colony of Roman soldiers, but after the rise of the Empire little was lieard of it till about the 12th century, when it became the resort of bankers, jewellers, and goldsmiths. Its full tide of glory set in when it became almost the home of the Renaissance, and when in 1434 Cosmo de Medici was the reigning merchant-prince. After the fall of the Republic, one member or another of the Medici family ruled as Dukes till 1737, when it became part of Tuscany, to be merged later in the kingdom of Italy. From 1865 to 1871 it was the capital of the new kingdom. Among the many names that have made Florence illustrious may be mentioned Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Lorenzo the Magnificent, Michael Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Benvenuto Cellini, and Savonarola.