Florence in Tuscany: People and Places by Ita Marguet, April 2014

Just walking in the streets of Florence’s ancient centre is an exploration of over 2,000 years of its tumultuous history. The city became one of the greatest art centres in the world. From Popes to peasants the social, political and religious life of the city is renowned for its medieval stories, revolts and events that shocked the Florentines. The Medici, a powerful family of merchants and bankers, dominated Florence from 1437 to 1737 and used their wealth to patronise and influence Renaissance artists and scholars.  Their portraits hang in the galleries and elsewhere.
Several UNESCO World Heritage listed sites are associated with the Grand Dukes of Florence, the Medici and other families. Visits to a number of museums, palaces and churches offer a breathless collection of original masterpieces, famous sculptures, frescoes and paintings by many of Italy’s world renowned artists in their individual styles. Gothic architecture, churches and peaceful cloisters are also ancient treasures to see along with some of the lesser known city places.
In 2013 Florence celebrated the 500th year of its famous sculpture of David. To mark the 450th anniversary of the death of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), sculptor, painter, architect and poet, an exhibition Getting Reacquainted with MichelangeloatGalleria dell’Accademia is dedicated to the great master’s influence on photography and paintings. The photography strives to demonstrate the role it has played in fusing the critical and iconographic success of Michelangelo’s sculptures and in celebrating his myth. It features the work of several artists that show Michelangelo’s influence in a collection of photographic studies of personalities.
People and Places
                        There was a diplomatic presence in Florence that helped to attract the wealthy English classes to the warmer climate and enjoyment of the artistic, cultural and social life of the city. The growing community introduced many ‘English’ changes seen in the style of their luxurious villas and the ‘English style’ garden designs. In 1828 an English cemetery was created for non-Catholic residents and bears witness to the prominent people who are buried there. In 1881 the Protestant church of St. Mark was dedicated to cater for the expanding British population who very much lived the English way of life including the printing of two English language newspapers.
                        Edited from the archives of The British Institute of Florence there are brochures on walking tours of Florence titled The Grand Tour, The Victorian Tourist, The Edwardian Residents, Three English Queens. They provide historical, biographical and topographical information in the footsteps of eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century prominent English residents and visitors including Queen Victoria, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
Friends of Florence’ Foundation is a United States based non-profit organisation supported by individuals and major donors from around the world. Established in 1998 it is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the cultural and historical integrity of the arts located in Florence and the region of Tuscany. It sponsors events for the increasing understanding and appreciation through educational and other programmes and is an established part of the city’s historical and cultural life.
The Foundation has been able to restore and preserve numerous frescoes, sculptures, paintings and other art works including museums and churches. It has several ongoing projects around the city and the Foundation has many related philanthropic services and activities.
Note:        Acknowledgement is given to sources in this text including information obtained from the Anglo American Bookshop and the French library.  It follows a visit to Florence in March 2014.