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Florence Scape
il Duomo
Take our interactive tour of Florence and find out more about: the Duomo, Campanile, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, the Uffizi, the Palazzo Pitti and much more.

We'll give you an insider's look at this amazing city and show you the remaining treasures of the Renaissance.

The city of Florence, capital of Tuscany, nestles in the Arno valley some 50 miles from the Mediterranean. Founded by the Romans, by the year 1400 the city was a vibrant trading centre and headquarters of an international banking network.

Florentine families principally made their fortunes from wool and silk. But the chief guilds of the city also represented every other conceivable business - from lawyers and goldsmiths, to spice merchants, poets and craftsmen. The guilds formed the basis for popular government, the Signoria. Florence was one of the few republics in the world run by the people, for the people.

At this time, the population exceeded 50,000 - only London and Constantinople were larger. In a city run by powerful families, rivalries were inevitable.

For administrative purposes, Florence was split into four quarters - Santo Spirito, Santa Croce, San Giovanni, and Santa Maria Novella. But to residents of these neighborhoods, the name was more than just a zip code. Families like the Medici became powerful in their district and their networks and influence pitted neighbor against neighbor. The Medici ran the district of San Giovanni. Their deadly rivals, the Pazzi, controlled downtown Santa Croce.

Those civic rivalries survive to this day and spill over in the traditional feast of St. John, held every year in Florence on June 21. The city grinds to a halt as costumed teams from each quarter parade through the streets and gather in Piazza Santa Croce, for a traditional calcio tournament. Calcio - a dangerous mix of soccer, rugby and wrestling - is practically a blood sport; the aim of the game is not just to score goals, but to hospitalize your opponent.

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Turning Points   Turning Points: timeline of the Renaissance
Family Tree Family Tree: Medici Who's Who