The New Student's Reference Work/Florence
Flor′ence, a city of Italy and capital of the province of Florence (Firenze), is situated in the valley of the Arno. The province of Firenze has an area of 2,265 square miles, with a population of 995,048. The establishment here in 1864 and 1865 of the seat of the Italian government was the means of increasing the city to nearly double its former extent. The chief building in the city is the cathedral, the foundations of which were laid in 1298; while in 1887 the finished building was uncovered with great pomp in the presence of the Italian sovereigns. The dome served Michael Angelo as a model for St. Peter's. The church contains sculptures by Michael Angelo and other famous artists. There are many other handsome churches in Florence, containing a wealth of paintings and sculpture. Among the famous palaces are Il Bargello, Vecchio, Signoria, Uffizi, Pitti, Riccardi and Strozzi. The Pitti palace contains the national library, with 200,000 volumes and 10,000 manuscripts, and the famous Florentine gallery of art, filling 23 rooms. The city of Florence sprang originally from Fiesole, at the foot of which it lies extended. In the 11th century it was bequeathed to Pope Gregory VII, and, under the protection of Rome, became a city of importance. By 1250 it had become one of the first cities of Italy and held its place for many years. In 1348 the black death carried off 100,000 of the city's inhabitants. In 1529 the city was besieged by an army under the duke of Orange and, fell Aug. 8, 1530. After the constitution of the united kingdom of Italy, Florence held the position of provisional capital from 1864 to 1871. Its population is about 227,000. In art Florence holds a unique place, the Florentine school being the most important in Italy. In literature its position is hardly less important, as is attested by the names of Dante and Boccaccio. See Mrs, Oliphant's The Makers of Florence; Ruskin's Mornings in Florence; George Eliot's Romola.