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1865: The crazy days of Florence as capital

Dynamic choice influences the history of Tuscany


The four hundredth anniversary of Florence as Capital was not widely celebrated throughout the city. Yet this event, which many Florentine’s perceived as a tragedy, had important effect’s on the history of Florence. Without those five years of crazed government expenditure to make Florence a worthy capital, the city itself—and many other Tuscan towns—would not have become what they are today. It fostered dynamic change and, in the space of a few years, many administrative and architectural choices changed the face Florence. Its medieval walls were sacrificed and a significant part of its historic air was traded in for a more modernized feel. Florence saw more changes in those ten years than it had seen over the span of three centuries.

This sense of innovation also influenced the rest of Tuscany. It cannot be a coincidence that in those years, Pistoia’s plant industry flourished and tourism became an economic mainstay in places like Livorno, Viareggio and Montecatini. While the upper class enjoyed the capital’s fashionable theatres, they also frequented the beaches of Livorno and Viareggio, as well as Montecatini’s thermal baths. Writer Pasquale Villari effectively summed up the situation by saying, ‘our new century’ arrived fifty years late, awakening Tuscany from its golden sleep with the shocking madness of…the capital.’

An astonishing city of art, fashion and tradition
If you are visiting Tuscany you cannot miss Florence. The Renaissance city is a treasure trove of art with an astonishing contemporary vibe. Beyond the extraordinary artistic heritage, a testimony to its centuries of civilization, the best way to enjoy Florence is to stroll along the riverside avenues at sunset, or to get lost among the city’s myriad alleyways of the bohemian Oltrarno or the ...