Think of Florence and you’re not likely to think of Americans. You might, strangely enough, be more inclined to think of, say, Italians.
But being a centre of art and culture (and shopping!), Florence is actually home to quite a large number of foreigners.
Many have come here as travellers or students intent on studying in Florence, which is well-known for its art schools and wonderful museums including the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia. Some have ended up staying, and in fact there is quite a strong ex-pat American community, as well as English and Australian groups too for that matter.
Actually, Anglo-Saxons in Florence is no new trend.
In fact, Italy was one of several very important stops for ‘gentlemen of means’ undertaking a Grand Tour of Europe. Time would be spent in Florence (even for several months), then Rome and Venice.
This was a great tradition in flavour amongst the English from around 1660 to the 1840s, at which time young Americans also started to do the tour.
With the advent of rail travel, the experience changed somewhat. It was considered a time where young men could spend a few months or even up to a few years seeing the most culturally important sites in Europe. The focus on the study of art and architecture meant that Italy, and the selected stops of Rome, Florence and Venice were essential long-stay stops on the rite-of-passage itinerary.
This year, to mark the 500th anniversary of Amerigo Vespucci, Florence’s must-see sight, Palazzo Strozzi, is hosting an exciting new exhibition, Americans in Florence – Sargent and the American Impressionists from 3 March-15 July 2012.
According to the Palazzo Strozzi organisers, this great art exhibit in Florence honours the ‘strong ties linking the Old World and the New, and the cosmopolitan ambiance that bound the city to the New World for ever, transmitting European culture and sophistication to America’.
Some American artists in Florence of note include Winslow Homer, William Morris Hunt, John La Farge and Thomas Eakins, as well as artists such as John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt and James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Then there are members of the American impressionist group known as the Ten American Painters: William Merrit Chase, John Henry Twachman and Frederick Childe Hassam.
Artviva Walking Tours has a super-discounted Grand Tour Italy discounted tour package including small-group tours in Rome, Venice guided tours, and small-group tours in Florence.
To learn more about the fascinating history of Florence, Artviva’s Original Florence Walk, a guided tour of Florence with an expert guide, includes many other must-see sights in Florence in a great small-group guided city walk tour.
In the Uffizi Gallery, you can see some of the most precious artworks in the world, as painted by some of the greatest artists in history. The Uffizi Gallery houses what is arguably one of the finest collections of Renaissance art. Michelangelo’s David is breathtaking and well-worth visiting too!
To explore other areas of Italy, can check out our Artviva Walking Tours website to read more about the tours we have to offer in Florence, Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.