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Events and celebrations in 2015 mark the 150th anniversary of Florence as capital of Italy

This year celebrates 150 years since Florence was made capital of Italy, with 25 events taking place throughout 2015 to commemorate a key moment in the history of this city, in what is a unique opportunity to retrace its architectural and urban development and its transformation into a European capital.

The decision taken in 1865 to move the capital from Turin to Florence was due mainly to political reasons. The aim was to reach Rome in a progressive and unifying march along the peninsula, but not only. For historical and cultural reasons Florence seemed the ideal choice as the capital of the new state. Over 6,000 diplomats and civil servants arrived in Florence, substantially increasing its population which had remained unchanged since the Renaissance.

Housing this multitude of people caused a number of planning issues to the city, which so far had lived within the boundaries of its walls. New residential areas were therefore built around the Piazza Antonia, renamed Piazza dell’Indipendenza, close to the Santa Maria Novella Station and between the Lungarni and the Cascine park.

One of the main architects of this transformation was Giuseppe Poggi, who started a planning revolution in the new capital, carrying out a series of interventions which turned Florence into the gem that we still admire today. The changes attracted many a criticism back then and are frowned upon to this day by some unforgiving Florentines. The project in fact was to demolish the 14th-century walls built by Arnolfo to create space for the current viali, wide highways inspired by the Vienna Ring, interspersed with large squares close to Porta la Croce and Porta San Gallo.

To his credit, Giuseppe Poggi also designed the southern hill of Florence, adjacent to the Oltrarno area, and is thus considered the inventor of a modern idea of “panorama”. The Piazzale Michelangelo remains his masterpiece together with the Viale dei Colli, the magnificent walk that leads to the square, which to this day provides an unparalleled view of the city.

From 3 February to 6 June at the Archivio di Stato in piazza Beccaria, a retrospective is dedicated to this prime figure of the history of Florence Capital City, displaying projects and documents which Poggi himself donated in memory of his work. Another exhibition is dedicated to painter Fabio Borbottoni, whose famous landscapes will be on display at the Ente Cassa di Risparmio in via Bufalini from 17 February to 5 April.