The Fleur-de-Lys: The Symbol of Florence – by Ségolène Guitton

While my past three entries have been concentrated on fashion and what Florence has to offer in that department, I have decided to take a different direction for this blog entry – life in Florence always leads back to its abundant history and why not start with the symbol that has represented the city for the past centuries?

The Fleur-de-Lys is a widely recognised symbol; it is most famously associated with the French monarchy and continues to appear as the enduring symbol of France but it has also appeared on countless European coat-of-arms and flags including the arms of the King of Spain and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Furthermore, the Fleur-de-Lys is also the ultimate symbol of Florence, Italy. Representing the coat of arms of the city of Florence, the Fleur-de-Lys symbol cannot be ignored as you walk around the city and its historical monuments. Although, the Fleur-de-Lys is an easily recognised symbol, the Florentine Fleur-de-Lys itself is different from the original design: if you look closer you will realise that the stamens are always posed between the petals as a way to distinguish it from the more conventional design. The design includes a red stylised three-leaved lily flower over a white canvas, which if you did not know used to be the opposite: it was changed back when the city of Florence freed itself from the German in 1252.

As part of this blog entry, I went on a little photography task which included walking around the city and trying to spot as many Fleur-de-Lys as I could possibly find. To my surprise they are everywhere and I mean everywhere; the logo of the Banca Toscana, as part of a decoration on some of those big wooden building doors, on the pavement, on Arnolfo’s tower on the Palazzo Vecchio… etc. The place where you will find a large number of them is in the Sala dei Gigli (Hall of Lilies) in the Palazzo Vecchio situated on Piazza della Signoria. Florence, being so attached to their Fleur-de-Lys, they have also made it the symbol of their football team, Fiorentina.

If you come to Florence in spring, I would urge you to visit the Iris Garden; situated within close proximity of the Piazzale Michelangelo, the garden is home to some thousands species of lilies and during a nice spring afternoon, you will be able to admire them in a fantastic light as they are scattered around the garden.

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