UNESCO Office of the Municipality of Florence

The Historic Centre of Florence, enclosed by a circle of paths that over the old medieval wall of the city, was admitted onto the World Heritage List in 1982 during the sixth session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

In February 2005, the desire to preserve and appreciate the city’s great heritage led to the establishment of the specific UNESCO Office of the Municipality of Florence.

The Office was created in order to respond to the primary needs of creating a document, the Management Plan, to protect and enhance the UNESCO World Heritage site “Historic Centre of Florence” and to fullfill the provisions of the UNESCO Convention 1972 concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

Specifically, the tasks of the Office include:

  • Writing and supervision of the Management Plan, which aims to promote the preservation, valorization, and sustainable management of the Historic Centre of Florence;
  • Compilation of Periodic Reports on the maintenance of the Outstanding Universal Value of the site, to delive to MiBACT;
  • Periodic Reports on the state of conservation of the Historic Centre and on any variations in the Management Plan and the Action Plans;
  • Creation and coordination of relationships between competent subjects and stakeholders, both public and private, who operate in the Historic Centre of Florence;
  • Identification of common action projects to be included in the Management Plan;
  • Organization of cultural initiatives and the celebration of centennials related to the historical identity of the City of Florence;
  • Promotion, realization, and coordination of studies and research about the history and the conservation of the city, the territory, and it’s monumental heritage;
  • Realization and supervision of projects financed by the February 20, 2006 Law, n. 77  “Misure speciali di tutela e fruizione dei siti italiani di interesse culturale, paesaggistico e ambientale, inseriti nella ‘lista del patrimonio mondiale’, posti sotto la tutela dell’UNESCO” (“Special Measures for the Protection and Use of Italian Sites of Cultural, Landscape, and Environmental Interest Included on the ‘World Heritage List’ and placed under the protection of UNESCO”);
  • Strengthening, through specific projects, of transnational cooperation and of collaborations between UNESCO World Heritage properties and Florence’s twin cities;
  • Collaboration in projects that aim to strengthen the management competences of public bodies and associations as it regards the management of properties on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Manager of the UNESCO Office of the Municipality of Florence since 2005, and the site manager of the UNESCO World Heritage site “The Historic Centre of Florence” is Carlo Francini.

 

UNESCO Office of the Municipality of Florence

Address: via Giuseppe Garibaldi 7, 50123 – Florence

Tel: 055 2625441/ 055 2625439

Email: centrostoricounesco@comune.fi.it

Why is Florence a World Heritage Site?

Statement of the Outstanding Universal Value of the Historic Centre of Florence, World Heritage Site Nr. 174

Florence was built on the site of an Etruscan settlement and the later ancient Roman colony of Florentia (founded in 59 BC). This Tuscan city became a symbol of the Renaissance during the early Medici period (between the 15th and the 16th centuries), reaching extraordinary levels of economic and cultural development. The present historic centre covers 505 ha and is bounded by the remains of the city’s 14th-century walls. These walls are represented by surviving gates, towers, and the two Medici strongholds: that of Saint John the Baptist in the north, popularly known as “da Basso”, and the Fort of San Giorgio del Belvedere located amongst the hills of the south side. The Arno River runs east and west through the city and a series of bridges connects its two banks including Ponte Vecchio and Ponte Santa Trinita. Seven hundred years of cultural and artistic blooming are tangible today in the 14th-century Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Church of Santa Croce, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi gallery, and the Palazzo Pitti. The city’s history is further evident in the artistic works of great masters such as Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo. The Historic Centre of Florence can be perceived as a unique social and urban achievement, the result of persistent and long-lasting creativity, which includes museums, churches, buildings and artworks of immeasurable worth. Florence had an overwhelming influence on the development of architecture and the fine arts, first in Italy, and then in Europe. It is within the context of Florence that the concept of the Renaissance came to be. This heritage bestows upon Florence unique historical and aesthetic qualities. (UNESCO World Heritage Committee, 2014)

 

Criteria

Criteria I – The urban complex of Florence is in itself a unique artistic realization, an absolute chef-d’oeuvre, the fruit of continuous creation over more than six centuries. In addition to its museums (the Archaeological Museum, Uffizi, Bargello, Pitti, Galleria dell’Accademia), the greatest concentration of universally renowned works of art in the world is found here – the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery and the Campanile of Giotto, Piazza della Signoria dominated by Palazzo Vecchio and the Palazzo Uffizi, San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce and the Pazzi chapel, Santo Spirito, San Miniato, and the Convent of San Marco which houses paintings of Fra Angelico.

Criteria II – Since the Quattrocento, Florence has exerted a predominant influence on the development of architecture and the monumental arts – first in Italy, and throughout Europe: the artistic principles of the Renaissance were defined there from the beginning of the 15th century by Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio. It was in the Florentine milieu that two universal geniuses of the arts – Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo – were formed and asserted.

Criteria III – The Historic Centre of Florence attests in an exceptional manner, and by its unique coherence, to its power as a merchant-city of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance. From its past, Florence had preserved entire streets, fortified palaces (Palazzo Spini, Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo della Signoria), lodges (Loggia del Bigallo, Loggia dei Lanzi, Loggia degli Innocenti and del Mercato Nuovo), fountains, a marvellous 14th-century bridge lined with shops, the Ponte Vecchio. Various trades, organized into prosperous arts have left several monuments such as the Orsanmichele.

Criteria IV – Florence, a first-rate economic and political power in Europe from the 14th to the 17th century, was covered during that period with prestigious buildings which translated the munificence of the bankers and the princes: Palazzo Rucellai, Palazzo Strozzi, Palazzo Gondi, Palazzo Riccardi-Medici, Palazzo Pandolfini, Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens – as well as the sacristy of San Lorenzo, the funerary chapel of the Medicis, and the Biblioteca Laurenziana and others.

Criteria VI – Florence is materially associated with events of universal importance. It was in the milieu of the Neo-Platonic Academia that the concept of the Renaissance was forged. Florence is the birthplace of modern humanism inspired by Landino, Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and others (UNESCO World Heritage Centre, 2014).

 

 

Integrity

The Historic Centre of Florence comprises all the elements necessary to express its Outstanding Universal Value. Surrounded by Arnolfian walls that date to the 14th century, the city includes the “quadrilatero romano,” which is made up of the present Piazza della Repubblica, the narrow, cobblestone streets of the medieval city, and the Renaissance city. The urban environment of the historic centre remains almost untouched and the surrounding hills provide a perfect harmonious backdrop. This landscape maintains its Tuscan features, adding to its value. Many of the threats to the historic centre relate to the impact of mass tourism, such as urban traffic air pollution, and of the decreasing number of residents. Natural disasters, specifically the risk of floods, have been identified as a threat to the cultural heritage and landscape. The 2006 Management Plan addresses this concern by defining emergency measures to be taken in the case of flooding (UNESCO World Heritage Centre, 2014).

 

Authenticity

The setting of Florence, surrounded by the Tuscan hills and bisected by the Arno River, has remained unchanged throughout the centuries. Florentines, aware of their own architectural past, have been able to preserve original building techniques with traditional building materials such as “pietra forte”, “pietra serena”, plasterwork, and frescoes. The Historic Centre of Florence has safeguarded its distinguishing characteristics, both in terms of building volume and decorations. The city has respected its medieval roots such as its urban form with narrow alleyways, and its Renaissance identity, exemplified by Palazzo Pitti’s imposing structure. These values are still appreciable within the historic centre, notwithstanding the 19th-century transformations undertaken during the period in which Florence served as the capital of Italy. Unique Florentine handicraft and traditional shops in the Historic Centre are a concrete testimonial to the local past. Thus, they guarantee continuity for an outstanding tradition perpetuating the historical image of the city (UNESCO World Heritage Centre, 2014).

 

 

Protection and management requirements

The components of the property within its 505 ha boundary are under various private, religious, and public ownership and subject to a number of measures for their protection. National provisions provide for the protection and preservation of cultural heritage (D.lgs 42/2004), which regulates on behalf of the “Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo” all actions that may affect the cultural heritage of the site. Since 2006, the Historic Centre of Florence has a Management Plan in place naming the Municipality of Florence as the party responsible for the World Heritage property. Moreover, within the city’s Master Plan, Florence has put in place a tool for urban planning which identifies the historic centre as a place of cultural and environmental concern. In this area, only conservation and restoration practices are put into action. In particular the Structural Plan outlines the strategies and innovations identified for the city’s future: it foresees an improvement to living conditions for residents, improvements to tourism, and initiatives to increase awareness of the historic centre as a World Heritage property. Associated with this initiative is a building policy which controls activities in the historic centre. The Municipality, as the party responsible for the site, has created an ad hoc office responsible for the Management Plan and to carry out tasks for the site’s conservation and development. The office identifies and develops the guidelines with other managing parties, plans the shared actions, and supervises the progress of the projects. The Management Plan works to safeguard and conserve the urban structure and to maintain and increase the relationship between the traditional social-economic practices and the cultural heritage of the city (UNESCO World Heritage Centre, 2014).

THE TERRITORY: CORE ZONE AND BUFFER ZONE

Core Zone

The area listed in the World Heritage List (Core Zone) is the Historic Centre of Florence. The Historic Centre is traditionally identified as the area within the ringroad avenues which correspond to the old wall circle. This decision was made in view of the enormous concentration of cultural assets situated inside this area (Ufficio Centro Storico di Firenze Patrimonio Mondiale UNESCO, 2006).

The location of the site at its central point is shown by the following geographical coordinates: LATITUDE N43 46 23.016 LONGITUDE E11 15 21.996 (UNESCO World Heritage Centre, n.d.f)

The components of the territory, which extends over 505 hectares, are of different private, religious, and public ownership and are subject to a series of measures for their protection.

 

Buffer Zone

The Buffer Zone for the Historic Centre of Florence was approved by the World Heritage Committee on 6 July 2015, during the 39th session held in Bonn, through Decision 39 COM 8B.441. It covers an area of 10,480 hectares, taking in the hills around the city of Florence to the north, south and east and the plain to the north-west. The area includes parts of the territory of four municipalities: the Municipality of Florence, the Municipality of Sesto Fiorentino, the Municipality of Fiesole and the Municipality of Bagno a Ripoli (Bini, M., Capitanio, C., and Francini, C., 2015).

When the site was inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1982, it included the Historic Centre of the city and the area situated on the other side of the river Arno, enclosed within the walls of the 14th-century city, but no Buffer Zone was proposed. The Buffer Zone is understood as the area surrounding the Core Zone, the use and development of which is bound by legal restrictions and/or accepted accessory practices, with a view to assuring a higher level of protection for the property (UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, 2015).

Taking into account the progressive expansion of the contemporary city and the increasing pressures which its historic part and the inscribed property may be prone to, the Municipality of Florence promoted and developed a study so as to define a Buffer Zone for the Historic Centre of Florence.

This research was carried out according to three main lines of approach:

  • the inventory of the public views and vistas in the surrounding hills from which the Historic Centre can be seen;
  • the identification of the requirements for the safeguarding of the inscribed property;
  • the definition of strategic projects/plans for promotion and communication to sustain the qualifying features of the inscribed property (Bini, M., Capitanio, C., and Francini, C., 2015).

Furthermore, the study was based on an analysis:

  • on regional scale, considering the broader settlement system of historic towns of which Florence too is part;
  • on provincial scale, related to the broad belvedere basin of the city;
  • on municipal scale, related to the skyline of the city and to the multiple layers of historic interest and cultural relations between the components of the inscribed property and of the property within its own setting (Bini, M., Capitanio, C., and Francini, C., 2015).

 

Eighteen relevant views, vistas and belvederes – two points inside and sixteen points outside the Core Zone – have been selected as being deemed significant for monitoring the transformations that could impact the urban skyline. The relevant views selected inside and outside the site cover the Buffer Zone, making it possible to assess more clearly the impact of transformations on the urban skyline.

The Buffer Zone, approved by the World Heritage Committee on 6 July 2015 during the 39th session (Bonn, 2015) through Decision 39 COM 8B.441, is based on the results of the study mentioned above and covers 10,480 ha, encompassing the hillsides surrounding the city of Florence to the north, south and east, and the plains to its north-west. The area includes part of the territory of four municipalities: the Municipality of Florence, the Municipality of Sesto Fiorentino, the Municipality of Fiesole and the Municipality of Bagno a Ripoli. The eighteen view points and the related visual axes have been included in the “safeguarding provisions” of the Structural Plan, approved by the Municipality of Florence on 31.12.2014. Furthermore the new Town Planning Regulations of the Municipality of Florence (approved on 02.04.2015) confirm that outside the Historic Centre of the city “any transformation operations affecting the existing skyline will be subject to verification of the appropriateness of insertion, having as reference the key viewpoints identified in the Structural Plan.” Consequently, at the time of the Strategic Environmental Assessment of the project for the new Florence stadium (in the Mercafir area), The Municipality of Florence performed an evaluation of the impact of this project on the historic-cultural and landscape component, thus confirming the application of the Buffer Zone and the management of development proposals within it (Bini, M., Capitanio, C., and Francini, C., 2015).

In this way, the insertion of the eighteen viewpoints represents a tool for control and validation in operational and regulatory terms, aimed at safeguarding and enhancing the integrity of the site, the Historic Centre of Florence.

Through the establishment of the Buffer Zone and the development of an operational tool to manage it, in accordance with the instructions of the World Heritage Committee, the UNESCO Office of the Municipality of Florence has sought to respond to two of the main questions addressed in the first Management Plan: promoting sustainable development of the Historic Centre of Florence while safeguarding the urban skyline and controlling the transformations that can have an impact on the Historic Centre and its value. These goals are indeed directed at maintenance of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the inscribed property (Bini, M., Capitanio, C., and Francini, C., 2015).

More specifically, attention will be paid to all the areas of development outside the Core Zone (i.e. the former Manifattura Tabacchi area) scheduled in the Town Planning Regulations, complete with impact assessment of any proposals affecting the skyline.