The lily of Florence

Florence is also called the "lily city", the red lily is in fact the symbol of the Tuscan capital, it can be found on coats of arms, on the shields supported by the Marzocco, on the historic Florentine buildings and as a symbol of sporting associations.
This love between the lily and Florence seems to date back to the foundation of the Roman city of Florentia which occurred in the spring time, during the celebrations of the goddess Flora.
Furthermore, since the Middle Ages the lily has been considered a symbol of purity and therefore of the Virgin Mary. Florence has always been a city devoted to the cult of the Virgin, it is no coincidence that the name of the cathedral is Santa Maria dei Fiori.

However, the colors of the Florentine lily coat of arms were originally the opposites of what they are today: the lily, emblem of purity, was white on a red background, and was the symbol of Ghibelline Florence.
It was following the conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines in 1266, from which the former emerged victorious, that the coat of arms changed and the lily became red on a white background.
Subsequently, Florence imposed this symbol on the territories under its dominion, but the red lily that was used in other cities was different: it was devoid of the flower's stamens, its reproductive organs, which instead exclusively identified the city of Florence , mother of all other cities under her control.

The lily was also used on the Florentine currency, the gold florin, minted in 1252. Throughout Europe the lily had become synonymous with wealth because it was associated with the florin, one of the strongest currencies in circulation until the Renaissance.

The iris in Florence does not remain just an icon, it can in fact be found in bloom during the period between April and May both in the Florentine gardens and in the surrounding countryside.
To see lilies in Florence we recommend visiting the Iris garden in Piazzale Michelangelo or the English Cemetery in Piazza Donatello during spring. A sight not to be missed!

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