We often have a lot of visitors ask us what “Firenze” is; they’ve been in Florence all week and keep on hearing “Firenze” this and “Firenze” that and are wondering if they are missing out on something! (And yes, it has happened that visitors to our city have driven past the A1 highway exit for Firenze, looking out for the highway exit that says Florence …).
Yes, they are missing out. On a very important piece of information.
So how come Firenze, originally Florentia, has come to be recognized by so many different titles? Toponym, the study of how place names “move” from one language to another, gives a possible explanation because it contends that place names can have their names altered orally or in print (Encyclopedia Britannica). In the first option, “A person will listen to the place-name spoken and then phonetically render the place-name in his or her own language, creating at best a close approximation.” The other option is that “place-names were adopted between countries and languages directly from maps by visual transfer. Once the name had been adopted by visual transfer, it was pronounced according to the adopting language’s standards.”
Florence was founded in 59BC as a settlement for Julius Caesar’s former soldiers. Back then, it was called ‘Florentia’ as the Latin language was the primary language of the region.
Our city is now referred to names like “Florentia, Florence, Florenz, Florencia” (Latin, English, German, Spanish, respectively).
As a nod to this, the new logo for Firenze, designed by the Florentine graphic manager Fabio Chiantini, contains different names of Florence with highlighted letters coming together to spell out the Italian version: Firenze.
(The new logo, pictured above, is quite controversial!)
So remember, Firenze is not a tower that you can climb or a sight you can see. It’s our city, and that’s its name. And you might just notice that we like to use it when talking about our city even when we are talking in English.
Welcome to Firenze!