ECONOMY of Florence
From 1300 to 1500 Florence's history is rich in economic developments. The era witnessed several public finance experiments, such as new taxation systems and government borrowing undertaken by the Florentine government to raise its revenues. Different political regimes ruled Florence. The corporate system of the craft guilds underwent significant changes during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Moreover, famines and repeated episodes of plague, such as the Black Death of 1348 that killed a third of the Florentine population, produced dramatic demographic shocks that affected the economy. In the 1400s Florence, being a republic with an elected government, differed markedly in its social customs from those European political centers that were ruled by royal courts. As may be seen by the simple clothing; Florentine citizens tended to restrict their attire to basic tones of red, brown, gray, or black-even though luxury textiles were a mainstay of their thriving economy. Florentine men, no matter how wealthy, donned the tunics and caps of middle-class merchants. In keeping with the city's taste for republican humility, even Florentine women rarely dressed in the rich brocades and damasks used by noblewomen in Italian duchies or principalities.
In the Renaissance period Florence was one of the most powerful and influential of those states. The wealthy and powerful de' Medici family ruled the city almost continuously from 1434 to 1743 and had a great influence on the architecture and arts. They built an abundance of palaces all over the city and commissioned such artists as Michelangelo to design and decorate these and other buildings.
The Renaissance economy has interesting insights for today's economies with regards to the effects of government taxation and borrowing on savings behavior and wealth accumulation.
It's fair to say that Florence's economy in the new Millenium is as strong as ever. The local economy is supported by tourism, industries such as textile, metalwork, pharmaceuticals, glass and ceramics, and chemistry and on Florentine craft such as jewelry and embroidery. The top designers of Milan use the textile factories of Florence for the execution of their designs. Gold working has been perfected over the centuries in workshops near the Ponte Vecchio, where jewelry is produced that is sold throughout Europe. Visitors will find a beautiful assortment of leather goods, including shoes, as well. Marbled paper, handmade perfumes and toiletries, decorative ceramic pieces, and sculpture are also locally produced.
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