The Lily, the Emblem of Florence

The emblem of Florence, a red lily on a white field, called “fleur de lis flowered” is the symbol of the city since the eleventh century. Several legends recall this ancient union between the lily and Florence.

For example, it is said that Florentia was founded by the Romans in 59 BC during the celebrations for the arrival of spring, or that the city is named after the proconsul Fiorino, considered one of its founders, or even that flowers like lilies and irises are very common in the Florentine countryside.

Actually, the emblem of Florence hasn’t always been the current one: indeed, the colors were reversed once in the past, a white lily on a red field. The symbol that still stands in the institutional places of the city today, dates back to the struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines. The latter, exiled from Florence, continued undeterred to show off the symbol of the white lily on red background, so the Guelfs decided to invert the colors, which remained definitive until today. At the beginning of 1800, when Napoleon tried to change the symbol of the city with a lily on green grass and silver background, the popular reaction was such that the Bonaparte withdrew the decree and the symbol remained untouched.

To honor the coat of arms of Florence, a beautiful garden has been created, the Iris Garden, a green area accessed from Piazzale Michelangelo. The garden is owned by a private association, the Italian Iris Association, whose stated goal is to promote the flower, its cultivation and conservation, but also the study of different and new varieties. In particular, the association organizes an international competition every year: the winner is the player who manages to create an iris variety closest in color to the scarlet lily of the emblem of Florence

One Response to The Lily, the Emblem of Florence

  1. Tour of Florence's Animal Statues - That's Florence! | That's Florence! says:

    […] The Marzocco is a seated lion supporting a shield depicting the coat-of-arms of Florence, the fleur de lys. The Marzocco that today can be admired in Piazza della Signoria, is a copy: in order to preserve […]


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