Elegant and bright, Florence stretches along the banks of the Arno, surrounded by gently rolling and curved. Unique in the world for the monumental grandeur of its buildings and the refined elegance of the urban fabric, the City of Flower preserves the harmonious grace given to her by the Renaissance masters. Beside remains vivid and tenacious the character of its inhabitants, resourceful and closed-minded, moved by the taste of the prank, proud of their past and of their city. From Florence suburbs, from local markets teeming with life and craft workshop, its greatest men have emerged, those able to give luster marking the vertices of Fine Arts. For obvious reasons, we cannot give here account of Florence´s immense artistic historical and architectural heritage, so we just offer you a glance of its beauties inviting you to personally visit it.
We do not have precise information on the origins of the city, but presumably the first human settlements date back to the tenth century B.C., when some of the Italic peoples have settled in the Arno plain. At the end of the eighth century, they disappeared, probably due to the Etruscans who lived in Fiesole hills, controlling the Mugnone valley. Between the third and the second centuries B.C., the Romans conquered the Florentine territory by using the fortified center of Fiesole and other Etruscan settlements.
In the first century B.C., Caesar soldiers founded Florentia, which became an important commercial and military hub, thanks to the central location which made it a crossroads of great strategic importance. In this period the city was enriched with imperial monuments and chessboard-shaped streets that still form the heart of the city center today, around Piazza della Repubblica.
With the decline of the Roman Empire and the arrival of the barbarians, Florentia followed the same destiny of many other Italian cities: it was invaded and looted, suffered from epidemics and famines touching historic lows in terms of number of inhabitants and was downgraded by the Byzantines to a sort of entrenched military zone. Only with the Lombards, who moved the headquarters of the Marca from Lucca to Florence, the city´s economic and commercial recovery has started again, a period of prosperity that will last a long time.
From the High Middle Ages, the rapid economic and commercial growth of Florence was conjugated with its military superiority that, after bloody battles, ended up getting its political supremacy over Tuscany. The continuous wars against other Tuscan cities did nothing but encourage the consolidation of Florentine prosperity, supported by the development of handicraft production, the birth of Arts and Crafts corporations and the great financial power of its banks.
The bitter conflict between Guelphs and Ghibellines, emblematic of the factional spirit that has always characterized the city, settled down in favor of the Guelphs when Matilde of Canossa decided in favor of Pope Gregory VII, vying with Henry IV to the papal throne. After the power of Guelph was consolidated, the Florentine Republic was founded, entrusting the government of the city consoles together with a city council and the Parliament, one of the first examples of civil and democratic institutions in Europe.
Florence´s Middle Ages were marked by bloody struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines against the backdrop of the conflicts between the papacy and the empire: in this period the city conquered the whole territory of Tuscany, dominating over Arezzo, Lucca, Pistoia, Siena, Poggibonsi and Volterra.
In the fourteenth century, the Florentine power was reduced by Lucca in Altopascio and by Pisa in Montecatini, but in the next century the supremacy of Florence reached its highest peak, thanks to the rise and consolidation of a new ruling class.
The fifteenth century is the century of the Medici, who came from the Florentine banking system which had managed to increase the economic wellness of the city. It was with the Medici that Florence became the world´s capital of art. Under their dominion, painting and sculpture, literature and music have flourished, giving the city a leading role as a cultural guide that no one would ever delete.
After the death of the last member of Medici family, Florence passed to the Lorena´s. After this, the Napoleonic period and the Unification of Italy have followed.
In the contemporary era, Florence was hit by the violence several times: the bombings of World War II did not spare the old town and in 1966 a terrible coincidence of bad luck and irresponsibility provoked a devastating flood of the Arno, which inundated the city causing damage to the priceless historic and artistic heritage.
In 1993 a mafia attack destroyed with dynamite the Pulci Tower, the seat of the Accademia dei Georgofili, seriously damaging the nearby Uffizi Gallery. Florence has been severely and frequently hit, but no one has ever managed to bend it, much less to discourage the Florentines who, with the resourcefulness that always distinguishes them, did not lose time and have rolled up their sleeves to restore the splendor that violence, evil enemy of beauty and arts, had tried to erase.