Built on the site of an Etruscan settlement and the later ancient Roman colony of Florentia (founded in 59 BC), Forence became a symbol of the Renaissance during the early Medici period (between the 15th and the 16th centuries), reaching extraordinary levels of economic and cultural development. The Arno River runs east and west through the city and a series of bridges connects its two banks including the famous Ponte Vecchio (a marvellous 14th-century bridge lined with shops). The surrounding hills, a typical Tuscan landscape, provide a perfect harmonious backdrop, adding to its value.

Seven hundred years of cultural and artistic blooming are tangible today in the churches (the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella, Santo Spirito, San Lorenzo, San Miniato al Monte) the Palaces (Palazzo Vecchio, Strozzi, Medici Riccardi) in the museums (Uffizi gallery, Palazzo Pitti, Bargello, Academy gallery, Medicis Chapels). The city’s history is further evident in the artistic works of great masters such as Giotto, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Masaccio, Botticelli. It was in the Florentine milieu that two universal geniuses of the arts – Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo – were formed and asserted. The concepts of modern humanism and Renaissance were forged here.

The Historic Centre of Florence can be perceived as a unique social and urban achievement - the result of persistent creativity as a merchant-city of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance - which includes museums, churches, buildings and artworks of immeasurable worth (greatest concentration in the world) Florence had an overwhelming influence on the development of architecture and the fine arts, first in Italy, and then in Europe.

But Florence had an important role also in recent times (the Museo Novecento, about 20th century Italian Art, was recently inaugurated; every year Palazzo Strozzi and Forte Belevedere house very important contemporary exhibitions) and is currently experiencing a period of profound transformations (the realization of the tramway system, new architectural realizations such as the Palace of Justice and the Opera House).

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