Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany.
The city, located about 230 kilometers (145 miles) northwest of Rome, is surrounded by gently rolling hills that are covered with villas and farms, vineyards, and orchards.
As of November 2018, the population of Florence is about 400,000 people. Its metropolitan area has over 1.5 million people.
The city has a total area of 102 square kilometers (39 square miles).
The average elevation of the city is about 50 meters (164 feet) above sea level.
Florence was founded as a Roman military colony about the 1st century BC.
Florence was a center of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era.
It is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called “the Athens of the Middle Ages.”
From 1865 to 1871 the city was the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy.
The present glory of Florence is mainly its past. Indeed, its historic center was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1982. The buildings there are works of art abounding in yet more works of art, and the splendours of the city are stamped with the personalities of the men who made them.
The best-known site of Florence is the domed cathedral of the city, Cathedral of Florence, known as The Duomo, whose dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi. The dome, 600 years after its completion, is still the largest dome built in brick and mortar in the world. The cathedral complex includes the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile. These three buildings are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site covering the historic center of Florence.
Piazza della Signoria has been the center of power in Florence since its 14th-century origins – and perhaps even before, as Etruscan and Roman remains have been found below its pavement. Today, it is the social center as well, a favorite meeting place filled with tourists and locals. At its center is the Neptune Fountain, at one side the Palazzo Vecchio, still housing the city’s government. It is the meeting place of Florentines as well as the numerous tourists.
The Uffizi Gallery is a prominent art museum located adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria. One of the most important Italian museums, and the most visited, it is also one of the largest and best known in the world, and holds a collection of priceless works, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance.
One of Florence’s most significant buildings is the Palazzo Vecchio, a grand palace overlooking the Piazza della Signoria. Built in the 12th century, the Palazzo Vecchio housed the powerful Medici family as well as Florence’s supreme governing body for six centuries. Since 1872, it has served in part as a museum and as the city town hall.
The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence. The Ponte Vecchio, meaning “Old Bridge” in Italian, is the oldest bridge in Florence. It is also the first segmental arch bridge built in the West. The bridge is an outstanding engineering achievement of the European Middle Ages.
Florence is an important city in Italian fashion, being ranked in the top 15 fashion capitals of the world; furthermore, it is a major national economic center, as well as a tourist and industrial hub.
Due to Florence’s artistic and architectural heritage, it has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Dante, political theorist Machiavelli, astronomer Galileo, the Medici family, which ruled the city for generations, navigator Amerigo Vespucci, and humanitarian Florence Nightingale all called Florence home.
The Florentine dialect forms the base of Standard Italian and it became the language of culture throughout Italy due to the prestige of the masterpieces by Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini.
Florence’s key role as a market center is reinforced by its location at the nexus of transport lines connecting northern and southern Italy.
Tourism is, by far, the most important of all industries and most of the Florentine economy relies on the money generated by international arrivals and students studying in the city.
In 1200 the city was home to 50,000 people. By 1300 the population of the city proper was 120,000, with an additional 300,000 living in the Contado. Between 1500 and 1650 the population was around 70,000.
By the year 1300 Florence had become a center of textile production in Europe.
On 25 May 2016 the BBC reported that a sinkhole, thought to have been caused by a bursting of a water pipe, opened up a 200-meter (660 ft) hole on the Arno river bank in Florence.