Situated on the Arno River in the Arno Valley you will find an incredibly beautiful Italian city by the name of Florence. Florence is the capital city of the Tuscany region and was known as the capital of the Kingdom of Italy for roughly fifteen years in the 1800s. Today it is a bustling metropolis - a heritage which it owes to the beautiful, fertile plains which surround the city and its advantageous location.
The city of Florence started life as Roman settlement for veteran soldiers. In 59 BC, Julius Caesar allocated the valley of Arno to serve as a reward for former soldiers. The settlement was named Florentia and this was the birth of Florence. Initially, the veterans stuck to what they knew and built a tented roman army camp in the shape of a large rectangle divided into four smaller sections. The main streets intersected at the Piazza Della Repubblica which still exists today. In fact, the city center of modern day Florence still bears this trademark layout. Florentia was situated on the main route between Rome and the North which meant it saw a lot of traffic. This lead to quick expansion and soon it was an important commercial center. By the 3 AD, Florentia was established as the capital of Tusica.
Florence saw its fair share of disaster. Wars, plagues and political unrest gutted the city from time to time but it always managed to come through with renewed strength. While it served as a center of trade and finance for medieval Europe, it also became synonymous for its fine art and architecture. Florence was ruled by the Medici family for a long time, and they gave their avid support to development of art and architecture. As a result, some of the most famous artists of the time either visited the city or chose to live and work in it. Some examples are Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli.
Today the development of trade, art and architecture has left Florence a beautiful and prosperous city. Filled with attractions too numerous to mention, it is easy to forget that you are in the 21st century. There is an air of culture, refinement and history which pervades every wall and stone. Still functioning Roman aqueducts will have you marveling at ancient engineering while items such as the Fountain of Neptune will leave you mesmerized by masterfully sculpted marble works of art. Perhaps one of the most famous places is that of the San Lorenzo palace, a monument to the Medici family who over the centuries influenced Florence to a very large degree. Galleries, shops, monuments, architecture, bridges and sculptures - all of them can be found in this delightful city. The capital of Tuscany is a definite must-see!