Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,083 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.
Florence originated as a Roman city, and later, after a long period as a flourishing trading and banking medieval commune, it was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. It was politically, economically, and culturally one of the most important cities in Europe and the world from the 14th to 16th centuries. The language spoken in the city during the 14th century was, and still is, accepted as the Italian language. Almost all the writers and poets in Italian literature of the golden age are in some way connected with Florence, leading ultimately to the adoption of the Florentine dialect, above all the local dialects, as a literary language of choice. After doubling during the 19th century, Florence’s population was to triple in the 20th, resulting from growth in tourism, trade, financial services and industry. During World War II the city experienced a year-long German occupation (1943–1944) and was declared an open city by the retreating Germans after New Zealand troops stormed the Pian dei Cerri hills overlooking the city.
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. The value tourism to the city totalled some €62.5 billion in 2015 and the number of visitors had increased by 5.5% from the previous year. Manufacturing and commerce, however, still remain highly important. Florence is also Italy’s 17th richest city in terms of average workers’ earnings, with the figure being €23,265 (the overall city’s income is €6,531,204,473), coming after Mantua, yet surpassing Bolzano.
Places to visit
Bargello. This museum houses one of the best examples of Renaissance and Mannerist sculpture. The works of many great Renaissance sculptors are on display here, including Michelangelo, Donatello, Ammannati, Bandinelli, Andrea and Jacopo Sansovino, Desiderio da Settignano, Giambologna, and Antonio Rossellino.
Pitti Palace. On the quieter south bank of the Arno. The former Medici family palace contains galleries of their art and treasures. The Boboli gardens behind the palazzo offer wonderful walks and excellent views of the city and the countryside south of the city.
Orsanmichele is a beautiful old church from the 14th century, which once functioned as a grain market.
Things to do
Climb the Duomo or Campanile. Traverse the winding staircases inside the Duomo or the nearby bell tower to see some of the best views of Florence. Not only can you see the Tuscan countryside in the distance and the impressive palaces and churches of Florence in the fore.
Street Performers by the Uffizi. In the evenings street performers often put on a show here. Performances can range from violin duets to people dressed as sculptures. A nice place to stop while you eat your after-dinner gelato.