origins of the city is uncertain, but presumably the first
human settlements date from the 10th century B. C., when some
Italic populations settled down in the plain around the river
Arno. At the end of the 8th century they disappeared, probably
due to the arrival of the Etruscans who lived around the hills
of Fiesole, controlling the Mugnone valley. Between the 3rd
and the 2nd century B.C. the Romans conquered the Florentine
territory by using the fortified centre of Fiesole and other
In the 1st century B.C. Cesar's soldiers founded Florentia,
which became an important commercial and military hub, thanks
to its central location which made it a crossroad of great
strategic importance. In this period Florence was embellished
with imperial monuments and the chess-shaped streets were
planned as we still today can see in the heart of the ancient
part of Florence, around Piazza della Repubblica.
With the decline of the Roman Empire and the arrival of the
Barbarians, Florentia, as many other Italian cities, was invaded
and sacked, suffered from epidemics and famine and was so
depopulated that the Byzantines degraded it to a sort of entrenched
military zone. Only with the arrival of the Longobards who
transferred the Marca from Lucca to Florence, the city experienced
an economical and commercial upswing, a flourishing period
which would last for a long time.
the High Middle Ages, Florence's fast economical and commercial
upswing also meant a military superiority, which after bloody
battles, ended up in a political supremacy in Tuscany. The
continuos wars against the other Tuscan cities only consolidated
the Florentine wealth, thanks to the artisan manufacturing,
the founding of the corporations and the financial power of
the banks. The rivalry between the Gulphs and the Ghibellines,
an emblematic sign of the hostility which has always characterised
the city, ended up with the victory of the Guelphs when Matilde
di Canossa decided to support Pope Gregorius VII, instead
of Arrigo IV, for the Papal throne. Consolidated the power
of the Guelph faction, the Florentine Republic was founded
which let the consoles together with a citizen council and
a Parliament govern the city, one of the first examples of
civil and democratic institutions in Europe.
During the Middle Ages Florence was marked by the bloody fights
between the pro-papal Guelphs and the pro-imperial Ghibellines.
In this period the city managed to conquer the whole territory
of Tuscany, dominating Arezzo, Lucca, Pistoia, Siena, Poggibonsi
In the 14th century the Florentine power was reduced by Lucca
at Altopascio and by Pisa at the battle of Montecatini, but
during the following century the supremacy of Florence reached
its highest peak, thanks to the arrival and consolidation
of a new governing class.
15th century is the century of the Medici family, who came
from the Florentine banking system which had managed to give
wealth to the city. Under the Medici family Florence became
the world's art capital. Art, sculpture, literature and music
flourished and the city played an important role as a cultural
guide which nobody has been able to take away.
After the death of the last member of the Medici family, Florence
passed to the Lorena family, a Napoleon parenthesis and the
incorporation to the Kingdom of Italy.
Florence has been stroke several times by the violence in
recent times: the bombings during the last world war did not
spare the old part of the city, and in 1966 a terrible coincidence
of bad luck and irresponsibility provoked a devastating flood
of the river Arno, which inundated the city causing inestimable
damages of the artistic and historical heritage.
In 1993 a TNT bomb planted by the Italian mafia exploded destroying
the Torre del Pulci, the seat of the Accademia dei Georgofili,
damaging the nearby the Uffizi Gallery. Florence has been
hit hard and frequently, but nobody has managed to submit
the city, not even to discourage the Florentines which with
the hard work rolled up their sleeves without hesitating in
order to restore the splendour that with violence of the evil
enemy of beauty and art had tried to delete.