Not quite as old as some of its Tuscan neighbors, Florentia was founded as a Roman military colony in the 1st Century B.C. Traces of its Roman heritage are seen in its grid layout and the vast Piazza della Repubblica, once the ancient forum. Throughout its history, aided by it navigable river and the rich lands surrounding it, the city grew from a small city of moneylenders and cloth makers to become a powerful republic, the seat of the Duchy of Tuscany and for a brief period (1865-70) a capital of Italy. It held preeminence in commerce and finance, learning and the arts.

Dante's Divine Comedy Florence’s history is stamped with the names of the men who contributed to it – men of towering wealth or artistic genius such as the generations of the Medici family, its most-renowned rulers, and artists such as Dante, Machiavelli, Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo. Together such leaders contributed to the Renaissance itself and the city’s distinctive skyline.