Florence, in the region of Tuscany, is the main city after which the province is named. It rises on the banks of the Arno in a vast plain surrounded by the Careggi, Fiesole, Settignano, Arcetri and Bellosguardo hills. The river divides the city into two parts: to the north the areas of Santa Maria Novella, San Giovanni and Santa Croce; to the south the "Diladdarno," the area of Santo Spirito. Recent urban development has been mostly in the northwest, towards Sesto Fiorentino and Prato, where the industrial zones are located.
The local economy is based on tourism, industry (textiles and clothes, metalwork, optics, chemistry, pharmaceuticals, glass and ceramics) and on Florentine handicrafts (embroidery, jewellry, products made from straw).
The climate is temperate but rather variable, with humid and breezy winters characterized by periods of intense cold, and hot and muggy summers.
Founded by the Romans in the first century B.C., "Florentia" reached its highest point of civility between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries, as a free State, balancing the authority of the Emperors with that of the Popes, overcoming the problems of internal fighting between Guelphs and Ghibellines. In the fifteenth century Florence was ruled by the Signoria of the Medici. They subsequently became the Granduchy of Tuscany. This was the city's most splendid period, for art, culture, politics and economics. The Granduchy of the Medici was followed by that of the Lorena in the eighteenth century, until in 1860 Tuscany joined the Kingdom of Italy, with Florence as the capital from 1865 to 1871.
Arts and Culture
Florence contains an exceptional artistic patrimony, glorious testimony to its secular civilization. Cimabue and Giotto, the fathers of Italian painting, lived here, along with Arnolfo and Andrea Pisano, reformists of architecture and sculpture; Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio, founders of the Renaissance; Ghiberti and the Della Robbia; Filippo Lippi and l'Angelico; Botticelli and Paolo Uccello; the universal geniuses Leonardo and Michelangelo. Their works, along with those of many generations of artists up to the masters of the present century, are gathered in the city's many museums. In Florence, thanks to Dante, the Italian language was born; with Petrarch and Boccaccio literary studies were affirmed; with Humanism the philosophy and values of classical civilization were revived; with Machiavelli modern political science was born; with Guicciardini, historical prose; and with Galileo, modern experimental science. Up to the time of Charlemagne, Florence was a university town. Today it includes many specialized institutes and is an international cultural center. Academies, art schools, scientific institutes and cultural centers all contribute to the city's intense activity.
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