Florence (Firenze), Italy

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Florence is on the River Arno in the northcentral area of Italy. It is the capital of Tuscany and of the province of Firenze. The city is a major crossroads between Rome and northern Italy, and is notable for its cultural and artistic heritage.


Florence was founded in 59 BC as Florentia. By the third century AD it was provincial capital and commercial centre of the Roman Empire. With imperial decline, the city fell into the hands of the Ostrogoths, before being captured by the Byzantines and the Lombards. Prosperity was restored in the early eleventh century under the guidance of Countess Matilda of Tuscany.

Florence’s economy continued to grow through the eleventh and twelfth centuries, but stability was threatened by an ongoing dispute between the Guelphs (Papal supporters who favoured the government of the mercantile classes) and the Ghibelines (Imperial supporters). The two factions favoured alternate modes of government for the city, and their opposition has...

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