"Florentia", the florid, was the name given by the Romans to this small settlement located at the foot of the ancient Etruscan Fiesole and founded in the first century BC. The Etruscans, an ancient and mysterious race, of whom we know very little, but who left numerous testimonies around about Florence, had settled on the hills surrounding the plain of the river Arno as far back as the VII-VI centuries BC. At first erected as a Roman "castrum", Florentia soon assumed the appearance of a real town with a Forum (now Piazza della Repubblica), thermal baths (via delle Terme), and amphitheater (via Tòrta).
Then the period of the decline of the Empire arrived , with the political fragmentation from which the feudal system sprang up. The town, constituted as a Commune at the beginning of the twelfth century, began to expand until it spread over half of Arno valley and surrounding hillsides.
Despite the internal struggles, first between rival families and then between the Guelfs (loyal to the Pope) and the Ghibellines (loyal to the Emperor), from the thirteenth century onwards it began to flourish as a city of art, culture and international trading, reaching its zenith in the fifteenth century under the Signoria of Cosimo and Lorenzo de’ Medici. After Lorenzo’s death in 1492, Florence witnessed a long period of wars that led to the end of the Florentine Republic and saw the birth of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, ruled first by a younger branch of the Medici family and following, by the Hapsburg-Lorena family. Despite alternating events the Grand Duchy survived up until the political unification of Italy, of which Florence was capital from 1865 to 1871. This marked the beginning of a profound restructuring of the city that led to the knocking down of the walls and the erasing of several ancient quarters in the center that endowed Florence with its present-day appearance.