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Florence is the regional capital of Tuscany and the Florence province capital. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 367,569 inhabitants (1,500,000 in the metropolitan area). It lies on the plain of the River Arno, hemmed in between the hills that have made it one of the most famous cities in Italy.
The city centre has a wealth of art works and buildings of great historical and architectural value, covering a time span that ranges from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, but even the surrounding area is equally interesting. The beautiful countryside is studded with villas, country parish churches, convents and small, atmospheric villages.
Florence was a centre of Medieval European trade and finance and one of the richest and wealthiest cities of the time, in fact it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. Florence is therefore considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, during which it was long under the de facto rule of the Medici family.
From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the Kingdom of Italy.
The city has also a major European impact in music, architecture, education, cuisine, fashion, philosophy, science and religion. The historic centre of Florence contains numerous elegant piazzas, Renaissance palazzi, academies, parks, gardens, churches, monasteries, museums, art galleries and ateliers.
The city counts a wide range of collections of art, especially those held in the Pitti Palace and the Uffizi. Florence is arguably the best-preserved Renaissance city in the world and is regarded by many as the art capital of Italy.
It has been the birthplace or chosen home of many notable historical characters, such as Dante, Boccaccio, Botticelli, Niccolò Machiavelli, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Donatello, Galileo Galilei, Catherine de' Medici, Antonio Meucci, Guccio Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli and Emilio Pucci, and very many others.