Florence is one of the most historic cities in all of Italy. It’s found in the popular region of Tuscany and is perhaps best known as being the birthplace of the Renaissance movement in the 14th century.
Whilst the city was initially founded during the Roman Empire, Florence didn’t actually begin to grow in prosperity until a few centuries later. Trade brought a lot of wealth and prosperity to the area and made it one of the most important places in Europe because of its location on many important trading routes.
One of the most famous aspects of Florentine history is the ruling of the Medici family, who came in and out of power for over 500 years in the city. It is largely down to their influence that Florence grew into such a famous hub of art, architecture, poetry and politics, with many legendary creative and intellectual figures like Leonardo da Vinci, Dante Alighieri and Giovanni Boccaccio all coming to study, work and live in the city between the 14th and 17th centuries.
Florence is the best place to visit in Italy if you’re a fan of the Renaissance, with hundreds of examples of iconic art, architecture and historical artefacts found in the galleries, museums, churches and streets of the city. You won’t be short on stories to discover wherever you visit, whether you’re exploring the buildings, admiring the art or taking your time to soak up the atmosphere of the area that really makes you feel like you’ve stepped back into the past.
Bologna is a city that is just as historic as Florence, with experts tracing evidence of civilization all the way back to the Bronze Age. It didn’t become an established location for several centuries however, when the area was put firmly on the map as a key centre for trade. After being a hub of economic wealth in the Roman Empire, Byzantine and Lombard invaders took control and turned Bologna into more of a base for military operations.
One of the most important historic events in Bologna happened in 1088 when the world’s first university is thought to have been established in the city. It became one of the most influential locations in the medieval world because of this, continuing to prosper after Papal troops took control in the 1500s and built more academic buildings, churches and the famous botanic gardens.
In 1860, Bologna became part of the Kingdom of Italy. After the events of the Second World War, the city thrived as an industrial hub in Europe and is now one of the most economically and politically powerful places in the country.
Both Bologna and Florence are prime contenders for the best historic city in Italy, so whichever you pick will have an impressive historic background and plenty of different things to see and discover.