If you ask anyone about Italy’s history, they’re bound to mention Florence. This small city is found in the rural region of Tuscany and is perhaps best known as being the birthplace of the Renaissance movement.
Florence was established during the Roman Empire, but it didn’t begin to grow in prosperity until a few centuries later when the city became one of the wealthiest and most important trading destinations in Europe. Ruled on and off by the powerful Medici family dynasty for over 500 years, Florence flourished as it became a hub of art, architecture, poetry and politics, and is certainly the most historic of these two locations.
If you’re a fan of the Renaissance then there is no better part of Italy to visit than Florence, where you can wander the same streets as past inhabitants such as Leonardo da Vinci, Dante Alighieri and Giovanni Boccaccio as you admire the incredible architecture from this period that is still preserved across the city. The selection of ancient art inside the city’s galleries and museums is unparalleled, and there are historic stories attached to almost every building and artefact that make it a truly fascinating place to visit.
The origins of the city of Milan can be traced right back to 400 BC, but it was firmly put on the map (so to speak) when it became the capital of the north of Italy in the 3rd century. Found in the region of Lombardy, Milan has a history of different rulers and inhabitants who have favoured the city because of its prime position as part of the European trading route.
During the Middle Ages, a region known as the Duchy of Milan was established, which fell under the control of both the French and the Spanish until it joined the Republic of Italy in the 1800s. The city was famous for its passion for Italian nationalism, and whilst the capital of the country moved to Florence and then Rome when Italy united as a nation, Milan has always been thought of as its financial centre.
Modern Milan is the second-largest city in Italy, and despite its rather dramatic past, there are not many traces of this history left. Instead, Milan has prospered as a city that focuses on industrial, commercial and financial success, as well as sharing the title of Europe’s fashion capital with Paris.
This is one instance where the choice between Milan vs Florence is simple; if you’re after history then Florence is a clear winner.