Florence (Italian: Firenze pronounced [fi'r?ntse]; alternative obsolete spelling: Fiorenza, Latin: Florentia) is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 367,569 inhabitants (1,500,000 in the metropolitan area).
The city lies on the River Arno and is known for its history and its importance in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, especially for its art and architecture. A centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the richest and wealthiest cities of the time, Florence is considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance; in fact, it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. 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 historic centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Florence is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and its artistic, historic and cultural heritage and impact in the world remains vast up to this day. 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 squares (piazzas), Renaissance palaces (palazzi), academies, parks, gardens, churches, monasteries, museums, art galleries and ateliers. The city has also been nominated, according to a 2007 study, as the most desirable destination for tourists in the world.
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