Florence is a city in central Italy and the capital city of the Tuscany region. It is the most populated city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area. Florence was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era. It is considered by many academics the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called «the Athens of the Middle Ages»
The city attracts millions of tourists each year, and UNESCO declared the Historic Centre of Florence a World Heritage Site in 1982. The city is noted for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments. The city also contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, and still exerts an influence in the fields of art, culture and politics. Due to Florence’s artistic and architectural heritage, Forbes has ranked it as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Florence plays an important role in Italian fashion, and is ranked in the top 15 fashion capitals of the world..
Florence was the birthplace of High Renaissance art, which lasted from 1450–1527. While Medieval art focused on basic story telling of the Bible, Renaissance art focused on naturalism and human emotion. Medieval art was abstract, formulaic, and largely produced by monks whereas Renaissance art was rational, mathematical, individualistic, consisted of linear perspective and shading (Chiaroscuro) and produced by specialists (Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael).
Cimabue and Giotto, the fathers of Italian painting, lived in Florence as well as Arnolfo and Andrea Pisano, renewers of architecture and sculpture; Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio, forefathers of the Renaissance, Ghiberti and the Della Robbias, Filippo Lippi and Angelico; Botticelli, Paolo Uccello and the universal genius of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Florentine food grows out of a tradition of peasant eating rather than rarefied high cooking. The majority of dishes are based on meat.
Antipasti include crostini toscani, sliced bread rounds topped with a chicken liver-based pâté, and sliced meats (mainly prosciutto and salame, often served with melon when in season). The typically saltless Tuscan bread, obtained with natural levain frequently features in Florentine courses, especially in its soups, ribollita and pappa al pomodoro, or in the salad of bread and fresh vegetables called panzanella that is served in summer
Among the desserts, schiacciata alla fiorentina, a white flatbread cake, is one of the most popular; it is a very soft cake, prepared with extremely simple ingredients, typical of Florentine cuisine, and is especially eaten at Carnival.