FLORENCE – the Cradle of the Renaissance!
Walk in the footsteps of Renaissance geniuses Dante, Giotto, Masaccio, Ghiberti, Donatello, the Medici Princes, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli.
Florence was founded as a Roman military camp in the 1st century BCE. Typical of Roman military camps, it was laid out on a grid pattern. As the camp evolved into a town and then a city, the tents were replaced by shops, houses etc. of wood and then of stone, but the grid pattern remained. If you look at a modern map of Florence, you can still see the grid pattern of the original Roman settlement.
Modern excavations have revealed public baths and, just outside the ancient Roman city walls, the foundations upon which a sizable amphitheater stood. These excavations, and others, are evidence of the growth and economic success of the Roman colony during the time of the Empire, 1st century B.C.-5th century A.D.
Beginning in the late 3rd century A.D, the western portion of the Roman Empire came under invasion by wave upon wave of Germanic peoples coming from the East.
The Romans commonly set up their military encampments in a grid pattern, and as encampment transitioned to town and then to city, tents were replaced by structures of wood and then stone along the streets of the original grid pattern. Additionally, the original protective wood palisades surrounding the grid-pattern Roman camp were eventually replaced by stone walls.
If you look at a modern map of Florence, you can still see the grid-pattern of the original Roman settlement. And modern excavations of the city have revealed numerous structures from the Roman period, including baths houses within the city and an a sizable amphitheater outside the city walls.
The Early Middle Ages
With the so-called "Barbarian Invasions of Italy" and the "Fall of Rome" from the 4th through 6th century CE, we pretty much lose track of Florence, as with most of Europe during the Early Middle Ages (roughly 6th-11th century). (The "Invasions" are perhaps better characterized as migrations that went on until the 12th century and the "Fall of Rome" better understood as a rather gradual, almost imperceptible, decline.)
Most of Europe during the Early Middle Ages – with the important qualified exception of Italy – went through a catastrophic half millennium. Without the protection of Rome and with the appearance of wide-spread plagues, long-distance and then local commerce in Western Europe all but disappeared. The cities and towns withered, and the countryside likewise lost most of its population. Add to all that a mini ice age which brought agricultural yields way down and helped wipe out most of the population. The result was that most of Europe was left living poorly indeed. Starvation was common. Most of the remnant European population lived in tiny rural villages of 50-150 souls trying to eke , and these villages.
Bellagio on Lake Como