The Ancient Roman Florence

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The Romans founded many cities, such as Barium (Bari), Genua (Genoa), Bauzanum (Bolzano) and Mediolanum (Milan). After the end of the Western Roman Empire, one of these cities became the capital of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and it was the second capital of the Kingdom of Italy. The city is Florence, and its Roman name was Florentia.

It was built in 59 BCE near Via Cassia for commercial needs; at the beginning it was a municipium (this Latin word means city), then it became a colony. There was a temple consecrated to Mars because Florentia was built as a city for soldiers. During the ruling of Emperor Hadrian, the city was enlarged, and by the 3rd century CE it was a successful commercial centre. In 287 CE it became the capital of the region Tuscia et Umbria, and in 405 CE it was able to withstand the sieges of the Ostrogoths.

The city was built using Castrum, which was the model of the military camp. Its main roads, the Cardo and the Decumano, were directed towards the cardinal points. Today the Cardo is via Roma and via Calimala, and the Decumano is via degli Strozzi, via degli Speziali and via del Corso. At the beginning, the urban perimeter stretched from via Tornabuoni to via Proconsolo (west-east), and from Via Cerretani – piazza Duomo to piazza Signoria (north – south). The main buildings of the city were the temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, the forum, the amphitheatre, the theatre, the public baths, the temple of Isis and the temple consecrated to Mars.

There is only a little of Florentia left nowadays; the ruins of the theatre are under Palazzo Vecchio, some ruins of the public baths are under Torre della Pagliazza, there are other ruins under the cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower and the baptistery, and in via del Proconsolo it’s possible to see where the towers were. The Florence Museum, which closed in 2010, hosted a miniature model of Florentia as well as Etruscan and Roman diggings.