Florence, the spectacular capital of the region of Tuscany, is located on Italy's northwest coast. It is a stunning medieval city divided into two parts by the River Arno that flows from the Apennines through Florence and Pisa and on to the Ligurian Sea. Florence is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world with its overflow of palaces, churches and museums filled with masterful paintings and sculptures. 

The city was found in 59.B.C by Julio Caesar's war veterans, who named it "Florentin", for its flourishing beauty. Florence experienced its time of greatness in the 14th century when the powerful family of the Medicis made its entry onto the world scene, eventually becoming bankers to the papacy. Cosimo Medici became the ruler of Florence and sponsored artist such as Donatello, Brunelleschi and Filippo Lippi. In 1469, the grandson of Cosimo, Lorenzo, took over power. He was responsible for the great development of art, music and poetry; and was a patron to philosophers and artist such as Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. From 1860 to 1875, Florence was the capital of Italy.

  However, the 20th century was a disastrous century for the city. It was one of Mussolini's most faithful strongholds and was badly damaged during WWII by retreating Germans, who blew up all the city's bridges except the Ponte Vecchio. In 1966, devastating floods ravaged the city, causing inestimable damage to its buildings and artworks, some of which are still being restored. Today, the city leads quite an existence; and strolling the streets of Florence might deceive you to think that you have walked into a former age. 

Throughout history, Florence has played an important role in the world's culture. Home of classical Italian and of the Italian Renaissance, today the city's rich and fantastic remains attract a high proportion of international travelers every year. It still retains a strong resemblance to the small late-medieval center that was once the leading in the cultural and political development at the time. 
Florence is justifiably called "the capital of arts". According to statistics produced by UNESCO, 60% of the world's most important works of art are located in Italy and approximately half of these are in Florence. Browsing through Florence's collection of breathtaking architecture, sculpture, monuments, museum and other treasures of art might overwhelm you. However, you should see the Cathedral (i.e. Duomo) with its massive cupola and the bell-tower, which together makes the  striking feature of the city. Inside are many important works of art by such artists as Michelangelo, Donatello and Brunelleschi. The Basilica of San Lorenzo dates from 393 and is the oldest church in the city. The church is flanked by the New Sacristy, designed by Michelangelo and houses the Medici family tombs. Some of Florence most important museums are; "Galleria dell'Accademia" which houses famous sculptures by Michelangelo, and Donatello; "Uffizi Gallery" is one of the greatest museums in the world, with works by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Rubens, Rembrandt and Goya to name a few.
  Apart from the overwhelming art and cultural treasures, the city offers one of the Italy's most atmospheric and pleasant places to visit. The streets of Florence radiate the charm of Italian culture. It has a wonderful countryside, featuring picturesque villages and vineyards, making for a perfect day excursion. In close distance, you can visit Siena, once Florence's rival in artistic and political dominance, and Pisa, world famous for it's leaning tower. Plus, from Florence you can easily reach the Italian coast with its beautiful beaches, while Rome and  Milan, the "capital of fashion", are in short distance.

Food and wine lovers won't be disappointed in Florence; there are much delightful Italian wines and dishes to try. The city also makes for great shopping; here you find designer wear as well as wonderful flea markets. Mercato "Delle Cascine", situated in the beautiful Parco delle Cascine, is probably the biggest and cheapest market in town. Florence is also an active center of modern art and culture; in summer music, cinema, dance and theatre flows the streets and the squares. 

Florence status as an important university town attract a lot of Italian and international students, making the city a bustling capital in the region. A university town with over 650,000 inhabitants, Florence features a young, and lively night scene. For bohemians, check out the area of Oltrarno, south of the river. While, Piazza della Signoria has a more concentrated nightlife for the more dressed up crowd. For clubbing, Central Park in Parco delle Cascine, is a  hotspot, with the latest in music trends. Soulciety Club at Via San Zanobi is a great place for funk, hip-hop and soul. Dance clubs typically open late and gets crowded around 2 am. To find out exactly where the action is at the moment - check out Firenze Spettacolo, the city's major entertainment publication. 

Florence is best visited in the low season, from April to June and in September and October, when the weather is pleasant (summer can be very hot), during this time the city is also less crowded. During summer, tourists flock to the city as if it was Mecca. Early winter is also a good time, as it offers mild temperatures. 

In Florence you will enjoy the cultural and historical richness of its past and take part of its lively fun-going atmosphere of today!

  School Facilities  
  Scuola Leonardo da Vinci Centre: is situated in the Heart of the Old City of Florence just a few blocks away from the Piazza del Duomo. The building is a beautiful historical palazzo with magnificent view of the Cathedral. From here you can reach the most famous squares and sights in a few minutes.  There is also free internet access available.

Scuola Parola Centre: is centrally located in a XVI century building designed by Vasari (the architect of the Uffizi gallery) and only a few steps away from Santa Croce Church, in the heart of the historical center. It is in close proximity to most major sights such as, the Arno River, Central Market and Church of San Lorenzo, Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, Piazzale Michelangelo, etc. There is a computer lab, which offers students free access to word processing and Internet via an ADSL connection, plus a library with over 300 books, video and DVD resources, and a Piano for the musically inclined. The spacious classrooms are all equipped with air conditioning.




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