If the stones of Florence could talk, they would speak of love affairs and murderous plots, jealousy and treacherous consequences. The narrow, bricked streets would still echo with the footsteps of the famous artists who once called Florence home, for it was here that creative masters like Michelangelo, Donatello and Brunelleschi gave birth to the Renaissance. Located in the central Italian region of Tuscany, Florence is one of the most breathtaking cities in Europe. Celebrated as the birthplace of the Renaissance, The city is home to many of its most famous artistic treasures. Consequently, it's a popular destination for tourists and students of art and culture. It was founded in 59 BC by Julius Caesar, who named the settlement Florentia (meaning "flourishing"), and designated it a haven for retired military veterans. In fact, the city was designed in the manner of a military camp, a pattern that's still evident in the city center today. Because Florence is situated on fertile, farmable land, and located on a major travel route between northern Italy and Rome, it grew steadily from a small Roman settlement to a bustling commercial center. By the 3rd century AD, it was established as the capital of Tuscany (then called Tuscia), but its growing significance soon became a detriment.