Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

How Florence got its name

The iconic Tuscan city of Florence is one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions. But while visitors flock in their thousands to get a taste of what renaissance life might have been like, few actually know how Florence got its name.
Being such an old city, dating back to the Etruscan era, there are a couple of theories on its naming. The settlement was originally established as a satellite community to nearby Visul, to help manage the transportation of goods up and down the Arno river. Around the settlement were lush grassy planes, known as florentes. A similar geographic theory for the name comes from the Etruscan phrase ‘Florence Birent’ which means "land between the waters," referring to its position near where the rivers Mugnone and Affrico join the Arno. The other popular naming theory goes back to Roman times, and as you might guess from the name ‘Florentia’ (as Florence is sometimes known), there’s a flower connection. Floralia was a popular Roman festival celebrating springtime and renewal. It’s thought to have coincided with the official Roman foundation ceremony of Florence, therefore becoming forever linked to the city. This theory is the more romantic of the two, especially when you consider the emblem of Florence is the lily, which you’ll see brought to life in the iconic Fleur de Lis crest, proudly engraved and sculpted across the city.