Florence, a unique city in the world for its monumental grandeur, is situated in a scenic location in the valley of the Arno river and is surrounded on three sides by green hills. Its origins date back to many centuries before Christ, even if the known history of this city began in 59 B.C., when the Romans founded a colony, whose name was Florentia. In medieval times Florence became a free city: in the early thirteenth century, thanks to its lively political life and its considerable economic resources, it was considered among the most powerful and prosperous cities of Europe. The rise of Florence culminated in the mid-fifteenth century with the rule of the Medici, who gave glory to the city for over three centuries. During this time Florence was characterized by an extraordinary literary, artistic and scientific development. Florence can therefore claim a priceless heritage of architectures, paintings, sculptures and historical memories, which make it a real town-museum, since artists, thinkers, writers and scientists such as Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Machiavelli, Brunelleschi, Masaccio, Leon Battista Alberti and Galileo lived and worked here. Florence is also a paradise for the shopping of all kinds, from the elegant boutiques of high fashion and jewelry (which are very prestigious in the area of Ponte Vecchio) to the handicraft markets and shops (for example, there are many shops of leather goods).