It is a question that a lot of visitors ask themselves, being quite shocked because of the difference between the name of Florence ( that our city is known all over the world ) and Firenze, and that's how Italians will call Florence. It's quite amusing when my guests come to me doubtful and a bit uncomfortable and ask me with low voice, why Firenze ?
There are a couple of possible explanations but the first one that l'm about to expose now, seems the most logical.
This little spot along river Arno was inhabited from the Iron Age and logically had had different names. The Etruscans might have called the area that actual Florence stands , Birent or Birenz, that means land between waters , because of river Arno, Affico and Mugnone that where ( and still are ) all around. But this version is not proved in any way so far and although the name sounds close to 'Firenze' still does not make sense why this name have not survived Roman and Medieval period but we still use it today.
The Romans give to this little spot ( where actual Florence stands ) the wishful name of Florentia ( you may be blossomed ),as it was green and full of flowers and as they used to do with different other cities. So for the rest of the world uses the Latin name that Romans gave to the city , modified for every language off course; for example in modern Greek sounds exactly the same : Φλωρεντία, while in French and in English : Florence and so on.
The question is then : why the name was changed ? It was simply a lexical passage as the years went through and modern Italian language took it's actual form. The word
Flos / Floris ( flower ) was modified to Fiore , so during Italian Medieval language Florentia became Fiorenza and then Firenze ! Off course the evolution of the Italian language was not observed from the rest of the world , who off course kept the Latin version of the name.
I hope I 've shed some light to the mystery of Firenze and hope to intrigue you so to come and visit this eternal beautiful city !