We thought we'd move to Florence next year for university but as it turns out, Forlì might be the best option considering both university and affordability. Florence, of course, is the home and the root of Renaissance. Its every history/art geek's paradise. Remember the Medici? Infamous and influential dynasty of power who helped bring forth the masterpieces of Michelangelo (Sistine chapel, David), Botticelli (The Birth of Venus), Galileo (debunker of earth as the center of the solar system) and Leonardo da Vinci (uh, duh - Mona Lisa). Its a long naughty history thats worth the read - or watch.
Medici, the Godfather's of the Renaissance is a fascinating documentary on this.
So, after a beautiful introduction to Florence that perhaps cannot by topped by anything else other than nirvana, I went to look up some inspiration on Forlì. It turns out to be a nice flat area (perfect for biking), relaxed university atmosphere, and also quite near Bologna, a city famed for Spaghetti Bolognese and the first university in the world, ever (founded in 1088).
After searching "Forlì" in google images I found another link - Assasin's Creed II: Battle of Forlì. It happens to be a role-playing game that you can play either on pc, xbox, or ps3 (Prince of Persia ring a bell? Gamers anyone?). Most important of all, it features historical moments during the time of the renaissance with characters like Savonarola, Caterina Sforza, and Leonardo's flying machine. The game also takes you around Venice and Florence - an awesome new way of discovering new places. Non-gamers won't probably appreciate but its helpful for me at least to try and share with my younger bros who would less likely pick up a book on the same topic. So, yay for fun AND learning!