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In the Quaternary Age the Florence-Prato-Pistoia plain was occupied by a great lake bounded by Monte Albano in the west, Mount Giovi in the North and the first hills of Chianti in the South. Even after most of the water had withdrawn, the plain, 50 metres above sea level, was strewn with ponds and marshes which remained until the process of reclamation which began in the 18th century. Most of the marshland was in the region of Campi Bisenzio, Signa and Bagno a Ripoli.
It is thought that there was already a Villanovan settlement at the confluence of the Mugnone with the Arno between the 10th and the 8th century BC. Between the 7th and 6th centuries BC Etruscans had discovered and used the ford of the Arno River near this confluence, closer to the hills to the North and South. A bridge or a ferry was probably constructed here, about ten metres away from the current Ponte Vecchio, but closer to the ford itself. The Etruscans, however, preferred not to build cities on the plain for reasons of defence and instead settled about six kilometres away on a hill. This settlement was a precursor of the fortified centre of Vipsul (today's Fiesole), which was later connected by road to all the major Etruscan centers of Emilia to the North of the Spain.
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