History of Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany is a region situated in central Italy, and it has about 3.8 million inhabitants as of 2019. This region is famous for producing fine tasting wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, Morellino di Scansano, and Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Tuscany also has a strong cultural identity and a linguistic sense that it is sometimes considered a nation within a nation. When it comes to tourism, Tuscany is the second most popular region in Italy, and seven Tuscan localities have also been designated as World Heritage Sites. In this article, we are going to know more about the history of this beautiful and enchanting region.

Tuscany During the Ancient Times

During 351 BC, Tuscany was considered to be the homeland of the Etruscans. After the Roman empire’s fall, this region, which became known as Tuscany, went under the rule of a succession of rulers. Eventually, Tuscany emerged as a political entity with its own rulers. That is why during the 12th century, cities in Tuscany slowly gained their independence as republics. During the Middle Ages, cities such as Pistoia, Arezzo, Lucca, Pisa, Siena, and Florence all became wealthy because they were involved in trade, textile manufacturing, banking, and agriculture. During that time, several wars occurred between the city-states in the hopes of conquering territory and power. However, Florence was the city that was able to overshadow and surmount all other towns in Tuscany.

Tuscany During the Renaissance Period and Reign of the Medici

After trying several ways to have an effective representative government, Florence was eventually ruled by an oligarchy of wealthy aristocrats; the Medici family became most dominant during the 15th century. With the support of these wealthy families, the literature and arts in the region flourished as nowhere else in Europe; that is why this period was called the Renaissance, which means the rebirth after the Middle Ages.

During this time, Florence became the city of famous writers such as Petrarch, Dante, and Macchiavelli. It also became the home of several famous engineers and artists like Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Alberti, and Leonardo Da Vinci. Because Florence became dominant in literature, the Florentine language eventually became the Italian region’s literary language. In fact, it is the language of Italy today. During this time, the area was ruled by Lorenzo de’ Medici, and he was perhaps the most generous patron of the arts in the history of the West.

Tuscany’s Decline and Renewal

Lorenzo de’ Medici’s death changed the region as the Medici family’s power seemed to fall apart, which is why during this time, Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola found a way to become the ruler Florence. However, when Savonarola turned against the pope, he was debarred, tortured, and burned at the Piazza Della Signoria in 1498.

When the commerce shifted away from the Mediterranean and moved toward the Atlantic after 1492, the economy of Tuscany entered a slow decline. When Holy Roman Emperor Charles V occupied Florence, he decided to re-established the Medici family’s power. They became known as the dukes of Florence, and after a few decades, Cosimo de’ Medici was hailed as the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Cosimo aggressively pushed a policy that will promote economic revival. Included in his plans was constructing the excellent harbor at Livorno because Pisa’s port had silted up. He also sponsored Galileo Galilei’s work, the voyages of Amerigo Vespucci, and founded several universities. However, the family’s successors began the decline of the Medici, and in 1737, the last male member of the family died without an heir. Fortuitously for the future of Florence, Anna Maria Luisa, the sister of the last male member of the Medici family, bestowed the entire Medici land and art treasures to the city so that Florentines and everyone around the world could forever adore it.

Tuscany in the Modern Times

After the rule of the Medici family, Tuscany was governed by the Austrian Dukes of Lorraine. During the 17th century, Florence and Tuscany seemed to increasingly fall to relative insignificance, which was not revived until the 19th century. During this time, the Dukes of Lorraine started to modernize Tuscany’s local administration, made some agricultural improvements, and reorganized religious houses. However, in 1861, the march to Italian independence resulted at the end of the Lorraine rule when Tuscany agreed to be annexed and united with Italy.

Today, Tuscany is considered to be an important cultural center in Italy. The region is the home of several galleries, museums, and churches, all full of outstanding and historical paintings, sculptures, and glorious monuments built by the greatest masters and artists in the world. Every year, the charm and culture of Tuscany attract millions of tourists, making it one of the most beautiful and romantic destinations in the world.