Tuscany Historical Information

29th Residential Summer Course in Epidemiology
Florence, 20 June – 8 July 2016 

 “Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather
becomes frozen, even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”

Leonardo da Vinci


Tuscany, the flowered heart of Italy is known as the golden land, renowned for its art, history and evocative landscape, famous for its cypress rows, olive trees, vineyards, hills in the infinity and walled medieval villages. Tuscany is a region where the past and the present merge together and coexist in perfect harmony.

Towards the 8th Century B.C. traces of a mysterious and extraordinary population started to appear all over Italy : the Etruscans (the people of the sea), Etruria got its name from them. Under the Romans the name was transformed into Tuscia, then changed again into Tuscania and finally into Toscana.

They created roads, reclaimed swamps and built great cities such as Volterra, Chiusi, Cortona, Arezzo, Fiesole (close to Florence), Vulci, Vetulonia, Veio, Volsini, Terracina and Tarquinia.

The exceptional archaeological findings, scattered over an extremely vast territory and found in tombs of all kinds and dimensions in the extraordinary and almost incredible necropolises or “the cities of the dead”, testify to the degree of civilization that this population reached.

The Etruscan civilisation and language had a great influence on the conquering Romans, with time, the Etruscan ruling class came to be absorbed into Roman civilisation. Lucca, Pisa, Siena, Florence and Pistoia were all founded by the Romans.

The period of the “Free Communes” began during the 12th Century. The first democracies and the first Art and Trade Unions rendered Tuscany a sole model of cultural, social and economic independence.

After the Middle Ages a new era was beginning, and in it were sown the seeds of the Italian nation. Florence, dominating all, was writing the history for the whole Tuscan region. Freed from clerical tyranny and feudal dominion, Florence and Tuscany became a crucible of ideas and inventions ; the rigid structures of the past had gone, the new Italian language was born, and cultural transformations were achieved in a way not possible at any other place on the world at that time.

In the 14th Century, thanks firstly to Dante and to Giotto and to numerous great artists during the 15th Century, Tuscany and especially Florence, gave a decisive contribution to the birth of the Italian Renaissance.

Under the patronage of the Medici an extraordinary blossoming of intellect and culture developed in Florence, the epicentre of the Renaissance across the 15th and 16th centuries.
Famous personalities influenced that time : Brunelleschi, Donatello, Alberti, Ghiberti, Masaccio, Paolo Uccello, Botticelli, Piero della Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

The great art centres of Florence, Pisa and Siena and the medieval towns such as San Gimignano and Pienza bear timeless witness to a thousand years of history, culture and art. Tuscany has splendid endless museums, full of ancient Etruscan and Roman ruins, medieval castles, fortresses, watch-towers and town walls appear everywhere, Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals, Renaissance palaces, historical buildings, streets, that will fascinate you.

Tuscany offers natural landscapes of immense variety, from the green hills of Chianti to the beaches on the Tyrrhenian coast with the seaside resorts of Forte dei Marmi, Viareggio, Piombino, Orbetello, Elba, and from the spectacular rocky heights of the Apennines and the Apuan Alps to the spas of Montecatini, Chianciano, Bagni di Lucca and Saturnia.


“Whoever wants to be happy, let him be so :
about tomorrow there is no knowing.”

Lorenzo il Magnifico