Why is Tuscany in the list of all cubes? What about walking from the city of the hill to the city of the hill of Tuscany, passing through vast expanses of lush vineyards, which have such a universal charm? Why would you want to visit this idyllic part of the world yourself? And where should you go first in your wanderings?
For starters, Tuscany is rich in history, dating back to the Etruscans in the year 900 BC. C., which progressed in the Roman period to the controversial states full of medieval and Renaissance art. Even today, the well-preserved cities and towns of Tuscany retain much of the charm and aroma of their past, providing an experience of their own lives over time. From the Etruscan to the Middle Ages, until the Renaissance and until the modern period, Tuscany has retained its unique version of timelessness, proudly displayed in its museums and churches, but also featured in the "living museum" of streets and markets, Buildings and art.
And speaking of art ... Tuscany has one of the largest art collections in the world, with masterpieces by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and many others, which give life to its history, illuminated by art and sculpture.
Add to that the superior architecture, built to surprise, its extravagant colossal cathedrals, with multicolored marble facades, encrusted marble floors, which lasted centuries to the end and domes grew that were its design wonders of the time. worried. they were built As if more ornaments were needed, these imposing buildings house numerous sculptures, frescoes, and stained glass windows, all gathered in an obvious attempt to inspire the population's performance and humiliate them in obedience.
Equally interesting are the characteristic experiences lived throughout the region, in all Tuscan cities, large or small. Excellent wine, local products ... Delicious food ... The enthusiasm of the market, spacious inhabited centers full of people and surrounded by lively outdoor cafes. External markets ... Not to mention ice cream!
Tuscany and its Etruscan heritage
The Etruscans were the first civilization of Tuscany, from the 8th century BC. C., long before the Romans. The name "Tuscany" derives from the term "Etruscan". They were an advanced town, which is believed to be a melting pot of immigrants and Greek natives in Italy. They built their well-fortified cities on the tops of the hills, recovering previously non-arable land, building water systems for irrigation. In 500 a. C., the Etruscan culture spread in Tuscany, controlling much of central Italy, including Rome.
Many works of art and Etruscan artifacts have survived over the centuries, preserved buried with the dead and with the Egyptians. The Etruscan tombs, composed of several rooms, are carved in the rock and furnished as a home for the next world, with food, jewelry, and weapons. The Etruscans have designed filigree, delicate and delicate jewels, which reflect a rich and sophisticated culture, with refined tastes.
Each Etruscan city was its independent city-state, with an autonomous government. Over the centuries, cities have come together in three separate leagues, each consisting of 12 cities. Until the fourth century BC. C., the Etruscans constantly lost power to the Romans, which eventually led to their disappearance. As Rome grew, it conquered and absorbed the states of the Etruscan city one by one until they disappeared into the largest civilization, Rome carved itself.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Tuscany had a series of rulers until the twelfth century, when the Tuscan cities gradually began to regain their independence as republics. Until the Middle Ages, some of these cities were enriched by trade, commerce, and banks, including Florence, Siena, and Pisa. But among the city-states, there was a state of perpetuity, war and gray, perpetual for power over others. In the end, Florence stood out.
Five places to visit first in Tuscany
During your visit to Tuscany, you should enjoy the full experience, balancing small and picturesque cities with large and famous cities. Start in the medium-sized city of Siena. Then jump through the three small cities of San Gimignano, Montepulciana and Cortona. Save Florence for the last time.
First in Siena, frozen in time
Start your Tuscan adventure in Siena, the rival city of Florence, now frozen in time. Surrounded by olive groves and Chianti vineyards, Siena is one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany. Situated on three hills, the city is connected by winding alleys and steep steps.
Like other cities on the Tuscan hills, Siena was colonized by the Etruscans (in the year 900 BC to 400 BC). Centuries later, in 30 AD, the Romans established a military post in Siena. The city became a small busy trading post, advanced by the Via Francigena, the commercial and pilgrimage road that links Rome with France. This has greatly increased the importance of Siena.
Siena grew in economic and military power to become an important and powerful city of 60,000 inhabitants, of equal size and importance for Florence. Like Florence, Siena commissioned great artists to create splendid monuments and works of art as proof of their stature.
But the golden age of Siena ended abruptly with the devastating plague that spread in Italy, France, Germany, and other European countries, spread by infected fleas carried by black mice. About 1/3 of the European population died on this plate. When the plague struck Siena in 1348, it killed its victims almost instantly ... the sick "would die while they were talking". There were so many deaths that some believed that this was the "end of the world".
Fervent frictions developed between Siena and Florence as they recovered from the plague, with both cities determined to expand their territories to the loss of the other. Siena won some of the many battles between the two cities. But in the end, Florence conquered the command in 1555, in alliance with the Spanish crown. Siena surrendered in Spain and the Spanish king ceded Siena to Florence to pay off his enormous debts with the Medici family.
In Siena, you will live your opening experience with a large square, Piazza del Campo, in the heart of the city. Find the Fountain of Joy and the statue of Venus to see up close. This vast open space was once the center of commerce and the scene of executions and bullfights. Now it is home twice a year for the famous Palio, the bare-back horse race in which the 17 districts ("contrade") compete fiercely to win the coveted flag. The career of the Palio lasts only a minute, with three laps around the square, and has the assistance of 60,000 spectators who applaud.
Furthermore, you will enjoy your first excessively bright Duomo, with its facade of gold leaf and pink, white and green marble. Take the time to study carefully the 56 masterpieces incorporated into the floor panels, depicting stories of legends, fortune, travel, wisdom, and violations. If you are in Siena on a Wednesday, enjoy the weekly market. And consider enrolling in the 2-hour lesson at the Tuscan Wine School near the Duomo to start your introduction to Tuscan wines.
On a day trip from Siena, take the train to the small San Gimignano ...
In San Gimignano, a city of towers
San Gimignano is a small walled city, halfway between Florence and Siena, along what was once the trade and pilgrimage route between France and Rome. It is famous for its medieval architecture and its defensive towers, which rise above the city walls, visible as the hill rises towards the city.
These protective towers were built by patrician families at the height of the city's glory, as symbols of their wealth and power. The towers also had a defensive purpose against the attack of external intruders, as well as rival families within the city walls. Of the 72 towers that once dominated the city, only 14 survived and continue to give San Gimignano its atmosphere and feudal appearance. To see a replica of the city as it appeared in the 1300s when all its towers were still standing, visit the San Gimignano 1300 exhibition, within the city walls.
Like Siena, San Gimignano was decimated by the plague, which reduced its population from 13,000 to 4,000 and forced the city to submit to Florence. Florence ordered the removal of most of the towers. After Florence moved the commercial and pilgrim route to avoid San Gimignano, the fortunes of the city diminished, leaving it preserved in its form of the 13th century.
San Gimignano is a labyrinth of old buildings, intertwined by narrow pedestrian streets and bordered by interesting shops and galleries that offer the work of local artists and craftsmen: leather, handmade jewelry, embroidery, ceramics, paintings. There are some interesting places to see here.
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