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Map of Farm houses in Tuscany


 

Information on Tuscany


Population:

3.510.114 abitanti

Surface:

22.992

Boundaries:

In the north with Emilia-Romagna, in the east with Marche and Umbria, in the south with Lazio, in the west with the Tyrrhenian Sea and Liguria.

Agriculture:

Although the agriculture of this regionis not one of the most important in Italy, it still produces a fair amount of olives, cereals, vegetables, fruit and the winegrape, especially that for Chianti, which is famous in this area. However, the culture of corn, tobacco and sugar-beet is developing steadily and cattle breeding and fish are quite important; chestnut andmushroom growing is another source of income. Commercial flower growing in the area around Pistoia has an excellent reputation. But it must be said that Tuscon agriculture is going through a poriod of change, insofar as many of the agrarianareas are becoming more and more urbanised with the increase in the number of factories; as a result there has been no notable progress in the development of any specific produce.

Landscapes:

The region of Tuscany is mostly hilly with several lakes and rivers wich, with the beautiful cities full of wonderful works of art, makes it a very lovely part of Italian country. Tuscany has only a short stretch of mountain; one lying to the east of the region in the Appenines and the other to the west in the Apuan Alps; these reach a maximum altitude of 2.000 mt. The "Antiappennino" is a series of low mountain chains running parallel to the main mountain range; the central part of the region has some famous mountain peaks called "Monte del Chianti", "Monte Amiata" and the "Monti Metalliferi". There are many flat areas in Tuscany but they are very small; although the Maremma plain and the lower Valdarno plain are important, they are still small (the Valdarno shetches from the coast to the far side of Empoli). All these plains lie along the water courses of the principle rivers.These are the Arno, which flows through Florence and Pisa, is the region' s longest river with 241 kms, and the Ombrone (161 kms). Lake Massaciuccoli (6,5 sq kms) and Lake Castelnuovo di Garfagnana are the largest and most important lakes of the region. Along the coast, the winters are mild and summers are hot and dry while in the inland areas the temperature falls considerably during the winter mounths. The coastal area is generally flat and sandy and streches for almost 300 kms and is a great tourist attraction. A curious feature of this smooth coastline is that sometimes it is interrupted by promontories most important of which are the Piombino and the Mount Argentario. Topography: Mountain 25,1% Hill 66, 5% Plain 8,4%

Industry:

The Tuscany industrial complex is made up of a remarkable number of middling and small size industries; these operate in the textile, food products, mechanics, chemicals sectors and in leather work and in the making of furniture. This region is famous in Italy (and in Europe) for the extraction of minerals and especially of marble; this industry is extremely well developed and is a good source of income. Tuscany is also one of the few Italian regions where the so-called "Trasformation Industry" operates; this involves small factories,tuched away behind and between city buildings, which work in leather tanning, footwear and editorial graphics. Tourism is well established and is the main source of income from the service sector in the region; commerce is also well developed and thriving.

Cities:

The principal city of Tuscany is Florence (Firenze). This is one of the most artistic and cultural cities in the world; it stands on the river Arno, the longest river in the region. The city economy is based on industry and tourismbut other businesses such as optics, mechanics and editorial and graphic houses add greatly to the income as so do the handicraft of confectionery and ornaments, but on the whole, agriculture is not greatly developed. Florence has a remarkable number of beautiful buildings and works of art, the most famous being the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (St. Mary of the Flower) beside which stand the Campanile di Giotto (Giotto' s Bell Tower) and the Baptistery of San Giovanni (St. John). Giotto painted the beautiful frescoes inthe Chapels Bardi and Peruzzi; the most wonderful buildings inthe city are the Palaces of the Podesta', Vecchio or Della Signoria (Old or of the Lords), of the Bargello and the Loggia dei Lanzi; the churches of Santa Maria Novella, Santa Trinita' and Santa Croce which are all three in the Gothic style. A particular feature in Florence is the "Ponte Vecchio" (the Old Bridge), built on the river Arno. One can visit museums full of wonderful works of art (paintings and sculptures) and gaze at the architecture left to the world by Italian artists, sculptors and architects almost all them sons of Tuscany. Pisa, another lovely Tuscan city, is famous all over the world for its "Torre Pendente" (the Leaning Tower of Pisa). But before talking about the artistic aspect of the city, it must be mentioned that as well as being a good commercial and industrial centre with alimentary, textile, glass and confectionery factories, Pisa also has a notable annual tourist trade. Once a strong Maritime Republic, Pisa possesses some stupendous works of art among which, above all, are the Campanile called "la Torre di Pisa" (the Tower of Pisa), the Duomo and the Baptistery; these three buildings are to be found in the famous "Piazza dei Miracoli" (Square of the Miracles). Other important and beautiful features are the churches of San Frediano, San Francesco and San Paolo, the Chapel of Sant' Agata and the National Museum, a great attraction. The University at Pisa is very famous indeed. Prato, the principal city in the province of the same name since 1992, stands on the river Bisenzio and is one of the major textile centres of the region, but it also has other industries in its chemical, metalmechanic, confectionery and alimentary factories. Agriculture is restricted to producing olives and vegetables. Prato' s most important buildings are the Duomo, the Castello dell' Imperatore (the Emperor' s Castle) and the church of Santa Maria delle Carceri (St. Mary of the Prisons). Livorno, a coastal city of the Tyrrhenian Sea, is a busy port and tourist seaside resort; industry operates in the mechanics, boat/ship building, alimentary and glass making sectors and deep-sea fishing is quite well developed. An inherent feature of this city is that its high density population is second only to that of Florence. Siena is famous for the Palio, the horse race which is held in the square in the centre of the city twice a year. Siena lies between the rivers Arbia and Elsa; its economy is centred mainly on tourism and the industry connected with the production of sweets (the Panforte), mechanics and pharmaceuticals. This is the only entirely medieval city in Italy; the Square of the Palio is called "Piazza del Campo" where the beautiful "Palazzo Pubblico" (Public Palace) stands with the "Torre del Mangia" beside it. The Duomo is beautiful and has a wonderful Cupola and so are the Baptistery, the medieval church of Santa Maria dei Servi (St. Mary of the Serfs) and the Palace Chigi-Saracini. Pistoia, which stands on the left bank of the river Ombrone, has a well established mechanic and metalmechanic industry, an adeguate agrarian production and a flourishing commercial business. The most interesting buildings of this city are the Duomo, the churches of Sant' Andrea (St. Andrew) and San Bartolomeo (St. Bartholomew) and the Palaces of Panciatichi and Pretorio. The city of Lucca lies on the plain between the southern outcrops of the Apuan Alps and the Mount Pisano; industry is good in the textile, alimentary, tobacco and chemicals sectors. The churches of San Frediano and San Romano, the beautiful church of San Michele in Foro (St. Michael at the Forum) and the Duomo of San Martino are the most iteresting buildings to see in this city. Massa Carrara is a small borough of Tuscany and stand between the southwestern slope of the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is an extremely busy seaside resort, has a thriving industry in the extraction of minerals and the cutting of marble; its most important buildings are the Castle Malaspina and the Duomo. Arezzo has a sound agrarian policy producing corn, potatoes, tomatoes and beans but the mechanic, metallurgy and confectionery industries have little importance. The Roman Theatre and Amphitheatre evoke an ancient civilisation and the Parish Church of Santa Maria, the Duomo and the Palazzo dei Priori (Palace of the Priors) with its Tower are splendid buildings. And lastly, Grosseto, which lies in the middle of the Tuscan Fens, on the right bank of the river Ombrone. Vegetables, grapes and cereals are grown here and dairy produce and building materials are the main industrial concerns. The Duomo and the churches of San Francesco and San Pietro (St. Francis and St. Peter) are the city' s only buildings of note. Touristic resorts: Seaside localities are Marina di Massa, the Island of Elba and Castiglione di Pescaia. Spas are Montecatini Terme and Chianciano Terme. Art centres are Florence, Pisa and Siena.

Characters:

Tuscany has the greatestnumber of famous personages connected with its history; in fact there are eleven.We begin with the greatest poet of all time, Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). He was a member of the Council of One Hundred in 1296, but because he took up a position against the Black Guelfs( at that time the Lords of Tuscany), he was sentenced first to pay a fine and then to exile; theseafter, he was threatened with death should he ever fall into the Lands of the City Council. Dante' s artistic maturity was greatly influenced by all these vicissitudes. He went to Verona and then to Ravenna where he died. He never returned to his native Florence. Dante' s principal literary work is the very well-known "Divina Commedia" (Divine Comedy), a masterpiece of writing in which not only do all dantesque themes of culture and sensitivity flow, but also, filtering through these, those of the whole of the medieval civilisation. His other famous operas are "Le Epistole", the "Egloghe" and the "Quaestio de aqua et terra". Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was one of the greatestand complete men of the Italian Renaissance. He was not only a sculptor, architect, scientist and writer, but also a painter who could execute works like "La Gioconda" (the MonaLisa) in the Louvre in Paris, "L' Ultima Cena" (The Last Supper) in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan and the "Vergine delle Rocce" (The Virgin of the Rocks) also in the Louvre. Da Vinci wrote, among other works, "Trattato della pittura" (Treatise on paintig) which was published in 1488, he made plans for the construction of canals and bridges, studied the muscles of human beings and birds in flight which gave him the idea to make an aeroplane. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) is another famous Tuscan name. A philosopher, mathematician and astronomer, he taught mathematics at Pisa and Padua Universities. He then invented the "Occhiale", the telescope with which he made a number of astronomical "finds", one of which was "sun spots". He determined the movements of the satellites around the planet Jupiter and must famous of all, he demoustrated the "Eliocentric system". In the filled of phisics he stabilised the laws of the "Fall of Bodies" and the "Speed of Motion" but these theories were in direct contrast to those held by the Church in the Holy Scriptures. Galileo was convicted to heresy and condemned to life imprisoment; the sentence then being commuted to house arrest in the Convent of the "Trinita' dei Monti" (Trinity of the Mounts) in Rome. Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), poet, sculptor, architect and painter was, together with Leonardo Da Vinci, one of greatest genius of the Italian Renaissance. After having lived and worked in the Florentine Court of the Medici, Michelangelo was called to Rome by Pope Julius II where he was instructed to paint the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel; he returned to Florence for a time but went back to Rome to continue painting in the Sistine Chapel where he executed the masterpiece "Universal Judgement". His other important works are the statue of "David" in the Academia at Florence (the statue in front of the Palazzo Vecchio is a copy), "Madonna Pitti" in the Mational Museum at Florence and the designand execuption of the "Palazzo Farnese" and the "Piazza del Campidoglio" (Capitol Square) in Rome. He also designed the very beautiful Cupola in the Sistine Chapel. Another great painter of the early 14th century is Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337); he is famous for being among the first if not THE first painter to abandon the Byzantine School of Painting to take the new road to Naturalism. His most important works are the "Bardi Chapel" at Florence, the "Legend of St. Francis" at Assisi and the "Scrovegni Chapel" at Padova. However his greatest work was to initiate the building of the Bell Tower standing beside the Cathedral in Florence; it is called the "Giotto Tower". Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) was the author of the masterpiece of the Italian writing called "The Decameron". "Tratterello", Ninfale d' Ameto" and "Ninfale Fiesolano" are less important texts. Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), one of the greatest composers of musical opera of all time, wrote his compositions in his own inimitable style, a fusion of the late Romanticism and the Realism of the early 20th century. His famous operas are "La Boheme", "Tosca" and "Madama Butterfly". The only political personage of any importance is Niccolo' Macchiavelli (1496-1527). He was secretary in the Chancellory of the Republic (Florence). He organised the Florentine troops to fight against the Spaniards, but, when they were defeated, the Medici decided that Macchiavelli was too dangerous a person to continue in office at the Chancellory; he was removed and was even put in prison for a few time. From then on, he never again held political sway; he withdrew from the outside world to live shut up himself. His greatest writings are the "Istorie Fiorentine" (Florentine Histories), "The Mandragola", "Il Principe" (The Prince) and the "Discorsi" (Discourses). Another Florentine painter is Sandro Botticelli (his real name was Sandro Filipepi, 1445-1510), famous for his frescoes in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican at Rome and for his compositions of "Primavera" (Spring), "Annunciazione" (the Annunciation), "La Calunnia" (The Calumny) and "La Nascita di Venere" (The Birth of Venus). The painter began his career by painting religious subjects, passed to mythology and finally established himself as a painter of more dramatic themes. The poet Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) is the famous author of the "Canzoniere", a literary work about the poet' s private life and his love for Laura, a spiritual and subtly sensual person whom he continued to love after she died. His other important writings are "Epistolae metricae", "I Trionfi" (The Triumphs) and "Africa". Last but not the least is the poet Giosue' Carducci (1835-1907) who gained his degree at Pisa University and taught at Bologna University. His most important works are "Rime nuove" (New rhymes), "Inno a Satana" (Hymn to Satan) and especially "Odi barbare" (Barbaric Odes) and "Rime e ritmi" (Rhymes and rhytms) which are the most expressive pieces written by the poet and which describe country landscapes belonging to the past.

History:

About 500 BC the territory of the Tuscany of today was inhabited by the Etruscan people; after their expulsion, Etruria (as Tuscany was called those days) experienced long peaceful years of commercial development and trade in local handicrafts. After a dark period in its history caused by the onset of the then terrible disease, malaria, Etruria was ruled by the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar and became the seventh region of the Empire. Then Diocletian became Emperor and Etruria was united with Umbria and the whole region was called Tuscia. Tuscia, like almost all the other Italian regions, suffered the barbaric invasions of the Alemagnes, Ostrogoths and Longobards, finally coming under the control of the Franks. After the feudal period Tuscany was ruled by the Attoni; then, about the 14th century, the first self-governing cities began the form with Florence as the dominating city of the region. This "City Rule" cessed at the beginning of the 15th century and the Medici family became the "Ruling Lords"; they followed a wise and correct policy for nearly 300 years before being supplanted by the Lorena family who were notable for improving the economy of the region. During this period of "Lordly Rule", the "State of Tuscany" became the "Granduchy of Tuscany". then in 1858, pressed by the Austrians, the Lorena family took away many of the freedoms which the Tuscan people had previously enjoyed and Leopoldo II was expelled from Florence. On the 15th march 1860 Tuscany was annexed to Piedmont after a plebiscite vote, only for Florence to became, 5 years later, the Capital of Italy. This "Offce" lasted until 1870 when Rome took the place of Florence.

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