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orientalization

Tuscany

[tuhs-kuh-nee]
Tuscany (Toscana) is a region in Italy. It has an area of 22,990 km² and a population of about 3.6 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence.

Tuscany is known for its landscapes and its artistic legacy. Six Tuscan localities have been UNESCO protected sites: the historical center of Florence (1982), the historical center of Siena (1995), the square of the Cathedral of Pisa (1987), the historical center of San Gimignano (1990), the historical center of Pienza (1996) and the Val d'Orcia (2004).

Geography

Tuscany is a region of Central Italy, bordering Emilia-Romagna to the north, Liguria to the north-west, Tyrrhenian Sea to the west, Umbria and Marche to the east, Lazio to the south-east. The territory is two thirds hilly and one fourth mountainous. The remainder is constituted of the plains that form the valley of the Arno River.

Tuscany is divided into ten provinces:

History

Apennine and Villanovan cultures.

The pre-Etruscan history of the area in the late Bronze and Iron Ages parallels that of the early Greeks. The Tuscan area was inhabited by peoples of the so-called Apennine culture in the late second millennium BC (roughly 1350–1150 BC) who had trading relationships with the Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations in the Aegean Sea. Following this the Villanovan culture (1100–700 BC) came about which saw Tuscany, and the rest of Etruria, taken over by chiefdoms (as was also the case at this time in France and the Aegean after the collapse of Mycenae and Troy). City-states developed in the late Villanovan (again paralleling Greece and the Aegean) before "Orientalization" occurred and the Etruscan civilisation rose.

Etruscans

The Etruscans were the first major civilization in this region of Italy; large enough to lay down a transport infrastructure, implement agriculture and mining, and produce vivid art. The people who formed the civilization lived in the area (called Etruria) well into prehistory. The civilisation grew to fill the area between the rivers Arno and Tiber from the eighth century, reaching their peak during the seventh and sixth centuries BC, and finally ceded all power and territory to the Romans by the first century. Throughout their existence, they lost territory to the surrounding civilisations of Magna Graecia, Carthage and Gaul. Despite being described as distinct in its manners and customs by contemporary Greeks, the cultures of Greece, and later Rome, influenced the civilisation to a great extent. One of the reasons for its eventual demise was this increasing lack of cultural distinction, including the adoption of the Etruscan upper class by the Romans.

Romans

Soon after absorbing Etruria, Rome established the cities of Lucca, Pisa, Siena, and Florence, endowed the area with new technologies and development, and ensured peace. These developments included extensions of existing roads, introduction of aqueducts and sewers, and the construction of many buildings, both public and private. The Roman civilization in the West finally collapsed in the fifth century and the region was left by the Goths, and others. In the sixth century, the Longobards arrived and designated Lucca the capital of their Duchy of Tuscia.

The medieval period

With pilgrims travelling along the Via Francigena between Rome and France came wealth and development during the mediæval period. The food and shelter needed by these travellers fuelled the growth of new communities around churches and taverns. The conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, factions supporting, respectively, the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire in central and northern Italy during the 12th and 13th centuries, split the Tuscan people. These two factors gave rise to several powerful and rich communes in Tuscany: Arezzo, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, and Siena. The balance between these communes were ensured by the assets they held; Pisa, a port; Siena, banking; and Lucca, banking and silk. By the renaissance, however, Florence succeeded in becoming the cultural capital of Tuscany.

The Renaissance

Tuscany is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance movement, and its artistic heritage includes architecture, painting and sculpture, collected in dozens of museums in towns and cities across the region. Perhaps the best-known are the Uffizi, the Accademia and the Bargello in Florence. Tuscany was the birthplace of Dante Alighieri ("the father of the Italian language"), Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Botticelli.

Modern Era

In the 1400s, the rulers of Florence, the Medicis, annexed surrounding lands to create modern-day Tuscany. The War of Polish Succession in the 1730s, however, ended in the transfer of Tuscany from the Medicis to Francis, the Duke of Lorraine, who would become Holy Roman Emperor. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire by Napoleon, Tuscany was inherited by the successor to the Holy Roman Empire, namely, the Austrian Empire. With the Italian Wars of Independence in the 1850s, Tuscany was transferred from Austria to the newly unified nation of Italy.

Economy

Tuscany is known for its wines (most famous of which are Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano), and has 120 protected nature reserves. Other agricultural products include Chianina cattle (origin of the famous "Fiorentina" steak) and the production of olive oil, principally in Lucca and the surrounding hills. The industry comprises factories producing Piaggio cars, motorcycles, scooters and aeroplanes, the texile industrial district of Prato, the petrochemical plants of Leghorn and the steel factories of Piombino.

Tourism is the economic backbone of the so-called "Cities of Art" (Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano, Cortona, Pienza), as well as on the coast and in the isles (Elba). Marble is quarried in the Alpi Apuane (Carrara, Versilia and Massa), in Garfagnana and in Lunigiana.

Politics

Tuscany is a stronghold of the center-left coalition The Union, forming with Emilia-Romagna, Umbria and Marche the famous Italian political "Red Quadrilateral". At the April 2006 elections, Tuscany gave more than 61% of its votes to Romano Prodi.

Demographics

In the '80s and '90s the region attracted an intense influx of immigrants, in particular from China and Northern Africa. There is also a significant community of British and Americans. As of 2006, the Italian national institute of statistics ISTAT estimated that 215,490 foreign-born immigrants live in Tuscany, equal to 5.9% of the total regional population.

Towns of Tuscany with a population of 50,000 or more:

Comune Population (2006 est.)
Florence 366,901
Prato 183,823
Livorno 160,534
Arezzo 95,229
Pisa 87,737
Pistoia 85,947
Lucca 84,422
Grosseto 76,330
Massa 69,399
Carrara 65,125
Viareggio 63,389
Siena 54,147
Scandicci 50,003

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