Tuscany is situated within the heart of Italy. The region borders in the North with Liguria and the Emilia Romagna, in the East with Umbria and the Marches and in the South with the Latium.
The name of the region has its origins in the Etruscan times. The Etruscans called this region Etruria, meaning in Roman Tuscia. The Romans finally renamed the area with Tuscania of which in the end came up the name Toscana.
Even today, the origins of the Etruscans is still a mystery, but the most probable hypothese is that they came in the 11th century B.C. from Asia Minor.
These people constructed connecting roads to the most important towns such as Tarquinia, Chiusi, Vulci, Vetulonia and Volterra, places where one still today can admire exceptional excavations. During the 6th century B.C., the Etruscans reached the peak of their power, extending from the Po Valley to Campania.
Already at the end of the 5th century B.C., the Etruscans lost their supremacy in the Mediterranean region to the Greeks. They sustained the final defeat with the growing of the Roman people and their power. This was the beginning of the economical, cultural and social decline of the Etruscan empire in the whole Tuscan region.
After the decline of the Roman empire Tuscany was dominated by Goths, Byzantines, Lombards and the Franks. The so called Via Francigena was used by the pilgrims that came to the first millennium from France over the Alps to Rome. It wasn’t a real street, but ways which were gone by walking or riding. The pilgrims tried to find the shortest way to reach Rome. That’s how the connecting road between North Italy and Rome was developped.
The “Via Francigena” led in Tuscany through Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena and Radicofani. Through the Via Francigena, numerous towns were developped and the trade increased.
From the middle of the 11th century on, the county passed to the aristocratic family Attony that were also ruling Canossa, Modena, Reggio and Mantova. In the castle of the Countess Matilde who belonged to this important family, took place the meeting between Pope Gregory VIIth and the German Emporer Henry IVth.
With the introduction of the first forms of democracy in the 12th century, started the growth of the town influence on the region, in which Florence was the leading town.
During that time were founded the first associations of art and work that made Tuscany an example as the region with cultural, social and economical autonomy.
In the 14th century, Dante and Giotto gave a determined contribution to the Italian renaissance. At that time started with Cosimo il Vecchio the Medici-Dynasty, which lasted with short interruptions until 1737 and ended with the death of Giangastone. Consequently passed the Grand Duchy of Tuscany under the power of the Hapsburgs that governed Tuscany until 1859 with a view interruptions. In 1799 French troops occupied the Tuscan Region and sent Ferdinand of Hapsburg for 15 years into exile. In 1801 was founded the new empire Etruria and only 5 years later, Tuscany was added to the French kingdom. Elisa Baciocchi, Napoleon’s sister and princess of Lucca became the Grand Duchess of Tuscany.
After the Congress of Vienna (1815), started the movement of the Italian Risorgimento whose aim was to eliminate the foreign domination and to join numerous Italian Dukedoms to a political union.
The Austrians lost the unification war in 1859. Although the Italians won the war, foreign forces decided again about Italy’s future.
In the same year, when Grand Duke Leopold refused the annexation of Tuscany to Sardinia-Piedmont, protests were following. The plebiscites brought in 1860 the unification of Tuscany with the Kingdom Sardinia-Piedmont and with this started the annexation to the forming Italian State. From 1865-1870 Florence was the capital of the new state. Therefore, Tuscany became again an important region. With the deliberation of the Veneto region (1866) started the forming of the Italian frontiers. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Italian State.