This essay focuses on the Italian Renaissance in Tuscany between 1300 and 1600. I wrote these lectures for two Stanford Travel/Study’s Tuscany Family Adventures Program – June 26-July 8, 2012 and June 26-July 7, 2016.
I begin with a review of the Roman Empire, since the Renaissance was in part an attempt to return to Greek and Roman values and styles. I then look at artistic creativity, political control, and economic change in Renaissance Florence during that fascinating period. In particular, I seek insights into the evolving sources of Tuscan wealth – agriculture, foreign trade, and regional conquest. I try to understand how Florence rose to power, became Europe’s richest city, and then declined and was taken over by Austria. I attempt to identify the central legacies – ideas, technologies, art, and architecture – of the Tuscan Renaissance. My ultimate goal is to point out how and why Renaissance Tuscany contributed importantly to the foundation of Western culture. I append a time line, a bibliography, and a description of the sites that I visited in Tuscany.
Tuscany Family Adventures Program, Gargonza, Siena, Arezzo, Pienza and Montepulciano, Lucca, Florence,