Regional Guide - Tuscany
Renowned throughout the world for its art, history, and beautiful landscape, Tuscany gets its name from the people who settled the region nearly 3,000 years ago. The Etruscans migrated to Italy from Asia Minor around 900 BC, attracted to the area they called Etruia by its agricultural potential and mineral wealth. They develop the wine growing potential of the Chianti region (area south of Florence) and prospered for some 500 years before Roman rule took in 395 BC.
In 59 BC Florentia (Florence) was founded as a town for retired Roman army veterans and in 20 BC Saena (Siena) was formed as a Roman military colony. Two events that would ultimately shape the region for years to come. During the middle ages Tuscany grew rich on textile manufacturing and regional trade with the Arab nations. Still conflicts existed in the region between the rival cities, such as Florence and Siena, for control of the natural resources. These two cities waged battle on and off for some 200 years, each holding major victories until the siege of Siena in 1555 and its final defeat at the hands of Florentines. This victory secured Tuscany under the rule of the Medici family of Florence for the next 184 years.
With only a brief period between 1492 and 1530 for French control under Charles VIII, Florence and Tuscany remained an extension of the Medici family and its heirs. The implementation of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I (9th Medici to rule), in 1570 forced the region into its first unified political state and it remained until family line ended in 1737. Power was passed on to the Austrian Dukes of Lorraine. However, the Italian people finally joined forces in 1860 to remove foreign rulers.
From 1865 - 70, Florence was the capital of the country. In 1870, however, with the final unification, the center of power and rule returned to Rome.