Some history about Tuscany

I stayed in Tuscany for a couple of weeks and this is what I learned when I wasn’t drinking boxed wine or eating gelato:

FLORENCE:

  • Santa Croce is the Roman Catholic Church also known as the “Temple of Italian Glories.” 
    • It’s the burial place of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machievelli, Foscolo, Gentile, & Rossini. My favorite thing to do was see all of these famous graves.
    • There was a lot of art, significant stories, and images bringing together the church and science
  • The Galleria degli Uffizi was built in 1560 by Giorgio Vasari for Granduca Francisco de Medici.
  • The Gallerie dell ‘Accademia has extraordinary contributions from Michelangelo, Francesco da Sangallo, Agnolo Bronzino, Giorgio Vasari, and Giambologna. It was the first academy of drawing in Europe. 
    • Also, along with Renaissance there are works from the 15th & 16th centuries by Paolo Uccello, Ghirlandario, and Botticelli. 
    • The “David” by Michelangelo (1501-1504) is 17 feet tall (5.2 meters). It was brought to Accademia in 1873 for conservation; also brought were four unfinished “prisoners” and the unfinished statue of “St. Matthew.”
    • My thoughts: I loved the prisoners because it allowed me to see what the stones are like before the completion of the work. I was also very impressed with “David.” It was much taller than I thought and it looked like it could come to life at any moment. 
  • Ponte Vecchio is a famous medieval bridge that goes over the Arno River in Florence made of Europe’s oldest holy stone. 
    • There are shops along the bridge still today.
    • 996 was the first documentation of the bridge.
    • In 1117 it was destroyed by a flood but then reconstructed; it swept away again in 1333 and then rebuilt in 1345.
    • During WWII all of the bridges in Florence were destroyed except for this one due to Hitler’s command. 

SAN GIMIGNANO:

  • It is a small medieval hill town located in the province of Siena, Tuscany, and north-central Italy. It was founded in the 3rd century B.C. by the Etruscans. 
  • It was named by the 10th century bishop St. Geminianus who defended it from Atilla’s Huns.
  • It flourished until the 14th century when the Black Death hit Europe. 
  • There are still 14 towers and churches that have been preserved. 
  • Collegiata is the main church located in the heart of the town. It was once the Duomo but San Gimignano no longer has a bishop reverted to status of a collegiate church. 
  • There is a Romanesque interior lavished with frescoes all over the walls – many with gruesome details. 

SIENA

  • It was the most powerful and richest place of the 13th & 14th centuries. 
  • Catherine of Siena was a lower class woman born into a large family. She was called to be HOLY as a young girl. She was a mystic who wanted to live only for God. In her 20’s she convinced the pope to go back to Rome from Avignon. She became a great leader and teacher of the church. Because of her ascetic lifestyle she died in her 30’s. She lived a deprived and holy life for God alone. 
  • The town became prosperous during the Roman era and has not fallen. 
  • According to the legend, Siena was founded by Senius, the son of Remus (the brother of Romulus – Rome). 
  • Aristocratic families date back to the Lombard’s surrender in 774 to Charlemagne. 
  • Siena Cathedral (Duomo) was completed in the 13th century. 

ASSISI:

  • St. Francis devoted his life to poverty and was an ascetic – Matthew 10:9 “Carry no worldly possessions.” 
  • Assisi is a pilgrimage site for many people. 
  • History timeline:
    • 1000 B.C. – Umbrian immigrants came to Assisi
    • 450 B.C. – the Etruscans take over
    • 259 B.C. – the Romans come into control
    • 238 A.D. – the area became “Christian”
    • 545 – Lombard rule in Assisi
    • 1348 – major decline in population due to the Black Death
    • 1458-1464 – the city came under papal jurisdiction – Pope Pius II
  • The churches
    • Basilica of San Francesco of Assisi – a world heritage site (1228-1253)
    • Santa Maria Maggiore 
    • The Cathedral of San Rufino
    • Basilica of Santa Chiara
    • Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli
    • Chiesa Nuova (home of St. Francis)
    • Santo Stefano
    • Eremo delle Carceri
  • Saints: 
    • Rufinus of Assisi: first bishop of Assisi and converted Assisi to Christianity (11th century)
    • Agnes of Assisi: led a life of poverty and penance (13th century) 
    • Clare of Assisi: (sister of Agnes) founded the order of the poor ladies – monastic (13th century)
    • St Francis of Assisi (13th century)
    • Gabriel of our Lady of Sorrows: gave up hopes of a secular career to join the Passionate Congregation (19th century)

I loved seeing SO MUCH HISTORY all over this part of Italy. It’s all that stuff you’ve learned your entire life in school but IN PERSON. It’s an overwhelming amount of information in just a tiny little part of the world. 

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