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  tuscany and Europe  
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Tuscany is a paradise for tourists. But certainly too many tourists visit the same monuments and sites. And the paradise turns to a nightmare. It is a pity that they do not take the opportunity to visit a lot of smaller cities and villages in the territory which propose a new understanding of Tuscany’s heritage and history.

The first aim of the common project launched by Tuscany Region and the European Institute of Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe is to make visible the historical links between Tuscany and Europe. These links can be shown and interpreted clearly along itineraries which demonstrate the participation of Tuscany to a common European identity, but show also the way that followed the creation of the identity of Tuscany linked with European civilisation’s development.

first level

Duomo of Florence. Photo: MTP.

The first level underlines the presence and influence of the Medici and Lorraine Families on European institutions, economy, culture, arts, architecture and customs during the period from XIVth to XIXth century. It identifies the places and periods linked to these influences, from trade to finance’s activities of the first Medici: London, Paris, Lyon, Bruges, Hanseatic cities, etc. going to the alliances and marriage’s policies: Paris, Madrid…

Then comes the identification and demonstration of European links established by the Habsbourg-Lorraine Family, from Vienna to Nancy, from Prague to Würzburg.

second level

The second level emphasises the “European Tuscany”. It underlines a series of profound transformations that during the same period changed deeply the institutions, the economy, culture as a whole, arts and architecture. Those transformations being influenced by the rest of Europe. The identification of places and periods that symbolise these transformations and the inclusion of Tuscany in a major European movement of ideas enables the identification of a series of thematic and territorial itineraries which illustrate all those aspects.

Two periods are more specifically on focus. The first and obvious one is the Italian Renaissance, the second one, rather unknown is the participation of Tuscany to Enlightments’ philosophy and the definition of a unique European political, social and technical model.

toscana / europa and the cultural routes of the council of Europe

Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace. Photo: MTP.

Since 1987, various themes have been elected by the Council of Europe. Some of them can be illustrated in Tuscany, either directly on the territory or indirectly through some episodes of historical exchanges with the rest of Europe.

Pilgrims Routes. Some ways in Tuscany were part of the course of pilgrims rambling to North Italy in order to reach the « Arles way » towards Santiago of Compostela or of those coming from Northern Europe via the Via Francigena leading Rome. Both were established on the old Roman tracks.

Silk and textile factories. This theme demonstrates the importance of activities in Lucca or Pescia for this type of production, but it emphasises also the way through which entrepreneurs and bankers changed their investments after the decline of silk activities to agriculture, a phenomenon which gave birth to Lucca and Cappanori Villas which became one among the emblematic landscapes of Tuscany.

Baroque. To give only one example: the relations between Mary of Medici and her father François Ist Medici with Baroque painters like Pierre Paul Rubens. This itinerary is also able to underline the links between European Courts.

The Monastic Influence in Europe. This theme demonstrates at the same time the importance of the places of Faith and territorial planning by the monks’ communities.

Hanseatic sites, routes and monuments. This theme is able to show the exchanges between Florentine’s bankers and Hanseatic cities and harbours.

Parks and Gardens, Landscape. The Medici villas, the Villas of Lucca and many others are part of this theme. But Tuscany is also at the origin of the word and genre “paysage” (landscape) in Italian painting. The way the Lorraine Family transformed Tuscany’s landscape and territorial planning is also part of the interpretation of the territory.

Fortified military architectures in Europe. An itinerary based on the sites of power is partly settled on military defence systems.

Popular Rites and Festivals in Europe. Authentic and unknown celebrations that are held in Tuscany at every season offer new proposals for tourists whatever the period of their choice.

Jewish Heritage in Europe. The presence of Jewish communities has been a highlight in Tuscany and left testimonies in religious and civilian heritages.

Industrial Heritage. There are a lot of examples in Tuscany, from proto-industry to the birth of industrial revolution.

Fortifications of Lucca. Photo: MTP.

other dimensions

Toscana / Europa itineraries are in “essence” a meeting place between scientific, technical and artistic cultures. They enable to put together scattered knowledge, to prepare a synthesis and involve youngsters during schools’ trips.

Toscana / Europa itineraries enable a true dialogue between European regions and are aimed towards an awareness raising of the links between citizenship and heritage for various kinds of publics.

A cultural itinerary is always anchored in a territory, but it proposes at the same time a dialogue between scholar and popular cultures. In our multicultural societies everyone can find in these itineraries elements of his / her own culture and can understand immediately on the ground how cultures interfered and combined in the integration of Europe. Toscana / Europa itineraries are a model for this kind of exchange that we need especially today to live together in a larger and multicultural Europe and share common values.

 
 
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