History Of Cortona In Tuscany

HISTORY OF CORTONA | TUSCANY As far as the Florentine ruling class was concerned: to increase the value of the vast territorial consistency of Tuscany, like ancient Etruria, as well as the antiquity of all of its most famous cities since primordial civilisations immediately after the Great Flood, with the aim of obtaining for that territory and for those cities the recognition of Grand Duchy and the title of Grand Duke for Cosimo, something that was given to him by Pio V in 1570. As far as Cortona’s ruling class was concerned: to increase the value of the antiquity of the city presenting it as the most noble and ancient among Tuscany’s cities, whose autonomous system, dating back to the Etruscan lucumonia (religious city state), was subsequently moulded in the free Medieval council. In the context of a confrontation, in that rather fierce period with the Florentine Lords to which Cortona had been subordinated, the re-evaluation of the legendary myths, and particularly the Etruscan one, allowed Cortona’s ruling class to have an ally in the demands of civic autonomy.  Giacomo Lauro’s 17th Century guide, drawing on writings by Annio Viterbese (1432-1502), that in turn draws on many antiquitous writers, states that 108 years after the Great Flood, Noah, navigating from the mouth of the Tiber River and crossing the Paglia, entered the Chiana Valley and liking this place more than any other in Italy because it was very fertile land, stayed to live here for 30 years. His descendents, among which a son named Crano who, upon reaching a hilltop and liking the height of the place and the amenity of the town and the tranquillity of the air, founded the city of Cortona in the 273rd year after the Great Flood. Stefano (first half of the VI century AD 539-545), a great Greek historian affirms that this made Cortona the third Italian city to be built after the Flood, and that it was a metropolis of the ancient Turreni. Noah, seeing that Crano had done well, called him Corito, i.e., King and Successor of the Realm: in fact ‘Curim’, from which comes ‘Corito’, means sceptre which in Latin is ‘Quirim’, from which comes the epithet ‘Quirino’ given to Romolo. Crano, having taken on the title of King, on the hilltop built a royal palace in the form of a tower, the remains of which live on in the hamlet of Torremozza. Crano’s realm was called Turrenia because the cities that Noah’s descendents built had high towers. This was Tuscany’s first name and Turreni was the name given to its inhabitants. But since they descended from Noah who had been saved from the waters “ad imbribus” some were called Imbri, and vulgarly Umbri. From Carno’s lineage Dardano was born who, following internal conflicts, escaped to Samothrace, then to Phrygia and finally to Lidia, where he founded the city of Troy. From Troy some of Dardano’s descendents, by now Greek, came back to live in Turrenia, i.e., Tuscany, and these were the Etruscans. Among these Greeks that came to Turrenia and to Cortona were also Ulysses and Pythagoras. In fact, ancient tradition, reported by the Greek writers Aristotle (IV century BC) and his contemporary Theopompus, would have Ulysses emigrate, after his return to Ithaca and the massacre of the Proci, to Italy and more precisely to Etruria, in the city that Theopompus calls in Greek ‘Curtonaia’, and his burial took place right here in Cortona or in the surrounding area. In Etruria Ulysses, who was very esteemed here, was called ‘Nanos’, the ‘Rambler’, and his burial was identified in the “Monte Perge” near to today’s hamlet of Pergo. Pythagoras after a trip to Cortona where he died, was buried in a tomb that is today known as “Pythagoras’ Grotto”: in actual fact this wrong attribution was probably caused by confusion between the town names Cortona and Crotone. According to Virgil (Aeneid III and VII) Aeneas, descendent of Dardano, while fleeing from the destroyed city of Troy docked in Lazio where his descendents founded Rome. Therefore, this tradition would have it that Cortona gave origin first to Troy and then to Rome.

Read more: History of Cortona | Tuscany

The History Of Tuscany In Italy

OVERVIEW OF THE HISTORY OF TUSCANY In order to better understand what you are visiting during your visit to Tuscany it is always best to have a general idea of the historical footprint.  Most people have heard of the Medici Family but that time period and influence only ran for around 300 years.  There are many other aspects to explore and learn about.  ETRUSCAN  AND ROMAN PERIOD In the sixth and fifth centuries B.C., the Etruscans were the dominant power in northern and central Italy, and brought Latium and Rome under their supremacy. Towards the end of the sixth century B.C., Rome gained its independence and from the second half of the fifth century it began a struggle for supremacy with the Etruscans and other italic tribes. There were many changes of fortune during the long war, but it ended about 280 B.C. with the overthrow of Etruria. During the period of the Roman Empire, Etruria formed the seventh region of Italy. DARK AGES AND MEDEVAL TIME After the fall of the Western Empire, Tuscany was ruled successively by the Germans under Odoacer, by the Ostrogoths, by the Eastern Empire through Narses, and by the Lombards. Tuscany, or Tuscia as it was called in the Middle Ages, became a part of the Frankish Empire during the reign of Charlemagne and was created a margravate, the margrave of which was also made the ruler of the Duchy of Spoleto and Camerino several times. In 1030, the margravate fell to Boniface, of the Canossa family. Boniface was also Duke of Spoleto, Count of Modena, Mantua and Ferrara, and was the most powerful prince of the empire in Italy. He was followed by his wife Beatrice, first as regent for their minor son who died in 1055, then as regent for their daughter Matilda. In 1076, Beatrice died. Both she and her daughter were enthusiastic adherents of Pope Gregory VII in his contest with the empire. After Matilda's death in 1115, her hereditary possessions were for a long time an object of strife between the papacy and the emperors. During the years 1139-45, Tuscany was ruled by Margrave Hulderich, who was appointed by the Emperor Conrad III. Hulderich was followed by Guelf, brother of Henry the Lion. In 1195, the Emperor Henry VI gave the margravate in fief to his brother Philip. In 12O9, Otto IV renounced in favour of the papacy all claim to Matilda's lands, as did also the Emperor Frederick II in the Golden Bull of Eger of 1213, but both firmly maintained the rights of the empire in the Tuscan cities. THE MEDICI AND STATE OF FLORENCE During the struggle between the popes and the emperors, and in the period following the fall of the Hohenstaufens when the throne was vacant, Florence, Sienna, Pisa, Lucca, Arezzo and other Tuscan cities attained constantly increasing independence and autonomy. They also acquired control of Matilda's patrimony, so far as it was situated in Tuscany. In the 14 C and 15 C, all of Tuscany, except Sienna and Lucca, came under the suzerainty of Florence and the Medici. In 1523, the Emperor Charles V made Alessandro Medici hereditary Duke of Florence. The last Tuscan towns that still enjoyed independence were acquired by Alessandro's successor Cosimo I (1537-74) partly by cunning and bribery, partly with Spanish aid by force of arms. In 1557, Philip II, who required Cosimo's aid against the pope, granted him Sienna which in 1555 had surrendered to the emperor. Only a small part of Siennese territory remained Spanish as the Stato degli Presidi. Thus the Medici acquired the whole of Tuscany and in 1569 the pope made Cosimo Grand Duke of Tuscany. Although at the beginning of Cosimo's reign there were several conspiracies, especially by the exiled families, the Fuorisciti, the Florentines gradually became accustomed to the absolute government of the ruler. Cosimo had created a well-ordered state out of the chaos existing previously and had established this state on the foundation of justice, equality of all citizens, good financial administration and sufficient military strength. Art, literature and learning also enjoyed a new era of prosperity during his reign. After long negotiations, in 1576 his son Francesco I (1574-87) received from the Emperor Maximilian the confirmation of the grand ducal title which had been refused his father. In his foreign policy Francesco was dependent on the Habsburg dynasty. During his weak reign the power was in the hands of women and favourites, and the corruption of the nobility and officials gained ground again, while the discontent of the common people was increased by heavy taxes. After the death of his first wife, the grand duke married his mistress, the Venetian Bianca Capello. As he had only daughters, one of whom was the French queen, Maria de Medici, and the attempt to substitute an illegitimate son failed, he was followed by his brother Cardinal Ferdinand (1587-1605) who has been accused, without any historical proof, of poisoning his brother and sister-in-law. In foreign policy Ferdinand made himself independent of the emperor and Spain, and, as an opponent of the influence of the Habsburgs, supported the French King Henry IV. Henry's return to the Catholic Church was largely due to Ferdinand's influence. Ferdinand benefited his duchy by an excellent administration and large public works, e.g. the draining of the Mianatales and the Maremma of Siena, and the construction of the port of Leghorn. He re-established public safety by repressing brigandage. In 1589, he resigned the cardinalate with the consent of Sixtus V, and married Christine, daughter of Henry III of France. His relations with the papacy were almost always of the best. He promoted the reform of the Tuscan monasteries and the execution of the decrees of the Council of Trent. His son Cosimo II (1609-21) married Margareta, sister of the Emperor Ferdinand II. Cosimo II ruled in the same spirit as his father and raised the prosperity of the country to a height never before attained. He was succeeded by a minor son of eleven years, Ferdinand II (1621-70), the regent being the boy's mother. Margareta's weakness led to the loss of Tuscany's right to the Duchy of Urbino, which fell vacant, and which Pope Urban VII took as an unoccupied fief of the Church. From 1628 Ferdinand ruled independently. To the disadvantage of his country, he formed a close union with the Habsburg dynasty which involved him in a number of Italian wars. These wars, together with pestilence, were disastrous. Cosimo III (1670-1723) brought Tuscany to the brink of ruin by his unlucky policy and his extravagance. His autocratic methods, inconsistency and preposterous measures in internal affairs place upon him the greater part of the responsibility for the extreme arbitrariness that developed among the state officials, especially among those of the judiciary. Although he sought to increase the importance of the Church, he damaged it by using the clergy for police purposes, proceeded against heretics with undue severity, and sought to aid the conversion of non-Catholics and Jews by any and all means. During the War of the Spanish Succession, the grand duke desired to remain neutral, although he had accepted Sienna in fief once more from Philip V. During this period, Tuscany was ravaged by pestilence and the war taxes and forced contributions levied on it by the imperial generals completely destroyed its prosperity. Neither of Cosimo's two sons had male heirs, and finally he obstinately pursued the plan, although without success, to transfer the succession to his daughter. Before this, however, the powers had settled in the Peace of Utrecht that when the Medici were extinct the succession to Tuscany was to fall to the Spanish Bourbons. Cosimo III was followed by his second son Giovan Gastone (1723-37), who permitted the country to be governed by his unscrupulous chamberlain, Giuliano Dami. When he died, the Medici dynasty ended. AUSTRIAN RULE In accordance with the Treaty of Vienna of 1735 Francis, Duke of Lorraine, who had married Maria Theresa in 1736, became grand duke (1737-65) instead of the Spanish Bourbons. Franz Joseph garrisoned the country with Austrian troops and transferred its administration to imperial councillors. As Tuscany now became an Austrian territory, belonging as inheritance to the second son, Tuscany was more or less dependent upon Vienna. However, the country once more greatly advanced in economic prosperity, especially during the reign of Leopold I (1765-90), who, like his brother the Emperor Joseph I, was full of zeal for reform, but who went about it more slowly and cautiously. In 1782, Leopold suppressed the Inquisition, reduced the possessions of the Church, suppressed numerous monasteries, and interfered in purely internal ecclesiastical matters for the benefit of the Jansenists. After his election as emperor, he was succeeded in 1790 by his second son, Ferdinand III, who ruled as his father had done. During the French Revolution, Ferdinand lost his duchy in 1789 and 1800. It was given to Duke Louis of Parma on 1 October, under the name of the Kingdom of Etruria. In 1807, Tuscany was united directly with the French Empire, and Napoleon made his sister Eliza Bacciocchi its administrator with the title of grand duchess. After Napoleon's overthrow, the Congress of Vienna gave Tuscany again to Ferdinand and added to it Elba, Piombino, and the Stato degli Presidi. A number of the monasteries suppressed by the French were re-established by the Concordat of 1815 but otherwise the government was influenced by the principles of Josephinism in its relations with the Catholic Church. When the efforts of the Italian secret societies for the formation of a united national state spread to Tuscany, Ferdinand formed a closer union with Austria, and the Tuscan troops were placed under Austrian officers as preparation for the breaking-out of war. The administration of his son Leopold II (1824-60) was long considered the most liberal in Italy, although he reigned as an absolute sovereign. The Concordat of 1850 also gave the Church greater liberty. Notwithstanding the economic and intellectual growth which Tuscany enjoyed, the intrigues of the secret societies found the country fruitful soil, for the rulers were always regarded as foreigners and the connection they formed with Austria made them unpopular. KINGDOM OF ITALY In 1847, a state council was established. On 15 Feb., 1848, a constitution was issued, and on 26 June was opened. Notwithstanding this, the sedition against the dynasty increased and in August there were street fights at Leghorn in which the troops proved untrustworthy. Although Leopold had called a democratic ministry in October, with Guerrazzi and Montanelli at its head, and had taken part in the Piedmontese war against Austria, yet the Republicans forced him to flee Tuscany and go to Gaeta in Feb., 1849. A provisional republican government was established at Florence. Before long this was forced to give way to an opposing movement of moderated Liberalism. After this, by the aid of Austria, Leopold was able, in July 1849, to return. In 1852 he suppressed the constitution issued in 1848 and governed as an absolute ruler, although with caution and moderation. However, the suppression of the constitution and the fact that up to 1855 an Austrian army of occupation remained in Tuscany made him greatly disliked. When in 1859 war was begun between Sardinia-Piedmont and Austria, and Leopold became the confederate of Austria, a fresh revolution broke out which forced him to leave. For the period of the war Victor Emmanuel occupied the country. After the Peace of Villa Franca had restored Tuscany to Leopold, the latter abdicated in favour of his son Ferdinand IV. On 16 Aug., 1859, a national assembly declared the deposition of the dynasty, and a second assembly (12 March, 1860) voted for annexation to Piedmont, officially proclaimed on 22 March. Since then Tuscany has been a part of the Kingdom of Italy, whose capital was Florence from 1865 to 1871.

Read more: History of Tuscany

The History Of Pisa In Tuscany

History of Pisa Pisa is, of course, famous first and foremost for its "leaning tower", but the entire architectural complex on the Campo dei Miracoli, of which the tower is a part, is extremely interesting and attractive. Pisa is situated on the Arno, six miles from the sea coast of Tuscany, Italy. The walks along the banks of Arno here are as beautiful as in Florence, if not more so, and the town is packed with architectural gems. The origins of Pisa and Etruscan Pisa Neolithic remains indicate that the mouth of the Arno was settled in very early times and most likely Ligurian colonists of Celtic origin settled here. We know that Pisa was a port of call for the Greeks and the legend of Pelops, who left the banks of the Alpheo, a river in the Peloponnese, for those of the Arno to found a new Pisa is possibly supported by Virgil in the 10th book of the Aeneid. In the Etruscan period between the 6th and 3rd centuries B.C., Pisa, situated near the extreme northern border of Etruria, was influenced by Volterra but never became more than a modest village of fishermen and boat builders, probably limited by the instability of the coastline and the periodic floods of the Arno. Roman Pisa As Etruria was romanised, Pisa grew in importance and was an ally of Rome in the long wars against the Ligurians and the Carthaginians. The port (Portus Pisanus), situated between the mouth of the river (at that time near where San Piero a Grado stands today) and that portion of the coast now occupied by Livorno, constituted an ideal naval base for the Roman fleet in its expeditions against the Ligurians and the Gauls, and in the operations aimed at subjugating Corsica, Sardinia and various coastal zones of Spain. Pisa, as an ally of Rome, then became a colonia, a municipium and in the time of Octavianus Augustus (1st cent. B.C.) was known as Colonia Julia Pisana Obsequens. In the meanwhile the growth in population, the development of shipbuilding and trade - fostered by the establishment of the Via Aurelia and the Via Aemilia Scaurii as well as by the harbour - resulted in an expansion of the inhabited area which was soon surrounded by walls. The imperial period was noted for the magnificence of its public and private buildings. Although now traces of Roman life in Pisa are scarce (Baths of Hadrian, improperly called the 'Baths of Nero', capitals from the age of Severus, 3rd century A.D.), there were probably a forum and a palatium as well as an amphitheatre, public baths, a naval base and numerous temple structures, replaced by churches in Christian times. In 1991, excavations carried out near the Arena Garibaldi revealed the presence of an Etruscan necropolis on which a domus augustea was laid out in Roman times. Mediaeval Pisa and the rise of the Maritime Republic Legend has it that the first Christian influences were introduced into the area of Pisa by Saint Peter himself, who landed 'ad Gradus' in 47 A.D. and a basilica was subsequently built there. With the fall of the Roman Empire, Pisa passed first under the Lombards and then under the Franks. In the early Middle Ages, the city's maritime ambitions burgeoned and Pisa soon came into conflict with the Saracens, who were aiming at full supremacy of the Mediterranean. With bases in Corsica and Sardinia, they frequently threatened the lands controlled by the Church itself. The story of Kinzica de' Sismondi is set in this period. This young Pisan heroine is said to have saved the city from a Saracen incursion while most of the Pisan army and fleet were out driving the moslem infidels from Reggio Calabria (1005). Between 1016 and 1046, the Pisans conquered Sardinia and finally also Corsica (1052), thus laying the foundations for effective control of the Tyrrhenian Sea. After these successes, the city, with Papal consent, sent the fleet to Sicily to support the struggle of the Norman Roger I and Robert against the Saracens. After breaking the chains of the harbour of Palermo, the ships hoisted their standard - the Pisan Cross in a field of red (the city's standard since the exploit of Sardinia) - and defeated the enemy (1062), returning home with such rich booty that they were able to begin the construction of the Cathedral. In the meantime, rivalry with Genoa let to a naval conflict, in which the Pisans were victorious, opposite the mouth of the Arno (6 September 1060), while in a larger Mediterranean theatre the Pisan fleet successfully took part in the first Crusade. These positive results helped the Maritime Republic consolidate its position in the Near Eastern ports of call and in particular in Constantinople. The subsequent conquest of the Balearic Isles, completed in 1115, and the victory over Amalfi (1136), coincided with the peak of the city's maritime and military power. But the 13 C was to be disastrous for Pisa, whose standing in the Western Mediterranean had in the meanwhile equalled that of Venice in the Adriatic and the Eastern Mediterranean. The continuous rivalry on the seas with Genoa and fierce conflicts with the Guelph cities of Tuscany (headed by Florence and Lucca) led to an inexorable downfall. As a result of its unconditioned support of Imperial policies, but above all because of the seizing of a group of ecclesiastic dignitaries who were on their way to Rome to take part in a council which could have ended in the removal of Frederick II of Swabia (1241), Pisa was excommunicated by the Pope, and had to wage a bitter struggle on two fronts - against Genoa (which also declared Guelph sympathies) and against the Tuscan cities which had by then become members of the Guelph League. The fall of the Maritime Republic of Pisa and the rise of Medici suzerainty The signoria of Piero Gambacorti seemed to inaugurate a period of relative peace and prosperity but his treacherous assassination (21 October 1392) by hired killers instigated by the Visconti, delivered Pisa into the hands of the lords of Milan. In 1405, they traded Pisa off to the Florentines for money. The indignation and fierce resistance of the Pisans was weakened by a series of negative events and in the end the city had to surrender after a siege. This episode (9 October 1406) marked the irreversible fall of the glorious Maritime Republic. The subsequent advent of the French king Charles VIII aroused new hopes of independence in the city but the Florentines hastened to gather under the walls of their once invincible rival and again besieged it together with their allies. The indomitable resistance of the Pisans was so strong the Florentines even though of deviating the course of the Arno and called in Leonardo da Vinci  for this purpose, but the idea remained on paper, for Pisa, exhausted by famine, had to accept the Florentine signoria (20 October 1509). The Medici government of Cosimo I resulted in a renaissance in the city: university activity was rationalised and augmented, various public offices were organised, and, most important, the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen was instituted (1561), bringing new lymph to the Pisan maritime traditions, and taking part in the epic naval encounter of Lepanto (7 October 1571). In that circumstance the Christian fleet, the expression of a coalition of European powers (the papacy and Spain, Venice and the House of Savoy and still others), under the leadership of Don Juan of Austria, assisted by Gian Andrea Doria, Marcantonio Colonna, Ettore Spinola and Sebastiano Veniero, wiped out the maritime power of the Ottoman Turks captained by Mehemet Ali. Subsequent Medici rulers achieved important public works, such as the Aqueduct of Asciano (1601) and the Canal of the Navicelli - between Pisa and Livorno (1603). In the early 1630s, a fierce plague raged through the city. With the advent of the Lorraine government which obtained the sovereignty of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1738, as established by the treaty of Vienna, the rationalisation of the cultural institutions began (the Scuola Normale was once more opened, 1847). Modern Pisa The re-unification of Italy also involved the citizens of Pisa: on the unforgettable day of Curtatone and Montanara (28 May 1848), the volunteers and the university students, who had cut off the tips of their university caps in order to aim their guns better, wrote one of the most glowing pages of the first war of independence. The year 1860 marked the plebiscite adhesion to the Kingdom of Italy: two years later Pisa bestowed a warm welcome on Garibaldi who had been wounded on the Aspromonte. The most recent history of the city includes the devastating destruction of World War II and in 1966 the disastrous flood of the Arno resulted in the collapse of the Ponte Solferino and the partial destruction of the Lungarno Pacinotti.

Read more: History of Pisa

follow us


Guide to Outdoor Recreation


Travel Guide to Italy