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History (& Where to Find It)

We created these pages to help you really Discover Italy. Journalists Donald Strachan, Steve Keenan and Jasmine Boni Ball — who visit several times every year — have gathered a rich crop of local stories and written destination guides to help you make the most of your vacation. As they say in Italy, “Buon viaggio!”

Was Shakespeare ever in Italy?

Shakespeare’s plays are pinnacles of English literature, and include many Italian locations. But do these places suggest only Shakespeare's vivid imagination, or might they prove personal knowledge of Italy? Could the son of a Stratford glove-maker have written plays about a country he’s unlikely to have visited? Or is another hand behind the masterpieces? We consider the evidence from areas near our villas in Italy.

La Lingua Toscana: Tuscany's Dialect & the Birth of Italian

Italian still varies widely depending where you visit, including in Tuscany. During the medieval and Renaissance periods, this dialect shaped standard Italian spoken today. Modern Italian is mostly Tuscan. But how did this Tuscan dialect come to be? We fill in the blanks, and then suggest a few words of modern Tuscan slang to use when you're there.

The Etruscans & What They Left Behind in Tuscany & Umbria

When you travel around central Italy, you will encounter remains of the ancient Etruscan civilisation. These were the people who left their name to the region of Tuscany, after all. The trouble is, they didn’t leave much else, either there or in neighbouring Umbria and Lazio. So much of their culture was destroyed or assimilated by the Romans... but not everything. Our short guide gives some background on these mysterious Etruscans, and explains where you can see their best archaeological sites.

An A to Z of Famous Tuscans

Tuscany gave us the Renaissance and the modern Italian language. The region's inhabitants invented banking and issued the first European currency. Did we mention landmarks in painting, sculpture, architecture, philosophy, science and more? We introduce 16 of our favourite historical Tuscans. Have you heard of them all?

Cosimo de’ Medici: Netflix vs. Real Life

We're huge fans of the Netflix show, "Medici: Masters of Florence". Do you wonder how close to the truth was season one's story of Cosimo de' Medici and his powerful Florentine family? Or how accurately the show portrays life in 15th-century Florence? And where can you visit today to see the landscapes and locations from its hit first season? We give you the lowdown.

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