Five Famous Tuscans

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tuscany is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. Nearly 10 million people visit Florence every year, due to the immense collections of art, culture, food, and people. Gathering to enjoy the fruits of Tuscany, from the wine to the food to the company, is a classic vacation many wish to experience.

While Tuscany may be known for its fine wines (such as Chianti) and its art (think da Vinci), Tuscany also boasts such exports as Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, and many other geniuses. Their long-standing tradition of excellence in all fields is a proud part of Tuscany’s history.

Here is a list of five of the most famous Tuscans. Whether they were scientists, explorers, or artists, they all made significant contributions to the world.

Leonardo da Vinci
Perhaps one of the most well-known geniuses of the world, da Vinci was a true Renaissance Man. A painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer, he introduced many new concepts to the world, including the idea of a flying machine. He was renowned primarily as a painter, and his works are displayed all over Tuscany, though his Mona Lisa is in France. His accomplishments are too many to list here, and interest in him has not faded.

Dante Alighieri
Though only some were made to read it, Dante’s Divine Comedy is a well-known and oft-studied work, and is considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language. The Inferno is the most famous part of his Divine Comedy, and is extremely vivid for modern readers. Purgatorio is the most human, and has many real poets in it as characters. Paradiso is heavily theological, but is also the most beautiful. Born in Florence, Dante’s work is part of the cornerstone of Italian literary language, and Italian is to today sometimes called “la langue de Dante” in French.

Galileo Galilei
Many youngsters learn about the Tuscan Galileo in grade school: He was a physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played an important role in the Scientific Revolution. He improved the telescope and has been called the father of modern observational astronomy, physics, and science. His astounding observations, such as the heliocentric theory that the Earth and other planets revolve around the sun, have contributed greatly to our modern understanding of the solar system. It is well known that he was charged with heresy for his heliocentric theory, and spent the rest of his life in house arrest, where he wrote two of his finest works: Two New Sciences.

Michelangelo was a famous painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer of the High Renaissance. His influence on Western art is felt even today, and his output in life was nothing short of prodigious. His works, like da Vinci’s, are displayed prominently, the most famous being his statue of David and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo spent four years painting the Sistine Chapel, mandated by Pope Julius II. He hated the task, and preferred sculpting. His statue of David is proudly displayed in Florence, and is a symbol of strength and human beauty.

Sandro Botticelli
Botticelli studied under Lorenzo de’Medici in what would come to be called a “golden age,” and he was commissioned to help paint the walls of the Sistine Chapel. His two most famous masterpieces are the paintings Primavera and The Birth of Venus. Interestingly, he was on the committee to decide where Michelangelo’s statue of David would be placed.

Tuscany has been home to many geniuses over time, and these are only five of them. To experience their lasting legacy, villas for rent in Tuscany are a great way to stay comfortably, explore Tuscany, and have a gorgeous place to come back to at night. 

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