The Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies

MA Programs in Global Governance, International Relations & Cultural Diplomacy

The programs are offered by the University of Siena in partnership with the Academy for Cultural Diplomacy


Tuscany (Toscana) is a region in central Italy with an area of approximately 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.8 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence (Firenze).

Tuscany borders the regions of Liguria and Emilia-Romagna to the north, Lazio to the southeast and Umbria to the east. The west of Tuscany rests on the Tyrrhenian Sea, encompassing the Tuscan Archipelago and the Isle of Elba. Home to Italy's major mountain chains, the regional landscape is dominated by hills which make up nearly two-thirds (66.5%) of the region's total area. The so-called Maremma plain is a prominent feature of the region, occupying 8.4% of the total area in the River Arno valley, formed by the River Arno. Most of Tuscany's most important cities are situated on the banks of the Arno, including the regional capital of Florence, which holds around 370,000 inhabitants. Other large cities include Arezzo, Grosseto, Livorno, Lucca, Massa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena.


Roughly, between 1350 and 1150 BC, the Tuscan area was inhabited by peoples of the Apennines Culture who maintained good trading relationships with the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations. Later, between 1100 and 700 BC, the Villanovan culture became dominant in the area. However, it was only with the Etruscan domination, at first, and then the eventual Roman conquest, gave an important influence on the whole region that comes till our days.


The Etruscans were the first people to dominate over the region as they were able to bring civilization in a large scale, creating the first examples of transport infrastructures and giving a strong increase in agricultural techniques, technology and in the extraction of minerals. Today we can still find some relics of Etruscan art and culture, for example some funerary buildings, such as tombs and ancient graveyards. Inside these sites some typical Etruscan manufactures were discovered, such as vases and statues.

Etruscan tomb

Ancient Etruscan vase


Soon after  taking over Etruria, Rome established some outposts in the area. As a result, the Romans created the cities of Lucca, Pisa, Siena and Florence. Under Roman domination, the region pacified thanks to the modern technologies made available by the new occupiers. These developments included the improvement and creation of roads, which favoured trade within the region, the introduction of aqueducts and sewers and the construction of other infrastructures inside the main cities.


During the XI century Pisa became Tuscany´s most powerful city. Thanks to its navy, the city was able to compete with the three other Maritime Republics: Venice, Genoa and Amalfi. Its navy and port gave the city the opportunity to expand the trades and control over the Tyrrhenian Sea.  

Pisa, as well as Siena,was well connectedto other areas thanks to the important Via Francigena, which connected Rome to France.  This road allowed Pisa to strengthen its control over the territory and expand trade as there was a high amount of pilgrims and traders visiting the city.

However, life in Tuscany was not only characterized by peace and growth. In fact, during the XII and XIII centuries a conflict between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire divided the two cities. Several powerful and rich medieval communes rose in Tuscany as a consequence of these wars: Arezzo, Firenze, Lucca, Pisa and Siena. Finally the region was able to find peace as the cities had different economic interests: Pisa´s navy and port remained intact; Siena and Florence saw their territories´ banking activities increase, while Lucca survived by trading silk.

Even though every city in Tuscany had important autonomous cultures and economies, Florence became the Capital of the region thanks to its cultural, military and economic resources. The Medici family benefited most of Florence's growth and they were able to impose their control over the city as well as the region. Lorenzo de' Medici was one of the most famous of the family and the legacy of his time is still visible today in the prodigious art and architecture in Florence.

The growth of Tuscan cities suddenly stopped in 1348, when the Black Death (bubonic plague) hit the region and killed 50% to 60% of Tuscans.


Tuscany, and particularly Florence´s Saint Mary of the Flower, Cathedral, is regarded as the Renaissance´s birthplace. The word "Renaissance" symbolises the growth of the culture that succeeded the "dark age" of the medieval period, during which the development of culture, economy and society was slown down by the unchallenged central power of the Catholic Church.  Tuscany remained a linguistic, cultural and geographic conception, rather than a political reality. Nonetheless throughout the XV century Florence extended its dominion over the other cities after the annexation of Arezzo in 1384 and the purchase of Pisa in 1405 and of Livorno in 1421.

Front of the Cathedral Saint Mary from Flower
The Republic of Florence, created from the City of Florence and made a Republic by including other major Tuscan cities, was dominated by the increasingly monarchical Medici family from 1434 onwards. Under Cosimo, Piero the Gouty, Lorenzo the Magnificent and Piero the Unfortunate, the republican form of the government was kept, as Medici ruled without a title, usually even without a formal office. These rulers presided over the Florentine Renaissance.

Almost every part of the region was annexed by the city of Florence. Only Siena and Lucca were able to resist its domination, they were in fact able to keep their independence longer than any other city. Siena was able to keep its independence until 1555, and during the XV century it enjoyed a cultural "Sienese Renaissance" with its own more conservative character, in opposition to the rest of Tuscany. Lucca remained an independent Republic until 1847, when it became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany by the will of its people. But it only lasted for 14 years, until the unification of Italy in 1861.

Because of the Second Italian War of Independence, the last Grand Duke was forced to abdicate and after a plebiscite, Tuscany became part of the new Kingdom of Italy. From 1864 to 1870 Florence was the second capital of the kingdom.

Republic's square
During the Second World War and after the fall of the Fascist Regime, Florence and the whole of Tuscany fell under Nazi domination. When the war ended and the Nazi-Fascists were defeated by the Anglo-Americans, Italy became a Republic and Florence became one of the most important cities of the new country. After the establishment of regional autonomies in 1975, Tuscany was always ruled by centre-left governments.

Beschreibung: Touristic Attractions

Tuscany is well-known in Italy and in the whole world for its astonishing landscapes, its traditions, its history, and its cultural and artistic heritage. This Region is considered to be birthplace of the Italian Renaissance since it was a home for many artists of that period.
As a matter of fact, seven cities and localities in Tuscany were nominated for World Heritage Sites by UNESCO: the historic centre of Florence (1982); the historical centre of Siena (1995); the square of the Cathedral of Pisa (1987); the historical city centre of San Gimignano (1990); the historical centre of Pienza (1996); the landscape of Val d'Orcia (2004), and Medici Villas and Gardens (2013).

In addition to this, Tuscany also produces very good and well-known wines, including Chianti, Montepulciano, and Brunello di Montalcino.
As a result of this mixture of historical, cultural, traditional and geographical heritage, Tuscany in general and its capital Florence are a popular touristic destination, which attracts millions of tourists every year, making Florence the world's 46th most visited city, with over 1.715 million tourist arrivals per year. 

Florence's City Centre

Siena's city centre

An aerial view of "Piazza dei Miracoli" in Pisa's historical city centre

San Gimignano

An astonishing view of Val d'Orcia
A good tour of Tuscany would take several days and the use of a car is quite necessary to explore this beautiful region. In fact, despite the fact several main touristic attractions could easily be reached by using public transportation, private transportation is necessary to fully enjoy the Tuscan countryside, traditions and culture.  


We can argue Florence the capital of the regionmwas the cradle of the Italian Renaissance. Florence has a strong concentration of arts and cultural heritage in its city centre, which marked the history of humankind, therefore it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Just by walking through Piazza del Duomo you can see the astonishing Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the so-called "Duomo". Its grandiose red cupola, made by Brunelleschi in the XIVth century, completed the Giotto's bell tower and the XIIth century octagonal Baptistery. Another important touristic attraction is the Palazzo Vecchio on the Piazza della Signoria:It was Medici family's old adobebut today it hosts the city hall's offices. There is a copy of Michelangelo's David, probably the most famous statue in the world, on the Piazza della Signoria:. In order to preserve it, the original statue had been kept in the "Galleria della Accademia" museum.  

Michelangelo's David conserved inside "La Galleria della Accademia"
Another important museum where several masterpieces by Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli are conserved is the Uffizi Gallery.

A room with statues inside the Uffizi Gallery
The Arno River is one of Florence's most important landmarks. Ponte Vecchio, is the city's most famous bridge and it was built in the 14th century.

An astonishing view of the "Ponte Vecchio" in Florence


The famous Piazza del Duomo, also known as Piazza dei Miracoli, is amongst the most important monuments of the city, , and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  The Cathedral was built in white marble and then coloured between 1063 and 1118. Moreover, the Baptistery of the city and the famous Leaning Tower, one of the most famous Italian monuments in the world, are located in this same Piazza dei Miracoli, :. The leaning tower was built in the XII century: It is 56 meters high and it only acquired its characteristic slope ten years after the beginning of its construction.

Pisa is very important for the whole Region as it has its biggest airport, the "Galileo Galilei" which has both domestic and international flights that allow the Region to be connected with all of Europe. In fact, it is used by many  tourists as a transfer point to other sites in the area.

Pisa is also important for the whole Italian culture as it hosts some of the greatest universities in Italy and Europe: the University of Pisa, the Scuola Normale Superiore and the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, as well as the National Research Council and numerous research institutes, which give the city international prestige.

In addition, the city of Pisa hosts several international events to help with the integration of its entire people and to promote the city abroad. One of the most important events is the European Market. Every year many traders from all European countries come to Pisa to sell a variety of products from food to crafts, representing their home countries. In this event, the population can easily be in contact with other cultures and at the same time, it helps Pisa and Tuscany in general to promote its traditions and cultures.

Baptistery in Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa

Pisa Tower

Pisa's Cathedral in Piazza dei Miracoli

The annual European Market in Pisa


Lucca is situated in the northern part of the Tuscany. It is often considered to be like a "little Venice without water": The city is still enclosed within huge Renaissance walls which today have become a park.
The Cathedral, the so-called Duomo di San Martino, is situated in the city center .

Lucca is also Giacomo Puccini's birthplace, he was a famous composer mainly known for"La Boheme" and "Madama Butterfly". As a "musical city", Lucca hosts several musical events.

The Province of Lucca has direct access to the Tyrrhenian Sea and thus has one of the most famous coastlines of the whole country, the Versilia. In addition to its heavenly sand beaches, this hilly area also has Marble Mountains and a rich Mediterranean flora.  Not only does the Versilia offer beautiful landscapes, but the region is also commonly associated with tourism, great entertainment, stunning nature, the cosmopolitan way of life, and of course its abundant culture.

Forte dei Marmi is the most important city in this area as it attracts several tourists every year from all over world, especially from Russia and U.S. Many high profile people decide to spend their holidays here as Forte dei Marmi offers not only some of the best beaches in Italy, but also lively night life and a plethora of daily events organized by the city council.

Duomo San Martino in Lucca

Forte dei Marmi


The Val D'Orcia is another area in Tuscany that is famous for its astonishing landscapes and excellent red wines. This part of the Tuscany is perfect for those tourists who want to distract themselves from the daily stress of living in the city. The areas are formed by hills covered in cypress trees, red poppies and yellow sunflowers. There is plenty to see in Val D'Orcia, from the medieval streets of Montepulciano to the smaller picturesque towns of Pienza, San Quirico D'Orcia and Montalcino. The area is known worldwide for its Brunello di Montalcino and Montepulciano DOC wines, making wine tastings an excellent past time for its visitors.


Tuscany offers several other opportunities to tourists; Strade del vino (literally streets of wine)  provide tourists with an integrated package including offers at a number of  cultural, historical and natural attractions as well as exploration of the variety of trails within wine-growing areas, such as vineyards and farm wineries.. Wine is inherent to the culture and history of Tuscany; integrated tourist packages promote rural development due to the influx of tourists who visit each year to experience wine-tourism. Millions of tourists every year enjoy the "strade del vino"; these initiatives are present in several different areas around Tuscany and its Provinces giving visitors the chance to discover the local culinary traditions and to taste the prestigious wines of the area.

One of the most famous routes is "Chianti Colli Fiorentini" which allows visitors to embrace Senese tradition by offering them to experience a number of the area's delicacies, ranging from pork meat to various types of cheese. Every single taste is accompanied by a glass of the traditional wine of the area (Chianti, Vin Santo).

Vineyard of the famous "Chianti" vine

Florence Folks' Festival

The non-profit "Association Folks' Festival" was founded in 1959 by a group of humanities scholars, anthropologists, sociologists and ethnologists. The aim of the organization is to promote social documentary cinema.

The main activity of the association is to organize the international documentary in Italy every year. The Institute has also the important purpose of creating an extended network of partnerships for the dissemination of the Italian culture abroad.

The Folks' Festival is also successful in its objective to preserve and digitalize its archive, which contains more than 16,000 titles of videos and movie.

The conferences and roundtables organized by the association allowed prominent members of various branches of the social sciences to meet up in Florence to discuss the evolution of cinema over the last fifty years.

During these events and conferences, the Folks' Festival are able to promote and raise awareness about the possible evolution of the urban landscape, issues related to immigration, the integration of new cultures, the relationship between Western and Oriental medicine and the problems related to water waste.
Since 2008, the Folks Festival has run various projects aimed at promoting wider recognition of documentary production in the last 50 years. The project distributes a survey on exploring the history, language, traditions, customs, political and social reality of European film; the project also provides an analysis on the evolution of the language of documentary over half a century: the advent of cinema direct to the recent revolution of digital cinema.

In the occasion of its 50th anniversary (2009), the Festival presented the retrospective "The Feeling of Being There 1958-1965: Seven Years of Documentary Cinema", a selection of twenty-four short films that have marked the history of documentary film in a period of great creative fervour that corresponds to the birth of the Folks' Festival.

50th edition of Florence Folk's Festival in 2009


The Festival has been organized by Taegukgi - Toscana Korea Association - since 2003; its goal is to promote Korean cultural in Italy through the projection of movies. Moreover, this festival helps the audience to get in touch with Asian culture and art, promoting the collaboration between South Korea and Italy.
In addition to premieres and contemporary classics, the Festival offers documentaries, short films, and retrospectives of the main directors and actors of Korean cinematography.

Moreover, since 2007, the Association also promotes Italian cinema in South Korea, cooperating with major festivals of that country. In fact, the Florence Korea Film Festival has signed a Memorandum agreement with one of the most important Korean festivals "JIFF - Jeonju International Film Festival", The Tuscan Festival collaborates also with the BIFF - Busan International Film Festival, the first and most important Korean festival in Asia.


The Florence Queer Festival is the most important festival in Tuscany and in Italy dedicated to queer culture (gay, lesbian, transgender.. and many more), organized by the Ireos Association of Florence. The festival grew to become one of the most frequented events of the Florence scene, and one of the most important LGBT Italian festivals.

The festival was launched in 2003 as a four-day gathering in a Florentine theatre and continually expanded its program, events, and audiences. Since 2008, the festival began to take part in the "50 Days of International Cinema in Florence". This project was created by a project of Mediateca Regionale Toscana Film Commission for the Region of Tuscany in collaboration with the Province and the City of Florence.


River to River Florence Indian Film Festival was initially created in October 2001 at the "Rondò di Bacco" Theatre of Palazzo Pitti in Florence.

This Film Festival is a unique initiative of this kind in the world, since its aim is to promote only films that are about and come from India.

Thanks to the advertisement received during the Festival, Indian cinema was able to increase in importance in the public opinion and among the experts. In fact, Ashutosh Gowariker's "Lagaan" won the Audience Award in Locarno and "Monsoon Wedding" by Mira Nair wins the Golden Lion in Venice. And in 2002 Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas was shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

As a result, the Festival was able to promote the Indian culture in the whole of Europe.


Lucca Comics & Games is an annual fair dedicated to comics, animations, plays (role-plays, table plays, card plays), video plays and to all what is imaginary or Fanta-scientific. It takes place in Lucca, between the end of October and the beginning of November.

It was created in 1993 and its importance grew year after year until becoming the most important Italian exhibition in the industry, the second in Europe and the third in the world after the Comiket of Tokyo and the "Festival international de la bande dessinée d'Angoulême" in France.

Since the beginning, the festival has been characterized by the presence of initiatives specifically aimed at adding attraction for the audience beyond the commercial exhibitors and commercial aspects. In fact more activities such as competitions, tournaments and banquet run directly by the organization and released by commercial exhibitors were added to the Festival.

Participant to the Lucca Comics event.

Tuscany and its "hospitality"

From the 1970's onwards, Tuscany has suffered from a constant decline in birth rates. However, the total regional population has remained fairly stable until the end of the nineties, when he began to experience an increase rather decline. All this has been possible due to immigration from other Italian regions, especially from the Region of South of Italy and from foreign countries due to the economic growth of the area. This phenomenon is still very pronounced and has brought some changes. Among foreign residents, at the regional level override the citizens of Eastern European countries (in particular Romanians and Albanians, followed by various States of the African continent, while it is lower the percentage of Asians and Americans.

However, in the Florence and Prato, percentages deviate from the regional average, because of the large Chinese community in the area that constitutes the majority of foreign nationals.

The nationalities most represented according to their percentage of the total population were Romanian 2.06% and Albanians 1.82%.

In terms of religious diversity, several non-Catholic and not Christian communities have been and still are present in Tuscany since the late eighteenth century. Livorno represents an exception since the laws allowed a tolerant religious freedom since the beginning of the sixteenth century. As a result, Livorno is characterized by the many non-Catholic places of cult. In Florence and other cities there were substantial community of the Waldensians, Anglicans and other non-Catholic Christians,  especially among the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century, when there was a high presence of foreign people (mainly British, Americans and Germans). Nowadays several places of worship have been built for other religions. In fact, in Tuscany we can find Synagogues, Mosques and Buddhist temples. 

Front of the Synagogue of Florence

The Mosque in Florence


A Buddhist temple in the hills in Tuscany
The main Universities in Tuscany are the University of Florence and University of Siena. The three Universities of Pisa: Sant'Anna, Normale and University of Pisa.

The University of Pisa

Between the end of the fifteenth century and throughout the next century, the University experienced alternating phases of expansion and crisis always linked to political events in Tuscany. In 1589, three years before moving to Padua, Galileo Galilei was a professor of Mathematics of the University after having been a student.

With the advent of the Italian State, from the 1862 the University of Pisa recognized was one of the six leading national universities, along with Turin, Pavia, Bologna, Naples and Palermo. In 1873 the Faculty of Theology was suppressed. Between the second half of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth century taught in Pisa eminent teachers including lawyers Francesco Carrara and Francesco Buonamici, philologists Comparetti Domenico and Giovanni D'Ancona, the philosopher Giovanni Gentile, economist Giuseppe Toniolo , mathematicians Ulisse Dini and Antonio Pacinotti .

During the post-unification, the University was opened to women in 1891.

During the twentieth century, the University  continued to grow, and the imposition of the Faculty of Engineering and Pharmacy, and after the Second World War, the Faculty of Business and Economics , Foreign Languages ​​and Literature and Political Science. In 1969 the University of Pisa created the first undergraduate degree in computer science and in 1983 the first PhD program in computer science.

The University of Florence

The University was created in 1321 when it was established as the so-called "Studium Generale". The subjects taught were civil and canon law, literature and medicine. One of the most important teachers was Giovanni Boccaccio, the author of the "Decameron" and he was appointed to give lectures on Dante's Divine Comedy.

Only in 1924, however, a special decree gave the name of University Institute.

Today it is one of the largest research organizations and higher education in Italy, with about 2000 teachers and researchers structured, about 1600 technical and administrative staff, and about 1900 graduate students and fellows. The University of Florence nowadays has various sectors of studies, ranging from science and technology sectors (Agriculture, Architecture, Pharmacy, Engineering, Medicine and Surgery, SMFN) to the economic-legal (Economics, Law and Political Science) in the humanities (Arts and Humanities, Educational Sciences), with several interesting addresses.

University of Florence

A view of the University of Siena

The University of Siena

The history of the University of Siena has developed along the cultural traditions of Tuscany starting from the middle Ages. The peculiarity of the University of Siena is that was not based on the initiative of the students or of the professors, but it was directly under the control of the city and under its administration. The people who rented rooms to the pupils had, in fact, to a pay a fee to the city. With these proceeds the Municipality was able to pay salaries to teachers chosen among the best intellectuals of Italy and Europe.

The first major expansion of the University of Siena took place in 1321, when many students moved there from the University of Bologna. The City of Siena immediately understood that the University could become a very important political and cultural outpost and it was necessary to implement it. Later, it was opened in 1416 the House of Wisdom, which was located in the premises of the suppressed Domus Misericordiae. This was able to immediately attract scholars from all over Europe. The twentieth century has seen the steady growth of the University of Siena till reaching more than 20 thousand students in the most recent years. The University of Siena nowadays is attended by several international students since the University decided to provide services such as telematics degrees addressed exclusively to students living abroad.