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The Arts

Painting, sculpture, architecture and the minor arts were the subjects that most fascinated Grand Tourists, filling the pages of the “dossiers” dedicated to the Tuscan section of their journeys. This was inevitable, given the extraordinary concentration of works of art to be found in the region. However, the gaze of the travelers and their judgments reflect the history of a fairly complex and difficult process, in which an early phase of incomprehension of the art of the “past” (chiefly the 14th and 15th centuries) was followed by one of exaltation and enthusiasm that coincided with the prominent place that the “Athens of Italy” and its territory won in the itineraries of European journeys. The subjects were many and unclassifiable and following them is an arduous enterprise, but it is possible to single out a number of outstanding themes, which are also the same ones that figure in the visits of today's tourists' (certainly in more packaged form) to the artistic beauties of Tuscany. Music and drama were the other areas, along with science, that attracted the most interest and curiosity thanks, once again, to an Italian ascendancy. Although this preeminence faded over time, it continued to influence the whole of European society without a significant break: Italy was seen as a myth or, if nothing else, as a point of reference that had never lost its validity.


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