A timeless view and way of life: peaceful old age in Casole d’Elsa
Tuscany is renowned throughout the worldfor its art, history and beautiful landscape. Here the past merges with the present to a remarkable degree, for its people pride themselves on their heritage. Independent and combative, for centuries they have preserved their surroundings and traditions, in which must lie much of Tuscany’s eternal fascination for the outsider.
The people of Tuscany are fiercely proud of their ancestry, which they trace back to the Etruscans. Geneticists have even discovered gene segments that are uniquely Tuscan: there are strong similarities between the faces carved on Etruscan cremation urns (seepp40-41) and those of the people on the streets of modern Tuscany.
This legacy also has a political significance. Tuscany still enjoys a kind of grass-roots democracy through ref-erendums on such issues as whether to ban traffic from the centre of Florence. Florentines will, however, take the law into their own hands, as they did when they fought the police
in 1990 to prevent the closure of San Lorenzo market. Tuscans also scorn the government in Rome and its bureaucracy. Many people want the autonomy they enjoyed before Italy was united in 1870. This has been sharpened by the revelations of institutionalized corruption in Italy.
The Tuscan love of home has resulted in a strong campanilismo: parochialism defined by the sound of the local church bell (in the campanile orbelltower). Social anthropologists see in it a survival of medieval intercity conflicts. It can be observed at many a Tuscanfestivalwhen, beneath the pageantry, there is a serious rivalry between a city’s different quarters.
FLORENCE TRAVEL TRADE Photo Gallery