Tuscany is known all over the world for its beautiful landscapes, its rich artistic legacy and vast influence on culture. Tuscany is widely regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and has been the home of some of the most influential people in the history of arts and science, such as: Petrarch, Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Amerigo Vespucci and Puccini.
As well as its extraordinary natural beauty and historical heritage, Tuscany is also one of the most developed regions in Italy, thanks to an integrated economic system and its strategic location in the Mediterranean basin which provides access to national and European markets. The habitants of Tuscany are proud of their long history of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit: small-scale family-run industries thrive, with tradition and quality still favoured over quantity.
Food is a strategic sector with cheeses, olive oil and local wines like Chianti and Brunello promoting this heritage all over the world. In Italy the Tuscany economy is one of the most open to foreign markets: there are 3.6 million people in the region which is 6.2% of the Italian population as a whole.
However, the high level of foreign trade is only one of the many examples of the dynamism and openness that characterize Tuscany, a region where warm hospitality and an open attitude towards the outside world are deeply-rooted in the culture and have a relevant and positive impact on all tourist and industrial activities.
The levels of economic success are the result of stable and balanced development, achieved over the years through a successful blend of hard work, creativity, talent and entrepreneurship. The Tuscan economic system draws its strength from the vitality of small and medium-sized companies that constantly change in order to seize new business opportunities, especially in foreign markets. A solid manufacturing tradition has led to the rise of twelve industrial districts and enabled Tuscany to become a leader in the international medium- and high-market segments of fashion (textile, clothing, shoes, leather, tanning and jewellery), paper, marble, wood, furniture and plant production. A growing number of companies operate in R&D-intensive sectors and technology. Furthermore, increasing tourist demand has led Tuscany to be a key market for the hotel and leisure sectors.
According to research carried out by Trivago (2009) three out of the ten most visited locations in Italy are San Gimignano, Florence Cathedral and Siena Cathedral. In the UNESCO world heritage list you find six Tuscan sights (the historical centres of Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Pienza, Duomo square in Pisa, the Val d’Orcia). According to Martha Bakerjian in About.com, ‘Tuscany, with its spectacular hill towns and scenery, is one of Italy’s top vacation destinations. Tuscany’s travel attractions include historic cities and art, great wine and food, medieval hill towns, beaches, and beautiful countryside’. In addition, USA Today have included Cortona (AR) as one of the ten great places to go off the beaten path in Italy (2011).