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Tuscana AKN-3 - History

Tuscana AKN-3 - History

Tuscana
(AKN-3 : dp. 14,350 (tl.) , 1. 441'6", b. 56'11" dr. 28'4" (lim.); 8. 12.5 k.; cpl. 228; a. 1 6", 1 3', 12 20mm.; cl. Indus; T. EC2-S-C1)

AKN-3 was laid down as William R. Cox under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 2406) on 6 December 1943 at Baltimore, Md., by the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard, Inc., Iaunched on 29 December 1943, sponsored by Miss Cheshire Cox; acquired by the Navy under bareboat charter and renamed Tuscana on 8 January 1944, converted to a net cargo ship at Baltimore by the Maryland Drydock Co., and commissioned on 28 March 1944, Comdr. Thomas J. Butler, USNR, in command.

Tuscana arrived at Hampton Roads on 6 April 1944 and operated out of that port, conducting drills and shakedown in Chesapeake Bay. On 26 April, she set her course via the Canal Zone for Hawaii. She entered Pearl Harbor on 23 May, provisioned, took on passengers, and got underway for the Marshalls on the 26th.

She arrived at Kwajalein on 5 June; got underway on the 27th, steaming with barge YC-1008 in tow, and arrived at Eniwetok on 29 June. On 20 July, while
attempting to transfer a passenger to Vega (AK-17) during a rain squall, Tuscana's Buoy Boat No. 1 became stranded on a reef. When pounding seas forced the boat's crew to abandon her, a boat from destroyer Downes (DD-375) came to the rescue and saved all hands. On the 27th, Tuscana departed Eniwetok, with other net cargo ships and an escort, and set her course for the Marianas.

Tuscana anchored at Garapan on 1 August, detached men and cargo for the operation of harbor and waterfront facilities, and on the 7th began net operations. Throughout the remainder of the month, Tuscana's crew labored to assemble and launch anti-torpedo nets which were towed into place and installed by the smaller net laying ships (AN's). On this, her first net laying assignment, Tuscana provided nets to protect Mutcho Point and Garapan harbor from submarine attack. After completing this vital task, Tuscana arrived at Pearl Harbor on 11 September and began loading stores, buoys, and net materials.

On the 19th, she got underway with a slow convoy of eight ships and three escorts bound for the Marshalls. After a few days at Eniwetok, she continued on toward the Carolines and arrived at Ulithi on 9 October. Here, conferences on net laying took place on board the ship. Then, on 15 October, Tuscana's crew began net assembly. On the 26th, she began delivering nets to smaller net laying ships which towed them into place and installed them to protect the lagoon anchorage. On the 28th, Tuscana assembled the last net of this operation. The same day, Viburnam (AN-57), a member of the task unit working with Tuscana struck a Japanese mine which caused severe damage to the net layer and underscored the ever-present hazards of warfare in the Pacific.

Tuscana embarked passengers on 11 November and, on the following day, got underway and steamed via Eniwetok to the Hawaiian Islands. Throughout most of December, she remained at Pearl Harbor undergoing repairs. Then, on the 27th, she set her course again for the Marshalls and spent a week at Eniwetok before proceeding on to the western Carolines. Shortly after midday on 20 January 1945, she passed through Mugai Channel and anchored at Ulithi. Although hampered at first by rough seas. Tuscana supplied moorings and assembled 1 260 yards of anti torpedo net for Towachi Channel and an additional 6,390 yards for use elsewhere in the approaches to Ulithi. On 12 February 1945, her assignment completed, she departed Ulithi.

In March, she underwent drydocking at Pearl Harbor, then took on cargo and passengers. She returned to Ulithi on 4 April 1945, and, on the 12th, departed that port steaming in convoy for Okinawa. She anchored off the Hagushi landing beaches on the 18th. Near dusk each evening, the general alarm sounded, a regular reminder of the danger of Japanese air raiders. On 2 May, sailors on board Tuscana Baw the flash of firing off the ship's starboard quarter and later observed the glow of an explosion which they thought marked the fiery end of a Japanese suicide boat. On 6 May, Tuscana began to assemble nets and moorings to screen the anchorage.

Early in the day on the 28th, as Tuscana lay anchored in Buckner Bay, a swarm of kamikazes attacked. For Tuscana, the action began at 0725, when a Japanese airplane crashed into a merchant ship only 800 yards off her starboard bow. For over 30 minutes Tuscana fought off the airborne raiders. At 0735, a suicide plane crashed into Sandoval (APA-194). Soon thereafter, Tuscana opened fire on her first enemy plane, and, moments later, another came in toward her port bow. Tuscana's guns opened on the attacker and kept it under fire until it disappeared in the low overcast. At 0744, she engaged a third aircraft and splashed it 1000 yards off the port bow. She then turned her attention to the rescue of two survivors from Sandoval. At 0755, yet another Japanese plane came in range, and Tuscana splashed this raider some three

miles away. During the fight, Tuscana lost her starboard mainmast boom, which was toppled and damaged beyond operational use, and her topping lift was carried away by friendly fire. At 0758, Tuscana's guns opened on the last of the attackers and ceased fire five minutes later, just as a kamikaze crashed merchant ship Josiah Snelling. At 0900, the all clear was sounded, and Tuscana emerged from her encounter with the enemy without personnel jobs and with the knowledge of having assisted in the splashing of two enemy planes.

During an early afternoon alert on 3 June 1945, Tuscana's gunners splashed a Japanese aircraft only 500 yards off her starboard quarter. On the 6th, she got underway and proceeded via Saipan and the Hawaiian Islands to the California coast. On 6 July, she anchored in San Francisco Bay to begin a prolonged period of overhaul. While the ship underwent extensive repairs, members of her crew attended schools in damage control, fire fighting, and radar. During this interlude, hostilities ended in the Pacific.

Late in August, Tuscana completed dock trials and tests; then provisioned and got underway on 7 September. Steaming via Pearl Harbor, she arrived at Okinawa on 14 October and began discharging her cargo. Later in the month, as she was proceeding to Japan, she sighted and destroyed a floating mine. The ship anchored at Sasebo on the 25th. She returned to Okinawa in November, then continued on to Hawaii and reached Pearl Harbor on 10 December. She discharged passengers and cargo there: and, on 14 December, she set her course for Balboa. Steaming via the Panama Canal, she arrived at Norfolk on 11 January 1946.

The net cargo ship was decommissioned on 28 January 1946 and returned to the War Shipping Administration the next day. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 25 February 1946. Laid up under the name William R. Cox, the ship remained in custody of the Maritime Administration until she was sold in the late 1960's to Horton Industries, Inc., and scrapped

Tuscana received two battle stars for World War II service.


Tuscana AKN-3 - History

USS Zebra (AKN-5) on 28 August 1945
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class: ZEBRA (AKN-5)
Design: MC EC2-S-C1
Displacement (tons): 4,900 light, 14,550 lim.
Dimensions (feet): 441.5' oa, 416.0' wl/pp x 56.9' e x 28.4' lim.
Original Armament: 1-3"/50 9-20mm
Later armaments: 1-5"/38 4-40mmT 10-20mm (1945)
Complement: 254 (1944)
Speed (kts.): 12.5
Propulsion (HP): 2,500
Machinery: Vertical triple expansion, 1 screw

Construction:

AKN Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
5 ZEBRA 1 Oct 43 Permanente Metals #1 18 Mar 43 11 Apr 43 27 Feb 44

Disposition:
AKN Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
5 ZEBRA 21 Jan 46 7 Feb 46 21 Jan 46 MC/R 28 Mar 72

Class Notes:
FY 1943. This relatively new Liberty ship was damaged by a torpedo from the Japanese submarine I-11 on 11 Aug 43 near Noumea. According to the history later written by the ship, S.S. MATTHEW LYON limped into Segond Channel, Espiritu Santo, with a gaping hole in her port side and seemed destined for the scrap heap. Then, in answer to a request by an enterprising net officer, the damaged Liberty ship was taken over by the Navy from the War Shipping Administration and pressed into emergency service as a net cargo ship. CNO asked WSA on 28 Aug 43 to transfer the heavily damaged ship and assigned the name ZEBRA to IX-107 on 8 Sep 43, one day after the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended her acquisition. So successful was the initial use of ZEBRA in the installation of nets in the New Hebrides area that it was decided to completely repair her and commission her as an AKN. On 7 Feb 44 CNO reclassified the ship AKN-5 effective 15 Feb 44 and authorized Commander, Service Squadron, South Pacific Force to put her in commission.

The day after her commissioning on 27 Feb 44, ZEBRA was drydocked in ABSD-1. There it was determined that the torpedo had caused sufficient damage to necessitate the construction of an entirely new number three hold. Two months were needed to complete this large job, and while it was being done the ship was reconfigured to accommodate a much larger crew, as was standard Navy practice, than had been needed to operate her as a merchant ship under WSA. After an additional fitting out period in Segond Channel, ZEBRA began operations as a net handling ship on 1 Jun 44. She proceeded to have a very active operational career in the Pacific that included two additional conversion periods, at Pearl Harbor in December 1944 and January 1945 and at Oakland, California, from May to July 1945.

Apparently the torpedo damage was never fully repaired. Because of her specially valuable configuration MATTHEW LYON (ex ZEBRA) was among the reserve fleet ships that were selected in 1954 by a MARAD-Navy planning group for repair under the Emergency Ship Repair Program. She was withdrawn from the James River Reserve Fleet on 17 Dec 54 and towed to the Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Baltimore for initial work. A survey of the ship both in drydock and afloat revealed that she was severely hogged and twisted, with a maximum vertical deflection of the bottom of 19 1/2" and a horizontal deflection of 18". MARAD recommended to the Navy that the ship be declared non-essential and disposed of as scrap, and while awaiting a reply returned the ship to the reserve fleet to minimize further custodial expenditures. The Navy, however, decided to retain the ship in the reserve fleet in its existing condition.


Contents

As SS Matthew Lyon, 1943

Operated for the WSA by a civilian contractor, Dichmann W. & P., the ship plied the waters of the Pacific during the summer of 1943. On 12 August, while voyaging to Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides, she received severe damage as the result of a torpedo fired by Japanese submarine I-11. Several days later, the freighter limped into Espiritu Santo and languished there in Segond Channel for several weeks, apparently headed for scrapping.

Commissioned as Zebra

Late in September, a naval officer recognized her potential for emergency service as a net cargo ship and, on 1 October 1943, she was placed in service as Zebra (IX-107). Her subsequent success in that role prompted her complete conversion to a net cargo ship and her total rehabilitation to operable status. On 15 February 1944, the ship was redesignated AKN-5, and Zebra was placed in commission on 27 February 1944, while in drydock at Espiritu Santo, Lt. Comdr. Robert D. Abernethy, USNR, in command.

Salvaging net gear, 1944

During the first three months of her commissioned service, Zebra remained at Espiritu Santo completing her partial conversion to a net cargo ship. She began her first mission on 1 June, when she started loading a cargo of reclaimed net material and put to sea on 8 June, bound for New Caledonia. The ship arrived in Nouméa on 11 June, unloaded her net material, and took on a general cargo destined for the Fiji Islands. She departed Nouméa on 19 June, arrived at Suva three days later, unloaded, and began taking on reclaimed net material. On 27 June, she moved to the other side of the island where she began loading material salvaged from the Nandi net installations. The ship completed loading on 5 July and headed back to New Caledonia that same day. Zebra entered Nouméa on 8 July and discharged her load of salvaged net gear. Following 10 days at Nouméa, the net cargo ship embarked upon a circuit of various South Pacific islands to collect nets and equipment salvaged from the harbor defense installations. Through the remainder of the summer, the ship visited Tongatapu Bora Bora Tutuila and Upolu, Samoa and Funafuti. At each island, she stopped long enough to unload part of the general cargo she had taken on at Nouméa and pick up each installation's salvaged net gear. She departed her last port of call on that voyage, Funafuti in the Ellice Islands, on 23 August and returned to Nouméa five days later.

Palau Islands

Zebra remained at Nouméa until 15 September. On that day, she embarked upon a voyage which took her closer to war and which brought her first actual net-laying mission. The ship arrived in Eniwetok lagoon on 24 September and remained there until 3 October when she continued on toward the Western Carolines. Reaching Ulithi Atoll on 8 October, the net cargo ship immediately began installing net gear around the anchorage with two of her sister ships, Sagittarius (AKN-2) and Tuscana (AKN-3). They completed their mission by 10 November, and Zebra loaded the unused net material for transportation to the Palaus. She departed Ulithi that same day and entered Barnum Bay near Peleliu two days later. While the fighting on Peleliu continued, the net cargo ship assembled a net installation for the protection of a wharf about to be constructed at the island. She concluded that portion of her mission on 14 November and headed north in company with two net tenders to the anchorage at Kossol Roads. There, she spent 11 days assembling over two miles of net and supporting equipment. At the conclusion of that assignment, Zebra received orders to Pearl Harbor. She departed the Palaus on 25 November, stopped at Eniwetok briefly on 4 December, and arrived in Hawaii on 15 December. At Pearl Harbor, she underwent 20 days of repairs and modifications before loading net gear in preparation for her next mission.

Iwo Jima, 1945

She remained at Pearl Harbor through the end of January 1945 awaiting sailing orders. Finally, the ship got underway on 5 February, bound for Iwo Jima. She stopped at Eniwetok between 16 February and 21 February and then continued her voyage. Two days out of Eniwetok, Zebra's convoy received orders changing its destination from Iwo Jima to Saipan in the Marianas. Zebra, two net tenders, and a destroyer, however, received instructions to continue on to their original destination as a result of battle damage to her sister ship Keokuk (AKN-4). The little task unit arrived off Iwo Jima on 28 February, and Zebra immediately began double duty, laying nets and serving as flagship for all minecraft in the vicinity. She stayed at Iwo Jima for 42 days, laying nets in spite of adverse weather, heavy seas, and fire from the doomed but stubborn enemy garrison. She also superintended the laying of ship moorings and performed several salvage jobs including pulling Zuni (ATF-95) and LST-727 off the Iwo Jima beach.

California

Zebra concluded her tour of duty at Iwo Jima on 11 April and shaped a course back to Eniwetok, where she arrived on 18 April. Continuing east, the ship entered Pearl Harbor again on 28 April for a four-day layover before resuming her voyage to the West Coast. On 11 May, the net cargo ship arrived in San Francisco, California, to complete her conversion to a net cargo ship. She entered the Oakland yard of the Moore Dry Dock Company on 14 May. Work continued until mid-July when she received orders to participate in net laying experiments at Tiburon, California. Though speeded up, her conversion had not been completed when she slipped her moorings on 25 July to join the operations up the bay at Tiburon. That duty lasted until 3 August at which time the ship returned to Moore Drydock Co. to complete the remaining conversion work. On 26 August, she made her post-conversion, full power trial run and, soon thereafter, received orders assigning her to the Administrative Command, Minecraft, located at Pearl Harbor.

Post-war activities, 1945–1946

The ship stood out of San Francisco Bay on 31 August and arrived in Pearl Harbor on 8 September. She remained in Hawaii only 12 days. On 20 September, she headed back to the western Pacific to collect salvaged net equipment. Carrying a small cargo of mine gear for the Marshall Islands command, she steamed to Kwajalein where she arrived on 30 September and unloaded her cargo before proceeding on to Iwo Jima. Zebra arrived at the latter island on 9 October, loaded net gear, and then headed for the Marianas on 29 October. The ship made port at Saipan on 1 November, unloaded the salvaged net equipment at the Saipan stockpile, and began loading passengers and equipment for return to the United States.

She departed Saipan on 15 November and stopped at Guam on 16 November. There, she unloaded some mine-sweeping gear before resuming the voyage on 29 November. Steaming by way of Pearl Harbor, Zebra arrived in the Canal Zone on 31 December 1945. Routed on to Norfolk, Virginia, she reported to the Commandant, 5th Naval District, on 8 January 1946. Zebra was decommissioned at Norfolk on 21 January 1946 and simultaneously returned to the War Shipping Administration. Her name was struck from the Navy List on 7 February 1946.


You've only scratched the surface of Tuscana family history.

Between 1972 and 2004, in the United States, Tuscana life expectancy was at its lowest point in 2004, and highest in 1999. The average life expectancy for Tuscana in 1972 was 55, and 1 in 2004.

An unusually short lifespan might indicate that your Tuscana ancestors lived in harsh conditions. A short lifespan might also indicate health problems that were once prevalent in your family. The SSDI is a searchable database of more than 70 million names. You can find birthdates, death dates, addresses and more.


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What Toscana family records will you find?

There are 298 census records available for the last name Toscana. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Toscana census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 114 immigration records available for the last name Toscana. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 43 military records available for the last name Toscana. For the veterans among your Toscana ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

There are 298 census records available for the last name Toscana. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Toscana census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 114 immigration records available for the last name Toscana. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 43 military records available for the last name Toscana. For the veterans among your Toscana ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.


Tuscana AKN-3 - History

USS Indus (AKN-1) circa February 1944.
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class: INDUS (AKN-1)
Design: MC EC2-S-C1
Displacement (tons): 4,023 light, 14,550 lim
Dimensions (feet): 441.5' oa, 416.0' wl/pp x 56.9' e x 28.3' lim
Original Armament: 1-5"/38 1-3"/50 12-20mm
Later armaments: 1-5"/38 4-40mmS 10-20mm (AKN-2, 1945)
1-5"/38 4-40mmT 8-20mm (AKN-3, 1946)
Complement: --
Speed (kts.): 12.5
Propulsion (HP): 2,500
Machinery: Vertical triple expansion, 1 screw

Construction:

AKN Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
1 INDUS 5 Nov 43 Bethlehem-Fairfield SYs 4 Oct 43 29 Oct 43 15 Feb 44
2 SAGITTARIUS 8 Dec 43 Bethlehem-Fairfield SYs 8 Nov 43 30 Nov 43 18 Mar 44
3 TUSCANA 8 Jan 44 Bethlehem-Fairfield SYs 5 Dec 43 29 Dec 43 28 Mar 44

Disposition:
AKN Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
1 INDUS 20 May 46 5 Jun 46 23 May 46 MC/R 24 Mar 67
2 SAGITTARIUS 16 Jan 46 7 Feb 46 19 Jan 46 MC/R 12 Sep 72
3 TUSCANA 28 Jan 46 25 Feb 46 29 Jan 46 MC/R 24 Mar 67

Class Notes:
FY 1944. In July 1943 three offices within the OpNav staff wrote about an urgent need for Net Cargo Ships (AKN) in Pacific operations, to transport and install net defenses in harbors at advanced bases before they were occupied by important fleet units. In response the Auxiliary Vessels Board noted that Liberty (EC-2) ships were the type most suited for this purpose, that three of them were required, and that when not engaged in net related work they could be used to carry other types of cargo. On 3 Aug 43 the Board therefore recommended the acquisition of three EC-2s for used as AKNs.

On 20 Aug 43 the VCNO provided BuShips with a description of the desired conversions. The primary functions of the ships were to transport nets to the scene of operations, to assemble net panels (which measured 73' x 40') on deck and to launch them, to dress net tenders (YNs) with moorings, and generally to fulfill the functions of a net depot at an advanced base. Their secondary function was, when not engaged in the installation of specific net defenses, to transport supplies for the maintenance of existing installations and for the equipage of net tenders. The conversions were to be very similar to standard Navy cargo ship (AK) conversions except that clear spaces were to be reserved on the weather deck forward of the bridge, one to starboard and one to port, for assembling net sections and floats. These spaces would measure about 140 by 15 feet. A working space was also to be provided in the 'tween deck and fitted with work benches, welding equipment, stowage for net tools, shackles, and other net equipment. Additional searchlights and cargo lights were to be fitted to support night operations, and two 38-foot buoy boats were to be carried.

The history of AKN-2 written by the ship provides some more insights into the conversions. Extra heavy gear on deck (booms and winches), cleared foredecks, cutaway bulwarks, and built-up hatches made the AKN an efficient net layer. She could carry baled net, buoys, jackstays, clips, shackles, etc., and on her broad decks assemble and launch a complete net line. Working with net layers (ANs, ex YNs), an AKN provided complete facilities for a finished job.

The conversion yard for all three ships was a few hundred yards up the Patapsco River from their construction yard. After conversion the three ships completed fitting out at the Norfolk Navy Yard.

In May 1945 an internal OpNav memorandum noted that the then-current Basic Post War Plan called for retaining two of these ships in the active postwar fleet. The memorandum recommended instead converting two of the larger and faster Victory (VC-2) ships for this purpose. It is possible that this requirement ultimately led to the conversion of LSV-6 to AKN-6 in late 1945. See the MONITOR (LSV 5-6, 3-4) class for further details on this conversion.


Cucina sostenibile

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In 2014, the partners opened their second restaurant, Ironside Kitchen Pizza & Coffee Co. that serves traditional Neapolitan pizza and authentic Italian dishes all made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. The restaurant features a beautiful, large outdoor dining patio and garden and a charming, indoor authentic Italian coffee bar. It's located in Miami Ironside, an urban art and design district in Miami's Upper Eastside.


Brief Overview of Tuscany's History

Tuscany was the home land of the Etruscans, which was annexed by Rome in 351 BC. After the fall of the Roman empire, the region, which became known as Tuscany (Toscana in Italian) came under the rule of a succession of rulers (Herulians, Ostrogoths, etc.) and emerged as a political entity with its own rulers. By the twelfth century, the Tuscan cities were gradually gaining their independence as republics and forcing the nobility to live in the cities. By the high Middle Ages, the cities of Pisa, Siena, Arezzo, Pistoia, Lucca, and especially Florence had become wealthy because of textile manufacture, trade, banking, and agriculture. There were many wars between the city states to conquer territory and power. Gradually, Florence came to overshadow and conquer all other cities in the region.

The Renaissance and Reign of the Medici

After several experiments with representative government, Florence was ruled by an oligarchy of wealthy aristocrats, among whom the Medici family became dominant in the fifteenth century. Under the patronage of these wealthy families, the arts and literature flourished as nowhere else in Europe and thus this period is known as the Renaissance, the rebirth after the Middle Ages. Florence was the city of such writers as Dante, Petrarch, and Macchiavelli, and artists and engineers such as Botticelli, Brunelleschi (who built the magnificent dome on the church of St. Mary of the Flowers, Santa Maria dei Fiori), Alberti, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo. Because of its dominance in literature, the Florentine language became the literary language of the Italian region and is the language of Italy today. Lorenzo de' Medici, who ruled Florence in the late fifteenth century was perhaps the greatest patron of the arts in the history of the West.

Decline and Renewal

Times changed and upon the death of Lorenzo, the Medici power seems to fall apart. The Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola ruled Florence when the Medici were exiled. After Savonarola turned against the pope, he was excommunicated and in 1498, tortured and burned in Piazza della Signoria. With the shift of commerce away from the Mediterranean and toward the Atlantic taking place after 1492, the economy of Tuscany went into a slow decline. By 1530, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V conquered Florence and re-established the Medici family in power. They were now dukes of Florence, and within a few decades, Cosimo de' Medici was made Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Cosimo aggressively pursued a policy of economic revival, building the great harbor at Livorno because the harbor of Pisa had silted up, founding universities, sponsoring the work of another famous Tuscan, Galileo Galilei, promoting the exploratory voyages of Amerigo Vespucci. Their successors began the decline of the Medici in 1737, the last male member of the dynasty, Gian Gastone, died without an heir. Fortunately for the future of Florence, his sister Anna Maria Luisa bequeathed the entire Medici estate and art treasures to the city so that they could be forever enjoyed by Florentines and the world.

Modern times

After the Medici, Tuscany was ruled by the Austrian Dukes of Lorraine. In the seventeenth century, Florence and Tuscany had increasingly faded into relative obscurity and did not revive until the nineteenth century. The Dukes of Lorraine modernized the local administration, reorganized religious houses and enacted agricultural improvements, most notably the draining of the areas of the Maremma and Valdichiana. The march toward Italian independence, however, led to the end of the Lorraine rule in 1861 when Tuscany voted in favour of annexation to a united Italy. Florence was capital of the kingdom of Italy from 1865 to 1871.

Today, Tuscany is a major cultural center, with museums, galleries and churches full of great sculptures, paintings and frescoes and magnificent monuments built by the greatest masters of all time. Tuscany attracts millions of tourists each year. If you are interested in visiting Tuscany, we hope our guide will be useful in planning your visit and in learning more about Tuscany in general.


Brief History of Tuscan Cuisine: the Origins

Tuscany is a Region which is rich in history and with very beautiful nature it extends from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Apuan Alps, with more than 3,600,000 inhabitants distributed in 10 provinces: Florence (Capital of the Region), Arezzo, Siena, Grosseto, Massa Carrara, Livorno, Lucca, Pisa, Pistoia, and Prato.

The history of Tuscan cuisine has ancient origins, dating back to the Etruscan people and winding through the centuries to this present day. Its most important period was definitely the Renaissance, where chefs working at the noble courts were expected to prepare very elaborate dishes, which have subsequently influenced many other European countries’ cuisine, especially France.

However, Tuscan people still loved to create far less elaborate dishes. Ancient Tuscany has been inhabited by primeval colonies at first, then by Etruscans and, later on, by Romans, both lovers of wine and good food. Their food was simple but, in some way, already quite various for that time.

Legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), spelt, barley and millet (used in soups), fruits, vegetables, wine and olive oil were indeed already cultivated, and sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle were already raised both for their milk and their meat. Even the game (especially wild boars, deers, and cranes) was often eaten by Etruscans, cooked on braziers.

During the colonization of the Roman Empire, the Tuscan cuisine, of Etruscan origin, did not undergo major changes, remaining substantially frugal. With the decline of the Empire, the arrival in Italy of the barbarian tribes and the consequent depopulation of the cities in favor of the countryside with the advent of Feudalism, good cuisine was just reserved to the richest and noble families, while the peasants and the workers had to survive, feeding themselves with vegetable soups and poor food.