The Italian Renaissance was one of the most artistic, colorful, and exciting times in history. "Renaissance" essentially comes from the French word "Renaistre," meaning "to be born again", however in Italian the word is "Rinascimento." The Renaissance was a revival of cultural awareness and learning among art, law, language, literature, philosophy, science, and mathematics. This period took place between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Renaissance in Italy flourished in the 15th century and spread throughout most of Europe in the 16th century.
La Gioconda- da Vinci
Italian life in the 14th and 15th centuries was lived among the vast remains of the ancient Roman Empire. Its glorious past had long been forgotten, and to some scholars of the 14th century, with the fall of Rome to the Barbarians, intellectual significance in everyday life gave way to brute strength and civil decline.
The Italian poet Petrarch, who lived from 1304 to 1374, was the first to use the term "dark ages" when describing the period. He convinced his influential friends that the way to bring the dark ages to an end was to revive the ideology described in the poetry, philosophy, and art of the ancient world.
Petrarch and his peers at the time called themselves humanists. They defended and glorified the value of a humanís life on earth. The humanists believed that mankind had unlimited potential which each individual should strive to achieve. The Humanist ideas, once popular, were the basis for the Renaissance.
The ideal man of the Renaissance was supposed to be a philosopher, a poet, a scholar, a scientist and an artist. The reason that the movement succeeded was because so many men during the time actually followed this pattern of life.