The Renaissance is important not only for historians of philosophy and art, but for every citizen of modern Europe, since it played a fundamental role in the construction of our identity. Trying to comprehend what it really was means trying to understand what Europe is today, with both its achievements (civil, artistic, scientific, economic and cultural) and its many contradictions.
The Renaissance was not a phenomenon limited merely to some areas of the continent but had instead a European dimension, unitary albeit with numerous diversities and specific aspects. Accordingly, it will be useful to follow a transverse itinerary through European ideas and landscapes that can help to clarify the organic nature of situations geographically far apart.
Eight common themes form the ideal key to understanding the course of the European Renaissance more clearly. Shaping the Landscape, the role played by the Migration of People and Ideas, the birth of the Nation-State, the relations between Identity and Diversity, Harmony and Conflict, Reason and Imagination, the Center and the Periphery, and Innovation and Stagnation, are dealt with from a comprehensive point of view, analyzing the concrete development of these themes in the different stages of each geographic itinerary. In this way the unitary nature of a theme can be seen without losing sight of its many different facets and particularities. The eight themes are designed to provide a picture of the Renaissance world as seen through a plurality of aspects and visual angles; at the same time, they aim to stimulate reflection on the present considering that, although these themes forcefully emerged in Renaissance times, they are highly pertinent to the world of today.