The Italian Renaissance was a period in Italian history that covered the 14th through the 17th centuries. The period is known for the development of a culture that spread across Europe and marked the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. Proponents of a "long Renaissance" argue that it started around the year 1300 and lasted until about 1600. In some fields, a Proto-Renaissance, beginning around 1250, is typically accepted. The French word renaissance means 'rebirth', and defines the period as one of cultural revival and renewed interest in classical antiquity after the centuries during what Renaissance humanists labeled as the "Dark Ages". The Renaissance author Giorgio Vasari used the term rinascita 'rebirth' in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects in 1550, but the concept became widespread only in the 19th century, after the work of scholars such as Jules Michelet and Jacob Burckhardt.
The Renaissance began in Tuscany in Central Italy and centred in the city of Florence.