Borders Drawn in Blood
The Marquisate of Tuscany is officially a region of the Holy Roman Empire. However, its ruler Countess Matilda is a long-time rival of Emperor Henry IV and ally of Pope Gregory VII. She has been at war intermittently with the Kingdom of Lombardy (a region loyal to the Emperor). However, she has managed to hold her borders and resist invasion by either the troops of the Lombards or the Empire. This is partly due to the terrain and politics. Tuscany is protected by allies to the East and South. It is protected from naval attach by coastal cliffs. This leaves only one border necessary to defend, which has makes Tuscany a difficult target for invasion.
The countess has a major alliance with the Pope and the Church of Rome. She also enjoys a tentative alliance with Verona and the Scalieri Lords. Tuscany is some of the most fertile lands of the Peninsula, and as a result has been the home of agriculture, as well as innovations in fermentation.
The best Wines are produced by the Monasteries of Tuscany. Monks have devoted ample time and experimentation to perfect the harvesting and fermentation process. Because of the protection of the church, and the fear of God, monastic holdings are rarely destroyed in conflict. As a result, the oldest vineyards are kept by Gregorian monks. They have also experimented with the fermentation of grain and have their own kinds of ale. These drinks are more rare, and thus more expensive. The revenue generated by the production of alcohol has contributed to the wealth of the church and the success of the monks that produce it.
In addition to exporting alcohol, the region is know for its grain, dairy, and various meats (beef, cavallo (horse), coniglia (rabbit) and prosciutto (cured pork)).