Villas as centers production & distribution
The economic wealth that has been accessible to a select few began to flood outside the well-guarded walls of the Senate and Vatican. In particular, tradesmen and owners of artisanal production lines throughout the region surrounding Venice, Italy saw an increase in personal wealth. (As a side note, these same small production lines still exist. Their long-lasting nature is both what makes the county diverse and a testament to stability=size).
Villas were not only a status symbol, they were born out of a need to feed and house a number of workers, all of whom contributed to the creation of fabrics, furniture, pottery and a number of other commodities that would -- almost always -- be transferred by a complex canal system to the bustling water-locked city of Venice, which can be thought of as a major port. Instead of cars, the city's water-streets were brimming with boats, loading and unloading goods to be sold.
As this new economy began to expand, those who amassed wealth began to follow in the footsteps of the church. Commissioning artists and architects to reshape their villas into showrooms featuring murals, paintings, and imported exotic goods from the far east this new class of wealth made a huge impact on Italian culture.
For the first time in Western Europe, artists, writers, musicians, painters and scientists were uniformly pushing the doors of possibility wide open. The result was a head-spinning display. Dante put literacy within reach of the common citizen by penning his Divine Comedy in the language spoken on the Florentine streets. Galileo put a crack in the unwatering certitude of the church by undermining its authority, asserting the Earth is not the centre of the universe. Da Vinci, Shakespear, Guttenburg, and Martin Luther do their part to lessen the singular authoritative hold grasping the Middle Ages.
The Italian Renaissance shows us what a little secular wealth can do.