Renaissance refers to a movement in Europe that started in the 1500s in Italy. There was a greater interest in art, architecture, and literature and is used to describe the type of work that was produced at that time. The word means rebirth or reawakening and the literature of ancient cultures, notably Greek and Roman, were praised and inspired new pieces.
While Italy was crucial to this period, and much art was produced in the Italian city-states, its meaning is not attached to these cities. Likewise, lifelike paintings were important, but not directly tied to the meaning of the word.