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Europe >> Italy >> History of Italy

History of Italy

Archaeological findings date the earliest of human presence in the region at 20,000 BC. Since then, till now, it’s been a story of rich intrigue, legendary conquerors, a manic dictator, and religious and cultural splendour.

The Greeks and Phoenicians brought to the region some degree of cultural sophistication, and the Etruscans who settled around Tuscany in 600 BC were similarly advanced, making bold endeavours in trade, art and agriculture. As various new city-states came up in different parts of the area, fierce rivalries developed over trade and territory. Rome grew to be the strongest and most successful of these, its influence spreading first across the neighbouring city-states, then further till the remarkable feat that was the Roman Empire came to be achieved. By the middle ages, when the Roman Empire was declining, Italy came under the rule of the Byzantine Empire and was subsequently divided into many small and independent states.

The ‘Black Death’ which hit Europe in the 13th century and handing over of temporal rights to the Papacy unleashed a fresh power struggle heralding the rebirth of cultural rigour in art, architecture and literature which engulfed the entire continent. This remarkable phenomenon which so over whelmed the economy, culture and society had its roots in Italy and this period came to be known as the Age of Renaissance.

Italy, ever since the decline of the Roman Empire has always been divided into various independent states and provinces but in 1861 after a series of revolutions and revolts, Italy was finally unified under Garibaldi and the Kingdom of Italy, as we know it today, was born. After the Second World War, where it played a vital part, Italy’s economy has hit deep lows and soaring highs. Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC) and joined the growing political and economic unification of Western Europe, accepting the Euro in 1999.

But all invasions have left their mark, and you get to see Renaissance palazzi, and Augustan arches vying for space against the Italian landscape. Streets and town squares are permeated with the legacy of its exciting past and continue to fascinate tourists…perhaps they always will! Viva Italia!


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