A Brief Introduction to Italian Antiquity For Travelers

Italy Travel Notes presents: By Richard Monk

Admittedly, writing a brief review of Italy is much like citing one or two words out of a dictionary as representing all words. Nonetheless, here is an brief introduction to how Italy came to be.


One of the earliest well-developed countries in Europe is Italy. The “country shaped like a boot” is thought to have been home to man for over 200,000 years; artifacts and historical sites showing the fact that the country was inhabited date back to the Paleolithic period (the “Old Stone Age”). This country has continued to be an important part of Western society since the early days, a rather obvious fact when you think about it.

The first settlers to call this country by any name relating to Italy were ancient Greeks who migrated to the area in the 8th century BC. They named the country a word similar to the modern word Italy, which was derived from the Homeric word for bull. The Etruscan civilization, as well as the Roman Republic and Empire that followed it, were incredibly influential on the Mediterranean area and the rest of Europe, influencing religion, language and culture.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 6th century AD, Italy was faced with many different invasions and bouts of being conquered by other cultures. When the Franks conquered the area in 774, it became part of the Holy Roman Empire (later known as the Holy Roman Germanic Empire) and a central State of the Vatican was created. The Vatican State lead the area to break apart in to smaller city states, and also kept Italy from reuniting later on.

Around the year 1000, both the population and the economy of Italy increased, and the country prospered greatly, even through the creations of powerful city states such as Sicily, Naples and Venice. A major blow was brought to the area in the 14th century, however, when the Black Death (the bubonic plague) swept through Italy. Fully one third of the area’s population died during this time, but the rebuilding that occurred after this catastrophe created more cities and much more advancement. By the Renaissance, Italy was again the center of Western civilization.

Italy continued to be a major area of all things cultural, religious and commercial for centuries after the Renaissance; but it was not a unified country. In the year 1861, the last of the holdout city states agreed to unite, and the modern country of Italy was formed. While a brief review of Italy cannot do justice to this majestic country, it definitely shows the influence this area had on the rest of the world. When you travel to the country, the historical importance will be obvious.

Richard Monk is with http://www.factsmonk.com – a site with facts about everything.

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