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Marcus A.

Marco Polo


Inspired by a theatrical group that presents all of Shakespeareís plays in the time it normally takes to perform one play, here is an abridged history of Italy in one article.

These are links to my sections on Italy's various historical eras. 


Click on the logo above to go to a site that explains all you ever wanted to know about Italy's volcanoes.  The volcanoes are responsible for the creation of much of southern Italy, as you can see from the map at the bottom of their page.


Click on the image above of the Ancient Languages of Italy to read about the various languages spoken on the Italian peninsula by the various tribes living there during ancient times.  The link at the bottom of their page connects you to another online history of Italy.


Click on the images above to visit a wonderful site, with a clickable map, all about Magna Graecia.  It is an on-line archive of not only the history of the areas but of the coins from that era found in those sites.


Click on the text above taken from a site, mainly in Italian, but with some pages in English, all about Magna Graecia. 


Click on either piece of jewelry to visit the Italian site for the Museum of Magna Graecia in Taranto, Italy.  



To find books about Italy's history, the prices, and what people think of them, you can use this search tool.  


Just enter 'Books' in the 'Search' field, and 'Italian history' in the 'Keywords' field.  Then click on the 'Go' button to see the list.

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The Natural History of Italy


Looking back 25 million years, Europe was barely in existence.  Two-thirds of what we now call Europe was under water.  And Italy was little more than a few volcanic protrusions in the Mediterranean Sea. 


Looking back 10 million years, when precursors of homo sapiens lived in Africa, Europe was only slightly larger but entering an ice age that would cover itís northern half for nearly one million years, the remains of which still cover the Alps.  


Italy protruded from the Mediterranean along itís backbone, the Apennine mountain range, and was surrounded by several islands, some of which would remain islands, others that would join up with the main parts of the growing peninsula.


With the Alps growing in the North, the Apennines rising along itís center, and the volcanic islands growing all around her, modern Italy took shape.  It is a shape and construction that explains todayís diverse and volatile landscape.  


Italy is divided geographically north to south and east to west.  Volcanoes still erupt, earthquakes still rumble, landslides and flooding still reshape the landscape, and sharp differences in weather separate the agriculture and even culture around the country, especially from north to south.




Starting from about 8000 B.C., Europe and Italy had taken on their present shape, and the weather had become milder.  As a result:

  • Sturdy hunter-gatherers either made way for farmers, or became farmers.  

  • Virgin forests were cut down over time for fuel, construction materials, and to clear land for agriculture.  

  • And native big game was hunted until todayís near extinction to feed the growing population. 

Cities grew to house the stored foodstuffs and to protect the settled clans and tribes from raiding parties from less settled clans and tribes.  


It is during this time that Italy became populated with many of the people who would give the rich variety of culture, traditions, language, character and physicality to present day Italians. 


Each tribe had a reputation.  Some were known for their fighting skills, others for their trading and seafaring, some for the beauty of their women.  Their territory shifted with each struggle, each battle, each new agreement reached between the ever more integrating groups.  


Intermarriage and joining together for strength against outsiders would bring greater unity, but it would not be until the Romans expanded from western-central Italy to create an empire that all of modern Italy would be united.


The expanding Greek civilization starting from about 3000 B.C., finally colonized southern Italy around 800 B.C..  The local tribes were either absorbed into the colonies, pushed aside, or destroyed.  All of Sicily and southern Italy up to just below Rome had Greek outposts.  


The Greek colonies were like most ancient colonies, set up to strip the land of the natural resources.  They cut down trees to make fleets of boats, drowned pleasurably in Italyís abundant wines, and planted olive trees and grain to feed their soldiers and citizens all over their empire.


At this same time, the Greek-originating Etruscans make their mark on Italy.  While their territory is usually defined as covering central Italy down to Rome, their influence was much wider.  


Like the Phoenicians before them, they traded all around the coastal regions of the Mediterranean.  They spread their famous bronzes along with goods from the entire basin.  


One thing they did not manage to spread was their egalitarian values and respect for women.  In fact, the Romans and other macho tribes ridiculed Etruscan respect for women, as macho societies still ridicule today modern egalitarian societies.


Next section:  Ancient History







References for all the articles are various including the links on these pages and Monarch Notes and Study Guidesí 'World History', and 'Western Civilization'; and De Agostiniís Atlante Storico Mondiale, and Grande Atlante DíItalia.