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History of Italy

Although the country of Italy has only been unified since 1861, it has a rich history that dates back to 2000BC. It wasn’t till 753BC that Rome was founded and from then on it became centre for the Roman Empire, which controlled most of Europe for the next 400 years. After the demise of the Empire Italy broke up into independent city states and the ones that were the most powerful were Florence, Genoa, Milan and particularly Venice as it became an important commercial shipping area and this was the place where Marco Polo brought back many spices and other things from the Orient. 

In the 15th century Florence was at its height during Renaissance as many famous artists like Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael and of course Leonardo da Vinci just to name a few from Italy. These people are some of the most influential figures in European history and its staggering that they were all alive and from Italy at the same time.

After the Napoleonic Wars, there was a strong unity and this led to the country being unified in 1861 although it took another ten years for Venice and Rome to join. During World War I, Italy stayed neutral. In 1921, Benito Mussolini’s fascist party took control of the country. During World War II he was a key ally with Hitler and Nazi Germany, but after the surrender of Italian forces and the arrest of Mussolini in 1943, the new Government backed the Allies for the remainder of World War II.

Since the end of the War, Italy has a democratic government, even though for awhile they had the largest Communist Party (PCI) in Western Europe with 30% of the Italians votes.  They also joined NATO and the European Union, which added to its influence in the world.

In 1994 the Silvio Berlusconi the owner of the football club AC Milan and who has a vast control of Italy’s commercial broadcasting network became leader of the country. He lost control of the country briefly, but while he was in power he did bring it some economic stability to the country. After a few years out he did get elected back into power, but his second time around has been surrounded around controversy. With several sex scandals and the economic situation, which has lost him credibility with other European leaders.




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