A trip to Italy is the trip of a lifetime. From visiting the Coliseum on the cobble stone roads of Rome to sipping a steamy cappuccino and people watching in the piazzas of Florence, any corner of this country is a sight to behold. The rugged geography, centuries of foreign rule, and diverse population are all important factors that contribute to Italian society. These elements combined with Italy’s rich history unite to create a colorful modern culture.
Italy is located in south-central Europe, which juts out into the Mediterranean Sea (Italy 2). The total land area of the boot-shaped mainland is only slightly larger than Arizona (Italy 1). Even though the country is not of large proportions, the grandeur of its mountainous terrain makes up for it. In fact, only one fifth of the total land area is labeled as plains or flat lying areas (Italy 2). This harsh landscape is highlighted by two major mountain chains, the Alps and the Apennines. The Alps, which are located at the very northern edge of Italy’s border separate Italy from Switzerland, France, Austria, and Slovenia (Italy 2). The peaks of the Alps are generally regarded as some of the world’s most rugged. On a rare, clear day it is possible to see Italy’s other major mountain chain, the Apennines, from the southern edge of the Alps (Italian Lakes). The majority of Italy’s 1,500 lakes are located in these mountain chains, which are described as small, elevated lakes that sit in the small valleys between the peaks (Italy 2).
Due to the rough landscape with few roads connecting cities, Italian communities are known for being predominantly self-sufficient and autonomous. Most of the fiercely independent population resides in the low-lying areas of Italy, specifically the Po Valley to the north (Italy 2). South of the mountainous mainland is located the large islands of Sardinia and Sicily. These large islands’ strategic locations in the Mediterranean have made them prime trading locations for merchants throughout history and into modern day (Italy 2). During the past, the location and rocky landscape have greatly influenced the history of Italy.
Occupation of the Italian peninsula dates far into pre-history. The Etruscan civilization began around 800 BC, but evidence shows settlements from as far back as 8,000 BC (A Brief History Of Italy: Italian History Highlights). The Etruscans civilization developed in the north during this time period, and the Greeks settled in the south mainly in Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily (A Brief History Of Italy: Italian History Highlights).
Even though the Etruscans were one of the first to settle the region, the Roman Empire transformed the area into a thriving metropolis. According to legend, the brothers Romulus and Remus founded Rome in 735 BC (A Brief History Of Italy: Italian History Highlights). Over the proceeding centuries, the Roman Empire expended its rule throughout the European continent. Innovation and culture...