Guide to the History of Italy: 5 Must-Visit Cities in the Country
Italy is one of the most beautiful, culturally rich, and fascinating countries in the world. From the stunning canals of Venice to the picturesque hillside towns of Tuscany, this country is overflowing with jaw-dropping sights and attractions. If you’re planning a trip to Italy or would like to delve deeper into its history and culture, here’s a beginner’s guide to some of the most important cities you should visit. Once known as Magna Graecia for its thriving Greek colonies in Sicily and southern Italy, Italy has played an important role in Western history for over two thousand years. Today, it’s also one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe.
The Ancient Roots of Modern-day Italy
Italy is a country with a rich and storied history, but it’s also one with a somewhat convoluted past. After all, this is a country with a border that has shifted numerous times throughout history. Today, the country is bordered by France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, and the Adriatic Sea. It’s also a land with a diverse population: If you’re looking for a truly multicultural destination, Italy is the place for you! Roughly 87% of the population is made up of ethnic Italians, though there are also sizable populations of Arabs, Chinese, Africans, and South Americans living in the country. The history of Italy can be traced back to the Bronze Age, when migrations from Central Asia brought the first humans to the Italian Peninsula. The Ancient Etruscans were a significant civilization on the peninsula during this period. The Romans, by far the most significant civilization to rule over modern-day Italy, were next. The Roman Empire lasted from 27 BC to AD 476, when it was replaced by the Ostrogothic Kingdom. The Byzantine Empire, which controlled Italy for over three hundred years, was the third and final major civilization to rule over the peninsula.
Rome: Birthplace of the Roman Empire
The capital and largest city in Italy, Rome was once the center of the Roman Empire, a sprawling, powerful state that controlled most of Europe and North Africa. The Roman Empire existed for over 700 years, which makes it one of the longest-lived civilizations in European history. The city of Rome is rich in history and boasts an impressive array of ancient landmarks and monuments, including the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, and the Vatican, home to the Pope. As the capital of Italy, Rome remains the country’s political and cultural heart and is an essential destination for any visitors to the country.
Florence: Renaissance Home of the Medici
Florence is one of the most beautiful and important cities in Italy. In fact, it was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Once a major center of trade and commerce thanks to its location on the Arno River, Florence is now known for its stunning architecture, art museums, and world-class cuisine. Make sure to visit the incredible Piazza della Signoria, the Piazza del Duomo, and the Uffizi Gallery while in Florence. A world-class museum, the Uffizi is home to an impressive collection of art, including works by Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Botticelli.
Venice: A Shrouded Secret Beneath the Canals
Venice is one of the most famous and beautiful cities in Italy. Once the center of a rich and powerful maritime empire, Venice is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its stunning architecture and canals. Make sure to visit the Basilica di San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, and Piazza San Marco while in Venice. You’ll also want to visit the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs, and the Jewish Ghetto while in Venice.
Milan: Industrial Giant and Fashion Mecca
Once the home of Italian fashion and industry, Milan was also the site of one of the most significant battles in history: the Battle of Milazzo, which played a key role in ending World War II. Make sure to visit the Duomo di Milano, the National Museum of Science and Technology, and the Sforza Castle while in Milan.
Verona: Home to Shakespearian Romance
Verona is well known for being the setting of Shakespeare’s famous romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet. This city was once a major center of commerce and trade as well as a key outpost during the Roman Empire. Make sure to visit the Arena di Verona while in Verona. This impressive Roman-style amphitheater is one of the most famous landmarks in the city.
Italy is one of the most visited and beautiful countries in the world. From its stunning architecture to its rich art and history, this is a country for travelers of all interests and backgrounds. If you’re planning a visit, make sure to visit these five must-visit cities in Italy. They are the perfect place to begin your journey into this fascinating country