A little information about the country that one intends to visit or that one has visited often allows us to put into context the past or future emotions specific to each trip. A little history or anecdotes are often welcome ... This is what you can find on this page dedicated to Italy. But nothing like (short) videos to get a more precise idea of the places visited or to visit. Beside is a list of the videos edited from the photographic material I brought back from the trips
You just have to click on the image to access the page giving more information on the place treated in the video and of course, to see this video ...
The Italy from the Alps to Sicily that we know today is relatively recent since it dates from 1861, following the Risorgimento led by the dynasty known as the House of Savoy, from their kingdom of Sardinia.
But the history of the peninsula goes back much further in history and this region produced some of the important civilizations that form the bedrock of Western culture, including the Etruscans, Magna Graecia and Rome.
Geographically, the country is made up of a peninsula in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered to the north by the chain of the Alps and some of the largest islands in this sea, namely Sicily and Sardinia.
Rome is undoubtedly the most powerful of the empires of its time, and had a considerable influence on European civilizations. But the world existed before Rome...
The Italian peninsula was then occupied by several civilizations. In the center there were peoples who came from Central Europe in the Bronze Age during the second millennium BC, close to the Celts.
One of the best-known civilizations prior to Rome is that of the Etruscans. The Etruscans seem to have come from Asia Minor to settle in the Po region, in the north of the peninsula.
Further north were the Venetians, Ligurians and Celts.
Finally in the south, the most flourishing of the regions of the peninsula, there were the Greek colonies. Greece was experiencing a major overpopulation problem at the time and hundreds of thousands of people left the motherland to go and found colonies in Sicily and southern Italy. The cities of Syracuse or Agrigento are among the most remarkable Greek sites.
The mythical origin of Rome dates back to the 8th century BC, with the story of the twins Romulus and Remus, abandoned and taken in and fed by a wolf.
A first period in the history of Rome is that of the kings of Rome which lasted from the 8th to the 5th century BC. The kings of Rome are at the origin of many Roman institutions.
The last of the 7 kings of Rome, Tarquin the Superb, was overthrown by the patrician aristocrats who set up the Republic of Rome which was to last until the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. A few years later, Octave received the title of Augustus and henceforth the country would be ruled by a single man, the emperor. Rome had become an empire which was to extend over the entire Mediterranean rim and was to encompass part of central and western Europe.
The 3rd century AD was marked by repeated attacks from so-called barbarian populations against an empire plagued by numerous political difficulties due to internal dissension. Emperor Diocletian put an end to these internal problems by instituting the tetrarchy, a political system based on a delegation of power from the emperor to a subordinate for half of the empire and dividing the territory into an eastern empire and a western empire, all remaining under the Emperor's control. The difficulties of the western empire would lead it to its end in the year 476 with the ousting of the last emperor Romulus Augustule in favor of a patrician of Germanic origin, Odoacer who renounced the title of emperor.
The eastern part of the Roman Empire would only disappear with the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453.
The Middle Age
An Ostrogothic kingdom will succeed the western empire of Rome in 493. The Ostrogoths, driven out of the region of the Danube by the emperor of the East Zeno in the direction of Italy will restore to Italy its central role in the Mediterranean. This empire will only last a few decades, until the invasion of Rome by Constantinople in the middle of the 6th century. It was also the beginning of the decline of the cities and the trade to the profit of the campaigns and the installation of a system of serfdom obliging the inhabitants of the campaigns to work free for the lord of the places. A sad time marked by wars, famines and epidemics.
The Lombards invaded Italy a few years after the invasion of Constantinople. Much of the peninsula is occupied by this Germanic people and the territory is divided into duchies but most of the ports remained under the crown of Constantinople. These ports would gradually turn into independent city-states. Among these cities are Naples and Venice.
Since the reign of Constantine, an emperor converted to Christianity, the Church has played an important role in the management of the empire. As it was somewhat the only stable institution in these troubled times, instruction and administration are gradually entrusted to it. Monastic orders like the Benedictines began to play a major role in economic life and in the preservation of classical culture.
But the popes want more. They want to gain independence from the power in place, and to achieve this, they have sealed alliances against the Eastern Roman Empire and the Lombards with the Carolingians, a Frankish people.
The year 756 marked the victory of the Franks over the Lombards and the pope was entrusted with power over a large part of Italy, by the creation of the Papal States. Byzantium (Constantinople) and the Lombards will keep control of the rest of Italy until the 11th century.
With the support of the Pope, Charlemagne, Emperor of the Franks, invaded the Lombard kingdom and was crowned later, in 800, Emperor of the West, thus taking over from the Western Roman Empire. The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium or Constantinople) will recognize the existence of the Empire of Chalemagne on the condition of not invading the territories which it still possesses on the peninsula.
The Kingdom of Italy
If Charlemagne was able to preserve a certain peace and ensure order in his empire, his death in 814 will mark the end of the empire. His successors were far from having his charisma and proved incapable of resisting new invasions, notably from the Saracens in the South, or the emergence of the power of the city-states. The empire is shared between his son Pepin of Italy who inherits the north of the empire while Italy will return to his natural son Bernard.
During this time, the Arabs increase their raids and invasions of southern Italy and settle in Sicily, which pushes the Byzantines and the Franks to unite against a common enemy. Thus will be born the Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic Nation in 962.
The Norman conquest of southern Italy began in the 11th century and was the work of Norman adventurers and mercenaries hired by the Lombards and Byzantines. As military victories progressed, these Normans gradually took possession of part of the territories for their own account and became autonomous and politically independent in half a century, driving the Lombards and Byzantines out of power.
They also drove the Saracens from Sicily and founded the Kingdom of Sicily, which includes Sicily, southern Italy, Malta and territories in North Africa.
The Normans come from the North of France, mainly from Normandy, but also from other regions such as Flanders. Initially, they were knights returning from the crusades who helped the local authorities to fight against the Saracens.
The Italian Renaissance, a period of great artistic and scientific wealth extending from the 14th to the 16th century, with artists like Michelangelo and Raphael and scientists like Galileo. This movement will later spread to the rest of Europe.
At that time, Italy was extremely fragmented, made up of a mosaic of principalities whose princes often engaged in bloody wars against their neighbors and multiple external interventions, notably France and Spain. These wars, combined with the rise of Austria, largely explain the decline of the Italian principalities from the 17th to the 19th century.
Unification of Italy
After Napoleon's campaigns, the House of Savoy in power in Sardinia hopes to expand its kingdom. Based on nationalist thrusts, it engages in various wars of independence aimed at driving the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the territories it has occupied in the meantime.
At the end of these wars, lands were ceded to France to thank her for her support. Among these, Savoy and Nice.
Many cities rallied to the House of Savoy and Venice and then Rome were annexed. Italy becomes a constitutional monarchy in 1871 and chooses Rome as its capital.
Italy will still experience the dark hours of Mussolini's fascism from the 1920s and will become a republic in 1946.