Plus, of course, the Italian Peninsula once served as the seat of the highly influential – and hugely successful – Roman Empire, which existed for an incredible five centuries. The empire spanned from North Africa and the Middle East right up to Britain, and at its height some 21 percent of the world’s population lived under its rule.
Featuring famous leaders such as Julius Caesar, Nero and Caligula, the Roman Empire spread its rule of law across its domains. Meanwhile, its forces came into contact with such important historical figures as ancient Egypt’s Cleopatra, queen Boudica of Britannia and Jesus Christ. And that’s not even to mention how the Romans gave humanity roads, sanitation and central heating. Indeed, so mighty was Rome’s influence that it dominates much of our knowledge about the world during the period of its existence.
But post-empire, the cultures of the Italian Peninsula didn’t rest on its ancient laurels – at least not ultimately. Once again, then, the area emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the 14th century. This time, though, it was through art and science that it spread its influence. And the resulting Italian Renaissance period brought about a cultural shift that still resonates today.