A Brief History of Italy
Discover the Deep-Rooted, Rich Heritage

History of Italy

On your journey throughout this country, one thing will become apparent very quickly - history of Italy has very deep roots and is quite complex when trying to grasp it at a quick glance. Some of this history can be felt first hand when visiting such places at the Colosseum, the leaning tower of Pisa, the Sistine Chapel or the ancient city of Pompeii just to name a few. Aside from being well known for many historical monuments in Italy, this country is also famous for its many landmarks, amazing architecture plus the creation of numerous technological advancements and Italian inventions, many of which are still in use today. 

Italian history will tell us that an ancient civilization, now known as Italy - was one of the first civilized nations and its inhabitants are largely responsible for shaping the world as we know it. The first recorded dwellers came to the peninsula around 2000 BC and by 27 BC (the beginning of the Roman Empire period), it was one of the strongest, richest and most advanced countries in the world.

There are so many historical facts about Italy, that it's difficult to even decide where to start. It's worth mentioning however, that the Roman people created intricate governmental and judicial systems that still influence the way our societies are run. They developed such things as roads and indoor plumbing, as well as heating and air conditioning systems, and let's not forget their conception of the first postal service. We would be absolutely insane in trying to explain the whole story, which is why we will concentrate on the brief history of Italy & the fun facts that might be useful to a traveller here. For a more elaborate Italy history write-up for those that are interested, here is a link to it at wikipedia. 

Italian Inventions

One of the things Italians are know for, is the vast amount of brilliant inventors that, through history - brought us many things we use in the modern day without even thinking of the origin. Below are just some of more than 100 Italian inventions that are well known and used in our daily lives all around the world. 

  • Anatomical theatre - large amphitheatrical shape room where people observed human or animal dissections or surgeries
  • Automatic rifle - Amerigo Cei-Rigotti invented the world’s first automatic rifle which was self loading and gas-powered
  • Ballet - was invented in Italy and first performance recorded took place during the Italian Renaissance era in Florence
  • Bank - concept of banking as we know it evolved in the 14th century and the first one, which was the Bank of San Giorgio opened in Genoa
  • Barometer - instrument for measuring air pressure which helps predict short term weather was invented in 1643 by Evangelista Torricelli
  • Botanical garden - is a nursery with a wide selection of plants, their botanical names and other information, first one opened in Pisa in 1543
  • Carbon paper - was invented in 1806 by Pellegrino Turri, he coated one side of it with powdered ink & used it in his mechanical typing machine
  • Dentures - first seen in 700 BC & developed by the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization that resided around what is now Tuscany
  • Eau de Cologne - or perfume was first developed in 1709 by Johann Maria Farina, an Italian-born perfumer who lived in Germany
  • Espresso machine - first model was invented in 1884 by a Turin born inventor by the name of Angelo Moriondo
  • Film festival - was first established in 1932 and initially called Esposizione d’Arte Cinematografica which took place in Venice
  • Hyper Search - a search engine type on the world wide web, created by Massimo Marchiori in 1997, his invention made Google possible
  • Jacuzzi Spa - the first patent for this therapeutic tub was filed in 1963 by Candido Jacuzzi, an Italian immigrant to the United States
  • Jeans - believed to have originated in Genoa where cotton corduroy was first manufactured, is is also why the name sounds as such
  • Liposuction - sometimes called lipo was invented in 1974 by Dr. Giorgio Fischer, pioneer Italian doctor in the field of plastic surgery
  • Medical thermometer - was invented in the early 1600s by Santorio Santorio - a Venetian physiologist, physician and professor
  • Mile - a unit for measuring distance which originated in ancient Rome and based on a span covered by 1,000 steps of a Roman legionnaire
  • Motorways - highways that have controlled access between cities, first one built was between Milano & Varese and opened in 1924
  • Newspaper - first newspapers started making their circulations around mid 1500s in Venice and were more like handwritten newsletters
  • Nuclear reactor - around the 1930's, an Italian born American physicist named Enrico Fermi created the first working nuclear reactor
  • Nutella - sweet spread that is loved worldwide; made from palm oil, hazelnuts & cocoa - first put on the market in 1964 by the Ferrero firm
  • Opera - earliest opera was an attempt to revive a Greek drama, Dafne was the title - written by Jacopo Peri and performed in Florence in 1597
  • Paddle boat - design of this popularly used vessel is accredited to non other than Leonardo da Vinci and dates back as far as 1490
  • Parachute - the earliest recorded design of this device dates back to an unknown manuscript from the Renaissance era in Italy around 1470
  • Piano - a stringed acoustic instrument was invented by an Italian born maker of musical instruments - Bartolomeo Cristofori in the year 1709
  • Pistol - was first created around 1540 in the city of Pistoia, where they were famous for gunsmithing during the Renaissance era
  • Radio - as a communication medium was created by Guglielmo Marconi in 1895, although it's development spanned for many years
  • Watermark - was first introduced in 1282 in Fabriano - a city famous for its paper-making tradition in Medieval Italy

More About the History of Italy

Besides being famous for Augustus - their first emperor, Julius Caesar - a notorious dictator and Caligula - who was cruel and unpredictable, Romans were also architectural masterminds. They were the first to develop concrete and to use it as a method to strengthen their buildings and were also the first to create apartments for their citizens. They were the pioneering civilization that started using the arch - one of the strongest load bearing structures still known to man. Partially for this reason, most of their architecture and ancient buildings are still in tact today and remain standing for world travellers to enjoy. 

The early inhabitants of Italy were a very intelligent race of people. They were the civilization that devised a detailed number system of Roman Numerals which is still in use to the present day. They can also be given credit for reforming the solar calendar in 45BC, when Julius Caesar officially introduced an algorithm of adding a leap day every four years. This eliminated the dependency on the observation of the new moon and we still use this calendar system now. 

Influenced by ancient Greek medicine - early Romans were excellent doctors and invented many surgical tools like the speculum, bone levers, cupping vessels, scalpels and many more. These tools were used while performing surgeries at the time, in fact - one of these early performed surgeries first recorded to be administered in ancient Rome was the cesarean section. Techniques of the C-section - although modernized, are still very much the same today. Some believe that Julius Caesar was named after an ancestor who was born by means of a C-section, which at that time was used for extracting babies from wombs of mothers who died while giving birth.

Many of the world’s most renowned artists and thinkers have come out of Italy and have changed the way we think and view the world today. Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps most known for his creation of the Mona Lisa - was one of the world’s greatest artists, sculptors, inventors and scientists with a vision far more advanced for the time in which he lived.

Michelangelo is best known for his painting of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, but his artistic and architectural expertise is still very influential today in many forms of art, design, architecture and so on.

Galileo was an Italian philosopher, mathematician and astronomer - he was a substantial contributor to astronomical advancements and science in general. Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, Marco Polo and Ferdinand Magellan - just to name a few, were some of the world’s bravest explorers. 

As you tour throughout Italy - taking in all of the sights and sounds, don’t forget to take a moment to remember this country’s history and all of the worldly knowledge that came from this beautiful place. Italy has given birth to some of the most talented and sophisticated artists, writers, philosophers, mathematicians, composers, architects, scientists and explorers that the world has ever seen. Our entire civilization has tremendously benefitted from these great minds that were born here. Not only did their innovations help shape the face of the Roman Empire and the country that is now Italy, but they have moulded the entire history of the world and largely affected the way that many nations live today.

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