The history of Italy helps tourists better understand its attractions. The masterpieces of its great masters are a separate story, but they cannot be appreciated without understanding how art is inseparable from the way of life of the peoples inhabiting the Apennine Peninsula.
Italy is the name of the southern lands of the small ancient people of Italians or Italians, which are mentioned in ancient letters as "Vitellium", "ιταλοί", "vituli" and others. Hostile local tribes claimed their piece of blessed land, and this did not contribute unification into a single state. Ancient Rome with its imperial history and culture is a separate page.
As one art critic aptly put it, the history of Italy is a whole library that can be studied for centuries. But our goal is a brief digression into the depths of centuries of this European treasury.
Italy in ancient times
The climatic conditions of the Apennine Peninsula were harsher than in the Middle East and North Africa, but this land gave the world several civilizations. Some left amazing fortifications, others - magnificent architecture in the form of a palazzo (palaces) and temples with sculptures. Much later, during the Renaissance, there appeared unsurpassed masterpieces of painting and decorative art.
The construction of the first major cities in Italy dates back no earlier than 1000 years BC. Here they built small and well-fortified round-shaped settlements or chaotic buildings on the edge of impregnable cliffs. Some of them have survived to the present day, but historians sometimes are at a loss as to who they belonged to.
Here lived Gauls and Latins, Etruscans and Venets, Rets and Ligurians, Greeks and Venets, various prehistoric tribes. Neanderthal sites were discovered in grottoes in the city of San Felice Circeo, as well as in the provinces of Vicenza and Verona.
It is known that the territory of the peninsula has been inhabited by Neanderthals since the Paleolithic. Since the Neolithic era, 10,000 years ago, when the active settlement of the territory began, artifacts, buildings and ruins have left ancient cultures - Terramare, Kamuna, Kanegrate, Vilanova and Remedello. Due to the often occurring earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the solid structures of the ancient world and castle monuments have been preserved worse than in the heyday of other civilizations.
If you look at the ancient maps of Italy, it seems that they are incorrect, but the ancient geographers were accurate. Just the Apennine Peninsula extends far into the stormy Mediterranean Sea, it is “shaken” by earthquakes and geological processes, changing shape.
During the Ice Age, the peninsula was connected to nearby islands. The plains were flooded due to climate change, prompting tribes to move. Fertile land and a relatively warm climate contributed to the development of agriculture, the development of agriculture, which encouraged the ancient hunters to settle.
In Northern Italy, peoples moved until the Late Middle Ages. The ancient Greeks and Romans gave different names to the northern and southern lands. In the descriptions you can find "Έσπερία", "Αύσονία", "Οινώτρία". The lands south of the Alps were part of Italy under the emperor Diocletian, and 3 new regions supplemented a dozen scattered sections of the peninsula.
Italy is the cradle of many civilizations
Agriculture developed in the south of Italy, fishing villages were established in the coastal territories, but many mountainous areas were empty. Due to earthquakes, local peoples learned to build houses on stilts and a deep stone foundation. New cultures and civilizations developed:
- The Etruscans, who gave the Italians the alphabet, lived in the north and in the central part;
- Venets populated the northeast;
- Ligurs mastered the coast of northwestern Italy;
- Siculas and Sicans came to Sicily;
- The Yapigis went southeast;
- After raids in the river valley, militant Gauls settled.
In Tuscany (then Eturia), the Etruscans built cities, many of which exist today - Perugia and Arezzo. A developed economy and culture contributed to the flourishing of the peoples living here. A lot of the cultural exchange was made by the Phoenicians and Hellenes with their antiquity, who actively populated the coast in the 7th-5th centuries. BC.
Period of ancient rome
The future cradle of civilizations was built on scattered hills, and gradually the settlements of the warring hosts were united in Rome, thanks to the construction of the Forum. Year 754 BC considered the date of its foundation by the Latins.
Politics and the way of life of warlike people are contentions between patricians and plebeians, conquest of neighboring lands, real triumphs and dubious successes. Roman warriors in 290 BC conquered the lands of Central Italy. "Pyrrhic victory" over the Greek commander Pyrrhus in 265 BC (with the loss of a large army of the Romans) - the times of the conquest of the southern lands.
The sculptural busts of most emperors and conquerors have survived - they are exhibited in museums in Rome.
Rome is known for endless military conflicts and the cruelty of its tyrants - emperors and generals. It's amazing when they managed to build their stunning architectural masterpieces, such as the Colosseum (completed under Domitian in 96), to go there demanding “bread and circuses”?
Then there were the Punic Wars with Carthage (from 264 to 146 BC), the conquest of Corsica, Sicily and Sardinia, the spread of the Roman Empire to the west and east, which led to the formation of a major power in the Mediterranean.
Many pages of history have been put off by everyone from school:
- The slave system and the uprising led by Spartacus (from 73 to 71 BC);
- The generation of part of the lands of modern Italy and France (58-51 years BC), right up to Britain (43 BC);
- The accession of Egypt to the Roman Empire (30 BC);
- The conquest of Judea and Palestine with the destruction of Jerusalem (the beginning of the 1st century part of events is described in the Bible);
- The development of the economy, the construction of roads throughout Europe and to Jerusalem, the introduction of a common monetary system and the active construction of new cities.
The crisis and fall of the Roman Empire begins in the III century due to the loss of real power by the often changing emperors and their palace intrigues. After this, the Visigoths (barbarians) captured and plundered its capital - Rome fell in 455. Many works of art were irretrievably lost, temples and palaces of noble Romans were destroyed, and many prosperous cities were wiped off the face of the earth. The destructive work was completed by the Goths, the Ostrogoths and the Lombards.
Middle Ages and the period of papal authority
Historians claim that church power is strengthened in different countries during periods of devastation or before the start of any reformation. Cause - peoples have no other support in society, so it was in Catholic Italy after the fall of Rome, and the papacy received unlimited power. This is the period of the Holy Roman Empire - a new form of power. But over time, the unlimited power and luxury of the papacy led to a conflict between church and secular power.
A new redistribution of territories, with the decline of the once prosperous state, led to the development of feudalism and primitive economic relations - a natural exchange of goods. Nobody restored the ruins of once majestic cities, fortified buildings adapted to monasteries. The poor people of Italy were cleverly taxed by churchmen and sold indulgences to them.
The papal region was isolated in 756 in the basin of the Tiber and Ravenna. The period of the gloomy Middle Ages came with its inquisition and Gothic art.
Gradually, Italy turns into an “apple of discord” for more powerful European states, which claimed dominance. New wars and conflicts have led to the fact that the map of Italy is constantly being redrawn. This territory is not just a dozen regions, but the patrimony of several empires!
During the Renaissance, separate areas and fortified cities developed - Venice, Florence, Genoa. They shape their culture and even build colonies in other places in the Mediterranean. A developed economy and a strong fleet of republics contribute to the strengthening of foreign economic relations and opposition to the power of the Ottoman Empire in the XV - XVI centuries. Military conflicts and conquests did not stop, and Napoleon's troops later invaded Italy in 1796-1814.
Italian art in the Renaissance
Considering the masterpieces of Italian Renaissance masters in the museums of Rome, tourists are amazed at how such works of art could be created! The term "Renaissance" (Renaissance or "Renaissance") arose in the 16th century - the period of the spiritual Reformation that came with the Protestant movement of the German monk Martin Luther. Suppressed by the religious oppression of the inquisitors, medieval Europe began to awaken. Shy steps began to be made by progressive medicine, science and art.
This period is described in detail in the writings of Giorgio Vasari (painter, historian and biographer of several artists, his contemporaries). Many creations of this period are well known to the world:
- "Spring" by Sandro Botticelli;
- "Venus" Giorgione;
- "David" Donatello;
- Leda and the Swan by Leonardo da Vinci;
- The Last Judgment by Michelangelo;
- The Fortune Teller by Caravaggio;
- "Allegory of love and time" Agnola Bronzino;
- "Sistine Madonna" by Rafael Santi and other works.
All these authors left a noticeable mark on art. The Reformation brought a lively spirit to art - dynamic lines, natural proportions, lively emotions on the faces of the characters, more colors in the highlighted silhouettes. Religious circles of the Middle Ages considered such images unacceptable. Before that, biblical subjects dominated art, and now came illustrations for legends and myths, secular subjects, and genre sketches. Fruits, colors and game appeared on the canvases - that is how a still life appeared. Portraiture got a new round of development, but rich nobles still ordered it to poor craftsmen.
Art historians identified separately the periods of the Renaissance of Italy:
- Proto-Renaissance (XIII century - the beginning of the XIV century., Nicolo Pisano, Cimabue, Giotto de Bondone);
- Early Renaissance (XIV century - early XV century., Sandro Botticelli, Donatello Masaccio, Filippo Brunelleschi, Gentile da Fabriano, Filippo Lippi, Andrea Mantegna, Luca Signorelli, Carlo Criveli, Giovanni Bellini);
- High Renaissance (XV and XVI centuries., Bramante, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Giorgione, Jacopo Sansovino, Titian);
- Late Renaissance (2nd half of the 16th - 17th centuries, Paolo Veronese, Jacopo Pontormo, Benvenuto Cellini, Agnolo Bronzino, Parmigianino Tintoretto, Andrea Palladio).
From the Reformation to the present
The Luther Reformation and the Protestant movement in Europe in the XIV-XV centuries markedly weakened the papal power, Italy also rose and developed.
During the Renaissance and until the XVIII century, art actively developed - the Milan Opera, Florentine painting. Skilful tapestries and murals, sculptural and pictorial masterpieces adorned the construction of basilicas and cathedrals.
Talented sculptors and artists flock to Rome, willingly fulfilling orders for wealthy nobles for generous fees. Against the backdrop of the flourishing of Baroque art, the general poverty of the bulk of the population is leveled. But the fragmentation of the North and South of Italy is becoming more noticeable. In the years 1860-1866, Giuseppe Garibaldi with the troops liberated Italy from the Ostrians in order to unite it.
Rome was finally liberated in 1870, becoming the capital of a united country. Around the same time, papal power was abolished and separated from the state. The Vatican is all that remains of numerous lands. The monarch of Italy, Umberto I, comes to an agreement with Austria-Hungary and Germany through the Triple Alliance.
Shocks and wars of the twentieth century
In the First World War (since 1915), Italians fought on the side of the Entente, and the signed peace Saint-Germain Treaty joins Trieste, South Tyrol and Istria, which separated from Austria. The economy of the northern territories of the country is being strengthened.
The power of Mussolini since 1922 leads to the development of fascism in Italy, and in World War II it became an ally of the Third Reich. The charismatic Italian “leader” is supported by a people unaware of the general catastrophe that is coming in Europe. The fate and outcome of the war for Italy was deplorable. The people for a long time rose from the "dust and ashes", having survived several economic and political crises within the country and in foreign policy.
Despite everything, Italy is rapidly rising - it is one of the most influential and economically developed countries of the European Union.
Modern Rome is the "Mecca" for tourists and art lovers, Milan is the world capital of fashion and shopping. It hosts international festivals of opera and classical music. The largest cities in Italy are the treasures of ancient artifacts and masterpieces of the Great Masters.
The capital of Italy is the cradle of several civilizations. A trip to Rome is an opportunity to plunge into World History in a few days, from the depth of centuries to our time.