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By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval, which sought independence and the formation of a unified nation-state.
After various unsuccessful attempts, unification was achieved, creating a great power.
Ultimately the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean basin; its legacy is widespread and can be observed in the global distribution of civilian law, republican governments, Christianity and the Latin script.
During the Early Middle Ages, Italy suffered sociopolitical collapse amid calamitous barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics rose to great prosperity through shipping, commerce and banking, laying down the groundwork for modern capitalism.
Between the 17th and the 11th centuries BC Mycenaean Greeks established contacts with Italy and in the 8th and 7th centuries BC Greek colonies were established all along the coast of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula became known as Magna Graecia.
Also the Phoenicians established colonies on the coasts of Sardinia and Sicily.
The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, renewing interest in humanism, science, exploration and art.
The Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom, which eventually became a republic that conquered and assimilated other nearby civilisations.
As an advanced economy the country also has the sixth worldwide national wealth and it is ranked third for its central bank gold reserve.