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The legacy of the Roman Empire 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, mainly in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through shipping, commerce and banking, laying down the groundwork for modern capitalism.
The long and triumphant reign of its first emperor, Augustus, began a golden age of peace and prosperity.
The subsequent participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and an Italian civil war.
Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil (e.g.
The bull was a symbol of the southern Italic tribes and was often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Social War.
Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus states this account together with the legend that Italy was named after Italus, The name Italia originally applied only to a part of what is now Southern Italy – according to Antiochus of Syracuse, the southern portion of the Bruttium peninsula (modern Calabria: province of Reggio, and part of the provinces of Catanzaro and Vibo Valentia).
Nevertheless, Italy's commercial and political power significantly waned with the opening of the Atlantic trade route and the route to the Indian Ocean via the Cape of Good Hope, both of which bypassed the Mediterranean.