| 700000 BC
||Early Italian settlers (700,000BC - 100,000 BC).
The Etruscans dominate the north of modern-day Italy, and the region of Tuscany lends its name to this period. Greek colonies are established along the south coast of the peninsula. The Etruscans try and fail to conquer the Greeks.
| 753 BC
||The birth of Rome.
Myth and history mingle around the birth of Rome. Legend says the town is founded by Romulus on the site where he killed his brother Remus, and is home to the seven kings who followed the brothers. History shows that the local Latin nobles remove three Etruscan kings from the town before setting up a republic.
| 750 BC
||Early Rome (750 BC- 246 BC).
Although Rome stands for ‘the people', the reality is a state of two classes, the patricians and the plebeians. Living is basic until they borrow ideas of currency and writing from the surrounding Etruscans and Greeks. The Romans also adopt the Greek Gods as their religion.
| 246 BC
||Roman armies invade Europe (246 BC - 146 BC).
The Roman armies begin to invade their neighbors and successfully build allies in the defeated cities. A victorious war over the Carthage Empire gives Rome control of mainland Greece, Spain, most of North Africa and some of Asia minor.
| 100 BC
||Julius Caesar (100 BC - 44 BC).
Julius Caesar is born in 100 BC and becomes one of Rome's most powerful generals, amiable conquerors and capable administrators. He expands the Empire north through modern France, Britain and Germany. Caesar establishes a dictatorship in 46 BC, but is assassinated two years later.
| 31 BC
||Height of the Roman Empire (31 BC - 300 AD).
During Hadrian's rule, 76 = 138, the Empire's reach was its farthest, from Britain and Germany in the north, across the Balkans to Syria, Lebanon and Palestine in the east, North Africa in the south and Spain in the west. Great feats of engineering and architecture, such as the Coliseum, are built during this time.
||The persecution and rise of Christians.
In 303 Emperor Diocletian launches an Empire-wide persecution of Christians. His successor, Constantine I, reverses this attack, divides the Empire into two (east and west) and supposedly grants the church control of Rome.
||Early Middle Ages (400 - 1100).
After the fall of Rome, Italy is repeatedly invaded and conquered by various Germanic tribes. North Italy falls under the Byzantium Empire, while Rome and the surrounding Papal States are granted to the church. This period is dominated by struggles between the German Holy Roman Emperor and the popes.
||Independence of the north (1100 - 1300).
Cities in the north increasingly strive for independence, establishing themselves through trade, industry and conquest. Florence, Milan and Venice emerge as leaders, with the latter becoming Europe's trade gateway to the East. These city-states switch allegiance from Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy to serve their own interests.
||The Renaissance starts in Italy (1400 - 1559).
The northern cities are breeding grounds for intellectual and artistic ideas and launch the Italian Renaissance, which quickly spreads into Northern Europe. Florence in particular flourishes as an artists' haven under the generous patronage of the Medici family.
||Foreign control (1559 - 1796).
After the devastating Italian wars, the country sees a period of relative peace under Habsburg rule, first Spanish then Austrian-controlled. Meanwhile the discovery of the Americas and new routes to Asia, the rise of the Ottoman Empire and repeated bouts of the plague all contribute to Italy's economic decline.
||Napoleon and the Kingdom of Italy (1796 - 1808).
Napoleon's rise following the French revolution saw a succession of wars aimed at forcing Austria to withdraw from Italy. After numerous struggles, northern and central Italy are annexed to the Napoleonic Empire and named the Kingdom of Italy, while the south is administered by Napoleon's brother-in-law.
||Congress of Vienna.
Following the defeat of the Napoleonic Empire, the reactionary Congress of Vienna restores the pre-existing divisions in Europe, carving up Italy again. Rising Italian nationalism is repeatedly repressed by the Austrian Empire, but the seeds of Italian unification are sown.
Radical Italian nationalists, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Mazzini, are backed by conservative monarchists, Count Camile Cavour and Victor Emmanuel II, to establish a united Italian state. Following a succession of wars, unity is declared in 1871 as the parliament is established in Rome.
||First World War (1914 - 1919).
Italy remains neutral at the start of World War I, but joins the Allies a year later on the promise of Austro-Hungarian territories. The country is plunged into a long war of attrition which drains the economy. Political and social unrest grows when the promised territories are not honored.
||Mussolini and the rise of Fascism (1919 - 1939).
Benito Mussolini starts a National Fascist Party and attempts a coup in October 1922. King Victor Emmanuel III appoints Mussolini as prime minister to try and control the situation. Mussolini bans opposing political parties, regulates society and creates a dictatorship.
||Mussolini's aggressive foreign policy (1935 - 1939).
Mussolini invades Ethiopia in a bid to create a new Roman Empire. He subsequently withdraws from the League of Nations and allies with Nazi Germany. Together the two fascist regimes support General Franco in the Spanish civil war.
||Second World War (1939 - 1945).
Mussolini initially abstains from the fighting, but decides to join Germany in June 1940 as they seem poised for victory. Italy tries to invade Africa and the Balkans, but requires Hitler's support against the Allies each time.
||Collapse of the Fascist Party.
After defeat in North Africa and a stalemate in Greece, Mussolini is pushed out of Sicily by the Allies in July 1943. His Fascist regime collapses and in September 1943 Italy surrenders.
||Defeat in the Second World War
The Germans recover northern Italy and set Mussolini up in a puppet state. However the Allies move north through the Italian peninsula and German forces surrender in Italy on May 2, 1945.
| June 2, 1946
||The Italian Republic and recovery.
Italy becomes a republic on June 2, 1946. Fearing a Communist takeover, the Christian Democrats win a landslide victory. The economy prospers under the American-led Marshall Plan. Italy is a founding member of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957.
||Social and economic unrest (1970s).
Economic crises and widespread social unrest heightens Europe's fears of a Communist uprising in Italy. The period is characterized by terrorist attacks by opposing extremist groups.
||Growth and corruption (1980 - 1990).
The 1980s witnesses a period of economic growth, but increasing national debt brings another collapse. A far-reaching ‘Clean Hands' investigation uncovers widespread bribery, theft and corruption involving thousands of politicians, public officials and businessmen.
||Italy in the recession (2000 + ).
Media magnate Silvio Berlusconi sweeps to power in 2001 with a center-right coalition. Italy's economy is severely damaged by the recession of 2008 and two years later Italian public debt is the second largest in Europe after Greece. A series of austerity measures are socially unpopular, but slowly start to reduce the public debt.