Italian History I: Prehistory to Magna Graecia

Forum Romanum, Roman Architecture, from History of Architecture (Fletcher) pg 127, Italian History I: Prehistory to Magna Graecia, Italy, Italy (Photo by Sir Banister Flight Fletcher)
Forum Romanum, Roman Architecture, from History of Architecture (Fletcher) pg 127, Ancient Roman architecture (125 BC–AD 450), General

From prehistory to "Greater Greece"

Findings in caves around Isneria in the Abruzzi suggest that humans settled in Italy about a million years ago.

Neanderthal man made a brief appearance, and Cro-Magnon, who knew how to fish and domesticate animals, showed up about 18,000 years ago.

Magna Graecia, “Greater Greece,” describes Greek colonies established beginning in the 8C BC in Sicily and on the mainland from Apulia northwest to the Greek colony of Neapolis (Naples). The coastal land, never tilled, quickly turned out bumper crops. Abundant timber and wool production underpinned highly profitable trading. But these successful colonies fell to warring amongst themselves, and by the 4C BC Greece was a fading influence in southern Italy.

The best evidence of Magna Graecia exists in the temples at Paestum (in Campania); in those at Agrigento, Segesta, and Selinute (all in Sicily); and amid the artifacts at the archaeological museums of Paestum and Siracusa (both in Sicily) and Crotone and Reggio di Calabria (both in Calabria).

 
 

Prehistoric in Italy

Sights in Italy

Second Temple of Hera, also called Temple of Neptune or Temple of Poseidon

The top ancient sites and ruins in Italy

 

Topics in Italy

Cave paintings in Lascaux, dating back about 17,000 years (Photo by unknown)

The ancient Italians who taught the Romans a thing or two about art, architecture, and planning

 
Comparative Greek and Roman Orders, Greek Architecture, History of Architecture by Sir Banister Fletcher (1921), pg 160 (Photo Public Domain)

Ancient temples and theaters left by some of Italy's earliest advanced settlers

 

Greek architecture in Italy

Ancient in Italy

Sights in Italy

The top ancient sites and ruins in Italy

 

Topics in Italy

Celtic gold-plated bronze disc from Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d'Oise, dated to early 4th century BC; on display at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (Photo by Gun Powder Ma)

Greek colonies settled the Sicilian and Southern Italian coasts well before the Romans

 
Forum Romanum, Roman Architecture, from History of Architecture (Fletcher) pg 127 (Photo by Sir Banister Flight Fletcher)

The great Roman architectural innovations were the load-bearing arch and the use of concrete, brick, and stone

 

Where to find the best ancient Roman sculpture, mosaics, and frescoes in Italy

 

The art of early Christians was Roman in style, but its themes were starting to explore the figures and motifs that would soon become familiar

 

More on Prehistoric

The Ara Pacis

The top ancient sites and ruins in Italy

 
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The castle as seen from the air (Photo by Zheng Yan)
Castello Sforzesco
Milan: Castello / Sempione

Milan's sprawling 15C castle is home to several excellent museums, of tapestries, archaeological artifacts, paintings by Bellini and Mantegna, and sculptures from medieval to neoclassical—including Michelangelo's final sculpture, the Rondanini Pietà

 
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Desenzano
Southern Lake Garda

The town anchoring Gardsa's SW corner is home to Northern Italy's best-=preserved ancient Roman villa

 
Cave paintings in Lascaux, dating back about 17,000 years (Photo by unknown)

The ancient Italians who taught the Romans a thing or two about art, architecture, and planning

 
Comparative Greek and Roman Orders, Greek Architecture, History of Architecture by Sir Banister Fletcher (1921), pg 160 (Photo Public Domain)

Ancient temples and theaters left by some of Italy's earliest advanced settlers

 
Tuscan Roots
Florence

From Prehistory to the Etruscans

 

More on Greek architecture

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Second Temple of Hera, also called Temple of Neptune or Temple of Poseidon (Photo by Norbert Nagel)

Three Greek temples sprouting from the middle of mozzarella country

 
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The long, tunnel-like atrium of the Cave of the Cumean Sybil (Photo by Nik893)

The ancient keyhole-shaped tunnel to the cave of the fortuneteller

 
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The long, tunnel-like atrium of the Cave of the Cumean Sybil (Photo by Nik893)
Cuma
Cuma

Learn your ABC's about the myth-shrouded Cave of the Cumaean Sibyl at Cuma

 
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The criptoportico archaeological excavations underneath San Lorenzo Maggiore (Photo by Sergioizzo)
San Lorenzo Maggiore
Naples: Centro Storico

Burrow through 2,500 years of Neapolitan history in this best of Naples' churches

 
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The atrium of the Duomo (Photo courtesy of the Cattedrale di San Matteo)
Free
The Duomo
Downtown Salerno

Cattedrale di San Matteo—the cathedral of Salerno—houses ancient Greek columns, Roman sarcofagi, medieval pulpits, and the body of St. Matthew the Evangelist

 
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Bastione di Parsano
Downtown Sorrento

Medieval walls and a Greco-Roman arch.

 

More on Ancient

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The loggia
Baths of Diocletian
Rome: Termini train station

Rome's Museo Nazionale Romano branch in the ancient Baths of Diocletian

 
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Base di Tiberio, with personifications of the cities, from Pozzuoli (this museum has a plaster replica; the original's in the Archaeological Museum of Naples) (Photo by Sailko)

The Phlagrean Fields Archaeological Museum in the medieval Castello di Baia castle

 
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Museo Archeologico
Southern Perugia

Umbria's main archaeological museum

 
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The columns of the Basilica Ulpia backed by Trajan's Column (and a pair of baroque church domes— Santa Maria di Loreto on the left and Santissimo Nome di Maria on the right) in the Forum of Trajan, part of Rome's Imperial Fori (Photo by Ade Russell)
Trajan's Forum
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

The Forum of Trajan's is home to Trajan's Column, a massive carved marble comic strip of the emperors accomplishments

 
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Desenzano
Southern Lake Garda

The town anchoring Gardsa's SW corner is home to Northern Italy's best-=preserved ancient Roman villa

 
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A Roman-era tomb in the necropolis below St. Peter's (Photo Fabbrica di San Pietro)

The Scavi—an ancient necropolis underneath St. Peter's Basilica—supposedly contain the burial site of Saint Peter alongside other Roman-era tombs

 
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Pasquino, near Piazza Navona, is the most famous statua parlante (talking statue) of Rome (Photo by Emanuele)
Free
Pasquino
Rome: Tiber Bend

The Pasquino is the most famous of Rome's "Talking Statues"

 
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The Forum Boarium, with the round Temple of Hercules Victor on the left and the rectangular Temple of Portunus on the right (Photo by Carole Raddato)
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Foro Boario
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

Fraternal twin temples and the world's first sewer on lovely little "Cow Forum" by the Mouth of Truth

 
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 (Photo by Simone Ramella)
Free

This triumphal column reads like an ancient Roman comic strip of the Emperor's accomplishments

 
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Bastione di Parsano
Downtown Sorrento

Medieval walls and a Greco-Roman arch.

 
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A basement dining room inside an ancient Roman hallway (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
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Da Pancrazio
Rome: Tiber Bend

Dine in the buried arcades of an ancient Roman stadium

 
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 (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
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Da Giggetto
Rome: Lower Tiber Bend

Great artichokes and other Roman Jewish delicacies surrounded by ancient ruins in Rome's Jewish Ghetto

 
Celtic gold-plated bronze disc from Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d'Oise, dated to early 4th century BC; on display at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (Photo by Gun Powder Ma)

Greek colonies settled the Sicilian and Southern Italian coasts well before the Romans

 
Forum Romanum, Roman Architecture, from History of Architecture (Fletcher) pg 127 (Photo by Sir Banister Flight Fletcher)

The great Roman architectural innovations were the load-bearing arch and the use of concrete, brick, and stone

 

The Founding of Florence

 

Where to find the best ancient Roman sculpture, mosaics, and frescoes in Italy

 

The art of early Christians was Roman in style, but its themes were starting to explore the figures and motifs that would soon become familiar

 

Brief bios of Pliny the Elder and his nephew Pliny the Younger, ancient Roman scientists and chroniclers of the death of Pompeii

 

The legendary twins who founded Rome—and the she-wolf that raised them

 

What was it really like being a gladiator?