Italian History I: Prehistory to Magna Graecia

Cave paintings in Lascaux, dating back about 17,000 years, Italian History I: Prehistory to Magna Graecia, Italy, Italy (Photo by unknown)
Cave paintings in Lascaux, dating back about 17,000 years, Etruscan art in Italy (800 BC–264 BC), 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

A view of the Circo Massimo from the FAO headquarters

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 amazing Arena in the heart of Verona

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

A basement dining room inside an ancient Roman hallway

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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Archeological Museum
Mainland Siracusa

The archeological museum in Siracusa is one of the most important collections in Southern Italy

 
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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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Teatro Greco
Old Taormina

Taormina's Teatro Antico is an ancient Greco-Roman theater with glorious views that is still used for performances

 
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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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Neapolis
Mainland Siracusa

Siracusa's Greek theater, famous quarry, and Roman ruins

 
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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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transport
Duomo
Ortigia

Siracusa's cathedral is a recycled ancient Greek temple

 
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The atrium of the Duomo (Photo courtesy of the Cattedrale di San Matteo)
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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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Etruscan sarcophagus, with a terracotta couple, from the 7C BC (Photo by Damian Entwistle)
Villa Giulia
Rome: Outside the walls

An antiquities museum in the Villa Borghese park

 
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Pozzo Etrusco
Around Corso Vannucci

An ancient Etruscan well

 
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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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 (Photo by Anthony Majanlahti)
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Ponte Milvio
Rome: Outside the walls

The ancient Roman bridge where Constantine converted

 
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Ponte Pietra
Città Antica di Verona

Verona's ancient Roman bridge

 
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Pasquino, near Piazza Navona, is the most famous statua parlante (talking statue) of Rome (Photo by Emanuele)
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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)
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This triumphal column reads like an ancient Roman comic strip of the Emperor's accomplishments

 

The rudiments of a Roman temple

 
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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?