When the Turks conquered the Holy Land in 1065, the popes found themselves in an enviable position. As the de facto organizing force behind the Crusades, the papacy attracted a lot of money to Italy. Indeed, they allowed for the first banking system in Europe. The title of the world’s oldest institutional lender is generally credited to Monte dei Paschi di Siena, born in the part of Italy that prospered the most from the foreign inflow of Christian capital, Tuscany. Some of the coffers went toward the cathedral and baptistry of Pisa.
600 B.C.: Etruscans make Rome their capital.
510 B.C.: The Roman Republic is founded.
49 B.C.: Rome, under Julius Caesar, rules the Mediterranean.
44 B.C.: Caesar is dead, long live Caesar Augustus.
A.D. 80: Colosseum is completed.
117 to 138: Hadrian builds his mausoleum, wall, and villa.
249 to 250: First empire-wide persecution of Christians occurs.
395: Constantine establishes second Rome at Byzantium; Goths pour into the North.
410: Rome is sacked by Alaric, falls to other invaders in 475.
800: Charlemagne is crowned Holy Roman Emperor.
1065: Crusades begin.
1091: Normans take control of Sicily from Arabs.
1150 to 1300: Clashes take place between Guelfs and Ghibellines.
1182: Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa recognizes autonomy of the Lombard League.
1222: University of Padua is founded.
1303: Popes vacate for Avignon; Giotto starts work on the Scrovegni Chapel.
1499: Leonardo da Vinci completes The Last Supper.
1508: Michelangelo starts the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
1513: Machiavelli publishes The Prince.
1641: Galileo applies the pendulum to clocks, a year before he dies.
1796: Napoleon invades.
1853: Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata is first performed.
1861: The Kingdom of Italy is born.
1915: Italy enters World War I on the side of Britain and France.
1934: Italy wins its first soccer World Cup (won again in 1938, 1982, and 2006).
1940: Mussolini drags Italy into World War II on Germany’s side.
1943: Italy signs an armistice with the Allies; Mussolini is killed by partisans.
1961: Federico Fellini directs La Dolce Vita.
1969: A bomb in Milan’s Piazza Fontana kills 16 and kicks off a decade of terrorism.
1978: Prime Minister Aldo Moro is kidnapped and then murdered.
1993: Prime Minister Bettino Craxi resigns on corruption charges.
1994: Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party wins elections; coalition later collapses.
2001: Berlusconi is back in Palazzo Chigi after a brief, historic rule by the center-left.
2006: Romano Prodi’s center-left government returns to power after the Supreme Court
upholds his razor-thin victory.
2008: Berlusconi regains control as economy slides into recession.
2009: A massive earthquake decimates the region of Abruzzo.
2011: Italy’s staggering debt crisis forces Berlusconi to resign; he is replaced by former EU commissioner Mario Monti.
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