Since ancient times, Etruscan, Magna Graecia and other cultures have flourished in the territory of present-day Italy, being eventually absorbed by Rome, that has for centuries remained the leading political and religious centre of Western civilisation, capital of the Roman Empire and Christianity. During the Dark Ages, the Italian Peninsula faced calamitous invasions by barbarian tribes, but beginning around the 11th century, numerous Italian city-states rose to great prosperity through shipping, commerce and banking (indeed, modern capitalism has its roots in Medieval Italy).Especially during The Renaissance, Italian culture thrived, producing scholars, artists, and polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli. Italian explorers such as Polo, Columbus, Vespucci, and Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Nevertheless, Italy would remain fragmented into many warring states for the rest of the Middle Ages, subsequently falling prey to larger European powers such as France, Spain, and later Austria. Italy would thus enter a long period of decline that lasted until the mid 19th century.
The remnants of the past are still a significant part of the modern era. Our cultural institutions are the product of those who lived before us and of the societies they built.
For this project, I travelled to 14 cities in 4 countries filled with history: England, France, Italy and Spain. Each of these countries had a major influence in shaping the world in which we live in.
In Civilization: The Rise of Europe you will see the remains of the vast Roman Empire, the intertwined Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures, the birthplace of the Age of Enlightenment, the European emblem of parliamentary democracy as well as many UNESCO World Heritage sites.
It is also those same countries that would eventually embark on a journey to the New World and build the foundations of America.