• Bronze Age Celts, Teutonic tribes, and others from the Mediterranean and Asia Minor inhabit the peninsula.


  • 1000 B.C. Large colonies of Etruscans settle in Tuscany and Campania, quickly subjugating many of the Latin inhabitants of the peninsula.


  • 800 B.C. Rome begins to take shape, evolving from a strategically located shepherds' village into a magnet for Latin tribes fleeing the Etruscans.


  • 600 B.C. Etruscans occupy Rome, designating it the capital of their empire. The city grows rapidly, and a major seaport opens at Ostia.


  • 510 B.C. The Latin tribes, still centered in Rome, revolt against the Etruscans. Alpine Gauls attack from the north, and Greeks living in Sicily destroy the Etruscan navy.


  • 250 B.C. The Romans, allied with the Greeks, Phoenicians, and native Sicilians, defeat the Etruscans. Rome flourishes and begins the accumulation of a vast empire.


  • 49 B.C. Italy (through Rome) controls the entire Mediterranean world.


  • 44 B.C. Julius Caesar is assassinated. His successor, Augustus, transforms Rome from a city of brick into a city of marble.


  • 3rd century A.D. Rome declines under a series of incompetent and corrupt emperors.


  • 4th century A.D. Rome is fragmented politically as administrative capitals are established in such cities as Milan and Trier, Germany.


  • A.D. 395 The empire splits; Constantine establishes a "New Rome" at Constantinople (Byzantium). The Goths successfully invade Rome's northern provinces.


  • 410-55 Rome is sacked by barbarians.


  • 475 Rome falls, leaving only the primate of the Catholic Church in control. The pope slowly adopts many of the powers once reserved for the Roman emperor.


  • 800 Charlemagne is crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III. Italy dissolves into a series of small warring kingdoms.


  • Late 11th century The popes function like secular princes with private armies.


  • 1065 The Holy Land falls to the Muslim Turks; the Crusades are launched.


  • 1303-77 The Papal Schism occurs; the pope and his entourage move from Rome to Avignon, France.


  • 1377 The papacy returns to Rome.


  • 1443 Brunelleschi's dome caps the Duomo in Florence as the Renaissance bursts into full bloom.


  • 1469-92 Lorenzo il Magnifico rules in Florence as the Medici patron of Renaissance artists.


  • 1499 Leonardo da Vinci completes The Last Supper in Milan.


  • 1508 Michelangelo begins work on the Vatican's Sistine Chapel.


  • 1527 Rome is sacked by Charles V of Spain, who is crowned Holy Roman Emperor the following year.


  • 1796-97 Napoleon's series of invasions arouses Italian nationalism.


  • 1861 The Kingdom of Italy is established.


  • 1915-18 Italy enters World War I on the side of the Allies.


  • 1922 Fascists march on Rome; Benito Mussolini becomes premier.


  • 1929 A concordat between the Vatican and the Italian government is signed, delineating the rights and responsibilities of each party.


  • 1935 Italy invades Abyssinia (Ethiopia).


  • 1936 Italy signs "Axis" pact with Germany.


  • 1940 Italy invades Greece.


  • 1943 U.S. Gen. George Patton lands in Sicily and soon controls the island.


  • 1945 Mussolini is killed by a mob in Milan; World War II ends.


  • 1946 The Republic of Italy is established.


  • 1957 The Treaty of Rome, establishing the European Community (EC), is signed by six nations.


  • 1960s The country's economy grows under the EC, but the impoverished south lags behind.


  • 1970s Italy is plagued by left-wing terrorism; former premier Aldo Moro is kidnapped and killed.


  • 1980s Political changes in Eastern Europe induce Italy's strong Communist Party to modify its program and even to change its name; the Socialists head their first post-1945 coalition government.


  • 1994 A conservative coalition, led by Silvio Berlusconi, wins general elections.


  • 1995 Following the resignation of Berlusconi, treasury minister Lamberto Dini is named prime minister to head the transitional government.


  • 1996 Dini steps down as prime minister, and President Scalfaro dissolves both houses of parliament. In general elections, the center-left coalition known as the Olive Tree sweeps both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.


  • 1997-98 Twin earthquakes hit Umbria, killing 11 people and destroying precious frescoes in Assisi's basilica. Romano Prodi survives a neo-Communist challenge and continues to press for budget cuts in an effort to "join Europe."


  • 1999 The euro technically becomes the official currency of Italy and other E.U. nations.


  • 2000 Italy welcomes Jubilee visitors in the wake of political discontent.


  • 2001 Billionaire media magnate Silvio Berlusconi is elected prime minister, winning by a landslide and leading the right wing to sweeping victory.


  • 2002 Euro notes are introduced into circulation, and lire are withdrawn from circulation over a transition period.


  • 2003 Italy assumes presidency of the E.U.


  • 2004 All corruption charges against Berlusconi are dismissed.


  • 2005 Pope John Paul II dies at age 84; a German hardliner, Cardinal Ratzinger, succeeds him as Benedict XVI.


  • 2006 Italy withdraws troops from Iraq and sends Berlusconi into retirement.



  • 2011-2012 Italy is at the center of a European banking crisis which almost brings about the collapse of the euro currency.



  • 2013 Former Florence mayor Matteo Renzi becomes Italy’s youngest prime minister—at 39 years old—heading a coalition of the center-left led by his Democratic Party (PD).



  • 2016 Renzi resigns as prime minister (to be replaced by Paolo Gentiloni), Virginia Raggi is elected Rome’s first female mayor, and same-sex civil unions are legalized.



  • 2017 The Italian government has to bail out Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank.



  • 2018  In national elections, the populist party M5S and the far-right League gain the most seats in Italy's parliament, but neither is able to form a government, leaving Italy to operate with no clear ruling majority.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.