If it weren’t for the Roman Empire, would Italy have had the same impact on European life that it does right now?
Certainly, languages would be different if Latin had not spread around the continent with French, Spanish, Portuguese and English all having a basis in Latin. Vast road networks today run on the paths that the Romans used which means that our transport system would be markedly different. Regions and tribes gave their name to localities purely because they were carefully recorded by the bureaucrats in Rome, eager to ensure that taxes were paid in time and correctly.
It can also be argued that we know so much about ancient Greece because the Romans so diligently recorded their love for their ancestors across the Aegean sea.
We would certainly have lived in a different world if it weren’t for the Romans. Today, Italy continues to influence us in many subtle ways too.
We eat Italian food – everyone knows how to cook pasta, pizza take-aways can be found in every town across the world and Italian delicacies like panettone, biscotti and limoncello always command a premium.
We wear Italian fashion – large brand names like Dolce & Gabbana or Versace command headlines but many designers and companies are influenced by the Italian knack of inventing fashionable items.
We are transfixed with the concept of Italian life – while Italians may disagree, the rest of the world looks on Italy wistfully and uses the country to inspire it. Think of the famous Eat, Pray, Love book/film which highlighted the joys of living in Rome; or Under the Tuscan Sun where the heroine runs off to Italy to recover after a messy divorce. Italy is the ultimate comfort blanket, it seems.
What do you like most about Italy?