What is Italy? In 1814 Austrian Chancellor M. de Metternich dismissed it as a mere "geographical expression," because political control of the peninsula had long been divided among self-governing cities, possessions of foreign dynasties, and the Vatican. Prior to that, Italy had formed the "home base" of the Roman Empire. It was not until 1861 that a united Italy emerged. This concise, and clearly written account explores Italian history and culture from the Etruscans to the present day. Starting with an introduction providing data on Italy's geography, people, and current government, the book examines the political and cultural history of the country in eleven chapters. Readers will discover the Romans, Lombards, popes, Guelphs, Ghibbellines, the Medici, the Risorgimento, sculptors, composers, Fascists, Christian Democrats, and many other people and events of Italy's rich history. Included are a biographical section with portraits of noteworthy Italians, an extensive bibliographical essay, a glossary of terms, and an index, making this book the most complete and up-to-date general history of the nation available.