Italian Lakes (2013)
c .12000 BC
Neanderthals living in Trentino mountains.
c .6000-5000 BC
The first pictographs are carved in Val Camonica by Camuni hunter-gatherers. Neolithic farmers settle in Po Valley.
c .3300 BC
The Copper Age is well under way by the time Oetzi the Iceman sets out north from Trentino and is murdered en route.
c .1200-400 BC
The south of the region is colonised by the Etruscans, while the Ligurians inhabit the western Alps, the Oribi the centre and the Veneti the eastern Alps.
c .400 BC
The Celts cross the Alps, seizing Etruscan territory and sacking Rome in 390 BC. They found the cities of Milan, Bergamo and Como.
The Romans drive out the Celts, and northern Italy becomes the Roman province of Gallia Cisalpina.
Pictographs, Capo di Ponte, Val Camonica.
Neil Buchan-Grant/Apa Publications
Second Punic War between Carthage and Rome. Hannibal and his elephants cross the Alps in their march on Rome.
Augustus reorganises the Transpadania region and makes Mediolanum (Milan) its capital.
Diocletian divides the Roman Empire in two, taking the east for himself, while his co-emperor, Maximilian, rules from Milan.
Emperors Constantine the Great and Licinius write a joint Edict of Milan granting freedom of worship to Christians and making Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.
Constantine moves the capital of the empire to Byzantium. With Rome a spent force, Milan becomes the effective capital of the Western Empire.
Without the protection of Rome, northern tribes pour south. The Visigoths besiege Milan and Verona.
Milan, Verona and the Po Valley are ransacked by Attila the Hun.
Statue of Emperor Maximilian.
End of the Western Roman Empire comes officially as Germanic war leader, Odoacer, is elected king in northern Italy.
Milan is virtually destroyed during the Gothic Wars between the Ostrogoths and Byzantium.
The Germanic Lombards invade northern Italy and take control of the lake district and northern Po Valley, with their capital at Pavia.
Roman Capitoline Temple, Brescia.
Glyn Genin/Apa Publications
Frankish King Pepin the Short grants several Lombard provinces to the Pope, setting up centuries of future squabbles between Church and state.
The Pope asks the Frankish king, Charlemagne, to stop the Lombard advance. He conquers the Lombard kingdom, and creates a Frankish state in north Italy.
Charlemagne is proclaimed Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope.
Bishops of some cities obtain effective independence; other areas of northern Italy are fought over by French and German Franks.
German Otto I retakes Italy. His successors officially hold the area for nearly 200 years, but once more it disintegrates into a series of comuni (city states), marked by Milan’s first popular assembly (parlamento) in 1024.
The Ten Years War between Milan and Como is one of many violent local squabbles as the cities vie for position and wealth.
The German Prince Frederick Barbarossa is crowned Holy Roman Emperor and tries to enforce his authority over the Italians.
The Lombard League of city states is founded with the support of the Pope to oppose Barbarossa. In an uneasy truce, the cities have effective autonomy but pay lip-service to the crown.
Cities thrive on trade, but power shifts from several hundred small communes to a few large cities and families such as the Scaligeri in Verona and the Visconti and Sforza in Milan, who become aristocratic rulers (signori) .
Lion of St Mark.
Brescia, Verona and Lake Garda are conquered or hand themselves over peacefully to the Venetian Republic, symbolised by the lion of St Mark.
Modern-day Ticino is annexed by Switzerland.
After the last Sforza duke dies, Milan is claimed by France, but following a scrap, is taken by the Habsburgs then, in 1556, by Spain.
La Scala, Milan.
Glyn Genin/Apa Publications
The Roman Catholic Church convenes several times for the Council of Trent (Trento), an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to fight the Reformation.
The War of the Spanish Succession revives French claims to Lombardy before the Treaty of Utrecht gives the region to the Austrian Habsburgs.
Opera house in Milan (La Scala) opens.
Battle of Solferino, 1859.
Napoleon conquers Lombardy and the Veneto in 1796 and is crowned “king of Italy” in Milan’s Duomo. The puppet Cisalpine Republic is formed by the Treaty of Campoformio in 1797, becoming the Italian Republic in 1802 and the Kingdom of Italy in 1805.
After Napoleon’s defeat, the Congress of Vienna awards Lombardy and the Veneto to Austria.
Council of Trent.
Amidst growing calls for Italian independence in Piedmont, Garibaldi names his movement after a local newspaper, Il Risorgimento (The Awakening).
The Risorgimento fights against Austrian rule.
Backed by France, the Risorgimento wins a decisive victory at the Battle of Solferino. Milan joins the kingdom.
Garibaldi formally declares the new Kingdom of Italy, ruled by King Vittorio Emanuele II. Austria hands over Lombardy and the Veneto.
Italy joins the World War I Allies.
The Treaty of Saint-Germain gives Trentino to Italy. Mussolini creates the blackshirt Fascist brigades in Milan.
Fascists under Benito Mussolini seize power in Italy.
Mussolini supports Franco in the Spanish Civil War, conquers Ethiopia, invades Albania and enters World War II as a Nazi ally in 1940.
Italy’s northern front collapses. Mussolini retires to Lake Garda and founds the Republic of Salò. Italy joins the Allies, and a heroic resistance struggle against the Germans is fought in the mountains.
On 27 April 1945 Mussolini is captured and executed in Como the following day.
Italy becomes a republic; the Savoy royal family is exiled.
Italy joins Nato.
Italy joins the Common Market, the forerunner of the European Union, as a founder member.
Political unrest and violence by far-right and left groups, including the Red Brigade. Bombs in Milan (1969) and Brescia (1974), and the kidnapping and murder of former premier Aldo Moro in 1978.
The industrial north powers Italy to a place in the G7.
Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, 1943.
Tangentopoli (“Bribesville”) scandal leads to a supposed overhaul of public life, although corruption scandals continue to rock the economic and political heart of Italy.
Media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi creates a right-wing party, Forza Italia, and goes on to lead the longest-serving government in the republic’s history.
Political playwright Dario Fo, from Milan, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Italy adopts the euro.
The Savoy royal family are allowed to return to Italy for the first time.
A centre-left coalition, led by Romano Prodi, takes power in parliament.
Berlusconi is re-elected as prime minister in April, with a large majority.
Scandals rock Berlusconi’s government, highlighting the premier’s shady dealings and illicit liaisons. After losing his majority in parliament, Berlusconi officially resigns as prime minister on 16 November and is replaced by Mario Monti.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Earthquakes hit the region of Emilia-Romagna in May with aftershocks felt as far as Milan.
Matteo Renzi from the Democratic Party forms a new government.
Milan hosts Expo 2015.
Referendum to approve constitutional reforms proposed by Prime Minister Renzi.