History of Italy

Italy is the ancient title referring to the southern area and people of this nation, and is indicative of the historic distinction between the different regions that are now unified. The Great Italian Café explores the three significant coffee regions; Veneto, Lombardi and Emilia-Romagna each with different histories, traditions and culture, reflected in the way coffee is made and embraced.

The location of Veneto has always maintained significance, forming a gateway between Northern and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean region. Although settled by the Euganei during the Bronze Age, Veneto owes its namesake to the peaceful Venet’s who arrived in 1000 BC. In 2nd century BC with the onset of the Roman rule, these inhabitants successfully compromised occupation, the ensuing arrangements expanding of both trade and the arts for an extensive period. With the fall of the Roman Empire, cities were invaded and plundered by barbarians, and people fled to surrounding lakes and lagoons, leading to the establishment of new towns such as Venice. This quickly became a flourishing maritime centre in the 15th Century that gradually took dominion as other cities were released from feudal oppression.

Faced with conflict from the Ottoman Empire, Spain and later Hapsburg Austria, this region survived again through diplomatic skill, providing another prosperous period for the arts. Coming to crushing defeat in the late16th century, Veneto suffered under Napoleon who gave Venice to Austria, and later returned as Emperor, raising taxes and forcing conscription while in power. The stagnation that dilapidated the Veneto during this period and the early era of unified Italian rule ensured an economic crisis followed by war in the early 20th Century. Undergoing a second renaissance in the 1960's Veneto began rebuilding itself, excelling in manufacturing, and creating a thriving tourist industry, where once again it is one of the most prosperous postcodes in all of Italy.

The area of Lombardi as we know it today, shares a long history with it’s inhabitants dating back to 2000BC. Rich archaeological evidence of ceramics and weaponry and indicates this area was first inhabited by Etruscan tribes, who spread the use of writing and developed a number of cities. Later invaded by the Celts, and then gradually overtaken from the 3rd Century BC by the Romans, this region prospered under their construction, agriculture and trade, culminating in the establishment of Milan as the capital of the Western Empire. This success however, made the loss from barbaric invasion more momentous. The most effectual rule by the Lombards in the late 5th AD Century assimilated Latin language and culture with their own, who even after the annex by Frankish empire two hundred years later still share lineage with the people today.

In the years that followed Lombardy witnessed like much of Italy a boom in the economy, leading to self-acknowledgement and an overthrow of feudal supreme power in the 13th Century through the Lombard leagues. From the 15th century Milan has been a major political and economical force, and a centre for culture as observed through the Renaissance, attracting conflict from those vying for power over such a prosperous land. Under a declining national economy in the 17th Century development remained stagnant until the restoration of Austrian rule. From this time Lombardy flourished as one of the intellectual centres pushing for unification of Italy, cementing its status throughout the modern age as one of the most progressive regions in all of Italy

The region of Emilia-Romagna, also shares it’s namesake with Ancient legacy; signifying an important portal from Rome to the North. Part of the ancient Etruscan world this region was delivered to the Romans who developed the city in the Aemilian way, seen today in the entrance of Bologna and evident in many other traditional buildings. Originally known in entirety as Emilia, the coastal area became known as Romagna under Byzantine rule from the 5th Century. Known as two independent cities throughout the Middle Ages, they were partially unified in the 16th Century as Papal States, with Parma and Modena joining with the establishment of the Italian Kingdom in the mid 19th Century.

Today Italy is one of the most thriving and democratic countries in Europe. Well known for its culture, style, food and of course coffee, it is celebrated as an innovative and sophisticated nation, that shares these passion’s enthusiastically with the rest of the world.