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Italy is a democratic republic in southern Europe on the Mediterranean Sea.
Italy has been the home of many European cultures, such as the Etruscans and the Romans, and later was the birthplace of the university, the Renaissance, modern science and astronomy, heliocentrism, and opera. Italy's capital, Rome, was for centuries the center of Western civilization. Italy possessed a colonial empire from the second half of the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.
In the 1920s, Italy birthed Fascism, arguably a backlash against all that Italy had produced in the centuries before. It entered World War II as a founding member of the Axis, and was defeated.
At the time of Grantville's arrival in the past, Italy was still divided among several states, not all of which were independent. The Italian peninsula south of the Papal States was the Spanish-ruled Kingdom of Naples. In the north, Spain also ruled the Duchy of Milan, and had influence in the Republic of Genoa. Other influential states in northern Italy were Tuscany (Florence) and the Republic of Venice.