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The Greeks gradually came to apply the name "Italia" to a larger region, but the Peninsula and its borders expanded over time.
Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus states this account together with the legend that Italy was named after Italus, The name Italia originally applied only to a part of what is now Southern Italy, according to Antiochus of Syracuse, the southern portion of the Bruttium peninsula corresponding to the modern province of Reggio, and part of the provinces of Catanzaro and Vibo Valentia.
But by his time Oenotria and Italy had become synonymous, and the name also applied to most of Lucania as well.
These mostly independent statelets, acting as Europe's main spice trade hubs with Asia and the Near East, often enjoyed a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe; however, part of central Italy was under the control of the theocratic Papal States, while Southern Italy remained largely feudal until the 19th century, partially as a result of a succession of Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Angevin and Spanish conquests of the region.
The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science, exploration and art.
In 509 BC, the Romans expelled the last king from their city and established an oligarchic republic.
In the wake of Julius Caesar's rise and death in the first century B.
Nevertheless, Italy's commercial and political power significantly waned with the opening of trade routes which bypassed the Mediterranean.
Furthermore, the Italian city-states constantly engaged one another in bloody warfare, culminating in the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries that left them exhausted, with none emerging as a dominant power.
Today, Italy has the third largest nominal GDP in the Eurozone and the eighth largest in the world.
As an advanced economy, the country has the sixth-largest worldwide national wealth and it is ranked third for its central bank gold reserve.
Rome, a settlement around a ford on the river Tiber conventionally founded in 753 BC, was ruled for a period of 244 years by a monarchical system, initially with sovereigns of Latin and Sabine origin, later by Etruscan kings.