I want a re-do for March. It’s almost over and I feel like I missed it. We had great plans that involved day trips to hill towns, long vacations with friends, watching buds turn into blooms, and exchanging coats for jackets. Luck wasn’t on my side though. We did have the visitors, and we loved the company and seeing familiar faces in our new home, their visit was the highlight of our month. But, several weeks ago, I managed a minor injury that left me immobilized and doomed to boredom for most of the month.
I could have been useful and caught up on posts (there is a huge post coming your way soon) that I’ve been meaning to do, but I was too consumed with self-pity and controlling my inner toddler. I just wanted to go outside and play with everyone else in the sunshine. It was for the better though, any post I would have produced during this period would have been a grumpy emo mess.
But one good thing did come out of March. It has been bothering me for a while that I know very little about Italian history after the Renaissance. Which leaves me roughly a half millennium short of the full story of who Italy and its people are. Like I’ve read half of an epic novel and then skipped to the end, admiring how things came together, but not knowing how it managed to. So I fired up my kindle for some self-study.
I’m up to the early nineteenth century, and now I feel like I know where the writer from Game of Thrones got his inspiration. Borders and even names of Kingdoms, states, districts changed hands constantly. The Spanish had them in their grasp, then the Austrians, and then the French. The English protected one half but blockaded the other. Often everyone had a piece at the same time. The Pope usually controlled the center but that wasn’t necessarily good news. Commerce was allowed and then smashed on whim. Wealthy economy boosting merchants were handed titles, which put them in the business of collecting money not making it. Trade routes shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, leaving Venice and Genoa to stagnate. Through it all was a long suffering peasant population with very little farmable land, and not many skilled jobs to choose from. In contrast, Italy still maintained some of the oldest and most prestigious centers for learning, and a tradition that produced masters of Science, Philosophy , and Art.
This is a part of the story, I still have a few centuries to go. Already I look at what’s around me in a new shade of understanding, and I feel shallow for the moments when I summed it up to ruins and gelato. Which makes me cringe a little now.
Don’t worry, I’m not turning this into a history blog, but I do think it’s important to know what you’re looking at when viewing the world around you.
If you’re interested, check out this little time lapse video of Europe from 3000 BC to present. Watch Italy become a dominating force, to a technicolor gameboard, to what we know today. It pleased my inner nerd.