by John Jamison
Are we not all agreed that Italy stands for the good life? Espresso, pasta, Chianti and seaside villas. Even if we've never gone there, we have an image in our minds of how the Italians came up with a culture with universal appeal. Milanese handbags, sleek Vespas and Maseratis — yes, all these things we can't afford, they're Italian too. Even 2,500 years ago, Italy stood as a location for good living.
Inhabitants of what is now called Tuscany were the Etruscans — from whose name "Tuscany" derives — a people shrouded in a certain amount of mystery. The Romans knew them, were conquered by the Etruscans, then conquered them in return (that's the Romans for you, every time). The Etruscans created in their homeland of Etruria an important Iron-Age civilization, leaving behind elaborate tombs and artworks galore, trading with far-flung peoples of the Mediterranean and developing the religion that would eventually become the Roman one, and therefore influence Christianity.