As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
While research for my famly tree, I came across this book in a local library. It was a wonderful find for me as I just haven't seen much discussion on the large group of Italians that settled in Ensley, AL and Bessemer, AL. Anyway, the title of the book is Italians in the Deep South: Their Impact on Birmingham and the American Heritage and the author is Frank Joseph Fede. It is an excellent book to read for anyone who had family immigrate to the Birmingham area. Most of the people mentioned in this book (as well as my relatives) came from Sicily.