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.
Here's a perhaps odd question that I've wondered about. My family originates from Pistoia about 40 miles or so outside of Florence. I'm wondering what Pistoiese (people from and living in Pistoia) feel about their neighbor. I know there has been quite a lot of fighting and bad blood between Siena and Florence (I've heard "Montaperti" is still occasionally chanted at soccer games by the Sienese to remind Florentines of a military defeat some 700 yrs ago) and Lucca and Florence, but I've often wonder if people in Pistoia have this same relationship. That might be a hard question to answer, but I thought I'd throw it out there to this knowledgeable community.