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.
Yes, each town has their own patron saint. Francis of Assisi is patron saint of Italy and Catherine of Siena is patroness. Padre Pio is very much loved (Im one of them) because he is a more recent saint in Italy with many miracles tied to him and died in 1968. So many people are still alive who knew St Pio very well. Francis (Franciscan order) and Catherine (Dominican order) are much older saints but very recognized in the Church and Italy. Also St Joseph is the patron saint of the whole Catholic Church itself.