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.
Ok I thought it may be a little tricky. What makes it harder is that the insignia on the hat is not clearly visible. I can give you a few facts about the relative that I am hoping is featured in the photo: He enlisted in military service in June of 1897 and was assigned to the 7th cavalry of Milano. Now, the photos appear to be taken in the city of Modena, where there is a Military training college. I am hoping it is my relative, and that his army unit, may have attended the training college in Modena as part of his service. Is this possible? Nick