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.
There is a book called, "Old Calabria," by Norman Douglas. It is really interesting. Although it is a novel, there are a lot of historical references in it, and other authors have used it as a reference.
That sounds good. And they have it on Ebay. I think I will give it a try. What I would really like is a book on the history of my grandfather's comune. A book was written by a man whose name is in the family tree (although I do not know if it is the same person) but it is only sold in Italian. I guess I may have to learn the language!