|Italy as it is now|
Italy used to be a place made up of different states and not the unified country it is today. There were the Papal States where the Pope lived, the Republic of Florence, the Kingdom of Naples, Republic of Venice, Duchy of Milan and several others. There would be wars and disputes between them, attempts at taking over other states and also other countries altogether would try to take them over too, especially the Papal States in the middle. Slowly a national identity was born, and by the late 1700's early 1800's people were starting to call themselves Italian though from the state they had been born into. The Northern areas were most against a unifying country as were the Austrian Empire who may have been influential in this thinking.
Between the states wanting to unify there were disagreements as to how it would work and who would be the ultimate controllers of a one body. Two men in particular spurred things on, Mazzini and Garibaldi (he of the current biscuits). Over the years several insurrections occurred and then a war mid 1800's quickly followed by another. All in all it took many many years to finally end all struggles with the final decision of a unified Italy being 1871.
There is a famous quote in Italy which goes 'We have made Italy, now we must make Italians', this refers to the way of thinking of Italian peoples even today where the area they live comes before the fact they are from Italy, someone from Tuscany will say he is Tuscan before he is Italian for instance. Life is more or less the same, though food and music may be different and perhaps a few other local traditions. It seems unifying a country takes a long time to overcome an historical local way of thinking. Still there are disputes between areas, the North are not so fond of the South as they believe all their hard earned money is sent there where there is not much work nor wealth. They dislike Rome as this is where the politicians make their decisions on where the money will go. Slowly slowly but hopefully soon enough it will unify in minds as well as country.
Italy as a whole makes the shape of a boot kicking a football, I wonder if this is part of the reason of their prowess in 'The Beautiful Game' of soccer. Surely this must help with eradicating differences, after all sport is a unifier all of it's own, isn't it?