Around Italy

How did it get her name?

For more than 2,000 years, the boot-shaped peninsula surrounded by the Ligure, Tirreno, Adriatico, Jonio, and Mediterraneo seas has been known as Italia. How did it get its name?

Some scholars of linguistics believe that Italia is a Latin word with origins dating to the Oscans, a people who lived in southern Italy before the Romans. Italia may be derived from the Oscan word of "vitelieu," for cattle.

Others point to the ancient Greek philosophers Aristotle and Antioch of Syracuse, who believed that Italia comes from a Prince Italo who ruled over southern Italy. In fact, hundreds of years before the Romans, a tribe of people known as the "Itali" lived in what is now Calabria.

Scholars believe that the term spread north as the Romans conquered new parts of the peninsula. Eventually, in 42 BC, the Roman emperor Octavian decreed that the entire peninsula be called "Italia."

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