In the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Greeks began to settle in Italy due to famine, overcrowding etc, as well as a need for expansion and net ports and outlets and expulsion from their homeland. During this period Romana came to be, a tiny little thing known as Magna Gracia by the Romans, or 'Great Greece'. Naturally for most of her early life Romana's main influence was a Greek one, and she was found first by Ancient Greece. The older man became somewhat of a mentor or surrogate grandfather to the little girl, teaching her all about his own culture, from religious rites to the dialects of Ancient Greece. With this influence Romana's own Hellenic civilisation developed, and it would later come to interact with the Italic and Latin, sharing things like a Chalcidean/Cumaean variety of the Greek alphabet with the Etruscans which would later evolve into the Latin alphabet. Not to mention how these new Hellenic cities became rich and powerful, like Capua, Neapolis (Naples). In 420 BC the port in Naples became one of the most important of the Mediterranean sea.
While Ancient Greece had a huge impact on her early years, he wasn't family. Over the years Romana had caught glimpses of her Grandmother, a powerful woman in armour, the strong Roman Empire. While she felt an attachment to Ancient Greece thanks to a shared culture and peoples a part of her knew that Ancient Rome was her family, and really it came at no surprise that at the end of the Pyrrhic War Romana found herself leaving Ancient Greece and being 'absorbed' into the Roman Republic. She would still see the older man through the years, but now the majority of her time was spent in the heart of the Republic, in Rome, under the eyes of her Grandmother. With the shift came a change in name, Romana now being given the name that would stick with her for the rest of her life - Italia Romana.
It was in Rome that she met her sister, Italia Venezia, for the first time, a little girl from the North. With hair a few shades lighter than Romana's and eyes that were amber not green, it was clear from the beginning that they had different influences in their formative years. Not to mention the differences in personalities, Venezia a much more cheerful girl while Romana was usually stubborn and even bratty. Her insecurities began right there, Romana unused to sharing the attention of an adult, and feeling inadequate to Venezia's easy cheerfulness. It was common to hear Ancient Roma cooing over the younger sister and complimenting her while forgetting to do so to the older.
Time went on. The girl's met their 'siblings': Gaul from the North, Hispania and Lusitania to the East. There was also Germania from the north, a silent strong woman who served as her Grandmother's bodyguard as well as friend in Ancient Rome's eyes. As Ancient Rome's granddaughters they were given an equal education unlike other human girls of the empire, though Ancient shied off teaching them warfare. She wanted her granddaughters to be artists and lovers, not soldiers. They were happy, but it wasn't to last.
As Romana would later learn, no Empires lasted forever. Ancient Rome grew weaker as her Empire fell apart and finally disappeared. While Romana could never prove it she always assumed it was Germanaia who committed the below that finally took her Grandmother, and it was there that her distrust in Germans began. From then to the Gothic Wars she lived under Germania's protection, the woman fulfilling her last favour for Ancient Rome by keeping her granddaughters safe.
In the 500's, after the Gothic Wars, Romana found herself coming under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. Again she was divided from her sister, but at the same time she was reunited with Ancient Greece, the older man having shifted into an Empire like her grandmother's. The Greek influence still remained in Southern Italy and Romana found herself adjusting to the shift in situation, though she found herself missing the little sister she had previously labelled annoying and attention seeking. Often, she would sneak away from Ancient Greece/Byzantine Empire to go to the north and check on the younger girl, always remembering her Grandmother's instructions to look after her younger sister. But overall she was still reasonably happy, even as she found herself starting to wish she would grow some more, becoming frustrated with the fact she still possessed the body of a five year old human child. It made it very difficult to be taken seriously.
Then from the 9th to the 11th centuries Romana found herself in a metaphorical game of keep away, with her as the ball... item being kept. Thing. Caught between Greece, Lombardy, and the Islamic Caliphate, the South found itself in the middle of many wars for control. For once Romana started to become afraid, her body still to childlike to put an end to the fighting. Not to mention she had no skills in warfare unlike her 'sisters' Gaul from the North, Hispania and Lusitania, thanks to her Grandmother's decision to not train them. So she just had to put up with it, being snatched by power to power, a fact that only made her insecurities grow as Romana began to believe that she was only wanted for the land she represented, and not because of who she was. It left her suspicious of people's intentions, and unable to fully trust someone completely, habits she has never been able to shake. In this period a few Islamic states were formed within her, by the Islamic Caliphate, such as the Emirate of Sicily and Emirate of Bari. This Arabic ruling left it's own influence, further darkening her skin and hair, making the physical differences between her and her sister only more noticeable. However by then Romana was mistrustful, and did her best to keep anyone from further influencing her culture. However it left it's mark on her art, as well as the language of Sicily, as much as it annoyed her.
By the 11th century the Normans had made their move and now occupied all the Lombard and Byzantine possession in South Italy, which ended the six centuries presence of both powers in the peninsula. Eventually they also expelled the Muslims from Sicily. However under Roger II the Norman Kingdom of Sicily was said to be characterised by it's multi-ethnic nature and religious tolerance, and he allowed Normans, Jews, Muslim Arabs, Byzantine Greeks, Lombards and the 'native' Sicilians to live together, creating a relative harmony. However this tolerance to different nationalities and religions was not something Romana truly learnt from, both from stubbornness, her belief that her people and her religion were better that those of the invading people. It also didn't help that the Norman domination did not last very long, formally ending in 1198, and thus couldn't really leave an impact on her like being under Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome did.
After the end of the Norman reign with Constance of Sicily, Romana was picked up by the Swabian Hohenstaufen dynasty, German Kings, three of whom were crowned Holy Roman Emperor. With Romana's previous negatives interactions with Germans through Germania still firmly embedded in her mind, she treated this take over with hostility, with one exception. She did not completely mind Emperor Frederick II, who did take quite good care of her, having a long commitment in developing her land, people and culture. He endorsed a legal reform in Sicily which culminated with the creation of the Constitutions of Melfi which was a collection of laws that were considered quite remarkable at the time, and would remain to be a source of inspiration for a long time after as well as remaining the basis of Sicilian law until 1819 (with slight changes over the years). He also made the Kingdom of Sicily a centralised state and his royal court in Palermo saw the first use of a literary form of an Italo-Romance language, Sicilian, which would then go on to significantly influence the beginnings of the modern Italian language. For these developments Romana does think kindly of Emperor Frederick II, though it is done rather grudgingly, and never out loud. She's a very stubborn girl, however the fact that she hasn't kicked up a fuss over the fact that the previously named University of Naples is now know as the Università Federico II shows her true feelings.
In 1266 conflict between the Hohenstaufen house and the Papacy led to Sicily being conquered by Charles I, Duke of Anjou, which then led into the War of Sicilian Vespers, caused by opposition to French officialdom and taxation as well as incitement of rebellion by both the Aragonese and Byzantine agents. The Sicilian Vespers successful invasion was led by Peter III of Aragon in 1282 and the war would last till 1302, ending with the Peace of Caltabellotta and the division of the old Kingdom of Sicily. This Romana clearly did not like, because again, it was more powerful countries, fighting over land that was hers, and peoples that were hers. But still, she had barely aged, her growth squashed by continuous changes in power and a reluctance to let in new culture and absorb those strengths. The actual island of Sicily was taken by Frederick III of Aragon, who had already been ruling it, while the peninsular territories which had previously been known also as the Kingdom of Sicily, but now know to the modern day as the Kingdom of Naples went to Charles II of Anjou, who had also been previously ruling that section. This peace was merely a formal act and an unstable status quo, and Romana would find herself being influenced by two different cultures, French and Spanish, which meant she was caught between her older sisters, something that would not be the first and last time. Thankfully, in Romana's opinion, the King of Spain was able to grab both of the crowns starting from the 16th century, leaving Romana in the now teen-aged Spain's care, which was the lesser of two evils she decided. However it wasn't until 1816 that the Kingdoms were completely reunited as the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, which just gave Romana yet another name she was now known as.
Alfonso V was the one to conquer the Kingdom of Naples from the House of Anjou in 1442, and now Sicily and Naples were unified as dependencies of Aragon. In 1458 the kingdom was again separated when Alfonso died, with Naples going to his illegitimate son, Ferrante. Then when Ferrante died in 1494, Charles VIII of France invaded Italy and used the Angevin claim to the throne of Naples, an inheritance of his father, as a pretext. This then started the Italian Wars, and while Charles VIII managed to expel Alfonso II of Naples from, well, Naples, in 1495, he ultimately was forced to withdraw as Ferdinand II of Aragon support was for his cousin and Alfonso II's son Ferrantino, who was placed back on the throne. However he died soon after in 1496 and was succeeded by his uncle Frederick IV.
Naturally, the French did not give up their claim, agreeing in 1501 to a partition of the kingdom with Ferdinand of Aragon who had decided to abandon his cousin King Frederick. Of course the deal soon feel through, and France and Aragon resumed fighting over the kingdom, Ferdinand being the eventual winner in 1504, and while the are remained an area of dispute between France and Spain for several decades after, the French attempts to gain control begun to become weaker and the Spanish control was never truly threatened. Finally with the Treaty of Cateau- Cambrésis in 1559 the French gave up their claims to the kingdom, and Romana began to think she was finally going to be settled down. Even though France had never gained control of her, the years had being annoying, as France had occasionally attempted to physically take her from Spain, and while Romana at the time would refuse to admit it, she was beginning to grow attached to the older girl. She remembered Spain from her childhood, and had always had a better friendship with the girl, Spain reminding her of her Grandmother. So now that France had finally given up, she hoped nothing would happen for awhile and hopefully she would grow.
Even when the kingdom changed hands again, after the War of the Spanish Succession in the early 18th century, Romana's life was not completely uprooted. Austria, somehow sensing of knowing Romana's feelings towards Germans. While Naples and Sardina were given to Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor in 1713, joined by Sicily in in 1720, Austria agreed to let Romana stay with Spain, knowing that the young girl had already began to form an attachment to the older, and that to break them apart would only hurt Romana. The fact that Romana's temper was already legendary probably also helped sway Austria's decision. Naples and Sicily would later by conquered by a Spanish Army in 1734, Charles, Duke of Parma, a younger son of King Philip V of Spain being installed as King of the two regions in 1735. It would later be left to Charles younger son Ferdinand IV when Charles inherited the Spanish throne from his half-brother in 1759.
But through all of this Romana stayed under Spain's care, slowly beginning to age, despite Spain constantly babying her. Perhaps because Spain had fought so hard and for so long to keep her hands on her, she was one of Spain's most favoured 'children', as the older would call them, despite the fact that Romana was nearly as old as her, unlike the South America colonies. Working as a maid for Spain, she would usually be found in the kitchen, assisting the women there and learning herself. She found herself keeping an eye on the younger South America colonies, and it was here her motherliness began to show, Romana often acting like an older sister to the others, especially so when Spain was extremely busy. She also received an education, and one that was more similar to a male's of the day, rather then the females. Spain believed in equal education for her colonies, which meant that Romana was well read, knew her mathematics and history, as well as the geography of the day, often being allowed to peer over Spain's maps. She was was also taught to fence by the older woman, a skill she did demand that Spain instruct her in. Slowly she aged from a small child into a pubescent girl, and she started to grow stronger. And through this time, she remained distant to her sister, the different courses their lives or history had gone through creating two girls that were different to the ones they had been at their grandmother's death. Despite this, Romana tried her best to keep and eye on her sister, even from a difference, and would often bug Spain to visit Austria and take her, so she could check on her.
Despite being conquered again by France and her Napoleon, a sense of nationalism growing in Italy. Even as Napoleon captured Naples in the name of the French Republic, Romana was starting to think enough was enough, these feeling urged on by the feelings of her people. King Ferdinand had fled Italy and would not return till June 1799 and would then dethroned by the now French Emperor Napoleon in 1806, who appointed his brother, Joseph, as King of Naples. In 1808, in the Edict of Bayonne, Napoleon moved his brother to Spain and appointed his brother-in-law as King of the Two Sicilies, however this meant they could only control the mainland portion of the Kingdom.
Through this, Ferdinand remained in Sicily, his capital now Palermo, and would not be restored till 1815, the restoration as King of the Two Sicilies coming from the Congress of Vienna. However, despite establishing a concordat with the Papal States, who previously had a claim to the land, the damage was already done. The people of South Italy, and Romana herself were fed up with being controlled by others. Several rebellions had already broken out on Sicily against Ferdinand II, and the end of the kingdom was brought about through the Expedition of the Thousand in 1860, led by Garibaldi, who would become a icon of the Italian unification, with the support from the House of Savoy and their Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. This expedition resulted in a series of defeats for the Sicilian armies against the troops of Garibaldi whose numbers were only growing. In the middle of the night, Romana herself finally snuck away from Spain, knowing that while she was breaking the heart of the older woman she had to do this. For herself, for her people. And by 1861 the Kingdom of Two Sicilies had been dissolved and then annexed into the new Kingdom of Italy.
The Kingdom itself ran in relative peace, though it was not completely unified just yet. It wasn't until after 1866 that Italy was able to claim back Venice, meaning that Romana did not truly see her sister until then. However in exchange with forming an alliance with the Kingdom of Prussia during the Austro-Prussian War, Prussia would allowed Italy to annex Venice, a deal that King Emmanuel took which created the Third Italian War of Independence, which ended in success against Austria. This meant that Romana was finally reunited with her sister, for the first time in many years. It was one of the few times Romana's walls dropped and she showed her true emotions to another. They were one step closer to being Independent completely unified. The only obstacle being that France still controlled the Papal State of Rome. However in 1870 Prussia went to war with France, and France abandoned it's positions in Rome to fight the large Prussian Army, and when Prussia was victorious, Italy was able to take Rome from French authority. The Unification was now complete and both sisters settled in Rome, now their new capital. And while Romana will rarely show it it, she is actually quite thankful to Prussia for helping them both, knowing just how much harder it would have been had they not had her on their side.
Now unified, both girls went through a large growth spurt, their body's aging to look more like an adults. However, Romana's growth was still slower than her sister's, and to this day she is slightly shorter than Venezia and will compensate for this with ridiculous high heels. This is due simply to the fact that while The North began to flourish in the new unified Italy, the South did not, it's economy suffering and and it process of industrialisation being interrupted. This only lead to poverty and crime growing in the South, and the rise of organised crime. Many people also left her, for her sister and her industry, or for other parts of Europe or even to America for a fresh start. This left Romana as much more hardened then her sister, and with a more pessimistic outlook. As much as she loves her people, it hurt a lot to see them leave and it felt like she was a failure that she couldn't industrialise or modernise fast enough for her overpopulated land. And the rise of the mafia meant that Romana learnt the evils in life, and learnt that at times certain sacrifices need to be made, which is a rather skewered idea that even she is aware of. It never changed her strong sense of loyalty though, but it did increase her ability to hold a grudge for a long time, especially in the cases of her people and her sister.
Overall however, life was good. She had her sister back, they were their own country and even though they had their hiccups, they were independent. However in 1876 her parliamentttt, which was already favouring radicsocialismsmsmsm, removed the conservative Prime Minister Marco Minghetti and replaced him with socialist Agostino Depretis which began the period known as the Socialist Period, which was marked with corruption, government instabipovertypovert and the use of authoritarian measures. As much as she could, Romana attempted to shelter Venezia from all the changes and corruption, but at the same time, she struggled. Finally, she was starting to understand what it was like for the other nations, such as Spain, Austria, France and Prussia. Physically she was a woman. And in this period, even her political leader would not completely listen to her, despite the fact he knew who and what she truly was. Frustration started to grow and even to this day she gets easily frustrated by obviously displays of sexism and misogyny.
Depretis first government used a political idea of transformismo, which in theory meant that a cabinet should select a variety of moderates and capable politicians from a non-partisan perspective. In practice of course, trasformismo was authoritarian and corrupt, with Depretis pressuring districts to vote for his candidates if they wants favourable concessions when he was in power. This was most likely used as the key means to how Depretis kept his support in Southern Italy, who was already weak from poor economy, poverty and the organised crime. Romana found it harder and harder to speak up, her own strength tied to that of her people, and her own stubborn personality being squashed down. She had never had a proper government before, perhaps this really was how it was run. However while Depretis dominated the government and started to use authoritarian measures like banning public meetings , placing so called dangerous individuals into internal exile and remote penal islands and adopting militarist policies, her also made elementary education compulsory and free, and abolished arrest for debt.
Needless to say Depretis' first government collapsed in 1877, his second starting in 1881, with his goals including widening suffrage in 1882 and increasing the tax intake from Italians by expanding the minimum requirements of who could pay taxes and the creation of a new electoral system called which resulted in large numbers of inexperienced deputies in the Italian parliament . It wasn't until 1887 that Depretis was pushed out of government and replaced by his cabinet minister Francesco Crispi whose major concern was the strength of Austria-Hungary, and how was best to protect Italy from them, a concern Romana shared. She had grown attached to her younger sister, despite all the years of separation and was beginning to bond with the younger girl. Not to mention she didn't think she could handle being divided yet again. However, the fact that one Crispi's ideas was to win Germany's favour, joining the Triple Alliance with both Germany and Austria-Hungary, irritated her, her older dislike of Germans returning. In Romana's eyes a German from Germany was just as bad as one from the Austrian-Hungarian empire. But yet again she was ignored, her boss unable to look past the physical into what she was.
The fact that her government was focussing so much on the foreign policy meant other important areas of Italy were neglected and alienated, such as the agricultural community of Italy. Already in decline since 1873, a government investigation was started in 1877, a report released eight years later showed that agriculture was not improving , that landowners were swallowing up revenue from their lands and contributing almost nothing to the development of the land. There was also demand from lower class Italian's to break up the communal lands, which only benefited the landlords. Most workers were not peasants but short term labourers, employed for, at best, a year, while peasants without stable income were forced to live off meagre food supplies while disease was spreading rapidly, plagues were being reported, including a major cholera epidemic which killed at least 55,000 people. South Italy was producing too many grapes for wine, this overproduction resulting from the 1870's and 80's where Southern Italy had stepped in to become the largest exporter of wine in Europe while France's vineyards were suffering from diseases from insects. And when France recovered, southern Italy was still overproducing, and had to cut back which only resulted in more unemployment and bankruptcies. And the Italian government could not effectively deal with the situation thanks to massive overspending by Depretis' government which had left Italy in debt.
Romana's feelings on the entire period can be summed up in two word. Anger and frustration. Anger her government was focusing on her people, was making alliances that she didn't truly want, but was forced to agree to, to gain power. Frustration for being ignored, simply because of her physical appearance. She began to truly understand how much she had taken for granted under Spain's care, how hard the older woman must have found it. And yet she still kept working. And so would Romana.
Then came World War I. While Italy was in an alliance with both Austria-Hungary and Germany, Italy struggles on whether to honour the alliance, originally stating that they were neutral and that the alliance was for defence purposes only. Unlike the people who were divided on whether or not to enter the was Romana wanted to stay out, knowing her country was already suffering, and that war would only exacerbate the problem. However, she was forced to cave to the demands of nationalists and her bosses and this saw her and her sister signing the London Pact and agreeing to declare war on Austria-Hungary in return for a promise of major territorial war. Still confined to the gender ideas of Italy, Romana slipped into being a nurse to the injured of which there were many. The army consisted of 875 000 men but it was poorly led and lacked military supplies of heavy artillery and machine guns, the supplies being depleted in an early war with Turkey in 1911-12. Close to 650 000 soldiers died and 950 000 were wounded and the economy struggled, only surviving thanks to large-scaled Allied funding. Deep down Romana seethed, and mourned, and did all that she could to help her people, while struggling to have any power. To this day she still regrets not doing something drastic, but a nation finding the power to refuse and reject their boss they need a lot of power. And instead of Italy's power increasing it decreased, with Italy not reviving any territories promised from the Treaty of London besides the Southern half of the County of Tyrol, Trieste, Istria, and the city of Zadar. And these gains did not outweigh all that Romana had lost, how much her people had suffered. A small seed of dislike grew inside her, growing thanks to the emotions of those in the South, and this dislike and belief of inheritance incompetence in the government is one she still caries.
After WWI, Premier Vittorio Orlando fell from power in June 1919, being blamed for the mismanagement of the Italian position at the peace conference. Economic issues from before the war were now severe and the people were disillusioned and their national pride suffered. Romana felt the shifts in her people, how the unrest grew but never spoke up, deciding that her people needed a change, and that she would not interfere. And so down went Orlando, and strikes broke out through Venezia's lands in 1920-21 and the Giovanni Gioliti became the new premier, later winning the national election in 1921 with the help of Benito Mussolini's Fascist Party which already controlled 35 seats. This only resulted in weak governments, and finally Mussolini announced a march on Rome on October 27, 1922, to which the King refused to proclaim Martial Law. In response Mussolini's 'Black Shirts', the name give to a paramilitary unit, took control of Rome and he was made Premier, receiving dictatorial powers a month later. His enemies, and the enemies of Fascism were silenced by terrorism and brute force, and while he made peace with the Catholic Church, Romana did not find herself liking this new boss. And slowly Italy became a fascist state, and Romana found herself to continue to be restricted to gender roles, Mussolini adamant that a woman's role was to be in the home, raising strong children from the country, and in Romana's and Venezia's cases, being woman who were striving to better the country by doing menial tasks.
With Mussolini's show of support to Hitler at the Munich conference in 1938 Italy again found itself becoming an ally to the Germans, and after France had been defeated by Germany in 1940 signed an official alliance to create the Axis with Japan and Germany. Again Romana attempted to protest the decision, Italy was still to weak military wise and wasn't prepared for a war, she was ignored, and thus Italy entered World War II. Again, she was moved into the task of nursing the wounded, but even as she fulfilled that she could feel herself nearing the edge where she would finally act.
Three events that were important to Romana in World War II were the Bombing of Naples, The Allied Invasion of Sicily and the German Invasion of Italy. The first left her with her scarring, a mark that has shaped her many things from personality, to her dress sense. Her insecurities have only grown with the mark, Romana seeing it as ugly and hating the blemish. It's not just ugly, it's a mark that says she didn't act soon enough, that she failed. And she she hides it under her clothes, and as of today nobody knows of it.
The next, the Allied Invasion of Sicily in August 1943 and the movement into the peninsula in September forced Mussolini to flee and he and his fascists lost power after all of this, the King bringing in a new government under Pietro Badoglio. This change helped Romana find the strength to actually do something, and it was then she joined the Italian campaign, which leads into the third event. With the Allied movements into Italy the Germans had also made their moves, seizing control of Italy from Naples up and installing Mussolini as the leader of the Italian Social Republic, a puppet state. The act of Germany invading her sister caused Romana to finally snap, the old issues with German's coming straight to the surface. Her thick brown hair which had previously reached to her lower back was chopped off, Romana hating the fact she needed to destroy something she considered one of her greatest features. But she knew it was necessary to disguise herself as a younger male, so she could join the troops moving up through Italy and reclaiming it. She fought by her people for the first time and she fought for her sister and her sister's people. In a way, she was finally realising all that it means to be a nation.
In June 4, 1944 Rome fell, and after that the Allies reached Florence. But Romana did not follow them, her concerns with her sister who had been left behind when the Germans and Mussolini fled. Feeling as if her sister was only a pawn to Germany Romana's never forgiven the woman, and holds a deep grudge against her. If she had her way she'd stop Venezia from interacting with her, but with every attempt, Venezia protests, having forgiven Germany, an act that Romana can't find it in her heart to do.
After World War II Italy was in chaos, the political system need to be reorganised, and new parties appeared. The monarchy ended via referendum in June 1946. A new constitution was written and a parliamentary democracy was created. While the politics slipped in instability in the 1970s they recovered and the economy began to develop and grow healthier. At the currant time Silvio Berlusconi holds the office of Prime Minister, and while Romana disagrees with the man on many key points, and finds him to be... well, a sexist dick, she is happy. Her people are in general happy, and while occasionly an Souther Italian secession movement will develop they rarely have any influence. She's happy with her sister, even if her economics are weaker then Venezia's.