The Maritime Republics

Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Amalfi: what do these four attractive Italian towns have in common? Find out about their glorious, sea-related past, that left plenty of traces, monuments and fun facts still noticeable today visiting the cities

During the Middle Ages, four coastal towns of the Italic peninsula conquered a leading role in the European scene, becoming queens of the Mediterranean Sea. They were independent maritime city-states and in their governments the merchant class had considerable power: rather unique cases, in the Medieval World! These four republics almost look like a throwback to the great maritime republics of ancient times, such as Athens and Carthage. It was to defend themselves from the threats of Muslim raiders and pirates that they developed powerful navies, that soon were able to go on to the offensive: from the 10th to the 13th centuries the Maritime Republics took control of many of the sea trade routes in the Mediterranean and played an essential role in the Crusades.

The Maritime Republics also found themselves in competition, engaged in shifting alliances and warfare; but despite the commercial rivalry that played them off against one another, these four cities have always been considered a great Italian glory, for their initiative, their spirit of adventure and their ability of resurrect in the face of adversity. What is most surprising, is that very few people know about their glorious past as maritime powers, although they are at the present time very popular touristic destinations, famous all over the world for their monuments, their historical heritage or natural beauty…


Presented by Romano Pisciotti

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