1896 Marconi applies to patent his radio
1953 Elizabeth II crowned, the first major international event on telly. Check if your kid can recognise the queen and know that she appears on stamps and lives in Buckingham Palace. Maybe make a pretty crown and make your own stamps by tracing a shadow profile.
Festa della Republica (Italy celebrates voting for a republic after the fall of Fascism post-WWII)
Italy’s original Indo-European tribes were the Umbrians, Latins, Celts, Volsci, Samnites and Ligures, as well as some unique tribes that are not classified as Indo-European, like the Etruscans and Sardinians.
Rome began as an agricultural community in 753 B.C. and eventually spread from Britain to Persia.
Roman activities: Go to the library and get a book on ancient Rome or Roman myths, learn Roman numerals, build an amphitheatre out of Lego, wear a toga, make a mosaic. Are there any old Roman buildings near you?
In 395 A.D. the Roman Empire split into two parts, East and West. The eastern half became Byzantium; the west dissolved in 476 A.D. after being invaded by Germanic Barbarians, Goths and Vandals.
Italy was then taken by Byzantium, then the Germanic Lombards, then Charlemagne (also called Charles the Great)’s Frankish Empire (which is what France is now named after). Charlemagne became the new Holy Roman Emperor, a title which vied with the Pope for rule over western Christianity and Italy.
In 1176 northern Italy managed to become independent, pushing out the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa, while southern Italy, hugely involved in the Crusades, became a leading power in the Mediterranean, dominating the Oriental trade routes.
Southern Italy eventually became a united kingdom, while the north became the Signorie, city-states that fought a lot. In 1454 the signing of the Peace of Lodi brought peace to the Signorie.
Can you build a Lego Leaning Tower of Pisa?
The Renaissance began, with patronage of the arts by the Medici family and a lot of clever Greek people coming over to escape the Ottoman Empire. Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci are the most famous Italian Renaissance men.
Then Italy started fighting everyone, including itself; meanwhile, everyone else discovered America and new ways to get to the East, and Italy’s power and money started to disappear.
Spain owned Italy in 1559-1713, then Austria took over until 1796.
In the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon made Italy a client state of France, and he made his brother-in-law King of Naples (which was the name for the whole of the south at that point).
Italy allied with France and Prussia to get rid of Austria, and then while France was fighting Prussia Italy pushed France out too. Northern Italy became industrial and rich, southern Italy remained poor.
Italy began empire-building, taking Somalia, Eritrea, Libya and the Dodecanese (Greek islands).
Italy was instrumental in ending WWI with the Vittorio Veneto, a massive offensive which led to Austria-Hungary asking for the armistice.
Italy was now united, although it had lost some Italian people in the newly independent Yugoslavia, and had acquired many Slavs and German-speaking Tyroleans in the land it had accumulated during the war.
Then Italy went a bit nuts and anarchic, until the Nationalist Fascist Party led a coup to take power, and the king agreed, firing the old president and appointing the NFP’s leader, Mussolini.
Well, he banned all the other parties and most personal freedom, inspiring Hitler and Franco.
In 1935 Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, which led to Italy being kicked out of the League of Nations.
In WWII Italy sided with Germany and Japan (definitely the bad guys), and supported Franco during the Spanish Civil War.
The Allies invaded Sicily and moved up to fight Germany in the north; the Facist Party toppled but Mussolini still ruled north Italy for the Nazi Party until 1945 when both surrendered.
Italy had to give back its Yugoslavian and French territories it had gained in WWI, and all of its empire except Somalia.
During WWII Italy committed war crimes in Yugoslavia, Ethiopia and Greece, but got away with it because the Prime Minister, Pietro Badoglio (who was on the list of people who had led the war crimes, as he was a general in the war), was anti-Communist.
In 1946 Italy became a Republic, celebrated today. This meant the royal family had to leave.
In 1948 Italy didn’t vote Communist, which meant it received financial help from America’s Marshall Plan and its economy, totally ruined in WWII, was able to recover. Italy had its own Cold War though, and suffered from internal neo-fascist terrorism in the 1960s-’80s.
In the 1990s the political parties had to re-organise and re-brand themselves after voters got sick of the corruption and massive debts they were causing.
Other Italian activity ideas: Have a pizza party! The most Italian pizza is the Margarita, named after the Italian queen and showing the red (tomato), yellow (cheese) and green (basil) of the Italian flag. A tomato, cheese and basil salad is also a great way to celebrate today.
North Korea Children’s Day – see 27th December