A country of southern Europe comprising the peninsula of Italy, Sardinia, Sicily, and several smaller islands. It was settled in antiquity by Italic tribes, Etruscans, and Greek colonists, but from the fourth century bc became dominated by Rome, eventually forming the core of the Roman Empire. After ad 476, Italy was ruled by various Germanic tribes, local families, and popes. The 13th to 16th centuries saw a cultural flowering in such city-states as Pisa, Florence, and Venice that eventually spread throughout Europe as the Renaissance. Nationalism in the 19th century led to unification under King Victor Emmanuel II in 1870. Italy became a fascist state under Benito Mussolini, whose regime (1922–1943) was allied with Germany in World War II. After the war, Italy was reconstituted as a republic (1946). Rome is the capital and largest city.