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HISTORY OF ROME, FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TO THE FALL OF THE WESTERN EMPIRE, A. D. 476.
GEOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF ITALY.
1. ITALY, bounded by the Alps, and the Adriatic, Ionian, and Tyrrhe’nian seas, is the smallest of the three peninsulas of southern Europe. It is inferior to Greece in the number of its harbors and littoral islands, but excels it in the richness and extent of its plains and fertile mountainsides, being thus better fitted for agriculture and the rearing of cattle than for maritime interests. Still, from its long and narrow shape, Italy has an extended coast-line; the slopes of the Apennines abounded, in ancient times, with forests of oak suitable for ship-timber; and the people, especially of Etruria, were early attracted to the sea.
2. The Alps, which separate Italy from the rest of Europe, have had an important effect upon her history. At present they are traversed securely by less than a dozen roads, which are among the wonders of modern engineering. In early times they formed a usually effectual barrier against the barbarous nations on the north and west. The Apennines leave the Alpine range near the present boundary between Italy and France, and extend in a south-easterly and southerly direction to the end of the peninsula, throwing off lateral ridges on both sides to the sea, and forming that great variety of surface and climate which is the peculiar charm of the country. A multitude of rivers contribute vastly to the fertility of the soil, though, from their short and rapid course, they are of little value for navigation. Varro preferred the climate of Italy to that of Greece, as producing in perfection every thing good for the use of man. No barley could be compared with the Campa'nian, no wheat with the Apulian, no rye with the Faler nian, no oil with the Vena'fran.
3. NORTHERN ITALY lies between the Swiss Alps and the Upper Apennines, and is almost covered by the great plain of the Po, which is one of the most fertile regions of Europe. It comprised, in the most