Parution : Ali Humayun Akhtar, Italy and the Islamic World. From Caesar to Mussolini, Edinburgh University Press, 2024


Italy and the Islamic World
From Caesar to Mussolini

Ali Humayun Akhtar







Uncovers the Italian peninsula’s legacy as a bridge between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East

  • Traces the stories of families from the Italian peninsula as they navigated culture and conflict in the shared pursuit of commercial exchange
  • Analyses of the lives of the Pisans, Genoese, Venetians, Florentines, Livornans, the so-called Levantines (gli levantini), and the Risorgimento-era Italian citizens
  • Sheds lights on how present-day Europe, especially Italy, is still coming to terms with its past connections with the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia in debates about EU trade agreements, borders, immigration, politics and culture

Italy and the Islamic World tells the story of how Italian cities have been centres of international exchange for centuries, linking Europe with the most storied marketplaces of the Middle East and North Africa. From the Ancient Roman period and the Renaissance to the rise of the Italian Republic, Italy has been a global crossroads for more than two millennia. In Ali Humayun Akhtar’s new picture of European history, Italy’s debates about trade with its southern neighbours evoke an earlier era of encounters – one that sheds light on where the EU is heading today.

Beginning with the fall of Ancient Rome and the rise of the Papal State, Ali Humayun Akhtar traces the stories of merchants and diplomats among the peninsula’s Pisans, Genoese, Venetians, Florentines and Livornans as they navigated cultural difference in pursuit of commerce and adventure. Their stories offer a colourful picture of the connections between the peninsula and the Islamic world that survived the turmoil of Napoleon’s conquests and two World Wars. By the 20th century, following the Italian Unification (Risorgimento), Livorno and Cairo became cultural centres of Italian-speaking Roman Catholic, Greek and Jewish communities who navigated democratic revolutions and new discourses around nationhood.



  1. Italians in the East (Levante) and the Making of Modern Europe
  2. After Caesar: The Roman Empire and its Arabian Frontiers
  3. The Formation of the Papal State during the Early Caliphates
  4. A New Turn to Carthage (Tunisia) and the Start of the Crusades
  5. Pisan Trade Hubs from Seville to Crusader Syria
  6. Genoese Commerce across the Habsburg–Ottoman Mediterranean
  7. The Venetian Republic Turns Global
  8. Florentine Commerce and the Renaissance
  9. Livornans in North Africa during Italian Unification
  10. Italian Citizens between Rome and the East (Levante)
  11. The Last Levantines (Gli Italiani Levantini)

Epilogue: Memories of the Levant in Exile

Sources: Texts, Objects, Arts


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Chargé de diffusion scientifique (24 avril 2024). Parution : Ali Humayun Akhtar, Italy and the Islamic World. From Caesar to Mussolini, Edinburgh University Press, 2024. IISMM. Consulté le 13 juillet 2024 à l’adresse

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