The article discusses some issues that have emerged along with the increasing specialization of scholarship in Italian history, with particular attention to the studies that investigated the early modern age. Up to a not too distant past, the various definitions of the "national canon" were related to the unification of the country as a necessary consequence of a remote cultural imprint. Evaluating these canons leads to a confrontation with the various meanings attributed to "modernity", "modernization" and "European canon". These are open questions, full of implications in the present.
Keywords: composite state, ancient Italian states, modern age, ancient regime, modernization, modernity.