Italy in the 16th century
In the 16th century, Italy was divided up into a number of states, some ruled over by dukes, or by princes, or like how in Florence it was ruled by the very wealthy Medici family, who were merchants. Italian people would have thought of themselves as citizens of particular cities, instead of being members of the Italian nation.
The great cities were thriving merchant cities, and a lot of people would have been involved in trade and commerce. Businesses in those days tended to be family affairs, with wives and children participating in the family trade. Wives would often be left to run a business while their husbands were away.
A lot of people of course did not live in cities and would be farmers, working on the land. Often merchant families in the cities would also own farms which would provide them with their own food like, wheat, vegetables, fruit, eggs, wine, and of course olive oil, which was important in Italy then as it is now.
In the early 16th century, some of the most famous Italian artists were at the height of their powers, like Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Raphael, and Michaelangelo. It was a period of major creativity and originality.
The mid-16th century was the era of the counter-Reformation, when Catholics wanted to counter the threat from Protestantism by making reforms in the Catholic church. New religious orders like the Jesuits were formed to spread the Catholic religion overseas.
During the 16th century, Italy became one of the most influential musical centers of Europe, mostly because of a characteristic style of music from the Venetian school and the development of the Venetian polychoral style under composers such as Adrian Willaert, who worked at San Marco. By the end of the century, Venice was famous for the beauty of its music.