Italy before 1492 was the center of the world commerce, great harbours that fed Europe with East products.
The Mediterranean at that time was the world.
Ironically America was discovered by an Italian, Cristoforo Colombo, with the effort to reach the East going west and making the trip easier and cheaper.
What he did was transforming the world economy and the actors in it.
England, Holland, Portugal were the winners.
The Mediterranean harbours lost importance, because not on the Atlantic, where the economical theater was.
Till the half of the 20th century the center of the economical world was the Atlantic, where US grew as inperialistic nation.
Japan was the beginning of the end.
China will give the ultimate stroke.
Now the world economy has widened, adding new oceans and seas, in which US cannot rule.
In its last efforts to dominate a lost empire is trying to rule the Mediterranean and the Persic gulf.
This is NOT the beginning of the end,it is the end of the end.