I received the following in email:
"Something seldom mentioned when discussing ancient Rome is that Romans never referred to themselves as Italian any more than one mentions the Italian Empire. Italia and Roma have distinct meanings often seen from different poles. It is believed that the word Italia comes from an older word -- Vitulis -- which may mean 'sons of the bull god' or 'the bull king.' This was first limited to the southern part of the peninsula."
It prompted me to put up an article on competing possibilities for the origin of the name Italia
. Read: What Is the Etymology of Italia (Italy)?
Also see my review of Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin, by Nicholas Ostler