It's very possible that on the Roman fields of war there were Cane Corsos. (Say: kah-NAy KOR-so.) The jury is out on the true origins and travels of the breed, but it's true that they're a variant of mastiff that springs solidly from Italian farm country from way back. They're also called the "Cane di Macellaio," and the "Italian Molosso." Not for nothing does that rhyme with "colosso," as you may gather from a few photos. I suggest this Flickr group.
Till recently there weren't many left. Luckily, they had fans (and Italians know a fine thing when they see it, right?). Some of that renaissance is told in this article found at The Friends of Cane Corso. A more detailed version of the dog's longer history here.
They are clearly a breed of imposing presence and soulful personality.