Italy is considered the birthplace of Western civilization and a cultural superpower. Italy has been the starting point of phenomena of international impact such as the Magna Graecia, the Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church, the Renaissance, the Risorgimento and the European integration. During its history, the nation gave birth to an enormous number of notable people.
Both the internal and external faces of Western culture were born on the Italian peninsula, whether one looks at the history of the Christian faith, civil institutions (such as the Senate), philosophy, law, art, science, or social customs and culture.
Italy was home to many well-known and influential civilizations, including the Etruscans, Samnites and the Romans, while also hosting colonies from important foreign civilizations like the Phoenicians and Greeks, whose influence and culture had a large impact through the peninsula. Etruscan and Samnite cultures flourished in Italy before the emergence of the Roman Republic, which conquered and incorporated them. Phoenicians and Greeks established settlements in Italy beginning several centuries before the birth of Christ, and the Greek settlements in particular developed into thriving classical civilizations. The Greek ruins in southern Italy are perhaps the most spectacular and best preserved anywhere.
For more than 2,000 years Italy experienced migrations, invasions and was divided into many independent states until 1861 when it became a nation-state. Due to this comparatively late unification, and the historical autonomy of the regions that comprise the Italian peninsula, many traditions and customs that are now recognized as distinctly Italian can be identified by their regions of origin. Despite the political and social isolation of these regions, Italy's contributions to the cultural and historical heritage of Europe and the world remain immense.
The famous elements of Italian culture are its art, music, style, and iconic food. Italy was the birthplace of opera, and for generations the language of opera was Italian, irrespective of the nationality of the composer. Popular tastes in drama in Italy have long favored comedy; the improvisational style known as the Commedia dell'arte began in Italy in the mid-16th century and is still performed today. Before being exported to France, the famous Ballet dance genre also originated in Italy.
The country boasts several world-famous cities. Rome was the ancient capital of the Roman Empire and seat of the Pope of the Catholic Church. Florence was the heart of the Renaissance, a period of great achievements in the arts at the end of the Middle Ages. Other important cities include Turin, which used to be the capital of Italy, and is now one of the world's great centers of automobile engineering. Milan is the industrial, financial and fashion capital of Italy. Venice, with its intricate canal system, attracts tourists from all over the world especially during the Venetian Carnival and the Biennale.
Italy is home to the greatest number of UNESCOWorld Heritage Sites (53) to date, and according to one estimate the country is home to half the world's great art treasures. Overall, the nation has an estimated 100,000 monuments of any sort (churches, cathedrals, archaeological sites, houses and statues).
Main article: Architecture of Italy
Architectural ruins from antiquity throughout Italy testify to the greatness of cultures past. The history of architecture in Italy is one that begins with the ancient styles of the Etruscans and Greeks, progressing to classical Roman, then to the revival of the classical Roman era during the Renaissance and evolving into the Baroque era. During the period of the Italian Renaissance it had been customary for students of architecture to travel to Rome to study the ancient ruins and buildings as an essential part of their education.
Old St. Peter's Church (begun about A.D. 330) was probably the first significant early Christian basilica, a style of church architecture that came to dominate the early Middle Ages. Old St. Peter's stood on the site of the present St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The first significant buildings in the medieval Romanesque style were churches built in Italy during the 800's. Several outstanding examples of the Byzantine architectural style of the Middle East were also built in Italy. The most famous Byzantine structure is the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice.
The greatest flowering of Italian architecture took place during the Renaissance. Filippo Brunelleschi made great contributions to architectural design with his dome for the Cathedral of Florence. Leon Battista Alberti was another early Renaissance architect whose theories and designs had an enormous influence on later architects.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of Italian Renaissance architecture was St. Peter's Basilica, originally designed by Donato Bramante in the early 16th century. Andrea Palladio influenced architects throughout western Europe with the villas and palaces he designed in the middle and late 16th century.
The Baroque period produced several outstanding Italian architects in the 17th century especially known for their churches. The most important architects included Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini. Numerous modern Italian architects, such as Renzo Piano, are famous worldwide.
Main article: Italian comics
The official birth of Italian comics is December 27, 1908, when the first issue of the Corriere dei Piccoli was published. Attilio Mussino has produced for this weekly a wide range of characters, including a little black child, Bilbolbul, whose almost surrealist adventures took place in a fantastic Africa.
In 1932 publisher Lotario Vecchi, had already begun publication of Jumbo magazine, using exclusively North American authors. The magazine reached a circulation of 350.000 copies in Italy, sanctioning comics as a mainstream medium with broad appeal. Vecchi moved to Spain three years later, bringing the same title.
In December 1932, the first Disney comic in Italy, Mickey Mouse, or Topolino in Italian, had been launched by the Florentine publisher Nerbini. The Disney franchise was then taken over by the Mondadori subsidiary, API, in 1935.
In 1945, Hugo Pratt while attending the Venice Academy of Fine Arts, created, in collaboration with Mario Faustinelli and Alberto Ongaro, Asso di Picche. Their distinctive approach to the art form earned them the name of Venetian school of comics.
In 1948 Gian Luigi Bonelli initiated a long and successful series of Western strips, starting with the popular Tex Willer. This comic would become the model for a line of publications centered around the popular comic book format that became known as Bonelliano, from the name of the publisher.
Some of the series that followed Tex Willer were Zagor (1961), Mister No (1975), and more recently, Martin Mystère (1982) and Dylan Dog (1986). These comic books presented complete stories in 100+ black-and-white pages in a pocket book format. The subject matter was always adventure, whether western, horror, mystery or science fiction. The Bonelliani are to date the most popular form of comics in the country.
Fashion and design
Main articles: Italian fashion and Italian design
The Italian fashion industry is one of the country's most important manufacturing sectors. The majority of the older Italian couturiers are based in Rome. However, Milan is seen as the fashion capital of Italy because many well-known designers are based there and it is the venue for the Italian designer collections.
Many of Italy's top fashion designers have boutiques that can be found around the world. Among the best-known and most exclusive names are Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino Garavani, Benetton, Fendi, Gucci, Versace, Moschino, and Prada. Accessory and jewelry labels, such as Bulgari and Luxottica are also internationally acclaimed, and Luxottica is the world's largest eyewear company.
Currently, Milan and Rome, annually compete with other major international centres, such as Paris, New York, London, and Tokyo. Also, the fashion magazine Vogue Italia is considered the most prestigious fashion magazine in the world.
Italy is also prominent in the field of design, notably interior design, architectural design, industrial design, and urban design. The country has produced some well-known furniture designers, such as Gio Ponti and Ettore Sottsass, and Italian phrases such as Bel Disegno and Linea Italiana have entered the vocabulary of furniture design. Examples of classic pieces of Italian white goods and pieces of furniture include Zanussi's washing machines and fridges, the "New Tone" sofas by Atrium, and the post-modern bookcase by Ettore Sottsass, inspired by Bob Dylan's song "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again".
Today, Milan and Turin are the nation's leaders in architectural design and industrial design. The city of Milan hosts the FieraMilano, Europe's biggest design fair. Milan also hosts major design and architecture-related events and venues, such as the Fuori Salone and the Salone del Mobile, and has been home to the designers Bruno Munari, Lucio Fontana, Enrico Castellani, and Piero Manzoni.
Main article: Italian literature
See also: Latin literature
Italian literature began after the founding of Rome in 753 BC. Roman, or Latin literature, was and still is highly influential in the world, with numerous writers, poets, philosophers, and historians, such as Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Virgil, Horace, Propertius, Ovid and Livy. The Romans were also famous for their oral tradition, poetry, drama and epigrams. Even though most of these were inspired from the Ancient Greeks, Roman epigrams were usually far more satyrical, sometimes using obscene language to give them an exciting effect. Most of the Roman epigrams were inscriptions or graffiti.
The basis of the modern Italian Literature in the Italian language, strictly speaking, begins with the early years of the 13th century. Among the influences at work in its formation must first be mentioned the religious revival wrought by St. Francis of Assisi. Therefore, it is considered the first "Italian voice" in literature.
Another Italian voice originated in Sicily. At the court of emperor Frederick II, who ruled the Sicilian kingdom during the first half of the 13th century, lyrics modeled on Provençal forms and themes were written in a refined version of the local vernacular. The most important of these poets was the notary Giacomo da Lentini, reputed to have invented the sonnet form.
Guido Guinizelli is considered the founder of the Dolce Stil Novo, a school that added a philosophical dimension to traditional love poetry. This new understanding of love, expressed in a smooth, pure style, influenced some Florentine poets, especially Guido Cavalcanti and the young Dante Alighieri. Dante's The Divine Comedy is a masterpiece of world literature, helped create the Italian literary language. Furthermore, the poet invented the difficult terza rima for his epic journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.
The two great writers of the 14th century, Petrarch and Boccaccio, sought out and imitated the works of antiquity and cultivated their own artistic personalities. Petrarch achieved fame through his collection of poems, the Canzoniere. Petrarch's love poetry served as a model for centuries. Equally influential was Boccaccio's Decameron, one of the most popular collections of short stories ever written.
Italian Renaissance authors produced a number of important works. Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince is one of the world's most famous essays on political science. Another important work of the period, Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, is perhaps the greatest chivalry poem ever written. Baldassare Castiglione's dialogue The Book of the Courtier describes the ideal of the perfect court gentleman and of spiritual beauty. The lyric poet Torquato Tasso in Jerusalem Delivered wrote a Christian epic, making use of the ottava rima, with attention to the Aristotelian canons of unity.
In the early 17th century, some literary masterpieces were created, such as Giambattista Marino's long mythological poem, L'Adone. The Baroque period also produced the clear scientific prose of Galileo as well as Tommaso Campanella's The City of the Sun, a description of a perfect society ruled by a philosopher-priest. At the end of the 17th century, the Arcadians began a movement to restore simplicity and classical restraint to poetry, as in Metastasio's heroic melodramas. In the 18th century, playwright Carlo Goldoni replaced Commedia dell'arte with full written plays, many portraying the middle class of his day.
The Romanticism coincided with some ideas of the Risorgimento, the patriotic movement that brought Italy political unity and freedom from foreign domination. Italian writers embraced Romanticism in the early 19th century. The time of Italy's rebirth was heralded by the poets Vittorio Alfieri, Ugo Foscolo, and Giacomo Leopardi. The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni, the leading Italian Romantic, was the first Italian historical novel to glorify Christian values of justice and Providence. In the late 19th century, a realistic literary movement called Verismo played a major role in Italian literature. Giovanni Verga was the leading author in this movement.
A movement called Futurism influenced Italian literature in the early 20th century. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti wrote The Futurist Manifesto. It called for the use of language and metaphors that glorified the speed, dynamism, and violence of the machine age. Among the Italian literary figures of the early 20th century, Gabriele d'Annunzio, Luigi Pirandello, and Grazia Deledda achieved international renown. Leading writers of the postwar era are Ignazio Silone, Alberto Moravia, Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Dario Fo, and the poets Salvatore Quasimodo and Eugenio Montale.
Main article: Cinema of Italy
The Italian film industry was born between 1903 and 1908 with three companies: the Roman Società Italiana Cines, the Ambrosio Film and the Itala Film in Turin. Other companies soon followed in Milan and in Naples.
The early Italian film industry became internationally known for its historical spectacles. But during the World War I, Italy like other European governments, diverted raw material from their film industries to military needs.
Few major motion pictures were produced during the 1920s and 1930s, but a renaissance of Italian filmmaking developed in the 1940s. At that time, a new generation of directors emerged. They included Vittorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini, and Luchino Visconti. The impact of the war led several of these directors to make movies that focused on society and its problems. This impulse resulted in the emergence of the first important postwar European film movement, Neorealism. Neorealist directors were concerned primarily with portraying the daily life of ordinary people. They mainly filmed on location rather than on a studio set, and they used mostly nonprofessional actors. These qualities gave Neorealist films a gritty, almost documentary look.
During the 1950s and 1960s, earthy comedies gained international success, due partly to the popularity of Italian movie stars Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, and Marcello Mastroianni. In the same years, Sergio Leone helped create a new film genre, ironically nicknamed the "Spaghetti Western", because they were made by Italian directors, either in Italy, Spain, or even in the famous Monument Valley Studios in the United States.
At the same time, a new group of directors won praise. The most significant were Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Vittorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini, and Luchino Visconti also continued to film major works. During the late 20th century, the leading Italian directors included Roberto Benigni, Marco Bellocchio, Bernardo Bertolucci, and the brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani.
Main article: Music of Italy
Music writing began in Italy. Therefore, Italian words are used to tell us how music is played. Consequently, all countries have adopted technical terms in their Italian form — a demonstration of the crucial role played by Italy, and in particular Florence, in the history of music.
From folk to classical, music has always played an important role in Italian culture. Having given birth to opera, for example, Italy provides many of the very foundations of the classical music tradition. Some of the instruments that are often associated with classical music, including the piano and violin, were invented in Italy, and many of the existing classical music forms can trace their roots back to innovations of 16th- and 17th-century Italian music (such as the symphony, concerto, and sonata).
Italian composers have played a major role in music since the Middle Ages. In the 11th century, Guido of Arezzo, an Italian monk, developed a revolutionary system of notation and method of sight-singing. The Gregorian chant, troubadour song, and the madrigal were forms in early Italian music.
During the Renaissance, Giovanni Palestrina composed masterpieces of choral music for use in church services. The first operas were composed in Florence in the 1590s. Opera emerged as an art form during the Baroque period. Claudio Monteverdi was the first great composer of Baroque opera in the early 17th century. Important composers of the late 17th century and early 18th century included Alessandro Scarlatti, his son Domenico, and Antonio Vivaldi. Alessandro became best known for his operas, Domenico for his keyboard compositions, and Vivaldi for his works for violin. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, popular operas were composed by Gioachino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini.
Today, the entire infrastructure that supports music as a profession is extensive in Italy, including conservatories, opera houses, radio and television stations, recording studios, music festivals, and important centers of musicological research. Musical life in Italy remains extremely active, but very Italian-centered and hardly international. The only main international Italian pop-singers include 1970s pop-diva Mina, who sold 76 million records worldwide in her lifetime, and singer Laura Pausini, who has sold 45 million albums.
La Scala opera house in Milan is renowned as one of the best in the world. There are other famous venues for opera, including San Carlo in Naples, La Fenice Theatre in Venice, and the Roman arena in Verona. Additionally, there are fifteen publicly owned theaters and numerous privately run ones in Italy. These theaters promote Italian and European plays as well as ballets. Famous Italian opera singers include Enrico Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli, to name a few.
Science and technology
Main article: Science and technology in Italy
The still-standing aqueducts, bathhouses, and other public works of both ancient republic and empire testify to the engineering and architectural skills of the Romans. The rebirth of science during the Renaissance brought the daring speculations of Leonardo da Vinci (including discoveries in anatomy, meteorology, geology and hydrology) advances in physics and astronomy by Galileo Galilei, and the development of the barometer by Evangelista Torricelli.
At the start of the 20th century, Guglielmo Marconi carried out experiments in electricity and developed the wireless, but he was preceded by Count Alessandro Volta, one of the pioneers of electricity, over 100 years earlier. By the end of the Second World War, Enrico Fermi's work in nuclear physics led to the development of both the atomic bomb and peaceful atomic applications. On September 25, 2001, US Congress passed a resolution that officially recognized the Florentine immigrant to the United States, Antonio Meucci, as the inventor of the telephone.
A brief overview of some other notable figures includes the astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, who made many important discoveries about the Solar System; the mathematicians Lagrangia, Fibonacci, and Gerolamo Cardano, whose Ars Magna is generally recognized as the first modern treatment on mathematics, made fundamental advances to the field; Marcello Malpighi, a doctor and founder of microscopic anatomy; the biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani, who conducted important research in bodily functions, animal reproduction, and cellular theory; the physician, pathologist, scientist, and Nobel laureate Camillo Golgi, whose many achievements include the discovery of the Golgi complex, and his role in paving the way to the acceptance of the Neuron doctrine.
The Italians love of automobiles and speed has made Italy famous for its production of many of the world's most famous sports cars and the industry that flourishes there. Some of the world's most elite vehicles were developed in Italy: Lamborghini, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati are but a few of the well-known luxury cars that originated in Italy.
See also: Roman sculpture
The art of sculpture in the Italian peninsula has its roots in ancient times. In the archaic period, when Etruscan cities dominated central Italy and the adjacent sea, Etruscan sculpture flourished. The name of an individual artist, Vulca, who worked at Veii, has been identified. He has left a terracotta Apollo and other figures, and can perhaps claim the distinction of being the most ancient master in the long history of Italian art.
A significant development of this art occurred between the 6th century BC and 5th century AD during the growth of the Roman Empire. The earliest Roman sculpture was influenced by the Etruscans to the north of Rome and by Greek colonists to the south. During the Empire period, the pure realism of the Republican period portrait busts was joined to Greek idealism. The result, evident in Augustus of Primaporta, was often a curious juxtaposition of individualized heads with idealized, anatomically perfect bodies in Classical poses.
During the Middle Ages, large sculpture was largely religious. Carolingian artists (named after Charlemagne's family) in northern Italy created sculpture for covers of Bibles, as decoration for parts of church altars, and for crucifixes and giant candlesticks placed on altars.
In the late 13th century, Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni began the revolutionary changes that led up to the Renaissance in Italian sculpture, drawing influences from Roman sarcophagi and other remains. Both are noted for their reliefs and ornamentation on pulpits. The Massacre of the Innocents by Giovanni Pisano is an example.
The greatest sculptor of the early Renaissance was Donatello. In 1430, he had produced a bronze statue of David, which reestablished the classical idea of beauty in the naked human body. Conceived fully in the round and independent of any architectural surroundings, it was the first major work of Renaissance sculpture. Among the other brilliant sculptors of the 15th century were Jacopo della Quercia, Michelozzo, Bernardo and Antonio Rossellino, and Agostino di Duccio.
Michelangelo's great brooding sculptures, such as the figures of Night and Day in the Medici Chapel in Florence, dominated High Renaissance Italian sculpture. His David, is perhaps, the most famous sculpture in the world. It differs from previous representations of the subject in that David is depicted before his battle with Goliath and not after the giant's defeat. Instead of being shown victorious over a foe much larger than he, David looks tense and ready for combat.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini was the most important sculptor of the Baroque period. He combined emotional and sensual freedom with theatrical presentation and an almost photographic naturalism. Bernini's saints and other figures seem to sit, stand, and move as living people — and the viewer becomes part of the scene. This involvement of the spectator is a basic characteristic of Baroque sculpture. One of his most famous works is Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.
The Neoclassical movement arose in the late 18th century. The members of this very international school restored what they regarded as classical principles of art. They were direct imitators of ancient Greek sculptors, and emphasized classical drapery and the nude. The leading Neoclassical artist in Italy, was Antonio Canova, who like many other foreign neoclassical sculptors including Bertel Thorvaldsen was based in Rome. His ability to carve pure white Italian marble has seldom been equaled. Most of his statues are in European collections, but the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City owns important works, including Perseus and Cupid and Psyche.
In the 20th century, many Italians played leading roles in the development of modern art. Futurist sculptors tried to show how space, movement, and time affected form. These artists portrayed objects in motion, rather than their appearance at any particular moment. An example is Umberto Boccioni's Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.
Main article: Commedia dell'arte
See also: Theatre of ancient Rome
Italian theatre can be traced back into the Roman which was heavily influenced by the Greek tradition, and, as with many other literary genres, Roman dramatists tended to adapt and translate from the Greek. For example, Seneca's Phaedra was based on that of Euripides, and many of the comedies of Plautus were direct translations of works by Menander.
Opposition from the early church was one of the reasons for the decline of the Roman theater that began in the 4th century AD. Early Christians saw a connection between theatre and pagan religions, and the church fathers argued that the evil characters portrayed onstage taught immorality. For this reason, large theatrical performances disappeared after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
Ironically, the earliest recorded drama in all parts of Western Europe was the Liturgical drama of the Church. In fact, during the medieval period, the Church began to act out particular Bible passages. These dramatizations grew into staged Christmas and Easter stories so that the illiterate masses could understand the Latin liturgy. Regions in France, Germany, and England showed the most activity of Liturgical drama. The Catholic Church thus made a more concerted effort to utilize drama and theatre in the propagation of the gospel.
During the 16th century and on into the 18th century Commedia dell'arte was a form of improvisational theatre, although it is still performed today. Travelling teams of players would set up an outdoor stage and provide amusement in the form of juggling, acrobatics, and, more typically, humorous plays based on a repertoire of established characters with a rough storyline, called canovaccio.
Italian theatre has been active in producing outstanding contemporary European work and in staging important revivals, although no native playwright has produced works that can rival those of Luigi Pirandello from the early 20th century. In the late 20th century Dario Fo received international acclaim for his highly improvisational style.
Main article: Italian art
The history and development of art in Western culture is grounded in hundreds of years of Italian history. In Ancient Rome, Italy was the centre for art and architecture. There were many Italian artists during the Gothic and Medieval periods, and the arts flourished during the Italian Renaissance. Later styles in Italy included Mannerism, Baroque, and Macchiaioli. Futurism developed in Italy in the 20th century. Florence, Venice and Rome, in particular, are brimming with art treasures in museums, churches, and public buildings.
The Italian Renaissance produced many of the greatest painters in art history. They were all influenced by the work of Giotto di Bondone in the late 13th century. One of the most influential artists who ever lived, Giotto changed the course of Western art by painting in a new realistic style.
Florence became the center of early Renaissance art. The great Florentine masters of painting included Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Andrea Mantegna, Sandro Botticelli, and Paolo Uccello. The greatest artist of the 15th century was probably Leonardo da Vinci. His portrait Mona Lisa and his religious scene The Last Supper are among the most famous paintings in history.
The later Renaissance was dominated by Raphael and Michelangelo. Raphael painted balanced, harmonious pictures that expressed a calm, noble way of life. Michelangelo achieved greatness both as a painter and sculptor. In Venice, a number of artists were painting richly colored works during the 16th century. The most famous Venetian masters included Giorgione, Titian, and Tintoretto.
Italian painters dominated the Baroque period. Annibale Caracci and Caravaggio were the most important early Baroque painters. Caracci is also credited with the invention of caricature, a visual version of parody.
In the 20th century, many Italians played leading roles in the development of modern art. Giorgio de Chirico gained fame for his haunting paintings of empty city squares. Amedeo Modigliani won renown with a series of portraits.
Main article: Italian cuisine
Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, it has its roots in ancient Rome.Artichokes, peas, lettuce, parsley, melons, and apples, as well as wine and cheese, many kinds of meat, and grains were all enjoyed by ancient Romans. For feasts Roman cooks used many spices, developed recipes for cheesecake and omelets, and roasted all types of meat. From this noble beginning a sophisticated and flavorful cuisine has emerged. Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World and the introduction of potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize, now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century.
Italian cuisine, like other facets of the culture, speaks with highly inflected regional accents. There are certain self-consciously national constants: you can find spaghetti with tomato sauce and pizza pretty much everywhere, but this nationalisation of culinary identity didn't really take hold until after the Second World War, when southern immigrants flooded to the north in search of work, and even those classics vary from place to place; small enclaves still hold fast to their unique local forms of pasta and particular preparations. Classics such as Pasta e fagioli, while found everywhere, are prepared differently according to local traditions. Gastronomic explorations of Italy are best undertaken by knowing the local traditions and savouring the local foods on the spot.
Northern Italy, mountainous in many parts, is notable for the alpine cheeses of the Valle d'Aosta, the pesto of Liguria, and, in Piedmonte, the Alba truffle. In the Alto Adige, the influence of neighboring Austria may be found in a regional repertoire that includes speck and dumplings. In the north, risotto and polenta have tended to serve the staple function taken by pasta across the rest of the country. Italy's center includes the celebrated culinary regions of Tuscany — famous for its olive oil and bean dishes — and Emilia-Romagna — home of prosciutto di Parma,parmigiano-reggiano, and ragù — the latter now produced (and traduced) worldwide as spaghetti alla bolognese. Southern Italy includes the hearty food of Lazio in which meat and offal frequently figure, but also the vegetable-focused fare of Basilicata, historically one of Italy's poorest regions. The islands of Sicily and Sardinia have distinctively different foodways. The former is notable for its many sweet dishes, seafood, and citrus fruit, while Sardinian cuisine has traditionally looked to its hilly interior with a cuisine centered on lamb, sucking pig, breads, and pecorino sardo. It is in the food of Naples and Campania, however, that many visitors would recognize the foods that have come to be regarded as quintessentially Italian: pizza, spaghetti with tomato sauce, aubergine parmigiana (but the origins of the two last dishes are claimed by Sicily).
Also, Italy exports and produces the highest level of wine, exporting over 2.38 million tonnes in 2011. As of 2005[update], Italy was responsible for producing approximately one-fifth of the world's wine. Some Italian regions are home to some of the oldest wine-producing traditions in the world. Etruscans and Greek settlers produced wine in the country long before the Romans started developing their own vineyards in the 2nd century BC. Roman grape-growing and winemaking was prolific and well-organized, pioneering large-scale production and storage techniques like barrel-making and bottling. Famous and traditional Italian wines include Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, Corvina, Dolcetto and Nero d'Avola, to name a few.
The country is also famous for its gelato, or traditional ice-cream often known as Italian ice cream abroad. There are gelaterias or ice-cream vendors and shops all around Italian cities, and it is a very popular dessert or snack, especially during the summer. Sicilian granitas, or a frozen dessert of flavored crushed ice, more or less similar to a sorbet or a snow cone, are popular desserts not only in Sicily or their native towns of Messina and Catania, but all over Italy (even though the Northern and Central Italian equivalent, the gratta checca, commonly found in Rome or Milan is slightly different from the traditional granita siciliana). Italy also boasts an assortment of desserts. The Christmas cakes pandoro and panettone are popular in the North (pandoro is from Verona, whilst panettone is milanese), however, they have also become popular desserts in other parts of Italy and abroad. The Colomba Pasquale is eaten all over the country on Easter day, and is a more traditional alternative to chocolate easter eggs. Tiramisu is a very popular and iconic Italian dessert from Veneto which has become famous worldwide. Other Italian cakes and sweets include cannoli, the cassata siciliana, fruit-shaped marzipans and panna cotta.
Coffee, and more specifically espresso, has become highly important to the cuisine of Italy. Cappuccino is also a famous Italian coffee drink, which is usually sweeter and less dark than espresso, and can be served with foam or cream on top, on which chocolate powder and sugar is usually sprinkled. Caffelatte is a mixture of coffee and milk, and is usually drunk at breakfast time (unlike most other Italian coffee-types, children and adults drink it alike, since it is lighter and more milky than normal coffee). The Bicerin is Turin's own coffee. It is a mix between cappuccino and normal hot chocolate, and is made with equal amounts of drinking chocolate, coffee and a slight addition of milk and creamy foam.
Main article: Education in Italy
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The country I picked to do my report on was Italy. Italy, officially the
Italian Republic, is an independent nation in southern Europe. The word
"Italy" comes from the ancient Oscan language and means "Calf". Italy is a
fairly small, important mediteranean country of about 116,328 square miles.
Its capital city "Rome" is both the industrial center as well as the cultural
center of Italy. Romes current population is about 2,786,307 people. With
the countries over all population estimated at 57,904,628 people, at a density
of 498 people per square mile. 72% of these people living in urban areas,
while 28% of the population resides in rural areas. Some of Italy's major
imports include industrial raw materials, petroleum, meat, and cereal grains.
The principal exports are manufactured goods and craft items, along with
fruits and vegetables. Italy usually suffers a trade deficit, but the difference
is partly offset by its large and profitable tourist industry and by money sent
by Italian citizens working abroad. Italy is a country far from being land-
locked, with 9 major ports including Genoa, Trieste, Taranto, Venice,
Savona, and Naples. Italy has been historically important since Roman times,
and millions of tourists are attracted each year to its ancient cities and art
treasures. Modern Italy is an important industrial nation and a leading
member of the european community, also known as the "EC". Italy's
principal trading partners are other members of the EC, especially Germany
Italy's government was originally a republic, then was a monarchy,
then a republic, then a monarchy. It was reverted back to a republic for a
final time in 1946. According to the constitution, executive power lies with
the cabinet, and legislative powers are vested in a parliament consisting of a
630-member chamber of deputies and a 315-member senate. Except for a
few life members of the senate (including former presidents and some
prominent citizens nominated by the president), both houses are elected
directly by universal adult suffrage for 5-year terms unless dismissed earlier.
The president of the republic is head of state and is elected to a renewable 7-
year term by a joint session of Parliament and three delegates from each of
the regional legislatures. Executive power rests with the council of ministers
headed by the prime minister appointed by the president. The principal
political party is the Christian Democratic party, which has led or
participated in every government since 1945. Other major parties are the
Democratic Party of the Left (the former Communist party) and the Socialist
party. Smaller political groups include the Social Democrats, the
Republicans, the Greens, the Liberals, and the neo-Fascist Italian Social
Movement. THE END
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