ITALY, WHERE EVERYTHING IS WONDERFUL AND UNIQUETHE ITALIAN CULTURE
ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO ENJOY YOUR VISIT IN ITALY
AND DON’T MISS OUT ON THE BEST THAT OUR COUNTRY HAS TO OFFER
- FASHION & DESIGN
- SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
- VISUAL ART
- CUISINE & MEAL STRUCTURE
- NATIONAL SYMBOLS
- UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Italy is considered one of the birthplaces of Western civilization and a cultural superpower. Italian culture is the culture of the Italians, a Romance ethnic group, and is incredibly diverse spanning the entirety of the Italian peninsula and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily. Italy has been the starting point of phenomena of international impact such as the Roman Republic, Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church, the Latin alphabet, the Maritime republics, Romanesque art, Scholasticism, the Renaissance, the Age of Discovery, Mannerism, the Opera, the Scientific revolution, the Baroque, Neoclassicism, the Risorgimento, the Futurism, Fascism, and European integration.
From the Middle Ages to the early modern period the region that is now Italy was divided into numerous 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 some 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, cinema, style, and iconic food. Italy was the birthplace of opera and for generations the language of opera was Italian. Italy had a huge presence in the development of Classical music, birthing Baroque music, many forms of musical composition such as the Symphony, the Sonata and the Concerto, as well as many important composers such as Claudio Monteverdi, Antonio Vivaldi, Gioachino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti, Vincenzo Bellini, Giuseppe Verdi, and Giacomo Puccini. Italy is known for its lively folk dances. Before being exported to France, the famous Ballet dance genre also originated in Italy. 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. Italian cinema is revered throughout the world. The art film has its origins in Italy. Spaghetti Westerns emerged with the release of Sergio Leone’s, A Fistful of Dollars, a genre consisting of films mostly produced and directed by Italians.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Monna Lisa, better know as “Gioconda”, is an Italian art masterpiece and one of the most famous artwork of the humanity.
The country boasts several world-famous cities. Rome was the ancient capital of the Roman Empire, seat of the Pope of the Catholic Church, capital of reunified Italy and artistic, cultural and cinematographic centre of world relevance. 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 and financial capital of Italy and one of the world’s fashion capitals. Venice, former capital of a major financial and maritime power from the Middle Ages to the early modern period, with its intricate canal system attracts tourists from all over the world especially during the Venetian Carnival and the Biennale. Naples, with the largest historic city centre in Europe and the oldest continuously active public opera house in the world (Teatro di San Carlo). Bologna is the main transport hub of the country, as well as the home of the oldest university in the world and of a worldwide famous cuisine.
Italy is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (58) 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). During its history, the nation has given birth to an enormous number of notable people who have made major contributions to the world.
Italian art has influenced several major movements throughout the centuries and has produced several great artists, including painters, architects and sculptors. Italy has an important place in the international art scene, with several major art galleries, museums and exhibitions; major artistic centers in the country include Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Turin, Genoa, Naples, Palermo, Lecce and other cities. Italy is home to 58 World Heritage Sites, the largest number of any country in the world.
Italy was the main centre of artistic developments throughout the Renaissance (1300–1600), beginning with the Proto-Renaissance of Giotto and reaching a particular peak in the High Renaissance of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael, whose works inspired the later phase of the Renaissance, known as Mannerism. Italy retained its artistic dominance into the 17th century with the Baroque (1600-1750). Cultural tourism and Neoclassicism (1750-1850) became a major prop to an otherwise faltering economy.
Michelangelo’s Cappella Sistina is one of the most famous cutural and artistic treasure of the Vatican City in Rome, inserted in the itinerary of the Vatican Museum. This masterpiece contains one of the most iconic images in the history of art: “the creation of man” with the famous touch between the fingers of man and God.
Italy is known for its considerable architectural achievements such as the construction of arches, domes and similar structures during ancient Rome, the founding of the Renaissance architectural movement in the late-14th to 16th centuries, and being the homeland of Palladianism, a style of construction which inspired movements such as that of Neoclassical architecture, and influenced the designs which noblemen built their country houses all over the world, notably in the UK, Australia and the US during the late 17th to early 20th centuries. 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.
The Christian concept of a Basilica, a style of church architecture that came to dominate the early Middle Ages, was invented in Rome. They were known for being long, rectangular buildings, which were built in an almost ancient Roman style, often rich in mosaics and decorations. 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 Romanesque movement, which went from approximately 800 AD to 1100 AD, was one of the most fruitful and creative periods in Italian architecture, when several masterpieces, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Piazza dei Miracoli, and the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio in Milan were built.
A flowering of Italian architecture took place during the Renaissance. Filippo Brunelleschi contributed to architectural design with his dome for the Cathedral of Florence, a feat of engineering that had not been accomplished since antiquity.
Italian modern and contemporary architecture refers to architecture in Italy during 20th and 21st centuries. During the Fascist period the so-called “Novecento movement” flourished, with figures such as Gio Ponti, Peter Aschieri, Giovanni Muzio. This movement was based on the rediscovery of imperial Rome. Marcello Piacentini, who was responsible for the urban transformations of several cities in Italy.
The St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City is a Roman Catholic Basilica located in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. A Masterpiece of Italian art and architecture and one of the symbol of Rome and Catholic religion worldwide. is the largest church in the World and the seat of the Pontiff and the Catholic Church.
The cinema of Italy comprises the films made within Italy or by Italian directors. Since its beginning, Italian cinema has influenced film movements worldwide. Italy is one of the birthplaces of art cinema and the stylistic aspect of film has been the most important factor in the history of Italian film.
The history of Italian cinema began a few months after the Lumière brothers began motion picture exhibitions. Director Federico Fellini, considered one of the most influential and widely revered filmmakers in the history of cinema, and Sergio Leone, widely regarded as one of the most influential directors in the history of cinema, are two of the most import directors of the world film history.
The aforementioned Cinecittà studio is today the largest film and television production facility in Europe where many international box office hits were filmed. More than 3,000 productions have been made on its lot, of which 90 received an Academy Award nomination and 47 of these won it, from some cinema classics to recent rewarded features (such as Roman Holiday, Ben-Hur, Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, The English Patient, The Passion of the Christ, and Gangs of New York).
The Venice International Film Festival, awarding the “Golden Lion” and held annually since 1932, is the oldest film festival in the world and one of the “Big Three” alongside Cannes and Berlin. The country is also famed for its prestigious David di Donatello. Italy is the most awarded country at the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, with 14 awards won, 3 Special Awards and 28 nominations. As of 2016, Italian films have also won 12 Palmes d’Or (the second-most of any country), 11 Golden Lions and 7 Golden Bears.
FASHION & DESIGN
Italian fashion has a long tradition. Milan, Florence and Rome are Italy’s main fashion capitals. Milan was declared as the “fashion capital of the world” by Global Language Monitor. Currently, Milan and Rome, annually compete with other major international centres, such as Paris, New York, London, and Tokyo.
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. Major Italian fashion labels, such as Gucci, Armani, Prada, Versace, Valentino, Dolce&Gabbana, Missoni, Fendi, Moschino, Max Mara, Trussardi, Benetton, and Ferragamo, to name a few, are regarded as among the finest fashion houses in the world.
Accessory and jewelry labels, such as Bulgari, Luxottica, Buccellati have been founded in Italy and are internationally acclaimed, and Luxottica is the world’s largest eyewear company. Also, the fashion magazine Vogue Italia, is considered one of the most prestigious fashion magazines 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. Italy is recognized as being a worldwide trendsetter and leader in design. Italy today still exerts a vast influence on urban design, industrial design, interior design, and fashion design worldwide. 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.
Milan is the Italian capital of fashion and design, it’s shopping and fashion districts are famous all over the World. In the center of the city, near Duomo, there is a luxury gallery which contains numerous high-end fashion stores and one of only two 7-star hotels in the World.
Formal Latin literature began in 240 BC, when the first stage play was performed in Rome. 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. In early years of the 13th century, St. Francis of Assisi was considered the first Italian poet by literary critics, with his religious song Canticle of the Sun.
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 Guido Cavalcanti and the Florentine poet Dante Alighieri, who established the basis of the modern Italian language; his greatest work, the Divine Comedy, is considered among the foremost literary statements produced in Europe during the Middle Ages. Two major writers of the 14th century, Petrarch and Giovanni Boccaccio, sought out and imitated the works of antiquity and cultivated their own artistic personalities. Petrarch achieved fame through his collection of poems, Il Canzoniere. Petrarch’s love poetry served as a model for centuries. Equally influential was Boccaccio’s The Decameron, one of the most popular collections of short stories ever written.
Italian Renaissance authors produced works including Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince, an essay on political science and modern philosophy in which the “effectual truth” is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal; Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, continuation of Matteo Maria Boiardo’s unfinished romance Orlando Innamorato; and Baldassare Castiglione’s dialogue The Book of the Courtier which describes the ideal of the perfect court gentleman and of spiritual beauty. The lyric poet Torquato Tasso in Jerusalem Delivered wrote a Christian epic in ottava rima, with attention to the Aristotelian canons of unity.
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.
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 works by Alessandro Manzoni, the leading Italian Romantic, are a symbol of the Italian unification for their patriotic message and because of his efforts in the development of the modern, unified Italian language; his novel The Betrothed was the first Italian historical novel to glorify Christian values of justice and Providence, and it has been called the most famous and widely read novel in the Italian language.
Giovanni Verga and Luigi Capuana were its main exponents. In the same period, Emilio Salgari, writer of action-adventure swashbucklers and a pioneer of science fiction, published his Sandokan series. In 1883, Carlo Collodi also published the novel The Adventures of Pinocchio, the most celebrated children’s classic by an Italian author and one of the most translated non-religious books in the world. A movement called Futurism influenced Italian literature in the early 20th century. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti wrote Manifesto of Futurism, called for the use of language and metaphors that glorified the speed, dynamism, and violence of the machine age.
Modern literary figures and Nobel laureates are Gabriele D’Annunzio from 1889 to 1910, nationalist poet Giosuè Carducci in 1906, realist writer Grazia Deledda in 1926, modern theatre author Luigi Pirandello in 1936, short stories writer Italo Calvino in 1960, poets Salvatore Quasimodo in 1959 and Eugenio Montale in 1975, Umberto Eco in 1980, and satirist and theatre author Dario Fo in 1997.
From folk music to classical, music is an intrinsic part of Italian culture. Instruments associated with classical music, including the piano and violin, were invented in Italy and many of the prevailing classical music forms, such as the symphony, concerto, and sonata, can trace their roots back to innovations of 16th- and 17th-century Italian music.
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. 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.
Italy’s most famous composers include the Renaissance composers Palestrina, Monteverdi and Gesualdo, the Baroque composers Scarlatti, Corelli and Vivaldi, the Classical composers Paisiello, Paganini and Rossini, and the Romantic composers Verdi and Puccini. Modern Italian composers such as Berio and Nono proved significant in the development of experimental and electronic music. While the classical music tradition still holds strong in Italy, as evidenced by the fame of its innumerable opera houses, such as La Scala of Milan and San Carlo of Naples (the oldest continuously active venue for public opera in the world) and performers such as the pianist Maurizio Pollini and tenor Luciano Pavarotti, Italians have been no less appreciative of their thriving contemporary music scene.
Italy is widely known for being the birthplace of opera. Italian opera was believed to have been founded in the early 17th century, in cities such as Mantua and Venice. La Scala operahouse in Milan is also renowned as one of the best in the world.
Italian pop music is represented annually with the Sanremo Music Festival, which served as inspiration for the Eurovision song contest, and the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto.
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. Gigliola Cinquetti, Toto Cutugno, and Måneskin have won the Eurovision Song Contest, in 1964, 1990, and 2021 respectively.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Through the centuries, Italy has fostered the scientific community that produced many major discoveries in physics and the other sciences. During the Renaissance Italian polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), Michelangelo (1475–1564) and Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) made contributions in a variety of fields, including biology, architecture, and engineering. Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), an astronomer, physicist, engineer, and polymath, played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. He is considered the “father” of observational astronomy, modern physics, the scientific method and modern science.
Other astronomers such as Giovanni Domenico Cassini (1625–1712) and Giovanni Schiaparelli (1835–1910) made discoveries about the Solar System. In mathematics, Joseph Louis Lagrange (born Giuseppe Lodovico Lagrangia, 1736–1813) was active before leaving Italy. Fibonacci (c. 1170 – c. 1250), and Gerolamo Cardano (1501–1576) made fundamental advances in mathematics. Physicist Enrico Fermi (1901–1954), a Nobel prize laureate, led the team in Chicago that developed the first nuclear reactor. He is considered the “architect of the nuclear age” and the “architect of the atomic bomb”.
Other prominent physicists include: Amedeo Avogadro (most noted for his contributions to molecular theory, in particular the Avogadro’s law and the Avogadro constant), Evangelista Torricelli (inventor of barometer), Alessandro Volta (inventor of electric battery), Guglielmo Marconi (inventor of radio), Galileo Ferraris and Antonio Pacinotti, pioneers of the induction motor, Alessandro Cruto, pioneer of light bulb and Innocenzo Manzetti, eclectic pioneer of auto and robotics, Ettore Majorana (who discovered the Majorana fermions), Carlo Rubbia (1984 Nobel Prize in Physics for work leading to the discovery of the W and Z particles at CERN). Antonio Meucci is known for developing a voice-communication device which is often credited as the first telephone. Pier Giorgio Perotto in 1964 designed one of the first desktop programmable calculators, the Programma 101.
In biology, Francesco Redi has been the first to challenge the theory of spontaneous generation by demonstrating that maggots come from eggs of flies and he described 180 parasites in details and Marcello Malpighi founded microscopic anatomy, Lazzaro Spallanzani conducted research in bodily functions, animal reproduction, and cellular theory, Camillo Golgi, whose many achievements include the discovery of the Golgi complex, paved the way to the acceptance of the Neuron doctrine, Rita Levi-Montalcini discovered the nerve growth factor (awarded 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine). In chemistry, Giulio Natta received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963 for his work on high polymers. Giuseppe Occhialini received the Wolf Prize in Physics for the discovery of the pion or pi-meson decay in 1947. Ennio de Giorgi, a Wolf Prize in Mathematics recipient in 1990, solved Bernstein’s problem about minimal surfaces and the 19th Hilbert problem on the regularity of solutions of Elliptic partial differential equations.
The art of sculpture in the Italian peninsula has its roots in ancient times. A significant development of this art occurred between the 6th century BC and 5th century AD during the growth of the Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, large sculpture was largely religious.
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. 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.
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.
Michelangelo’s David is a masterpiece of Renaissance and World art. An example of how the Italian Renaissance period raised the world level of art.
The history of Italian visual arts is significant to the history of Western painting. Since ancient times, Greeks, Etruscans and Celts have inhabited the south, centre and north of the Italian peninsula respectively. The very numerous rock drawings in Valcamonica are as old as 8,000 BC, and there are rich remains of Etruscan art.
Roman art was influenced by Greece and can in part be taken as a descendant of ancient Greek painting. Roman painting does have its own unique characteristics. Towards the middle of the 13th century, Medieval art and Gothic painting became more realistic, with the beginnings of interest in the depiction of volume and perspective in Italy with Cimabue and then his pupil Giotto. From Giotto onwards, the treatment of composition in painting became much more free and innovative.
The Italian Renaissance is said by many to be the golden age of painting; In Italy artists like Paolo Uccello, Fra Angelico, Masaccio, Piero della Francesca, Andrea Mantegna, Filippo Lippi, Giorgione, Tintoretto, Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Raphael, Giovanni Bellini, and Titian took painting to a higher level through the use of perspective, the study of human anatomy and proportion, and through their development of refined drawing and painting techniques.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the High Renaissance gave rise to a stylised art known as Mannerism. In the 17th century, among the greatest painters of Italian Baroque are Caravaggio, Annibale Carracci, Artemisia Gentileschi, Mattia Preti, Carlo Saraceni and Bartolomeo Manfredi. Subsequently, in the 18th century, Italian Rococo was mainly inspired by French Rococo, since France was the founding nation of that particular style, with artists such as Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Canaletto.
In the 19th century, major Italian Romantic painters were Francesco Hayez, Giuseppe Bezzuoli and Francesco Podesti. Impressionism was brought from France to Italy by the Macchiaioli, led by Giovanni Fattori, and Giovanni Boldini; Realism by Gioacchino Toma and Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo. In the 20th century, with Futurism, primarily through the works of Umberto Boccioni and Giacomo Balla, Italy rose again as a seminal country for artistic evolution in painting. Futurism was succeeded by the metaphysical paintings of Giorgio de Chirico, who exerted a strong influence on the Surrealists and generations of artists to follow like Bruno Caruso and Renato Guttuso.
Metaphysical painting is an Italian art movement, born in 1917 with the work of Carlo Carrà and Giorgio de Chirico in Ferrara. The word metaphysical, adopted by De Chirico himself, is core to the poetics of the movement. Novecento movement, group of Italian artists, formed in 1922 in Milan, that advocated a return to the great Italian representational art of the past.
The Last Supper (Ultima Cena) by Leonardo da Vinci is possibly one of the most famuos and iconic example of Italian art. Created by Leonardo, it contains messages and meanings that even today, centuries later, are discovered by raising the value of the work.
CUISINE & MEAL STRUCTURE
Italian cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine consisting of the ingredients, recipes and cooking techniques developed across the Italian Peninsula since antiquity, and later spread around the world together with waves of Italian diaspora. Italian cuisine includes deeply rooted traditions common to the whole country, as well as all the regional gastronomies, different from each other, especially between the north, the centre and the south of Italy, which are in continuous exchange. Many dishes that were once regional have proliferated with variations throughout the country. Italian cuisine offers an abundance of taste, and has influenced several other cuisines around the world, chiefly that of the United States.
One of the main characteristics of Italian cuisine is its simplicity, with many dishes made up of few ingredients, and therefore Italian cooks often rely on the quality of the ingredients, rather than the complexity of preparation. The most popular dishes and recipes, over the centuries, have often been created by ordinary people more so than by chefs, which is why many Italian recipes are suitable for home and daily cooking, respecting regional specificities, privileging only raw materials and ingredients from the region of origin of the dish and preserving its seasonality.
Italian cuisine speaks with highly inflected regional accents. There are certain self-consciously national constants: spaghetti with tomato sauce and pizza are highly common, but this nationalisation of culinary identity didn’t start to 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 eating the local foods.
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 Sardinia has traditionally looked to its hilly and mountainous interior with a cuisine centered on lamb, suckling pig, breads, and cheese.
Italy exports and produces the highest level of wine. As of 2005, 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. 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 – 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 – 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 but all over Italy. Italy also boasts an assortment of desserts.
The Christmas cakes pandoro and panettone are popular in the North 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. Tiramisù 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.
Italian meal structure is typical of the European Mediterranean region and differs from North, Central, and Eastern European meal structure, though it still often consists of breakfast (colazione), lunch (pranzo), and supper (cena).
Italian cuisine is one of the most popular and copied around the world.
Italian cuisin is recognized troughout the World for its taste, its ntritional content and its variety combined with excellent quality of the products and preparation. Elected as the best cuisine in the world, it boasts culinary and food and wine specialties that satisfy all tastes, from sweet to savoury, from appetizers to desserts through iconic dishes such as pasta, pizza, meat and fish accompanied by a variety of vegetables and cheeses with regional derivations and flavors unique, without forgetting wines, spirits and drinks famous all over the world such as espresso coffee.
People have visited Italy for centuries to study ancient architecture, local culture and to admire the natural beauties. Nowadays the factors of tourist interest in Italy are mainly culture, cuisine, history, fashion, architecture, art, religious sites and routes, wedding tourism, naturalistic beauties, nightlife, underwater sites and spas. Winter and summer tourism are present in many locations in the Alps and the Apennines, while seaside tourism is widespread in coastal locations along the Mediterranean Sea. Rome is the 3rd most visited city in Europe and the 12th in the world, with 9.4 million arrivals while Milan is the 27th worldwide with 6.8 million tourists. In addition, Venice and Florence are also among the world’s top 100 destinations.
Italian cultural heritage is the largest in the world since it consists of 75 percent of all the artistic assets that exist on each continent, with over 4,000 museums, 6,000 archaeological sites, 85,000 historic churches and 40,000 historic palaces, all subject to protection by the Italian Ministry of Culture. Italy is the leading cruise tourism destination in the Mediterranean Sea. With 65 million tourists per year Italy is the fifth most visited country in international tourism arrivals.
Among the most famous churches in Italy, the most iconic for its shape and unique style in the world, the Duomo is the symbol of Milan and it’s the only church in the world with the figure of the Madonna at the top, the only one to present a female figure on top and among the most beautiful existing churches. A popular song in dialect, known throughout the country and beyond, is dedicated to its Madonna protector.
National symbols of Italy are the symbols that uniquely identify Italy reflecting its history and culture. They are used to represent the Nation through emblems, metaphors, personifications, allegories, which are shared by the entire Italian people.
The three main official symbols whose typology is present in the symbology of all nations, are:
- the flag of Italy, that is, the national flag in green, white and red, as required by article 12 of the Constitution of the Italian Republic;
- the emblem of Italy, that is the iconic symbol identifying the Italian Republic;
- the Il Canto degli Italiani by Goffredo Mameli and Michele Novaro, the Italian national anthem, which is performed in all public events.
Of these only the flag is explicitly mentioned in the Italian Constitution; this normative insertion puts the flag under the protection of the law, making it possible criminal penalties for contempt of the same. The teaching in the schools of the Il Canto degli Italiani, the reflection on the Risorgimento events, and on the adoption of the Flag of Italy are prescribed by law n. 222 of 23 November 2012. There are also other symbols or emblems of Italy which, although not defined by law, are part of the Italian identity:
- the Italia turrita, that is the national personification of Italy in the appearance of a young woman with her head surrounded by a wall crown completed by towers (hence the term “turrita”);
- the cockade of Italy, or the national ornament of Italy, obtained by folding a green, white and red ribbon into plissé using the technique called plissage (“pleating”);
- the Italian wolf, which inhabits Apennine Mountains and the Western Alps, features prominently in Latin and Italian cultures, such as in the legend of the founding of Rome. It is unofficially considered the national animal of Italy.
- the national colours of Italy are green, white, and red, collectively known in Italian as il tricolore (the tricolour). In sport in Italy, savoy azure has been used or adopted as the colour for many national teams, the first being the men’s football team in 1910. The national auto racing colour of Italy is instead rosso corsa (“racing red”), while in other disciplines such as cycling and winter sports, which often use white.
- the strawberry tree, or the small tree chosen as a national tree because of its green leaves, its white flowers and its red berries, colors that recall the Italian flag;
- the Stella d’Italia, the most ancient identity symbol of Italian land, since it dates back to ancient Greece.
- the Frecce Tricolori, or the national aerobatic team of the Italian Air Force.
Public holidays celebrated in Italy include religious, national and regional observances. Italy’s National Day, the Festa della Repubblica (Republic Day) is celebrated on 2 June each year, with the main celebration taking place in Rome, and commemorates the birth of the Italian Republic in 1946. Liberation Day is a national holiday in Italy that commemorates the victory of the Italian resistance movement against Nazi Germany and the Italian Social Republic, puppet state of the Nazis and rump state of the fascists, in the Italian Civil War, a civil war in Italy fought during World War II which takes place on 25 April. National Unity and Armed Forces Day is an Italian national day since 1919 which commemorates the victory in World War I, a war event considered the completion of the process of unification of Italy. It is celebrated every 4 November, which is the anniversary of the armistice becoming effective in 1918 declaring Austria-Hungary’s surrender. The Anniversary of the Unification of Italy is a national day that falls annually on 17 March and celebrates the birth of Italy as modern nation state, which took place following the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy on 17 March 1861. The Tricolour Day, officially National Flag Day, is the flag day of Italy. Celebrated on 7 January.
Christmas in Italy (Italian: Natale) begins on 8 December, with the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the day on which traditionally the Christmas tree is mounted and ends on 6 January, of the following year with the Epiphany (in Italian: Epifania). The term “Natale” derives from the Latin natalis and the Greetings formulas in Italian are Buon Natale (Merry Christmas) and Felice Natale (Happy Christmas). The tradition of the nativity scene comes from Italy. What is considered the first nativity scene in history (a living nativity scene) was set up by St. Francis Of Assisi. In Italy, New Year’s Eve (Italian: Vigilia di Capodanno or Notte di San Silvestro) is celebrated by the observation of traditional rituals, such as wearing red underwear. An ancient tradition in southern regions which is rarely followed today was disposing of old or unused items by dropping them from the window. Dinner is traditionally eaten with relatives and friends. It often includes zampone or cotechino (a meal made with pig’s trotters or entrails), and lentils. At midnight, fireworks are displayed all across the country. Rarely followed today is the tradition that consist in eating lentil stew when the bell tolls midnight, one spoonful per bell. This is supposed to bring good fortune; the round lentils represent coins.
The Saint Lucy’s Day, which take place on 13 December, is popular among children in some Italian regions, where she plays a role similar to Santa Claus. In addition, the Epiphany in Italy is associated with the folkloristic figure of the Befana, a broomstick-riding old woman who, in the night between 5 and 6 January, bringing good children gifts and sweets, and bad ones charcoal or bags of ashes. The Assumption of Mary coincides with Ferragosto on 15 August, the summer vacation period which may be a long weekend or most of the month.
In Italy, a sagra (plural: sagre) is a popular festival of a local nature and annual frequency, which traditionally arises from a religious festival, celebrated on the occasion of a consecration or to commemorate a saint (usually the patron saint), but also used to celebrate the harvest or promote a food and wine product local. During a festival the local fair, the market and various celebrations usually take place. A sagra is often dedicated to some specific local food, and the name of the sagra includes that food. The Italian national patronal day, on 4 October, celebrates Saints Francis and Catherine. Each city or town also celebrates a public holiday on the occasion of the festival of the local patron saint for example: Rome on 29 June (Saints Peter and Paul), Milan on 7 December (Saint Ambrose), Naples on 19 September (Saint Januarius), Venice on 25 April (Saint Mark the Evangelist) and Florence on 24 June (Saint John the Baptist).
There are many traditional festivals in Italy like the Palio di Siena, a horse race. Where the Ambrosian rite is observed, that is, in most of the churches of the archdiocese of Milan and in some of the neighboring dioceses, the Carnival (Italian: Carnevale) ends on the first Sunday of Lent; the last day of carnival is Saturday, 4 days later than the Tuesday when it ends where the Roman rite is observed. Above all, the Carnival of Venice and the Carnival of Viareggio, but also the Carnival of Ivrea have a reputation that goes beyond national borders and are popular with tourists from both Italy and abroad.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites are places of importance to cultural or natural heritage as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972. Cultural heritage consists of monuments (such as architectural works, monumental sculptures, or inscriptions), groups of buildings, and sites (including archaeological sites). Natural features (consisting of physical and biological formations), geological and physiographical formations (including habitats of threatened species of animals and plants), and natural sites which are important from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty, are defined as natural heritage. Italy ratified the convention on June 23, 1978.
The first site in Italy, the Rock Drawings in Valcamonica, was listed at the 3rd Session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Cairo and Luxor, Egypt, in 1979. Italy is the country with the highest concentration in the world of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. As of 2021, Italy has a total of 58 inscribed sites, making it the country with the most World Heritage Sites just above China (56). Out of Italy’s 58 heritage sites, 53 are cultural and 5 are natural.
Among the most famous Italian UNESCO World Heritage Sites there are Sassi di Matera; Porto Venere, Palmaria, Tino, Tinetto and Cinque Terre; Val d’Orcia; Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna; Valle dei Templi; Alberobello; Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri and Tarquinia; Pompeii, Torre Annunziata and Herculaneum; Palmanova; Barumini nuraghes; Dolomites; Santa Maria delle Grazie and The Last Supper; Castel del Monte; Royal Palace of Caserta, Aqueduct of Vanvitelli and San Leucio Complex; Syracuse and Necropolis of Pantalica; Villa d’Este; Langhe-Roero and Montferrat; Aeolian Islands; Val di Noto; Amalfi Coast; Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/Bernina Landscapes; Aquileia; Duomo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa; Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale; Residences of the Royal House of Savoy; Parco Nazionale del Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni, Paestum, Velia and Certosa di Padula; Scrovegni Chapel.
Seven sites are transnational. The Historic Centre of Rome is shared with the Vatican; the Monte San Giorgio and Rhaetian Railway with Switzerland; the Venetian Works of Defence with Croatia and Montenegro; the Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps with 5 other countries; The Great Spa Towns of Europe with 6 other countries; and the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe are shared with 17 other countries.
Enjoy your visit in Italy.