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Italy: Culture and History

World  (tags: Italy, people, places, travel )

- 1549 days ago -
Italy is a country that's located in the southern part of Europe. It consists of several land areas as well as mainland. Italy's capital, Rome is situated at the central-western part of the Italian peninsula.

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Kit B (276)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 8:34 am
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Italy is a country that's located in the southern part of Europe. It consists of several land areas as well as mainland. Italy's capital, Rome is situated at the central-western part of the Italian peninsula. It is the largest and most populated city in Italy, consisting of over 2,7 million residents and known for the location of majorities of hotels in Italy.

---5 Facts You Might Not Know

1) Being one of the oldest countries in the world, with the highest number of cultural sites and museums consisting of over 3000, Italy's population as of 2009 measures approximately 60 million. Italy's capital, Rome is almost 3,000 years old, making it one of the oldest cities in the world.

2) With approximately 50 million visitors every year, Italy is recognized as the 4th most sightseeing country in the world. Italy's land mass measures about 301,230 square kilometers of which 294,020 square kilometer is occupied by land, while the remaining 7,120 square kilometer is occupied by water. Italy comprises of religions such as Roman Catholic, Jews, Protestants and Islamic religion. However, 87,8% of Italian associate themselves as Roman Catholic.

3) The languages spoken in Italy are Italian, English, French, German and Slovene. However, Italian language is the official language spoken. The Italian flag comprises of three colors: green, white and red which represents hope, faith and charity.

4) The ice cream cone, the espresso machine, the thermometer, the typewriter and the eyeglasses originated from Italy. Italy experiences natural disasters like volcanoes and earth quakes more than any other European country. The symbol 'SPQR' which stands for 'the senate and people of Rome' can be found on several ancient buildings in Rome.

5) Italy was united as a nation in the year 1861. The University of Rome is one of the most ancient universities on earth; it was founded in 1303 A.D. by the Catholic Church. The accepted currency in Italy is the euro, which was introduced to member countries on the 1st of January 1999 by the European monetary union, and later became the only currency in Italy for every day transaction on the 1st of January 2002.
History and Culture

The Romans used the name Italia to refer to the Italian peninsula. Additionally, Italy has been invaded and settled by many different peoples. Etruscans in Tuscany preceded the Romans and Umbria, while Greeks settled the south. Jews entered the country during the period of the Roman republic, and Germanic tribes came after the fall of Rome. Mediterranean peoples (Greeks, North Africans, and Phoenicians) entered the south. The Byzantine Empire ruled the southern part of the peninsula for five hundred years, into the ninth century. Sicily had many invaders, including Saracens, Normans, and Aragonese. In 1720, Austrians ruled Sicily and at about the same time controlled northern Italy. There is a continuing ethnic mixing.

Location and Geography.
Italy is in south central Europe. It consists of a peninsula shaped like a high–heeled boot and several islands, encompassing 116,300 square miles (301,200 square kilometers). The most important of the islands are Sicily in the south and Sardinia in the northwest. The Mediterranean Sea is to the south, and the Alps to the north. A chain of mountains, the Apennines, juts down the center of the peninsula. The fertile Po valley is in the north. It accounts for 21 percent of the total area; 40 percent of Italy's area, in contrast, is hilly and 39 percent is mountainous. The climate is generally a temperate Mediterranean one with variations caused by the mountainous and hilly areas.

Emergence of the Nation.
It was not until the middle of the nineteenth century that Italy as we know it today came to be. Until that time, various city-states occupied the peninsula, each operating as a separate kingdom or republic.

Forces for Italian unification began to come together with the rise of Victor Emmanuel to the throne of Sardinia in 1859. That year, after the French helped defeat the Austrians, who had come to rule regions through the Habsburg Empire, Victor Emmanuel's prime minister, Count de Cavour of Sardinia, persuaded the rest of Italy except the Papal States to join a united Italy under the leadership of Victor Emmanuel in 1859. In 1870 Cavour managed to be on the right side when Prussia defeated France and Napoleon III, the Pope's protector, in the Franco-Prussian War. On 17 March 1861, Victor Emmanuel of Sardinia was crowned as king of Italy. Rome became the capital of the new nation.

Italy's history is long and great. The Etruscans were the first major power in the Italian peninsula and Italy was first united politically under the Romans in 90 B.C.E. After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the fifth century C.E. , Italy became merely a "geographic expression" for many centuries. Chaos followed the fall of the Roman Empire. Charlemagne restored order and centralized government to northern and central Italy in the eight and ninth centuries. Charlemagne brought Frankish culture to Italy, and under the Franks, the Church of Rome gained much political influence. The popes were given a great deal of autonomy and were left with control over the legal and administrative system of Rome, including defense.

The Carolingian line became increasingly weak and civil wars broke out, weakening law and order. Arabs invaded the mainland from their strongholds in Sicily and North Africa. In the south, the Lombards claimed sovereignty, where they established a separate government, until they were replaced by the Normans in the eleventh century.

City governments, however, had profited from Carolignian rule and remained vibrant centers of culture. Local families strengthened their hold on the rural areas and replaced Carolingian rulers. Italy had become difficult to rule from a central location. It had become a collection of city–states.

Political Life

Italy is a republic with twenty regions under the central government. In 1861, the Italian states were unified under a monarch. The republic was formed on 2 June 1946 and on 1 January 1948, the republic's constitution was proclaimed. There are three branches of government: executive, judicial, and legislative. The legal system is a combination of civil and ecclesiastical law. The system treats appeals as new trials. There is a Constitutional Court that has the power of judicial review. A chief of state (the president) and a head of government (the prime minister) head the executive branch. There have been numerous changes of government since the end of World War II. There are two houses in the parliament: the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Both houses have elected and appointed members chosen through a complicated system of proportional representation and appointed. Voters must be 25 years old to vote for senators but only 18 in all other elections.

Leadership and Political Officials. Italy has been plagued with too many political parties and, in some sense, every Italian is his or her own political party. Recent reforms have not ended the problem. New parties have grown from combinations or alliances of a number of parties. The major parties are Olive Tree, Freedom Pole, Northern League, Communism Refoundation, Italian Social Movement, Pannella–Sgarbi's List, Italian Socialist, Autonomous List, and Southern Tyrol's List. The Olive Tree is the party of the democrat left. The Freedom Pole is the party of the right to center. Other parties occupy various positions on the political spectrum. There are certain rules of respect toward those in power. Presents are usually given, and support is promised in return. People approach those in power through intermediaries.

Food in Daily Life.
Food is a means for establishing and maintaining ties among family and friends. No one who enters an Italian home should fail to receive an offering of food and drink. Typically, breakfast consists of a hard roll, butter, strong coffee, and fruit or juice. Traditionally, a large lunch made up the noon meal. Pasta was generally part of the meal in all regions, along with soup, bread, and perhaps meat or fish. Dinner consisted of leftovers. In more recent times, the family may use the later meal as a family meal. The custom of the siesta is changing, and a heavy lunch may no longer be practical.

There are regional differences in what is eaten and how food is prepared. In general, more veal is found in the north, where meals tend to be lighter. Southern cooking has the reputation of being heavier and more substantial than northern cooking.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions.
There are special foods for various occasions. There is a special Saint Joseph's bread, Easter bread with hard–boiled eggs, Saint Lucy's "eyes" for her feast day, and the Feast of the Seven Fishes for New Year's Eve. Wine is served with meals routinely.

Basic Economy.
Only about 4 percent of the gross national product comes from agriculture. Wheat, vegetables, fruit, olives, and grapes are grown in sufficient quantities to feed the population. Meat and dairy products, however, are imported.

Medicine and Health Care

Italy was a pioneer in modern health care with its medieval centers for medical study. Although modern Italy has a number of modern doctors and health specialists, it has had a history of healers and potion–makers. There was a prevalent belief, for example, in people having "healing hands." These people, it was felt, could heal soreness and broken bones by touch and manipulation. Others could cause disease through incantations or spells. Various faith healers practiced their arts.

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Kit B (276)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 8:37 am

To find a reasonably short video I had to use a travel site. This video will show many of the highlights of Italy and does not run 30 to 45 minutes. Italy is a large country with numerous places and features that a traveler will want to see, so most videos run at at a length that people generally may not want.
Enjoy your Italian vacation.

Alexandra G (250)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 9:23 am
interesting, thanks

Past Member (0)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 10:11 am
By far one of the most beautiful countries in the world with fabulous food goodies! Love Tuscany+the Amalfi Coast. I'd love to see Sicily. Thx Kit

Wolfgang W (235)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 12:48 pm
Thank you for the dinner.

Nicole W (646)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 1:10 pm
grazie cara mia Kit

Robert O (12)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 1:30 pm
It's a beautiful and interesting country with a fascinating history. I'd love to visit one day and see some of the friends I have there. Thanks Kit.

Arielle S (313)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 1:46 pm
Always wanted a culinary tour of the world - I do believe I'd start in Italy....

Caroline S (78)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 1:49 pm
I'd love to visit one day!!!!

Janice D (85)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 2:00 pm
Noted Grazie Kit ! My family members & friends who have visited all had a great time & I can't wait to visit .

Vallee R (280)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 2:16 pm
Love it Kit - especially the ice cream cones - but could leave the earthquakes - had enough of that in Los Angeles.

Barbara K (60)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 3:03 pm
Thank you, my friend, for the beautiful vacation in Italy. What a beautiful country. On my Some Day list.

Rose B (141)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 3:31 pm

Angelika R (143)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 3:57 pm
Mille grazie Kit! Oh my, there would be soo much one could say about Italy in addition to the above. We need not point out the pope or Berlusconi, nor pizza and spaghetti. Neither Ferrari or formula 1, or the Vesuvio vulcano; there's just really too much about Bella Italia. Once Germany's number 1 holiday destination and we still refer to it as the Stiefel (boot)
BTW, Tuscany is the favorite resort region for a number of German Bundestag members and ranking politicians.

JL A (281)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 5:53 pm
Thanks Kit--I've always been amazed by how little harm antiquity suffered in Italy from the World Wars compared to so many other nations.

Kerstin Strobl (371)
Monday March 24, 2014, 4:09 am
Thank you Kit for sharing, I love Italy

Past Member (0)
Monday March 24, 2014, 4:23 am
Interesting, Thanks

Angelika R (143)
Monday March 24, 2014, 6:17 am
welcome back spammers :-// seems like after that maintenance break the stuff is back in full speed..(flagged)

. (0)
Monday March 24, 2014, 9:33 am
I've always preferred the South of Germany and France, Switzerland and Northern Italy.

Terrie Williams (798)
Monday March 24, 2014, 12:37 pm
Milli grazi! I lived in Rome and Naples for two years, I really miss Italy.

Terrie Williams (798)
Monday March 24, 2014, 12:38 pm
PS: I flagged the *&(%^&^$%^#$%^#^(+_)_(*)(*(^&^%&*$% SPAMMER.

Pat B (356)
Monday March 24, 2014, 2:31 pm
Enjoyed reading the facts before I left to go...that helped me with the travel plans. Wonderful sights, I loved Venice, Roma, Tuscany and Florence, enjoyed the gondola ride, and seeing St. Peter's Basilica too.!! Lovely trip, very enjoyable and fun, though I do have sore feet right now from all the walking. Thanks, Kit for this great trip.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 25, 2014, 2:45 pm
There is NO place like home for me :)

Marija M (29)
Thursday March 27, 2014, 1:33 pm
Italia bella, our neighbour, tks for sharing

Craig Pittman (52)
Friday March 28, 2014, 6:34 am
Delightful. Thanks so much for trip Kit.

Wolfgang W (235)
Saturday March 29, 2014, 7:59 am
O sole mio

DaleLovesOttawa O (198)
Sunday March 30, 2014, 8:24 pm
Italy is a fascinating nation filled with many splendours.

Michela M (3964)
Friday April 4, 2014, 6:16 am

KISSES FROM ROME!!!!!!!! mic
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