During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics, mainly in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through trade, commerce and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism. These mostly independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East, often enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe; however, part of central Italy was under the control of the theocraticPapal States, while Southern Italy remained largely feudal until the 19th century, partially as a result of a succession of Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Angevin, Aragonese and other foreign conquests of the region. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science, exploration and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars, artists and polymaths. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Nevertheless, Italy's commercial and political power significantly waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Furthermore, centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left the region fragmented, and it was subsequently conquered, exploited, and further divided by European powers such as France, Spain and Austria.
Hypotheses for the etymology of the name "Italia" are numerous. One is that it was borrowed via Greek from the OscanVíteliú 'land of calves' (cf.Latvitulus "calf", Umbvitlo "calf"). The bull was a symbol of the southern Italic tribes and was often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Social War. Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus states this account together with the legend that Italy was named after Italus, mentioned also by Aristotle and Thucydides.
The name Italia originally applied only to a part of what is now Southern Italy, according to Antiochus of Syracuse, the southern portion of the Bruttium peninsula corresponding to the modern province of Reggio, and part of the provinces of Catanzaro and Vibo Valentia. But by his time Oenotria and Italy had become synonymous, and the name also applied to most of Lucania as well. The Greeks gradually came to apply the name "Italia" to a larger region, but the Peninsula and its borders expanded over time.
It was during the reign of EmperorAugustus that the term was expanded to cover the entire peninsula until the Alps. The islands of Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily and Malta were added to Italy by Diocletian in 292 AD.
The first foreign colonizers were the Phoenicians, who initially established colonies and founded various emporiums on the coasts of Sicily and Sardinia. Some of these soon became small urban centres and were developed parallel to the Greek colonies; among the main centres there were the cities of Motya, Zyz (modern Palermo), Soluntum in Sicily and Nora, Sulci, and Tharros in Sardinia.
Between the 17th and the 11th centuries BC Mycenaean Greeks established contacts with Italy and in the 8th and 7th centuries BC a number of Greek colonies were established all along the coast of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula, that became known as Magna Graecia. The Greek colonization placed the Italic peoples in contact with democratic government forms and with elevated artistic and cultural expressions.
The Italian Peninsula, named Italia, was consolidated into a single entity during the Roman expansion and conquest of new lands at the expense of the other Italic tribes, Etruscans, Celts, and Greeks. A permanent association with most of the local tribes and cities was formed, and Rome began the conquest of Western Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. In the wake of Julius Caesar's rise and death in the first century BC, Rome grew over the course of centuries into a massive empire stretching from Britain to the borders of Persia, and engulfing the whole Mediterranean basin, in which Greek and Roman and many other cultures merged into a unique civilisation. The long and triumphant reign of the first emperor, Augustus, began a golden age of peace and prosperity. Italy remained the metropole of the empire, and as the homeland of the Romans and the territory of the capital, maintained a special status which made it "not a province, but the Domina (ruler) of the provinces". More than two centuries of stability followed, during which Italy was referred to as the rectrix mundi (queen of the world) and omnium terrarum parens (motherland of all lands).
The Roman Empire was among the most powerful economic, cultural, political and military forces in the world of its time, and it was one of the largest empires in world history. At its height under Trajan, it covered 5 million square kilometres. The Roman legacy has deeply influenced the Western civilisation, shaping most of the modern world; among the many legacies of Roman dominance are the widespread use of the Romance languages derived from Latin, the numerical system, the modern Western alphabet and calendar, and the emergence of Christianity as a major world religion. The Indo-Roman trade relations, beginning around the 1st century BCE, testifies to extensive Roman trade in far away regions; many reminders of the commercial trade between the Indian subcontinent and Italy have been found, such as the ivory statuette Pompeii Lakshmi from the ruins of Pompeii.
The Germanic Emperor and the Roman Pontiff became the universal powers of medieval Europe. However, the conflict for the investiture controversy (a conflict over two radically different views of whether secular authorities such as kings, counts, or dukes, had any legitimate role in appointments to ecclesiastical offices) and the clash between Guelphs and Ghibellines led to the end of the Imperial-feudal system in the north of Italy where city-states gained independence. It was during this chaotic era that Italian towns saw the rise of a peculiar institution, the medieval commune. Given the power vacuum caused by extreme territorial fragmentation and the struggle between the Empire and the Holy See, local communities sought autonomous ways to maintain law and order. The investiture controversy was finally resolved by the Concordat of Worms. In 1176 a league of city-states, the Lombard League, defeated the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa at the Battle of Legnano, thus ensuring effective independence for most of northern and central Italian cities.
Italian city-states such as Milan, Florence and Venice played a crucial innovative role in financial development, devising the main instruments and practices of banking and the emergence of new forms of social and economic organization. In coastal and southern areas, the maritime republics grew to eventually dominate the Mediterranean and monopolise trade routes to the Orient. They were independent thalassocratic city-states, though most of them originated from territories once belonging to the Byzantine Empire. All these cities during the time of their independence had similar systems of government in which the merchant class had considerable power. Although in practice these were oligarchical, and bore little resemblance to a modern democracy, the relative political freedom they afforded was conducive to academic and artistic advancement. The four most prominent maritime republics were Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Amalfi; the others were Ancona, Gaeta, Noli, and Ragusa. Each of the maritime republics had dominion over different overseas lands, including many Mediterranean islands (especially Sardinia and Corsica), lands on the Adriatic, Aegean, and Black Sea (Crimea), and commercial colonies in the Near East and in North Africa. Venice maintained enormous tracts of land in Greece, Cyprus, Istria and Dalmatia until as late as the mid-17th century.
Venice and Genoa were Europe's main gateway to trade with the East, and a producer of fine glass, while Florence was a capital of silk, wool, banks and jewellery. The wealth such business brought to Italy meant that large public and private artistic projects could be commissioned. The republics were heavily involved in the Crusades, providing support and transport, but most especially taking advantage of the political and trading opportunities resulting from these wars. Italy first felt huge economic changes in Europe which led to the commercial revolution: the Republic of Venice was able to defeat the Byzantine Empire and finance the voyages of Marco Polo to Asia; the first universities were formed in Italian cities, and scholars such as Thomas Aquinas obtained international fame; Frederick of Sicily made Italy the political-cultural centre of a reign that temporarily included the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of Jerusalem; capitalism and banking families emerged in Florence, where Dante and Giotto were active around 1300.
In the south, Sicily had become an Islamic emirate in the 9th century, thriving until the Italo-Normans conquered it in the late 11th century together with most of the Lombard and Byzantine principalities of southern Italy. Through a complex series of events, southern Italy developed as a unified kingdom, first under the House of Hohenstaufen, then under the Capetian House of Anjou and, from the 15th century, the House of Aragon. In Sardinia, the former Byzantine provinces became independent states known in Italian as Judicates, although some parts of the island fell under Genoese or Pisan rule until the eventual Aragonese annexation in the 15th century. The Black Deathpandemic of 1348 left its mark on Italy by killing perhaps one third of the population. However, the recovery from the plague led to a resurgence of cities, trade and economy which allowed the bloom of Humanism and Renaissance, that later spread to Europe.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, northern-central Italy was divided into a number of warring city-states, the rest of the peninsula being occupied by the larger Papal States and the Kingdom of Sicily, referred to here as Naples. Though many of these city-states were often formally subordinate to foreign rulers, as in the case of the Duchy of Milan, which was officially a constituent state of the mainly Germanic Holy Roman Empire, the city-states generally managed to maintain de facto independence from the foreign sovereigns that had seized Italian lands following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. The strongest among these city-states gradually absorbed the surrounding territories giving birth to the Signorie, regional states often led by merchant families which founded local dynasties. War between the city-states was endemic, and primarily fought by armies of mercenaries known as condottieri, bands of soldiers drawn from around Europe, especially Germany and Switzerland, led largely by Italian captains. Decades of fighting eventually saw Florence, Milan and Venice emerged as the dominant players that agreed to the Peace of Lodi in 1454, which saw relative calm brought to the region for the first time in centuries. This peace would hold for the next forty years.
Christopher Columbus leads an expedition to the New World, 1492. His voyages are celebrated as the discovery of the Americas from a European perspective, and they opened a new era in the history of humankind and sustained contact between the two worlds.
Italian explorers and navigators from the dominant maritime republics played a key role in ushering the Age of Discovery and the European colonization of the Americas. The most notable among them were: Christopher Columbus, who led led the first European expeditions to the Caribbean and Central and South America, and he is credited with discovering the New World and the opening of the Americas for conquest and settlement by Europeans;John Cabot, the first European to explore parts of the North American continent in 1497;Amerigo Vespucci, who first demonstrated in about 1502 that the New World was not Asia as initially conjectured, but a fourth continent previously unknown to people of the Old World (America is named after him); and Giovanni da Verrazzano, renowned as the first European to explore the Atlantic coast of North America between Florida and New Brunswick in 1524. Furthermore, the Papal States was involved in resolving disputes between competing colonial powers. The only attempt by an Italian state to colonise the Americas was taken into consideration by Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who organised an expedition in 1608 under the command of Robert Thornton to northern Brazil and the Amazon river; after Ferdinando's death the following year, nobody after him was interested in the establishment of an overseas colony. However, Italian nobleman Giovanni Paolo Lascaris, Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller of Malta at that time part of Sicily, possessed some Caribbean islands that were colonized from 1651 to 1665.
Following the Italian Wars, ignited by the rivalry between France and Aragon, the city-states gradually lost their independence and came under foreign domination, first under Spain (1559 to 1713) and then Austria (1713 to 1796). In 1629–1631, a new outburst of plague claimed about 14% of Italy's population. In addition, as the Spanish Empire started to decline in the 17th century, so did its possessions in Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and Milan. In particular, Southern Italy was impoverished and cut off from the mainstream of events in Europe.
Spain's principal military base in Europe was the Duchy of Milan, which by its geographical position blocked French expansion into Italy. In the 18th century, as a result of the War of Spanish Succession, Austria replaced Spain as the dominant foreign power, while the House of Savoy emerged as a regional power expanding to Piedmont and Sardinia. In the same century, the two-century long decline was interrupted by the economic and state reforms pursued in several states by the ruling élites.
Giuseppe Mazzini(left), highly influential leader of the Italian revolutionary movement; and Giuseppe Garibaldi(right), celebrated as one of the greatest generals of modern times and the "Hero of the Two Worlds", who commanded and fought in many military campaigns that led to the Italian unification.
The birth of the Kingdom of Italy was the result of efforts by Italian nationalists and monarchists loyal to the House of Savoy to establish a united kingdom encompassing the entire Italian Peninsula. Following the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the political and social Italian unification movement, or Risorgimento, emerged to unite Italy consolidating the different states of the peninsula and liberate it from foreign control. A prominent radical figure was the patriotic journalist Giuseppe Mazzini, member of the secret revolutionary society Carbonari and founder of the influential political movement Young Italy in the early 1830s, who favoured a unitary republic and advocated a broad nationalist movement. His prolific output of propaganda helped the unification movement stay active.
Animated map of the Italian unification, from 1829 to 1871
In 1860–1861, Garibaldi led the drive for unification in Naples and Sicily (the Expedition of the Thousand), while the House of Savoy troops occupied the central territories of the Italian peninsula, except Rome and part of Papal States. Teano was the site of the famous meeting of 26 October 1860 between Giuseppe Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel II, last King of Sardinia, in which Garibaldi shook Victor Emanuel's hand and hailed him as King of Italy; thus, Garibaldi sacrificed republican hopes for the sake of Italian unity under a monarchy. Cavour agreed to include Garibaldi's Southern Italy allowing it to join the union with the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1860. This allowed the Sardinian government to declare a united Italian kingdom on 17 March 1861. Victor Emmanuel II then became the first king of a united Italy, and the capital was moved from Turin to Florence.
The new Kingdom of Italy obtained Great Power status. The Constitutional Law of the Kingdom of Sardinia the Albertine Statute of 1848, was extended to the whole Kingdom of Italy in 1861, and provided for basic freedoms of the new State, but electoral laws excluded the non-propertied and uneducated classes from voting. The government of the new kingdom took place in a framework of parliamentary constitutional monarchy dominated by liberal forces. As Northern Italy quickly industrialised, the South and rural areas of the North remained underdeveloped and overpopulated, forcing millions of people to migrate abroad and fuelling a large and influential diaspora. The Italian Socialist Party constantly increased in strength, challenging the traditional liberal and conservative establishment.
In 1913, male universal suffrage was adopted. The pre-war period dominated by Giovanni Giolitti, Prime Minister five times between 1892 and 1921, was characterized by the economic, industrial and political-cultural modernization of Italian society. Starting from the last two decades of the 19th century, Italy developed into a colonial power by forcing Somalia, Eritrea and later Libya and the Dodecanese under its rule. From 2 November 1899 to 7 September 1901, Italy also participated as part of the Eight-Nation Alliance forces during the Boxer Rebellion in China; on 7 September 1901, a concession in Tientsin was ceded to the country, and on 7 June 1902, the concession was taken into Italian possession and administered by a consul.
Italy, nominally allied with the German Empire and the Empire of Austria-Hungary in the Triple Alliance, in 1915 joined the Allies into World War I with a promise of substantial territorial gains, that included western Inner Carniola, former Austrian Littoral, Dalmatia as well as parts of the Ottoman Empire. The country gave a fundamental contribution to the victory of the conflict as one of the "Big Four" top Allied powers. The war was initially inconclusive, as the Italian army got stuck in a long attrition war in the Alps, making little progress and suffering very heavy losses. However, the reorganization of the army and the conscription of the so-called '99 Boys (Ragazzi del '99, all males born in 1899 who were turning 18) led to more effective Italian victories in major battles, such as on Monte Grappa and in a series of battles on the Piave river. Eventually, in October 1918, the Italians launched a massive offensive, culminating in the victory of Vittorio Veneto. The Italian victory marked the end of the war on the Italian Front, secured the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was chiefly instrumental in ending the First World War less than two weeks later.
During the war, more than 650,000 Italian soldiers and as many civilians died and the kingdom went to the brink of bankruptcy. Under the Peace Treaties of Saint-Germain, Rapallo and Rome, Italy gained a permanent seat in the League of Nations's executive council and obtained most of the promised territories, but not Dalmatia (except Zara), allowing nationalists to define the victory as "mutilated". Moreover, Italy annexed the Hungarian harbour of Fiume, that was not part of territories promised at London but had been occupied after the end of the war by Gabriele D'Annunzio.
The socialist agitations that followed the devastation of the Great War, inspired by the Russian Revolution, led to counter-revolution and repression throughout Italy. The liberal establishment, fearing a Soviet-style revolution, started to endorse the small National Fascist Party, led by Benito Mussolini. In October 1922 the Blackshirts of the National Fascist Party attempted a coup named the "March on Rome" which failed but at the last minute, King Victor Emmanuel III refused to proclaim a state of siege and appointed Mussolini prime minister. Over the next few years, Mussolini banned all political parties and curtailed personal liberties, thus forming a dictatorship. These actions attracted international attention and eventually inspired similar dictatorships such as Nazi Germany and Francoist Spain.
An Allied invasion of Sicily began in July 1943, leading to the collapse of the Fascist regime and the fall of Mussolini on 25 July. Mussolini was deposed and arrested by order of King Victor Emmanuel III in co-operation with the majority of the members of the Grand Council of Fascism, which passed a motion of no confidence. On 8 September, Italy signed the Armistice of Cassibile, ending its war with the Allies. The Germans helped by the Italian fascists shortly succeeded in taking control of northern and central Italy. The country remained a battlefield for the rest of the war, as the Allies were slowly moving up from the south.
In the north, the Germans set up the Italian Social Republic (RSI), a Nazi puppet state with Mussolini installed as leader after he was rescued by German paratroopers. Some Italian troops in the south were organized into the Italian Co-belligerent Army, which fought alongside the Allies for the rest of the war, while other Italian troops, loyal to Mussolini and his RSI, continued to fight alongside the Germans in the National Republican Army. As result, the country descended into civil war. Also, the post-armistice period saw the rise of a large anti-fascist resistance movement, the Resistenza, which fought a guerilla war against the German and RSI forces. In late April 1945, with total defeat looming, Mussolini attempted to escape north, but was captured and summarily executed near Lake Como by Italian partisans. His body was then taken to Milan, where it was hung upside down at a service station for public viewing and to provide confirmation of his demise. Hostilities ended on 29 April 1945, when the German forces in Italy surrendered. Nearly half a million Italians (including civilians) died in the conflict, and the Italian economy had been all but destroyed; per capita income in 1944 was at its lowest point since the beginning of the 20th century.
From the late 1960s until the early 1980s, the country experienced the Years of Lead, a period characterised by economic crisis (especially after the 1973 oil crisis), widespread social conflicts and terrorist massacres carried out by opposing extremist groups, with the alleged involvement of US and Soviet intelligence. The Years of Lead culminated in the assassination of the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro in 1978 and the Bologna railway station massacre in 1980, where 85 people died.
In the 1980s, for the first time since 1945, two governments were led by non-Christian-Democrat premiers: one republican (Giovanni Spadolini) and one socialist (Bettino Craxi); the Christian Democrats remained, however, the main government party. During Craxi's government, the economy recovered and Italy became the world's fifth largest industrial nation, after it gained the entry into the G7 Group in '70s. However, as a result of his spending policies, the Italian national debt skyrocketed during the Craxi era, soon passing 100% of the country's GDP.
Italy faced several terror attacks between 1992–93 perpetrated by the Sicilian Mafia as a consequence of several life sentences pronounced during the "Maxi Trial", and of the new anti-mafia measures launched by the government. In 1992, two major dynamite attacks killed the judges Giovanni Falcone (23 May in the Capaci bombing) and Paolo Borsellino (19 July in the Via D'Amelio bombing). One year later (May–July 1993), tourist spots were attacked, such as the Via dei Georgofili in Florence, Via Palestro in Milan, and the Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano and Via San Teodoro in Rome, leaving 10 dead and 93 injured and causing severe damage to cultural heritage such as the Uffizi Gallery. The Catholic Church openly condemned the Mafia, and two churches were bombed and an anti-Mafia priest shot dead in Rome. Also in the early 1990s, Italy faced significant challenges, as voters – disenchanted with political paralysis, massive public debt and the extensive corruption system (known as Tangentopoli) uncovered by the Clean Hands (Mani Pulite) investigation – demanded radical reforms. The scandals involved all major parties, but especially those in the government coalition: the Christian Democrats, who ruled for almost 50 years, underwent a severe crisis and eventually disbanded, splitting up into several factions. The Communists reorganised as a social-democratic force. During the 1990s and the 2000s, centre-right (dominated by media magnate Silvio Berlusconi) and centre-left coalitions (led by university professor Romano Prodi) alternately governed the country.
In the late 2000s, Italy was severely hit by the Great Recession. From 2008 to 2013, the country suffered 42 months of GDP recession. The economic crisis was one of the main problems that forced Berlusconi to resign in 2011. The government of the conservative Prime Minister was replaced by the technocratic cabinet of Mario Monti. Following the 2013 general election, the Vice-Secretary of the Democratic PartyEnrico Letta formed a new government at the head of a right-left Grand coalition. In 2014, challenged by the new Secretary of the PD Matteo Renzi, Letta resigned and was replaced by Renzi. The new government started important constitutional reforms such as the abolition of the Senate and a new electoral law. On 4 December the constitutional reform was rejected in a referendum and Renzi resigned after few days on 12 December; the Foreign Affairs Minister Paolo Gentiloni was appointed new Prime Minister.
Italy was affected by the European migrant crisis in 2015 as it became the entry point and leading destination for most asylum seekers entering the EU. Since 2013, the country took in over 700,000 migrants and refugees, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, which caused great strain on the public purse and a surge in the support for far-right, euroskeptic or eurocritical political parties, which ended in the 2018 general election. The election was characterized by a strong showing of the Five Star Movement and the League and the university professor Giuseppe Conte became the Prime Minister at the head of a populist coalition between these two parties. However, after only fourteen months the League withdrew its support to Conte, who formed a new unprecedented government coalition between the Five Star Movement and the centre-left.
The country's total area is 301,230 square kilometres (116,306 sq mi), of which 294,020 km2 (113,522 sq mi) is land and 7,210 km2 (2,784 sq mi) is water. Including the islands, Italy has a coastline and border of 7,600 kilometres (4,722 miles) on the Adriatic, Ionian, Tyrrhenian seas (740 km (460 mi)), and borders shared with France (488 km (303 mi)), Austria (430 km (267 mi)), Slovenia (232 km (144 mi)) and Switzerland (740 km (460 mi)). San Marino (39 km (24 mi)) and Vatican City (3.2 km (2.0 mi)), both enclaves, account for the remainder.
The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula's backbone, and the Alps form most of its northern boundary, where Italy's highest point is located on Monte Bianco (4,810 m or 15,780 ft).[note 1] The Po, Italy's longest river (652 kilometres or 405 miles), flows from the Alps on the western border with France and crosses the Padan plain on its way to the Adriatic Sea. The five largest lakes are, in order of diminishing size:Garda (367.94 km2 or 142 sq mi), Maggiore (212.51 km2 or 82 sq mi, whose minor northern part is Switzerland), Como (145.9 km2 or 56 sq mi), Trasimeno (124.29 km2 or 48 sq mi) and Bolsena (113.55 km2 or 44 sq mi).
Italy was the first country to exploit geothermal energy to produce electricity. The high geothermal gradient that forms part of the peninsula makes potentially exploitable also other provinces: research carried out in the 1960s and 1970s identifies potential geothermal fields in Lazio and Tuscany, as well as in most volcanic islands.
After its quick industrial growth, Italy took a long time to confront its environmental problems. After several improvements, it now ranks 84th in the world for ecological sustainability.National parks cover about 5% of the country. In the last decade, Italy has become one of the world's leading producers of renewable energy, ranking as the world's fourth largest holder of installed solar energy capacity and the sixth largest holder of wind power capacity in 2010. Renewable energies now make up about 12% of the total primary and final energy consumption in Italy, with a future target share set at 17% for the year 2020.However, air pollution remains a severe problem, especially in the industrialised north, reaching the tenth highest level worldwide of industrial carbon dioxide emissions in the 1990s. Italy is the twelfth largest carbon dioxide producer.Extensive traffic and congestion in the largest metropolitan areas continue to cause severe environmental and health issues, even if smog levels have decreased dramatically since the 1970s and 1980s, and the presence of smog is becoming an increasingly rarer phenomenon and levels of sulphur dioxide are decreasing.
Gran Paradiso, established in 1922, is the oldest Italian national park
Many watercourses and coastal stretches have also been contaminated by industrial and agricultural activity, while because of rising water levels, Venice has been regularly flooded throughout recent years. Waste from industrial activity is not always disposed of by legal means and has led to permanent health effects on inhabitants of affected areas, as in the case of the Seveso disaster. The country has also operated several nuclear reactors between 1963 and 1990 but, after the Chernobyl disaster and a referendum on the issue the nuclear programme was terminated, a decision that was overturned by the government in 2008, planning to build up to four nuclear power plants with French technology. This was in turn struck down by a referendum following the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Deforestation, illegal building developments and poor land-management policies have led to significant erosion all over Italy's mountainous regions, leading to major ecological disasters like the 1963 Vajont Dam flood, the 1998 Sarno and 2009 Messinamudslides.
The Italian wolf, which inhabits the Apennines and Western Alps, features prominently in Latin and Italian cultures, such as in the legend of the founding of Rome.
Italy has the highest level of faunalbiodiversity in Europe, with over 57,000 species recorded, representing more than a third of all European fauna. Italy's varied geological structure contributes to its high climate and habitat diversity. The Italian peninsula is in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, forming a corridor between central Europe and North Africa, and has 8,000 km (5,000 mi) of coastline. Italy also receives species from the Balkans, Eurasia, the Middle East. Italy's varied geological structure, including the Alps and the Apennines, Central Italian woodlands, and Southern Italian Garigue and Maquis shrubland, also contributes to high climate and habitat diversity.
Because of the great longitudinal extension of the peninsula and the mostly mountainous internal conformation, the climate of Italy is highly diverse. In most of the inland northern and central regions, the climate ranges from humid subtropical to humid continental and oceanic. In particular, the climate of the Po valley geographical region is mostly continental, with harsh winters and hot summers.
The coastal areas of Liguria, Tuscany and most of the South generally fit the Mediterranean climate stereotype (Köppen climate classification Csa). Conditions on peninsular coastal areas can be very different from the interior's higher ground and valleys, particularly during the winter months when the higher altitudes tend to be cold, wet, and often snowy. The coastal regions have mild winters and warm and generally dry summers, although lowland valleys can be quite hot in summer. Average winter temperatures vary from 0 °C (32 °F) on the Alps to12 °C (54 °F) in Sicily, so average summer temperatures range from 20 °C (68 °F) to over 25 °C (77 °F). Winters can vary widely across the country with lingering cold, foggy and snowy periods in the north and milder, sunnier conditions in the south. Summers can be hot and humid across the country, particularly in the south while northern and central areas can experience occasional strong thunderstorms from spring to autumn.
The prime minister is the President of the Council of Ministers – which holds effective executive power – and he must receive a vote of approval from it to execute most political activities. The office is similar to those in most other parliamentary systems, but the leader of the Italian government is not authorised to request the dissolution of the Parliament of Italy.
Another difference with similar offices is that the overall political responsibility for intelligence is vested in the President of the Council of Ministers. By virtue of that, the Prime Minister has exclusive power to: co-ordinate intelligence policies, determining the financial resources and strengthening national cyber security; apply and protect State secrets; authorise agents to carry out operations, in Italy or abroad, in violation of the law.
A peculiarity of the Italian Parliament is the representation given to Italian citizens permanently living abroad: 12 Deputies and 6 Senators elected in four distinct overseas constituencies. In addition, the Italian Senate is characterised also by a small number of senators for life, appointed by the President "for outstanding patriotic merits in the social, scientific, artistic or literary field". Former Presidents of the Republic are ex officio life senators.
The Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic code and later statutes. The Supreme Court of Cassation is the highest court in Italy for both criminal and civil appeal cases. The Constitutional Court of Italy (Corte Costituzionale) rules on the conformity of laws with the constitution and is a post–World War II innovation. Since their appearance in the middle of the 19th century, Italian organised crime and criminal organisations have infiltrated the social and economic life of many regions in Southern Italy, the most notorious of which being the Sicilian Mafia, which would later expand into some foreign countries including the United States. Mafia receipts may reach 9% of Italy's GDP.
A 2009 report identified 610 comuni which have a strong Mafia presence, where 13 million Italians live and 14.6% of the Italian GDP is produced. The Calabrian'Ndrangheta, nowadays probably the most powerful crime syndicate of Italy, accounts alone for 3% of the country's GDP. However, at 0.013 per 1,000 people, Italy has only the 47th highest murder rate compared to 61 countries and the 43rd highest number of rapes per 1,000 people compared to 64 countries in the world. These ones are relatively low figures among developed countries.
Law enforcement in Italy is provided by multiple police forces, five of which are national, Italian agencies.The Polizia di Stato (State Police) is the civil national police of Italy. Along with patrolling, investigative and law enforcement duties, it oversees the security of transportations. The Carabinieri is the common name for the Arma dei Carabinieri, a Gendarmerie that also serves as the military police for the Italian armed forces.
The Guardia di Finanza, (English: Financial Guard) is a corps under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance, with a role as police force. The Corps controls financial, economic, judiciary and public safety.The Polizia Penitenziaria (Prison Guards, literally Penitentiary Police) operate the Italian prison system and handle the transportation of inmates.
Italy supported international efforts to reconstruct and stabilise Iraq, but it had withdrawn its military contingent of some 3,200 troops by 2006, maintaining only humanitarian operators and other civilian personnel.In August 2006 Italy deployed about 2,450 troops in Lebanon for the United Nations' peacekeeping mission UNIFIL. Italy is one of the largest financiers of the Palestinian National Authority, contributing €60 million in 2013 alone.
The Italian Navy in 2008 had 35,200 active personnel with 85 commissioned ships and 123 aircraft. It is a blue-water navy. In modern times the Italian Navy, being a member of the EU and NATO, has taken part in many coalition peacekeeping operations around the world.
The Italian Air Force in 2008 had a strength of 43,882 and operated 585 aircraft, including 219 combat jets and 114 helicopters. A transport capability is guaranteed by a fleet of 27 C-130Js and C-27J Spartan.
An autonomous corps of the military, the Carabinieri are the gendarmerie and military police of Italy, policing the military and civilian population alongside Italy's other police forces. While the different branches of the Carabinieri report to separate ministries for each of their individual functions, the corps reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs when maintaining public order and security.
Italy is subdivided into 20 regions (regioni), five of these regions having a special autonomous status that enables them to enact legislation on some of their local matters. The country is further divided into 14 metropolitan cities (città metropolitane) and 96 provinces (province), which in turn are subdivided in 7,960 municipalities (2018) (comuni).
Italy is the world's sixth largest manufacturing country, characterised by a smaller number of global multinational corporations than other economies of comparable size and a large number of dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises, notoriously clustered in several industrial districts, which are the backbone of the Italian industry. This has produced a manufacturing sector often focused on the export of niche market and luxury products, that if on one side is less capable to compete on the quantity, on the other side is more capable of facing the competition from China and other emerging Asian economies based on lower labour costs, with higher quality products. Italy was the world's 7th largest exporter in 2016. Its closest trade ties are with the other countries of the European Union, with whom it conducts about 59% of its total trade. Its largest EU trade partners, in order of market share, are Germany (12.9%), France (11.4%), and Spain (7.4%).
Italy is part of the European single market which represents more than 500 million consumers. Several domestic commercial policies are determined by agreements among European Union (EU) members and by EU legislation. Italy introduced the common European currency, the Euro in 2002. It is a member of the Eurozone which represents around 330 million citizens. Its monetary policy is set by the European Central Bank.
Italy has been hit hard by the Financial crisis of 2007–08, that exacerbated the country's structural problems. Effectively, after a strong GDP growth of 5–6% per year from the 1950s to the early 1970s, and a progressive slowdown in the 1980-90s, the country virtually stagnated in the 2000s. The political efforts to revive growth with massive government spending eventually produced a severe rise in public debt, that stood at over 131.8% of GDP in 2017, ranking second in the EU only after the Greek one. For all that, the largest chunk of Italian public debt is owned by national subjects, a major difference between Italy and Greece, and the level of household debt is much lower than the OECD average.
A gaping North–South divide is a major factor of socio-economic weakness. It can be noted by the huge difference in statistical income between the northern and southern regions and municipalities. The richest province, Alto Adige-South Tyrol, earns 152% of the national GDP per capita, while the poorest region, Calabria, 61%. The unemployment rate (11.1%) stands slightly above the Eurozone average, but the disaggregated figure is 6.6% in the North and 19.2% in the South. The youth unemployment rate (31.7% in March 2018) is extremely high compared to EU standards.
Italy has a strong cooperative sector, with the largest share of the population (4.5%) employed by a cooperative in the EU.
Vineyards in the Chianti region, Tuscany. The Italian food industry is well known for the high quality and variety of its products.
According to the last national agricultural census, there were 1.6 million farms in 2010 (−32.4% since 2000) covering 12.7 million hectares (63% of which are located in Southern Italy). The vast majority (99%) are family-operated and small, averaging only 8 hectares in size. Of the total surface area in agricultural use (forestry excluded), grain fields take up 31%, olive tree orchards 8.2%, vineyards 5.4%, citrus orchards 3.8%, sugar beets 1.7%, and horticulture 2.4%. The remainder is primarily dedicated to pastures (25.9%) and feed grains (11.6%).
FS' Frecciarossa 1000 high speed train, with a maximum speed of 400 km/h (249 mph), is the fastest train in Italy and Europe
In 2004 the transport sector in Italy generated a turnover of about 119.4 billion euros, employing 935,700 persons in 153,700 enterprises. Regarding the national road network, in 2002 there were 668,721 km (415,524 mi) of serviceable roads in Italy, including 6,487 km (4,031 mi) of motorways, state-owned but privately operated by Atlantia. In 2005, about 34,667,000 passenger cars (590 cars per 1,000 people) and 4,015,000 goods vehicles circulated on the national road network.
The national inland waterways network comprised 1,477 km (918 mi) of navigable rivers and channels in 2002. In 2004 there were approximately 30 main airports, including the two hubs of Malpensa International in Milan and Leonardo da Vinci International in Rome, and 43 major seaports, including the seaport of Genoa, the country's largest and second largest in the Mediterranean Sea. In 2005 Italy maintained a civilian air fleet of about 389,000 units and a merchant fleet of 581 ships.
Italy does not invest enough to maintain its drinking water supply. The Galli Law, passed in 1993, aimed at raising the level of investment and to improve service quality by consolidating service providers, making them more efficient and increasing the level of cost recovery through tariff revenues. Despite these reforms, investment levels have declined and remain far from sufficient.
Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world, with a total of 52.3 million international arrivals in 2016. The total contribution of travel & tourism to GDP (including wider effects from investment, the supply chain and induced income impacts) was EUR162.7bn in 2014 (10.1% of GDP) and generated 1,082,000 jobs directly in 2014 (4.8% of total employment).
Italy is well known for its cultural and environmental tourist routes and is home to 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the most in the world.Rome is the 3rd most visited city in Europe and the 12th in the world, with 9.4 million arrivals in 2017 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.
Map of population density in Italy as of the 2011 census.
At the end of 2013, Italy had 60,782,668 inhabitants. The resulting population density, at 202 inhabitants per square kilometre (520/sq mi), is higher than that of most Western European countries. However, the distribution of the population is widely uneven. The most densely populated areas are the Po Valley (that accounts for almost a half of the national population) and the metropolitan areas of Rome and Naples, while vast regions such as the Alps and Apennines highlands, the plateaus of Basilicata and the island of Sardinia are very sparsely populated.
The population of Italy almost doubled during the 20th century, but the pattern of growth was extremely uneven because of large-scale internal migration from the rural South to the industrial cities of the North, a phenomenon which happened as a consequence of the Italian economic miracle of the 1950–1960s. High fertility and birth rates persisted until the 1970s, after which they started to decline. The population rapidly aged. At the end of the 2000s (decade), one in five Italians was over 65 years old. However, in recent years Italy experienced a significant growth in birth rates. The total fertility rate has also climbed from an all-time low of 1.18 children per woman in 1995 to 1.41 in 2008, below the replacement rate of 2.1, it remains considerably below the high of 5.06 children born per woman in 1883.The TFR is expected to reach 1.6–1.8 in 2030. Italy has the 5th oldest population in the world, with the median age of 45.8 years.
From the late 19th century until the 1960s Italy was a country of mass emigration. Between 1898 and 1914, the peak years of Italian diaspora, approximately 750,000 Italians emigrated each year. The diaspora concerned more than 25 million Italians and it is considered the biggest mass migration of contemporary times. As a result, today more than 4.1 million Italian citizens are living abroad, while at least 60 million people of full or part Italian ancestry live outside of Italy, most notably in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela, the United States, Canada, Australia and France.
Italy is home to a large population of migrants from Eastern Europe and North Africa
In 2016, Italy had about 5.05 million foreign residents, making up 8.3% of the total population. The figures include more than half a million children born in Italy to foreign nationals – second generation immigrants, but exclude foreign nationals who have subsequently acquired Italian citizenship; In 2016, about 201,000 people acquired Italian citizenship (130,000 in 2014). The official figures also exclude illegal immigrants, that were estimated in 2008 to number at least 670,000.
Starting from the early 1980s, until then a linguistically and culturally homogeneous society, Italy begun to attract substantial flows of foreign immigrants. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and, more recently, the 2004 and 2007 enlargements of the European Union, large waves of migration originated from the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe (especially Romania, Albania, Ukraine and Poland). An equally important source of immigration is neighbouring North Africa (in particular, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia), with soaring arrivals as a consequence of the Arab Spring. Furthermore, in recent years, growing migration fluxes from Asia-Pacific (notably China and the Philippines) and Latin America have been recorded.
Currently, about one million Romanian citizens (around 10% of them being from the Romani people ethnic group) are officially registered as living in Italy, representing thus the most important individual country of origin, followed by Albanians and Moroccans with about 500,000 people each. The number of unregistered Romanians is difficult to estimate, but the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network suggested in 2007 that there might have been half a million or more.[note 2] Overall, at the end of the 2000s (decade) the foreign born population of Italy was from: Europe (54%), Africa (22%), Asia (16%), the Americas (8%) and Oceania (0.06%). The distribution of immigrants is largely uneven in Italy: 87% of immigrants live in the northern and central parts of the country (the most economically developed areas), while only 13% live in the southern half of the peninsula.
Geographic distribution of the Italian language in the world
Secondary or non-official language
Italy's official language is Italian, as stated by the framework law no. 482/1999 and Trentino Alto-Adige's special Statute, which is adopted with a constitutional law. There are an estimated 64 million native Italian speakers and another 21 million who use it as a second language. Italian is often natively spoken in a regional variety, not to be confused with Italy's regional and minority languages; however, the establishment of a national education system led to a decrease in variation in the languages spoken across the country during the 20th century. Standardisation was further expanded in the 1950s and 1960s due to economic growth and the rise of mass media and television (the state broadcaster RAI helped set a standard Italian).
The ethno-linguistic minorities officially recognised by Italy.
Because of recent immigration, Italy has sizeable populations whose native language is not Italian, nor a regional language. According to the Italian National Institute of Statistics, Romanian is the most common mother tongue among foreign residents in Italy: almost 800,000 people speak Romanian as their first language (21.9% of the foreign residents aged 6 and over). Other prevalent mother tongues are Arabic (spoken by over 475,000 people; 13.1% of foreign residents), Albanian (380,000 people) and Spanish (255,000 people).
One of the longest-established minority religious faiths in Italy is Judaism, Jews having been present in Ancient Rome since before the birth of Christ. Italy has for centuries welcomed Jews expelled from other countries, notably Spain. However, about 20% of Italian Jews were killed during the Holocaust. This, together with the emigration that preceded and followed World War II, has left only around 28,400 Jews in Italy.
Soaring immigration in the last two decades has been accompanied by an increase in non-Christian faiths. There are more than 800,000 followers of faiths originating in the Indian subcontinent with some 70,000 Sikhs with 22 gurdwaras across the country,
The Italian state, as a measure to protect religious freedom, devolves shares of income tax to recognised religious communities, under a regime known as Eight per thousand. Donations are allowed to Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu communities; however, Islam remains excluded, since no Muslim communities have yet signed a concordat with the Italian state. Taxpayers who do not wish to fund a religion contribute their share to the state welfare system.
Education in Italy is free and mandatory from ages six to sixteen, and consists of five stages: kindergarten (scuola dell'infanzia), primary school (scuola primaria), lower secondary school (scuola secondaria di primo grado, upper secondary school (scuola secondaria di secondo grado) and university (università).
Primary education lasts eight years. Students are given a basic education in Italian, English, mathematics, natural sciences, history, geography, social studies, physical education and visual and musical arts. Secondary education lasts for five years and includes three traditional types of schools focused on different academic levels: the liceo prepares students for university studies with a classical or scientific curriculum, while the istituto tecnico and the Istituto professionale prepare pupils for vocational education. In 2012, the Italian secondary education was evaluated as slightly below the OECD average, with a strong and steady improvement in science and mathematics results since 2003; however, a wide gap exists between northern schools, which performed significantly better than the national average (among the best in the world in some subjects), and schools in the South, that had much poorer results.
Olive oil and vegetables are central to the Mediterranean diet.
The Italian state runs a universal public healthcare system since 1978. However, healthcare is provided to all citizens and residents by a mixed public-private system. The public part is the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, which is organised under the Ministry of Health and administered on a devolved regional basis. Healthcare spending in Italy accounted for 9.2% of the national GDP in 2012, very close the OECD countries' average of 9.3%. Italy in 2000 ranked as having the world's 2nd best healthcare system, and the world's 2nd best healthcare performance.
For centuries divided by politics and geography until its eventual unification in 1861, Italy's culture has been shaped by a multitude of regional customs and local centres of power and patronage. Italy had a central role in Western culture for centuries and is still recognised for its cultural traditions and artists. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, a number of magnificent courts competed for attracting the best architects, artists and scholars, thus producing a great legacy of monuments, paintings, music and literature. Despite the political and social isolation of these courts, Italy's contribution to the cultural and historical heritage of Europe and the world remain immense.
Italy has more UNESCOWorld Heritage Sites (55) than any other country in the world, and has rich collections of art, culture and literature from many periods. The country has had a broad cultural influence worldwide, also because numerous Italians emigrated to other places during the Italian diaspora. Furthermore, Italy has, overall, an estimated 100,000 monuments of any sort (museums, palaces, buildings, statues, churches, art galleries, villas, fountains, historic houses and archaeological remains), and according to some estimates the nation is home to half the world's great art treasures.
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.
Along with pre-historic architecture, the first people in Italy to truly begin a sequence of designs were the Greeks and the Etruscans, progressing to classical Roman, then to the revival of the classical Roman era during the Renaissance and evolving into the Baroque era. 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. The early Christians' art and architecture was also widely inspired by that of the pagan Romans; statues, mosaics and paintings decorated all their churches. The first significant buildings in the medieval Romanesque style were churches built in Italy during the 800's. Byzantine architecture was also widely diffused in Italy. The Byzantines kept Roman principles of architecture and art alive, and the most famous structure from this period is the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice.
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. It was known for its usage of the Roman arches, stained glass windows, and also its curved columns which commonly featured in cloisters. The main innovation of Italian Romanesque architecture was the vault, which had never been seen before in the history of Western architecture.
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, a feat of engineering that had not been accomplished since antiquity. A popular achievement of Italian Renaissance architecture was St. Peter's Basilica, originally designed by Donato Bramante in the early 16th century. Also, Andrea Palladio influenced architects throughout western Europe with the villas and palaces he designed in the middle and late 16th century; the city of Vicenza, with its twenty-three buildings designed by Palladio, and twenty-four Palladian Villas of the Veneto are listed by UNESCO as part of a World Heritage Site named City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto.
The Baroque period produced several outstanding Italian architects in the 17th century, especially known for their churches. The most original work of all late Baroque and Rococo architecture is the Palazzina di caccia di Stupinigi, dating back to 18th century.Luigi Vanvitelli began in 1752 the construction of the Royal Palace of Caserta. In this large complex, the grandiose Baroque style interiors and gardens are opposed to a more sober building envelope. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries Italy was affected by the Neoclassical architectural movement. Everything from villas, palaces, gardens, interiors and art began to be based on Roman and Greek themes.
The history of Italian visual art is one of the most important parts of Western painting history. Roman art was influenced by Greece and can in part be taken as a descendant of ancient Greek painting. However, Roman painting does have important unique characteristics. The only surviving Roman paintings are wall paintings, many from villas in Campania, in Southern Italy. Such painting can be grouped into four main "styles" or periods and may contain the first examples of trompe-l'œil, pseudo-perspective, and pure landscape.
Panel painting becomes more common during the Romanesque period, under the heavy influence of Byzantine icons. 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 on, the treatment of composition by the best painters also became much more free and innovative. They are considered to be the two great medieval masters of painting in western culture.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the High Renaissance gave rise to a stylised art known as Mannerism. In place of the balanced compositions and rational approach to perspective that characterised art at the dawn of the 16th century, the Mannerists sought instability, artifice, and doubt. The unperturbed faces and gestures of Piero della Francesca and the calm Virgins of Raphael are replaced by the troubled expressions of Pontormo and the emotional intensity of El Greco.
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 modelled 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, inventor of the sonnet form, though the most famous early sonneteer was Petrarch.
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; furthermore, the poet invented the difficult terza rima. The two great 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.
Pinocchio is the world's most translated non-religious book and a canonical piece of children's literature.
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.
Italian theatre can be traced back to the Roman tradition. The theatre of ancient Rome was a thriving and diverse art form, ranging from festival performances of street theatre, nude dancing, and acrobatics, to the staging of Plautus's broadly appealing situation comedies, to the high-style, verbally elaborate tragedies of Seneca. Although Rome had a native tradition of performance, the Hellenization of Roman culture in the 3rd century BCE had a profound and energising effect on Roman theatre and encouraged the development of Latin literature of the highest quality for the stage. As with many other literary genres, Roman dramatists was heavily influenced or tended to adapt 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.
During the 16th century and on into the 18th century, Commedia dell'arte was a form of improvisational theatre, and it is still performed today. Travelling troupes 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. Plays did not originate from written drama but from scenarios called lazzi, which were loose frameworks that provided the situations, complications, and outcome of the action, around which the actors would improvise. The characters of the commedia usually represent fixed social types and stock characters, each of which has a distinct costume, such as foolish old men, devious servants, or military officers full of false bravado. The main categories of these characters include servants, old men, lovers, and captains.
Carlo Goldoni, who wrote a few scenarios starting in 1734, supersed the comedy of masks and the comedy of intrigue by representations of actual life and manners through the characters and their behaviours. He rightly maintained that Italian life and manners were susceptible of artistic treatment such as had not been given them before.
From folk music to classical, music has always played an important role in 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.
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. Later, works and pieces composed by native Italian composers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini, are among the most famous operas ever written and today are performed in opera houses across the world. La Scala operahouse in Milan is also renowned as one of the best in the world. Famous Italian opera singers include Enrico Caruso and Alessandro Bonci.
Italy was also an important country in the development of disco and electronic music, with Italo disco, known for its futuristic sound and prominent use of synthesisers and drum machines, being one of the earliest electronic dance genres, as well as European forms of disco aside from Euro disco (which later went on to influence several genres such as Eurodance and Nu-disco). By circa 1988, the genre had merged into other forms of European dance and electronic music, such as Italo house, which blended elements of Italo disco with traditional house music; its sound was generally uplifting, and made strong usage of piano melodies. Some bands of this genre are Black Box, East Side Beat, and 49ers. By the latter half of the 1990s, a subgenre of Eurodance known as Italo dance emerged. Taking influences from Italo disco and Italo house, Italo dance generally included synthesizer riffs, a melodic sound, and the usage of vocoders. Notable Italian DJs and remixers include Gabry Ponte (member of the group Eiffel 65), Benny Benassi, Gigi D'Agostino, and the trio Tacabro.
The history of Italian cinema began a few months after the Lumière brothers began motion picture exhibitions. The first Italian film was a few seconds, showing Pope Leo XIII giving a blessing to the camera. The Italian film industry was born between 1903 and 1908 with three companies: the Società Italiana Cines, the Ambrosio Film and the Itala Film. Other companies soon followed in Milan and in Naples. In a short time these first companies reached a fair producing quality, and films were soon sold outside Italy. Cinema was later used by Benito Mussolini, who founded Rome's renowned Cinecittà studio for the production of Fascist propaganda until World War II.
The Mediterranean diet forms the basis of Italian cuisine, rich in pasta, fish, fruits and vegetables and characterised by its extreme simplicity and variety, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation. Dishes and recipes are often derivatives from local and familial tradition rather than created by chefs, so many recipes are ideally suited for home cooking, this being one of the main reasons behind the ever-increasing worldwide popularity of Italian cuisine, from America to Asia. Ingredients and dishes vary widely by region.
The Saint Lucy's Day, which take place on 13 December, is very 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. 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) and Milan on 7 December (S. Ambrose).
^Official French maps show the border detouring south of the main summit, and claim the highest point in Italy is Mont Blanc de Courmayeur (4,748 m or 15,577 ft), but these are inconsistent with an 1861 convention and topographic watershed analysis.
^According to Mitrica, an October 2005 Romanian report estimates that 1,061,400 Romanians are living in Italy, constituting 37% of 2.8 million immigrants in that country but it is unclear how the estimate was made, and therefore whether it should be taken seriously.
^"The Italian Colonial Empire". All Empires. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2012. At its peak, just before WWII, the Italian Empire comprehended the territories of present time Italy, Albania, Rhodes, Dodecanese, Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the majority of Somalia and the little concession of Tientsin in China
^Gabriele Abbondanza, Italy as a Regional Power: the African Context from National Unification to the Present Day (Rome: Aracne, 2016)
^"Operation Alba may be considered one of the most important instances in which Italy has acted as a regional power, taking the lead in executing a technically and politically coherent and determined strategy." See Federiga Bindi, Italy and the European Union (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2011), p. 171.
^42.7–41.5 ka (1σ CI).Katerina Douka et al., A new chronostratigraphic framework for the Upper Palaeolithic of Riparo Mochi (Italy), Journal of Human Evolution 62(2), 19 December 2011, 286–299, 10.1016/j.jhevol.2011.11.009.
^Emilio Peruzzi, Mycenaeans in early Latium, (Incunabula Graeca 75), Edizioni dell'Ateneo & Bizzarri, Roma, 1980
^Gert Jan van Wijngaarden, Use and Appreciation of Mycenaean Pottery in the Levant, Cyprus and Italy (1600–1200 B.C.): The Significance of Context, Amsterdam Archaeological Studies, Amsterdam University Press, 2001
^Bryan Feuer, Mycenaean civilization: an annotated bibliography through 2002, McFarland & Company; Rev Sub edition (2 March 2004)
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^Sarris, Peter (2011). Empires of faith : the fall of Rome to the rise of Islam, 500–700 (1st. pub. ed.). Oxford: Oxford UP. p. 118. ISBN978-0-19-926126-0.
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^Ali, Ahmed Essa with Othman (2010). Studies in Islamic civilization : the Muslim contribution to the Renaissance. Herndon, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought. pp. 38–40. ISBN978-1-56564-350-5.
^Stéphane Barry and Norbert Gualde, "The Biggest Epidemics of History" (La plus grande épidémie de l'histoire), in L'Histoire n° 310, June 2006, pp. 45–46
^Karl Julius Beloch, Bevölkerungsgeschichte Italiens, volume 3, pp. 359–360.
^Thomas James Dandelet, John A. Marino (2007). Spain in Italy: Politics, Society, and Religion 1500–1700. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill. ISBN978-90-04-15429-2.
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^Napoleon Bonaparte, "The Economy of the Empire in Italy: Instructions from Napoleon to Eugène, Viceroy of Italy," Exploring the European Past: Texts & Images, Second Edition, ed. Timothy E. Gregory (Mason: Thomson, 2007), 65–66.
^Effie Pedaliu (2004) 4141408? Britain and the 'Hand-over' of Italian War Criminals to Yugoslavia, 1945–48. Journal of Contemporary History. Vol. 39, No. 4, Special Issue: Collective Memory, pp. 503–529
^The so-called "Second Republic" was born by forceps: not with a revolt of Algiers, but formally under the same Constitution, with the mere replacement of one ruling class to another: Buonomo, Giampiero (2015). "Tovaglie pulite". Mondoperaio Edizione Online. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016. – via Questia(subscription required)
^Human-produced, direct emissions of carbon dioxide only. Excludes other greenhouse gases; land-use, land-use-change and forestry (LULUCF); and natural background flows of CO 2 (See also: Carbon cycle)
^L. Anwandter and P. Rubino (2006). Risks, uncertainties and conflicts of Interest in the Italian water sector: A review and proposals for reform. Materiali UVAL (Public Investment Evaluation Unit of the Department for Development and Cohesion Policies (DPS) in the Ministry for Economic Development), According to ISTAT figures analysed by the Water Resources Surveillance Committee (CoViRi). p. 9.
^Bardelli, Lorenzo. Pro aqua Italian policy to get prices and governance right. Utilitatis, 29th International Congress of CIRIEC, Wien, 14 September 2012. p. 16.
^Albasser, Francesco (May 2012). The Italian Water industry – Beyond the Public/Private debate & back to basics, Presentation at the Conference Water Loss Europe. in3act Energy. p. 12.
^Giuliano Pancaldi, "Volta: Science and culture in the age of enlightenment", Princeton University Press, 2003.
^Weidhorn, Manfred (2005). The Person of the Millennium: The Unique Impact of Galileo on World History. iUniverse. p. 155. ISBN978-0-595-36877-8.
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^Lucia Orlando, "Physics in the 1930s: Jewish Physicists' Contribution to the Realization of the" New Tasks" of Physics in Italy." Historical studies in the physical and biological sciences (1998): 141–181. 27757806
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^The Holy See's sovereignty has been recognized explicitly in many international agreements and is particularly emphasized in article 2 of the Lateran Treaty, English translation).
^Leustean, Lucian N. (2014). Eastern Christianity and Politics in the Twenty-First Century. Routledge. p. 723. ISBN978-0-415-68490-3.
^Dinu, M; Pagliai, G; Casini, A; Sofi, F (10 May 2017). "Mediterranean diet and multiple health outcomes: an umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational studies and randomised trials". European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 72 (1): 30–43. 10.1038/ejcn.2017.58. 28488692.
^Opie, Iona; The Classic Fairy Tales, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN978-0-19-211559-1 See p. 20. The claim for earliest fairy-tale is still debated, see for example Jan M. Ziolkowski, Fairy tales from before fairy tales: the medieval Latin past of wonderful lies, University of Michigan Press, 2007. Ziolkowski examines Egbert of Liège's Latin beast poem Fecunda natis (The Richly Laden Ship, c. 1022/24), the earliest known version of "Little Red Pentecostal, Peter J. Leithart, 9 July 2007.
^ abGiovanni Gasparini. La corsa di Pinocchio. Milano, Vita e Pensiero, 1997. p. 117. ISBN88-343-4889-3
^Erlich, Cyril (1990). The Piano: A History. Oxford University Press, US; Revised edition. ISBN978-0-19-816171-4.
^Allen, Edward Heron (1914). Violin-making, as it was and is: Being a Historical, Theoretical, and Practical Treatise on the Science and Art of Violin-making, for the Use of Violin Makers and Players, Amateur and Professional. Preceded by An Essay on the Violin and Its Position as a Musical Instrument. E. Howe. Accessed 5 September 2015.
^Sharpe-Young, Garry (2003). A–Z of Power Metal. Rockdetector Series. Cherry Red Books. ISBN978-1-901447-13-2. "American metal such as Queensrÿche, Attacker, Jag Panzer, Iced Earth, Liege Lord, and Savatage; European bands such as Helloween, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, Running Wild, and Grave Digger;"
^ ab"This record was a collaboration between Philip Oakey, the big-voiced lead singer of the techno-pop band the Human League, and Giorgio Moroder, the Italian-born father of disco who spent the '80s writing synth-based pop and film music." Evan Cater. "Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder: Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 December 2009.