science, exploration, and art. 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. Italy's commercial and political power significantly waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of rivalry and infighting between the Italian city-states, and the invasions of other European powers during the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left parts of Italy politically fragmented.
Oenotria and "Italy" had become synonymous, and the name also applied to most of Lucania as well. According to Strabo's Geographica, before the expansion of the Roman Republic, the name was used by ancient Greeks to indicate the land between the strait of Messina and the line connecting the gulf of Salerno and gulf of Taranto, corresponding roughly to the current region of Calabria. The ancient Greeks gradually came to apply the name "Italia" to a larger region In addition to the "Greek Italy" in the south, historians have suggested the existence of an "Etruscan Italy" covering variable areas of central Italy.
The borders of
Italian geographical region. All its inhabitants were considered Italic and Roman.
The Latin term Italicus was used to describe "a man of Italy" as opposed to a provincial. For example, Pliny the Elder notably wrote in a letter Italicus es an provincialis? meaning "are you an Italian or a provincial?".
The adjective italianus, from which are derived the Italian (and also French and English) name of the
Ötzi the Iceman, determined to be 5,000 years old (between 3400 and 3100 BCE, Copper Age), was discovered in the Similaun glacier of South Tyrol in 1991.
The first foreign colonisers 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 ancient 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
Greek colonies were established all along the coast of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula, that became known as Magna Graecia.
Greek colonization places the Italic peoples in contact with democratic forms of government and with high artistic and cultural expressions.
The Italian Peninsula, named Italia, was consolidated into a single entity during the Roman
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. Roman 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 Domina Provinciarum ("ruler of the provinces", the latter being all the remaining territories outside Italy). More than two centuries of stability followed, during which Italy was referred to as the Rectrix Mundi ("governor of the world") and Omnium Terrarum Parens ("parent 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
calendar, and the emergence of Christianity as a major world religion. The Indo-Roman trade relations, beginning around the 1st century BCE, testify 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
In a slow
half of the Empire survived for another thousand years.
The Germanic Emperor and the Roman Pontiff became the
investiture controversy (a conflict between 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.
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.
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 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 blossoming of Humanism and Renaissance
The fall of Constantinople led to the migration of
Renaissance Humanism, in which he stressed the importance of free will in human beings. The humanist historian Leonardo Bruni was the first to divide human history in three periods: Antiquity, Middle Ages and Modernity. The second consequence of the Fall of Constantinople was the beginning of the Age of Discovery
in the history of humankind and sustained contact between the two worlds.
Italian explorers and navigators from the dominant maritime republics, eager to find an alternative route to the Indies in order to bypass the Ottoman Empire, offered their services to monarchs of Atlantic countries and 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, colonizer in the name of Spain, who is credited with discovering the New World and the opening of the Americas for conquest and settlement by Europeans;John Cabot, sailing for England, who was the first European to set foot in "New Found Land" and explore parts of the North American continent in 1497;Amerigo Vespucci, sailing for Portugal, who first demonstrated in about 1501 that the New World (in particular Brazil) 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, at the service of France, renowned as the first European to explore the Atlantic coast of North America between Florida and New Brunswick in 1524.
Following the fall of Constantinople, the
advanced the interests of their family. In 1559, at the end of the French invasions of Italy and of the Italian wars, the many states of northern Italy remained part of the Holy Roman Empire, indirectly subject to the Austrian Habsburgs, while all of Southern Italy
(Naples, Sicily, Sardinia) and Milan were under Spanish Habsburg rule.
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 as the "Hero of the Two Worlds",
who commanded and fought in many military campaigns that led to Italian unification
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
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.
(right), leading figures in the Italian unification, became respectively the first king and first Prime Minister of unified Italy.
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.
Starting in the last two decades of the 19th century, Italy developed into 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. In 1913, male universal suffrage was adopted. The pre-war period dominated by Giovanni Giolitti
, Prime Minister five times between 1892 and 1921, was characterised by the economic, industrial, and political-cultural modernization of Italian society.
Victor Emmanuel III refused to proclaim a state of siege and appointed Mussolini prime minister, thereby transferring political power to the fascists without armed conflict. 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
Italian Fascism is based upon Italian nationalism and imperialism, and in particular seeks to complete what it considers as the incomplete project of the unification of Italy by incorporating Italia Irredenta (unredeemed Italy) into the state of Italy. To the east of Italy, the Fascists claimed that Dalmatia was a land of Italian culture whose Italians, including those of Italianized South Slavic descent, had been driven out of Dalmatia and into exile in Italy, and supported the return of Italians of Dalmatian heritage. Mussolini identified Dalmatia as having strong Italian cultural roots for centuries, similarly to Istria, via the Roman Empire and the Republic of Venice. To the south of Italy, the Fascists claimed Malta, which belonged to the United Kingdom, and Corfu, which instead belonged to Greece; to the north claimed Italian Switzerland, while to the west claimed Corsica, Nice, and Savoy, which belonged to France. The Fascist regime produced literature on Corsica that presented evidence of the island's italianità. The Fascist regime produced literature on Nice that justified that Nice was an Italian land based on historic, ethnic, and linguistic grounds.
for the rest of the war, with the Allies slowly moving up from the south.
In the north, the Germans set up the
Italian Fascist forces. As result, the country descended into civil war. 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.
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 (
Group of Seven
in the 1970s. 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.
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.
In 2020, Italy was severely hit by the
national lockdown as a measure to limit the spread of the disease, while further restrictions were introduced during the following winter. The measures, despite being widely approved by the public opinion, were also described as the largest suppression of constitutional rights in the history of the republic. With more than 155,000 confirmed victims, Italy was one of the countries with the highest total number of deaths in the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic caused also a severe economic disruption, in which Italy resulted as one of the most affected countries.
In February 2021, after a
national unity government supported by almost all the main parties, pledging to oversee implementation of economic stimulus to face the crisis caused by the pandemic. On 22 October 2022, Giorgia Meloni was sworn in as Italy's first female prime minister. Her Brothers of Italy party formed a right-wing government with the far-right League and Berlusconi's Forza Italia.
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.
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, while the total area protected by national parks, regional parks and nature reserves covers about 10.5% of the Italian territory, to which must be added 12% of coasts protected by marine protected areas.
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 provided approximately 37% Italy's energy consumption in 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
, 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
Conditions on the coast are different from those in the interior, particularly during winter months when the higher altitudes tend to be cold, wet, and often snowy. The coastal regions have mild winters and hot and generally dry summers; lowland valleys are hot in summer. Average winter temperatures vary from around 0 °C (32 °F) in the Alps to 12 °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 are hot across the country, except for at high altitude, particularly in the south. Northern and central areas can experience occasional strong thunderstorms from spring to autumn.
Italy has a parliamentary government based on a mixed
President of the Council of Ministers (Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri), is Italy's head of government
. The Prime Minister and the cabinet are appointed by the President of the Republic of Italy and must pass a vote of confidence in Parliament to come into office. To remain the Prime Minister has to pass also eventual further votes of confidence or no confidence in Parliament.
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
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 law of Italy has a plurality of sources of production. These are arranged in a hierarchical scale, under which the rule of a lower source cannot conflict with the rule of an upper source (hierarchy of sources). The Constitution of 1948 is the main source.
(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 are relatively low figures among developed countries.
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'
, 1861) after World War II, when Italy became a republic following a referendum.
The Italian Navy 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. It was formed in 1946 from what remained of the Regia Marina ("Royal Navy", which was established on the occasion of the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, 1861) after World War II, when Italy became a republic following a referendum. The Italian Navy in 2014 operates 154 vessels in service, including minor auxiliary vessels.
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.
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 tenth-largest exporter in 2019. Its closest trade ties are with the other countries of the European Union. Its largest export partners in 2019 were Germany (12%), France (11%), and the United States (10%).
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
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.
Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (FSI), in 2008 totalled 16,529 km (10,271 mi) of which 11,727 km (7,287 mi) is electrified, and on which 4,802 locomotives and railcars run. The main public operator of high-speed trains is Trenitalia, part of FSI. Higher-speed trains are divided into three categories: Frecciarossa (English: red arrow) trains operate at a maximum speed of 300 km/h on dedicated high-speed tracks; Frecciargento (English: silver arrow) trains operate at a maximum speed of 250 km/h on both high-speed and mainline tracks; and Frecciabianca
(English: white arrow) trains operate on high-speed regional lines at a maximum speed of 200 km/h. Italy has 11 rail border crossings over the Alpine mountains with its neighbouring countries.
Italy is the fifth in Europe by number of passengers by air transport, with about 148 million passengers or about 10% of the European total in 2011.
Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Rome. Since October 2021, Italy's flag carrier airline is ITA Airways, which took over the brand, the IATA ticketing code, and many assets belonging to the former flag carrier Alitalia, after its bankruptcy.
In 2004 there were 43 major seaports, including the seaport of
waterways network has a length of 2,400 km (1,491 mi) for commercial traffic in 2012.
Italy has been the final destination of the Silk Road for many centuries. In particular, the construction of the Suez Canal intensified sea trade with East Africa and Asia from the 19th century. Since the end of the Cold War and increasing European integration, the trade relations, which were often interrupted in the 20th century, have intensified again and the northern Italian ports such as the deep-water port of Trieste in the northernmost part of the Mediterranean with its extensive rail connections to Central and Eastern Europe are once again the destination of government subsidies and significant foreign investment.
People have visited Italy for centuries, yet the first to visit the peninsula for touristic reasons were aristocrats during the Grand Tour, beginning in the 17th century, and flourishing in the 18th and the 19th century. This was a period in which European aristocrats, many of whom were British, visited parts of Europe, with Italy as a key destination. For Italy, this was in order to study ancient architecture, local culture and to admire the natural beauties.
Nowadays Italy is the fifth most visited country in international tourism, 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).
Factors of tourist interest in Italy are mainly
Apennines, while seaside tourism is widespread in coastal locations on the Mediterranean Sea. Italy is the leading cruise tourism destination in the Mediterranean Sea.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world (58). Out of Italy's 58 heritage sites, 53 are cultural and 5 are natural. In Italy there is a broad variety of hotels, going from 1-5 stars. According to ISTAT, in 2017, there were 32,988 hotels with 1,133,452 rooms and 2,239,446 beds. As for non-hotel facilities (campsites, tourist villages, accommodations for rent, agritourism, etc.), in 2017 their number was 171,915 with 2,798,352 beds.
Map of Italy's population density at the 2011 census
At the beginning of 2020, Italy had 60,317,116 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, as well as much of Sicily, are sparsely populated.
The population of Italy almost doubled during the 20th century, but the pattern of growth was extremely uneven because of large-scale
replacement rate of 2.1 and considerably below the high of 5.06 children born per woman in 1883. Nevertheless, the total fertility rate is expected to reach 1.6–1.8 in 2030.
From the late 19th century until the 1960s Italy was a country of mass
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 became Italian citizens. The official figures also exclude illegal immigrants, who estimated to number at least 670,000 as of 2008.
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). Another 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 ethnic Romani people) are officially registered as living in Italy, representing the largest migrant population, 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 3]
As of 2010, the foreign born population of Italy was from the following regions: Europe (54%), Africa (22%), Asia (16%), the Americas (8%) and Oceania (0.06%). The distribution of foreign population is geographically varied in Italy: in 2020, 61.2% of foreign citizens lived in Northern Italy (in particular 36.1% in the North West and 25.1% in the North East), 24.2% in the centre, 10.8% in the South and 3.9% in the Islands.
Because of recent immigration, Italy has sizeable populations whose native language is not Italian, nor a regional language. According to the
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).
diplomatic relations can be maintained.[note 4] Often incorrectly referred to as "the Vatican", the Holy See is not the same entity as the Vatican City State because the Holy See is the jurisdiction and administrative entity of the Pope.
The Vatican City came into existence only in 1929.
In 2011, minority Christian faiths in Italy included an estimated 1.5 million Orthodox Christians, or 2.5% of the population;
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,
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
prepare pupils for vocational education.
In 2018, the Italian secondary education was evaluated as below the OECD average. Italy scored below the OECD average in reading and science, and near OECD average in mathematics. Mean performance in Italy declined in reading and science, and remained stable in mathematics.Trento and Bolzano scored at an above the national average in reading. Compared to school children in other OECD countries, children in Italy missed out on a greater amount of learning due to absences and indiscipline in classrooms. A wide gap exists between northern schools, which perform near average, and schools in the South, that had much poorer results.
courts competed to attract architects, artists and scholars, thus producing a legacy of monuments, paintings, music and literature. Despite the political and social isolation of these courts, Italy has made a substantial contribution to the cultural and historical heritage of Europe.
Italy 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 art treasures.
, 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 800s. 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.
A flowering of Italian architecture took place during the Renaissance.
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 the 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. Villas, palaces, gardens, interiors and art began to be based on Roman and Greek themes.
The history of Italian visual arts is significant to the history of Western painting. 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. The only surviving Roman paintings are wall paintings, many from villas in Campania, in Southern Italy. Such paintings 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
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.
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.
Purgatory and the city of Florence, with the spheres of Heaven above, in Michelino
's fresco, 1465
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. One 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. 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.
Metastasio's heroic melodramas. In the 18th century, playwright Carlo Goldoni
created full written plays, many portraying the middle class of his day.
Pinocchio is one of the world's most translated books 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 originates from the Middle Ages. It can therefore be assumed that there were two main lines of which the ancient Italian theatre developed. The first, consisting of the dramatization of Catholic liturgies and of which more documentation is retained, and the second, formed by pagan forms of spectacle such as the staging for city festivals, the court preparations of the jesters and the songs of the troubadours. The Renaissance theatre marked the beginning of the modern theatre due to the rediscovery and study of the classics, the ancient theatrical texts were recovered and translated, which were soon staged at the court and in the curtensi halls, and then moved to real theatre. In this way the idea of theatre came close to that of today: a performance in a designated place in which the public participates. In the late 15th century two cities were important centers for the rediscovery and renewal of theatrical art: Ferrara and Rome. The first, vital center of art in the second half of the fifteenth century, saw the staging of some of the most famous Latin works by Plautus, rigorously translated into Italian.
During the 16th century and on into the 18th century,
bravado. The main categories of these characters include servants, old men, lovers, and captains.
The first recorded Commedia dell'arte performances came from Rome as early as 1551, and was performed outdoors in temporary venues by professional actors who were costumed and masked, as opposed to commedia erudita, which were written comedies, presented indoors by untrained and unmasked actors. By the mid-16th century, specific troupes of commedia performers began to coalesce, and by 1568 the Gelosi became a distinct company. Commedia often performed inside in court theatres or halls, and also as some fixed theatres such as Teatro Baldrucca in Florence. Flaminio Scala, who had been a minor performer in the Gelosi published the scenarios of the Commedia dell'arte around the start of the 17th century, really in an effort to legitimise the form—and ensure its legacy. These scenari are highly structured and built around the symmetry of the various types in duet: two zanni, vecchi, inamorate and inamorati, among others.
In Commedia dell'arte, female roles were played by women, documented as early as the 1560s, making them the first known professional actresses in Europe since antiquity. Lucrezia Di Siena, whose name is on a contract of actors from 10 October 1564, has been referred to as the first Italian actress known by name, with Vincenza Armani and Barbara Flaminia as the first primadonnas and the first well documented actresses in Europe.
, he was trained in dance and responsible for teaching nobles the art. Da Piacenza left one work: De arte saltandi et choreus ducendi (On the art of dancing and conducting dances), which was put together by his students.
At first, ballets were woven in to the midst of an opera to allow the audience a moment of relief from the dramatic intensity. By the mid-seventeenth century, Italian ballets in their entirety were performed in between the acts of an opera. Over time, Italian ballets became part of theatrical life: ballet companies in Italy's major opera houses employed an average of four to twelve dancers; in 1815 many companies employed anywhere from eighty to one hundred dancers.
Carlo Goldoni, who wrote a few scenarios starting in 1734, superseded 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. Italian theatre has been active in producing contemporary European work and in staging revivals, including the works of Luigi Pirandello and Dario Fo.
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.
Italy is widely known for being the birthplace of opera.
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
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
Bvlgari, Damiani and Buccellati have been founded in Italy. Also, the fashion magazine Vogue Italia, is considered one of the most prestigious fashion magazines in the world. The talent of young, creative fashion is also promoted, as in the ITS young fashion designer competition in Trieste.
Italy is also prominent in the field of design, notably interior design,
are among the most famous examples of Italian desserts, cakes and patisserie.
merenda (plural merende), are also often included in this meal structure.
Italian tricolour) and geographical references for brands that are evocative of Italy to promote and market agri-food products that have nothing to do with Italian cuisine is known by the name of Italian Sounding.
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.
^The Guardia di Finanza also operates a large fleet of ships, aircraft and helicopters, enabling it to patrol Italy's waters and to eventually participate in warfare scenarios
^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 Holy See's sovereignty has been recognized explicitly in many international agreements and is particularly emphasized in article 2 of the Lateran Treaty of 11 February 1929, in which "Italy recognizes the sovereignty of the Holy See in international matters as an inherent attribute in conformity with its traditions and the requirements of its mission to the world" (Lateran Treaty, English translation).
^"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.
. Retrieved 13 June 2016. ("The great powers are super-sovereign states: an exclusive club of the most powerful states economically, militarily, politically and strategically. These states include veto-wielding members of the United Nations Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia), as well as economic powerhouses such as Germany, Italy and Japan.")
^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)
^Emilio Peruzzi, Mycenaeans in early Latium, (Incunabula Graeca 75), Edizioni dell'Ateneo & Bizzarri, Roma, 1980
^G. Benvenuti – Le Repubbliche Marinare. Amalfi, Pisa, Genova, Venezia – Newton & Compton editori, Roma 1989; Armando Lodolini, Le repubbliche del mare, Biblioteca di storia patria, 1967, Roma. Peris, Persi (1982). Conoscere l'Italia. Istituto Geografico De Agostini. p. 74.
^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.
^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 by another: Buonomo, Giampiero (2015). "Tovaglie pulite". Mondoperaio Edizione Online.
ISBN 978-0-19-211559-1 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 Riding Hood". Further info: Little Red Pentecostal
^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.
^ 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.