Repubblica Italiana (Italian)
and largest city
|Native languages||See full list|
|Ethnic groups (2017)|
|Prime Minister||Giuseppe Conte|
|President of the Senate||Elisabetta Casellati|
|President of the||Roberto Fico|
|Upper house||Senate of the Republic|
|Lower house||Chamber of Deputies|
|Unification||17 March 1861|
|Republic||2 June 1946|
|Current constitution||1 January 1948|
|Founded the EEC (now EU)||1 January 1958|
|Total||301,340 km (116,350 sq mi) (71st)|
|Water (%)||1.24 (as of 2015)|
|2020 estimate||60,317,116 (23rd)|
|Density||201.3/km (521.4/sq mi) (63rd)|
|GDP (PPP)||2019 estimate|
|Total||$2.443 trillion (12th)|
|Per capita||$40,470 (33rd)|
|GDP (nominal)||2019 estimate|
|Total||$1.989 trillion (8th)|
|Per capita||$32,947 (25th)|
very high · 29th
|Currency||Euro (€) (EUR)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|ISO 3166 code||IT|
Italy (Italian: Italia [iˈtaːlja (listen)), officially the Italian Republic (Italian: Repubblica Italiana [reˈpubːlika itaˈljaːna), is a country consisting of a continental part, delimited by the Alps and a peninsula surrounded by several islands.
A unitary parliamentary republic with Rome as its capital, the country covers a total area of 301,340 km (116,350 sq mi) and shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino.
With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the third-most populous member state of the European Union.
In addition to the various ancient peoples dispersed throughout what is now modern-day Italy, the most predominant being the Indo-European Italic peoples who gave the peninsula its name, beginning from the classical era, Phoenicians and Carthaginians founded colonies mostly in insular Italy, Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Graecia of Southern Italy, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively.
By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became a leading cultural, political and religious centre, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's law, technology, economy, art, and literature developed.
During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured the fall of the Western Roman Empire 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 theocratic Papal 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.
Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars, artists and polymaths.
Nevertheless, Italy's commercial and political power significantly waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean.
Centuries of foreign meddling and conquest and the rivalry and infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left Italy politically fragmented, and it was further conquered and divided among multiple foreign European powers over the centuries.
By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval.
From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy rapidly industrialised, mainly in the north, and acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained largely impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora.
Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the Italian Resistance, the country abolished their monarchy, established a democratic Republic, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom, and became a highly developed country.
Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically advanced countries, with the world's eighth-largest economy by nominal GDP (third in the European Union), sixth-largest national wealth and third-largest central bank gold reserve.
The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military, cultural and diplomatic affairs; it is both a regional power and a great power, and is ranked the world's eighth most-powerful military.
Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Trade Organization, the Group of Seven, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more.
The country has long been a global centre of art, music, literature, philosophy, science and technology, and fashion, and has greatly influenced and contributed to diverse fields including cinema, cuisine, sports, jurisprudence, banking and business.
Main article: Name of Italy
Hypotheses for the etymology of the name "Italia" are numerous.
According to Antiochus of Syracuse, the term Italy was used by the Greeks to initially refer only to the southern portion of the Bruttium peninsula corresponding to the modern province of Reggio and part of the provinces of Catanzaro and Vibo Valentia in southern Italy.
According to Strabo's Geographica, before the expansion of the Roman Republic, the name was used by 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 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 Roman Italy, Italia, are better established.
According to Cato and several Roman authors, the Alps formed the "walls of Italy".
The northern area of Cisalpine Gaul was occupied by Rome in the 220s BC and became considered geographically and de facto part of Italy, but remained politically and de jure separated.
The islands of Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily and Malta were added to Italy by Diocletian in 292 AD.
Main article: History of Italy
Prehistory and antiquity
Thousands of Paleolithic-era artifacts have been recovered from Monte Poggiolo and dated to around 850,000 years before the present, making them the oldest evidence of first hominins habitation in the peninsula.
The Ancient peoples of pre-Roman Italy – such as the Umbrians, the Latins (from which the Romans emerged), Volsci, Oscans, Samnites, Sabines, the Celts, the Ligures, the Veneti, the Iapygians and many others – were Indo-European peoples, most of them specifically of the Italic group.
The main historic peoples of possible non-Indo-European or pre-Indo-European heritage include the Etruscans of central and northern Italy, the Elymians and the Sicani in Sicily, and the prehistoric Sardinians, who gave birth to the Nuragic civilisation.
Other ancient populations being of undetermined language families and of possible non-Indo-European origin include the Rhaetian people and Cammuni, known for their rock carvings in Valcamonica, the largest collections of prehistoric petroglyphs in the world.
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.
Main article: Ancient Rome
Rome, a settlement around a ford on the river Tiber in central Italy conventionally founded in 753 BC, was ruled for a period of 244 years by a monarchical system, initially with sovereigns of Latin and Sabine origin, later by Etruscan kings.
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.
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.
In a slow decline since the third century AD, the Empire split in two in 395 AD.
The Eastern half of the Empire survived for another thousand years.
Main article: Italy in the Middle Ages
See also: Barbarian kingdoms
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Italy fell under the power of Odoacer's kingdom, and, later, was seized by the Ostrogoths, followed in the 6th century by a brief reconquest under Byzantine Emperor Justinian.
The invasion of another Germanic tribe, the Lombards, late in the same century, reduced the Byzantine presence to the rump realm of the Exarchate of Ravenna and started the end of political unity of the peninsula for the next 1,300 years.
Invasions of the peninsula caused a chaotic succession of barbarian kingdoms and the so-called "dark ages".
The Franks also helped the formation of the Papal States in central Italy.
Until the 13th century, Italian politics was dominated by the relations between the Holy Roman Emperors and the Papacy, with most of the Italian city-states siding with the former (Ghibellines) or with the latter (Guelphs) from momentary convenience.
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.
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.
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.
Italy was the birthplace and heart of the Renaissance during the 1400s and 1500s.
The Italian Renaissance marked the transition from the medieval period to the modern age as Europe recovered, economically and culturally, from the crises of the Late Middle Ages and entered the Early Modern Period.
The Italian princedoms represented a first form of modern states as opposed to feudal monarchies and multinational empires.
The princedoms were led by political dynasties and merchant families such as the Medici in Florence, the Visconti and Sforza in the Duchy of Milan, the Doria in the Republic of Genoa, the Mocenigo and Barbarigo in the Republic of Venice, the Este in Ferrara, and the Gonzaga in Mantua.
The Renaissance was therefore a result of the great wealth accumulated by Italian merchant cities combined with the patronage of its dominant families.
Italian Renaissance exercised a dominant influence on subsequent European painting and sculpture for centuries afterwards, with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Giotto, Donatello, and Titian, and architects such as Filippo Brunelleschi, Leon Battista Alberti, Andrea Palladio, and Donato Bramante.
Following the conclusion of the western schism in favour of Rome at the Council of Constance (1415–1417), the new Pope Martin V returned to the Papal States after a three years-long journey that touched many Italian cities and restored Italy as the sole centre of Western Christianity.
During the course of this voyage, the Medici Bank was made the official credit institution of the Papacy and several significant ties were established between the Church and the new political dynasties of the peninsula.
The Popes' status as elective monarchs turned the conclaves and consistories of the Renaissance into political battles between the courts of Italy for primacy in the peninsula and access to the immense resources of the Catholic Church.
In 1439, Pope Eugenius IV and the Byzantine Emperor John VIII Palaiologos signed a reconciliation agreement between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church at the Council of Florence hosted by Cosimo the old de Medici.
In 1453, Italian forces under Giovanni Giustiniani were sent by Pope Nicholas V to defend the Walls of Constantinople but the decisive battle was lost to the more advanced Turkish army equipped with cannons, and Byzantium fell to Sultan Mehmed II.
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.
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;
Lorenzo the Magnificent de Medici was the greatest Florentine patron of the Renaissance and supporter of the Italic League.
During the High Renaissance of the 1500s, Italy was therefore both the main European battleground and the cultural-economic centre of the continent.
Popes such as Julius II (1503–1513) fought for the control of Italy against foreign monarchs, others such as Paul III (1534–1549) preferred to mediate between the European powers in order to secure peace in Italy.
The Papacy remained independent and launched the Counter-reformation.
Key events of the period include: the Council of Trent (1545–1563); the excommunication of Elizabeth I (1570) and the Battle of Lepanto (1571), both occurring during the pontificate of Pius V; the construction of the Gregorian observatory, the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, and the Jesuit China mission of Matteo Ricci under Pope Gregory XIII; the French Wars of Religion; the Long Turkish War and the execution of Giordano Bruno in 1600, under Pope Clement VIII; the birth of the Lyncean Academy of the Papal States, of which the main figure was Galileo Galilei (later put on trial); the final phases of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) during the pontificates of Urban VIII and Innocent X; and the formation of the last Holy League by Innocent XI during the Great Turkish War
The Italian economy declined during the 1600s and 1700s, as the peninsula was excluded from the rising Atlantic slave trade.
Following the European wars of succession of the 18th century, the south passed to a cadet branch of the Spanish Bourbons and the North fell under the influence of the Habsburg-Lorraine of Austria.
The 1814 Congress of Vienna restored the situation of the late 18th century, but the ideals of the French Revolution could not be eradicated, and soon re-surfaced during the political upheavals that characterised the first part of the 19th century.
Main article: 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.
The most famous member of Young Italy was the revolutionary and general Giuseppe Garibaldi, renowned for his extremely loyal followers, who led the Italian republican drive for unification in Southern Italy.
However, the Northern Italy monarchy of the House of Savoy in the Kingdom of Sardinia, whose government was led by Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, also had ambitions of establishing a united Italian state.
In 1855, the Kingdom of Sardinia became an ally of Britain and France in the Crimean War, giving Cavour's diplomacy legitimacy in the eyes of the great powers.
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.
Finally, in 1870, as France abandoned its garrisons in Rome during the disastrous Franco-Prussian War to keep the large Prussian Army at bay, the Italians rushed to fill the power gap by taking over the Papal States.
Italian unification was completed and shortly afterwards Italy's capital was moved to Rome.
Victor Emmanuel, Garibaldi, Cavour and Mazzini have been referred as Italy's Four Fathers of the Fatherland.
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 from the last two decades of the 19th century, Italy developed into a colonial power by forcing under its rule Eritrea and Somalia in East Africa, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica in North Africa (later unified in the colony of Libya) and the Dodecanese islands.
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.
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.
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".
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.
In 1935, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia and founded the Italian East Africa, resulting in an international alienation and leading to Italy's withdrawal from the League of Nations; Italy allied with Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan and strongly supported Francisco Franco in the Spanish civil war.
In 1939, Italy annexed Albania, a de facto protectorate for decades.
Italy entered World War II on 10 June 1940.
The Armistice of Villa Giusti, which ended fighting between Italy and Austria-Hungary at the end of World War I, resulted in Italian annexation of neighbouring parts of Yugoslavia.
During the interwar period, the fascist Italian government undertook a campaign of Italianisation in the areas it annexed, which suppressed Slavic language, schools, political parties, and cultural institutions.
During World War II, Italian war crimes included extrajudicial killings and ethnic cleansing by deportation of about 25,000 people, mainly Jews, Croats, and Slovenians, to the Italian concentration camps, such as Rab, Gonars, Monigo, Renicci di Anghiari and elsewhere.
In Italy and Yugoslavia, unlike in Germany, few war crimes were prosecuted.
Meanwhile, about 250,000 Italians and anti-communist Slavs fled to Italy in the Istrian exodus.
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.
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.
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.
Main article: History of the Italian Republic
This was also the first time that Italian women were entitled to vote.
The Republican Constitution was approved on 1 January 1948.
Italy also lost all of its colonial possessions, formally ending the Italian Empire.
In 1950, Italian Somaliland was made a United Nations Trust Territory under Italian administration until 1 July 1960.
Fears of a possible Communist takeover (especially in the United States) proved crucial for the first universal suffrage electoral outcome on 18 April 1948, when the Christian Democrats, under the leadership of Alcide De Gasperi, obtained a landslide victory.
Consequently, in 1949 Italy became a member of NATO.
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.
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 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.
Italy faced several terror attacks between 1992 and 1993 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.
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.
The new government started important constitutional reforms such as the abolition of the Senate and a new electoral law.
In the European migrant crisis of the 2010s, Italy was the entry point and leading destination for most asylum seekers entering the EU.
From 2013 to 2018, 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 or eurosceptic political parties.
The 2018 general 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.
In 2020, Italy was severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
From March to May, Conte's government imposed a national quarantine as a measure to limit the spread of the disease.
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 64,000 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.
Main article: Geography of Italy
To the south, it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula and the two Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia (the two biggest islands of the Mediterranean), in addition to many smaller islands.
The country's total area is 301,230 square kilometres (116,306 sq mi), of which 294,020 km (113,522 sq mi) is land and 7,210 km (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.
Over 35% of the Italian territory is mountainous.
The Po Valley is the largest plain in Italy, with 46,000 km (18,000 sq mi), and it represents over 70% of the total plain area in the country.
Many elements of the Italian territory are of volcanic origin.
The five largest lakes are, in order of diminishing size: Garda (367.94 km or 142 sq mi), Maggiore (212.51 km or 82 sq mi, whose minor northern part is Switzerland), Como (145.9 km or 56 sq mi), Trasimeno (124.29 km or 48 sq mi) and Bolsena (113.55 km or 44 sq mi).
Although the country includes the Italian peninsula, adjacent islands, and most of the southern Alpine basin, some of Italy's territory extends beyond the Alpine basin and some islands are located outside the Eurasian continental shelf.
These territories are the comuni of: Livigno, Sexten, Innichen, Toblach (in part), Chiusaforte, Tarvisio, Graun im Vinschgau (in part), which are all part of the Danube's drainage basin, while the Val di Lei constitutes part of the Rhine's basin and the islands of Lampedusa and Lampione are on the African continental shelf.
Four different seas surround the Italian Peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea from three sides: the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea in the south, and the Ligurian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west.
Including islands, Italy has a coastline of 7,900 km.
The Italian Riviera includes nearly all of the coastline of Liguria, extending from the border with France near Ventimiglia eastwards to Capo Corvo, which marks the eastern end of the Gulf of La Spezia.
The Apennines run along the entire length of the peninsula, dividing the waters into two opposite sides.
On the other hand, the rivers are numerous due to the relative abundance of rains and to the presence of the Alpine chain in northern Italy with snowfields and glaciers.
The fundamental watershed follows the ridge of the Alps and the Apennines and delimits five main slopes, corresponding to the seas into which the rivers flow: the Adriatic, Ionic, Tyrrhenian, Ligurian and Mediterranean sides.
Taking into consideration their origin, the Italian rivers can be divided into two main groups: the Alpine-Po rivers and the Apennine-island rivers.
The waters from some border municipalities (Livigno in Lombardy, Innichen and Sexten in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol) drain into the Black Sea through the basin of the Drava, a tributary of the Danube, and the waters from the Lago di Lei in Lombardy drain into the North Sea through the basin of the Rhine.
The longest Italian river is Po, which flows either 652 km (405 mi) or 682 km (424 mi) (considering the length of the right bank tributary Maira) and whose headwaters are a spring seeping from a stony hillside at Pian del Re, a flat place at the head of the Val Po under the northwest face of Monviso.
The vast valley around the Po is called Po Valley (Italian: Pianura Padana or Val Padana) the main industrial area of the country; in 2002, more than 16 million people lived there, at the time nearly ⅓ of the population of Italy.
In the north of the country are a number of large subalpine moraine-dammed lakes, commonly referred to as the Italian Lakes.
There are more than 1000 lakes in Italy, the largest of which is Garda (370 km or 143 sq mi).
Other well-known subalpine lakes are Lake Maggiore (212.5 km or 82 sq mi), whose most northerly section is part of Switzerland, Como (146 km or 56 sq mi), one of the deepest lakes in Europe, Orta, Lugano, Iseo, and Idro.
The swamps and ponds that in the past covered vast flat areas of Italy, have largely been dried up in recent centuries; the few remaining wetlands, such as the Comacchio Valleys in Emilia-Romagna or the Stagno di Cagliari in Sardinia, are protected natural environments.
See also: Volcanology of Italy
The high volcanic and magmatic neogenic activity is subdivided into provinces:
- Magmatic Tuscan (Monti Cimini, Tolfa and Amiata);
- Magmatic Latium (Monti Volsini, Vico nel Lazio, Colli Albani, Roccamonfina);
- Ultra-alkaline Umbrian Latium District (San Venanzo, Cupaello and Polino);
- Volcanic bell (Vesuvius, Campi Flegrei, Ischia);
- Windy arch and Tyrrhenian basin (Aeolian Islands and Tyrrhenian seamounts);
- African-Adriatic Avampa (Channel of Sicily, Graham Island, Etna and Mount Vulture).
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.
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 Messina mudslides.
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.
Italian fauna includes 4,777 endemic animal species, which include the Sardinian long-eared bat, Sardinian red deer, spectacled salamander, brown cave salamander, Italian newt, Italian frog, Apennine yellow-bellied toad, Aeolian wall lizard, Sicilian wall lizard, Italian Aesculapian snake, and Sicilian pond turtle.
There are 102 mammals species (most notably the Italian wolf, Marsican brown bear, Pyrenean chamois, Alpine ibex, crested porcupine, Mediterranean monk seal, Alpine marmot, Etruscan shrew, and European snow vole), 516 bird species and 56,213 invertebrate species.
The flora of Italy was traditionally estimated to comprise about 5,500 vascular plant species.
However, as of 2005, 6,759 species are recorded in the Data bank of Italian vascular flora.
Italy is a signatory to the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats and the Habitats Directive both affording protection to Italian fauna and flora.
Main article: Climate of Italy
Because of the great longitudinal extension of the peninsula and the mostly mountainous internal conformation, the climate of Italy is highly diverse.
In particular, the climate of the Po valley geographical region is mostly continental, with harsh winters and hot summers.
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.
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.
Main article: Politics of Italy
Italy has a written democratic constitution, resulting from the work of a Constituent Assembly formed by the representatives of all the anti-fascist forces that contributed to the defeat of Nazi and Fascist forces during the Civil War.
Italy has a parliamentary government based on a mixed proportional and majoritarian voting system.
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.
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.
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.
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.
During the 2018 general election these three parties won 614 out of 630 seats available in the Chamber of Deputies and 309 out of 315 in the Senate.
Berlusconi's Forza Italia which formed a centre-right coalition with Matteo Salvini's Northern League and Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy won most of the seats without getting the majority in parliament.
The rest of the seats were taken by Five Star Movement, Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party along with Achammer and Panizza's South Tyrolean People's Party & Trentino Tyrolean Autonomist Party in a centre-left coalition and the independent Free and Equal party.
Law and criminal justice
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.
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.
Main article: Law enforcement in Italy
The Italian law enforcement system is complex, with multiple police forces.
The national policing agencies are the Polizia di Stato (State Police), the Arma dei Carabinieri, the Guardia di Finanza (Financial Guard), and the Polizia Penitenziaria (Prison Police), as well as the Guardia Costiera (coast guard police).
The Polizia di Stato are a civil police supervised by the Interior Ministry, while the Carabinieri is a gendarmerie supervised by the Defense Ministry; both share duties in law enforcement and the maintenance of public order.
Within the Carabinieri is a unit devoted to combating environmental crime.
The Polizia Penitenziaria are responsible for guarding the prison system.
Main article: Foreign relations of Italy
Italy was admitted to the United Nations in 1955, and it is a member and a strong supporter of a wide number of international organisations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organization (GATT/WTO), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe, and the Central European Initiative.
Its recent or upcoming turns in the rotating presidency of international organisations include the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in 2018, the G7 in 2017 and the EU Council from July to December 2014.
Italy strongly supports multilateral international politics, endorsing the United Nations and its international security activities.
As of 2013, Italy was deploying 5,296 troops abroad, engaged in 33 UN and NATO missions in 25 countries of the world.
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.
Italy is one of the largest financiers of the Palestinian National Authority, contributing €60 million in 2013 alone.
Main article: Italian Armed Forces
Since 2005, military service is voluntary.
In 2010, the Italian military had 293,202 personnel on active duty, of which 114,778 are Carabinieri.
Total Italian military spending in 2010 ranked tenth in the world, standing at $35.8 billion, equal to 1.7% of national GDP.
The Italian Army is the national ground defence force, numbering 109,703 in 2008.
Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft the Mangusta attack helicopter, in the last years deployed in EU, NATO and UN missions.
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.
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 constituted by 20 regions (regioni)—five of these regions having a special autonomous status that enables them to enact legislation on additional matters, 107 provinces (province) or metropolitan cities (città metropolitane), and 7,960 municipalities (comuni).
|Region||Capital||Area (km)||Area (sq mi)||Population (January 2019)||Nominal GDP EURO billions (2016)||Nominal GDP EURO per capita(2016)|
Main article: Economy of Italy
See also: List of largest Italian companies
The country is well known for its creative and innovative business, a large and competitive agricultural sector (with the world's largest wine production), and for its influential and high-quality automobile, machinery, food, design and fashion industry.
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 many 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%).
The country boasts a wide range of acclaimed products, from very compact city cars to luxury supercars such as Maserati, Lamborghini, and Ferrari, which was rated the world's most powerful brand by Brand Finance.
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.
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.
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.
The remainder is primarily dedicated to pastures (25.9%) and feed grains (11.6%).
Italy is the world's largest wine producer, and one of the leading in olive oil, fruits (apples, olives, grapes, oranges, lemons, pears, apricots, hazelnuts, peaches, cherries, plums, strawberries and kiwifruits), and vegetables (especially artichokes and tomatoes).
Main article: Transport in Italy
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 railway network, state-owned and operated by 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 one of the countries with the most vehicles per capita, with 690 per 1000 people in 2010.
The national inland waterways network comprised 2,400 km (1,491 mi) of navigable rivers and channels for various types of commercial traffic in 2012.
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.
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.
Main article: Energy in Italy
Italy needs to import about 80% of its energy requirements.
In the last decade, Italy has become one of the world's largest producers of renewable energy, ranking as the second largest producer in the European Union and the ninth in the world.
Wind power, hydroelectricity, and geothermal power are also important sources of electricity in the country.
Renewable sources account for the 27.5% of all electricity produced in Italy, with hydro alone reaching 12.6%, followed by solar at 5.7%, wind at 4.1%, bioenergy at 3.5%, and geothermal at 1.6%.
The rest of the national demand is covered by fossil fuels (38.2% natural gas, 13% coal, 8.4% oil) and by imports.
Solar energy production alone accounted for almost 9% of the total electric production in the country in 2014, making Italy the country with the highest contribution from solar energy in the world.
The Montalto di Castro Photovoltaic Power Station, completed in 2010, is the largest photovoltaic power station in Italy with 85 MW.
Other examples of large PV plants in Italy are San Bellino (70.6 MW), Cellino san Marco (42.7 MW) and Sant’ Alberto (34.6 MW).
Italy was also the first country to exploit geothermal energy to produce electricity.
Italy has managed four nuclear reactors until the 1980s.
The national power company Enel operates several nuclear reactors in Spain, Slovakia and France, managing it to access nuclear power and direct involvement in design, construction, and operation of the plants without placing reactors on Italian territory.
Science and technology
Main article: Tourism in Italy
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.
Main article: Demographics of Italy
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 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.
However, in recent years Italy has experienced 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, albeit still below the 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 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.
Metropolitan cities and larger urban zone
|Metropolitan city||Region||Area (km)||Population (1 January 2019)||Functional Urban Areas
(FUA) Population (2016)
Main article: Immigration to Italy
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, compared to 130,000 in 2014.
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).
Currently, about one million Romanian citizens (around 10% of them being ethnic Romani people) 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.
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 immigrants is largely uneven in Italy: 87% live in the northern and central parts of the country (the most economically developed areas), while only 13% live in the southern half.
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.
Around the world 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.
Twelve "historical minority languages" (minoranze linguistiche storiche) are formally recognised: Albanian, Catalan, German, Greek, Slovene, Croatian, French, Franco-Provençal, Friulian, Ladin, Occitan and Sardinian.
Four of these also enjoy a co-official status in their respective region: French in the Aosta Valley; German in South Tyrol, and Ladin as well in some parts of the same province and in parts of the neighbouring Trentino; and Slovene in the provinces of Trieste, Gorizia and Udine.
A number of other Ethnologue, ISO and UNESCO languages are not recognised by Italian law.
Like France, Italy has signed the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, but has not ratified it.
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).
Main article: Religion in Italy
In 2017, the proportion of Italians who identified themselves as Roman Catholic Christians was 74.4%.
Since 1985, Roman Catholicism is no longer officially the state religion.
Italy has the fifth world's largest Roman Catholic population, and the largest Catholic nation in Europe.
Often incorrectly referred to as "the Vatican", the Holy See is not the same entity as the Vatican City State, which 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; 500,000 Pentecostals and Evangelicals (of whom 400,000 are members of the Assemblies of God), 251,192 Jehovah's Witnesses, 30,000 Waldensians, 25,000 Seventh-day Adventists, 26,925 Latter-day Saints, 15,000 Baptists (plus some 5,000 Free Baptists), 7,000 Lutherans, 4,000 Methodists (affiliated with the Waldensian Church).
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 which 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.
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.
Main article: Education in Italy
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.
33 Italian universities were ranked among the world's top 500 in 2019, the third-largest number in Europe after the United Kingdom and Germany.
The Bocconi University, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, LUISS, Polytechnic University of Turin, Polytechnic University of Milan, Sapienza University of Rome, and University of Milan are also ranked among the best in the world.
Main article: Healthcare in Italy
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.
Life expectancy in Italy is 80 for males and 85 for females, placing the country 5th in the world for life expectancy.
In comparison to other Western countries, Italy has a relatively low rate of adult obesity (below 10%), as there are several health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
The proportion of daily smokers was 22% in 2012, down from 24.4% in 2000 but still slightly above the OECD average.
Smoking in public places including bars, restaurants, night clubs and offices has been restricted to specially ventilated rooms since 2005.
Main article: Culture of Italy
Divided by politics and geography for centuries 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 has 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.
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.
Main article: Architecture of Italy
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 the 18th century.
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.
Main article: Art of Italy
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 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 onwards, the treatment of composition by the best painters also became much more free and innovative.
The two are considered to be the two great medieval masters of painting in western culture.
The Italian Renaissance is said by many to be the golden age of painting; roughly spanning the 14th through the mid-17th centuries with a significant influence also out of the borders of modern Italy.
In Italy artists like Paolo Uccello, Fra Angelico, Masaccio, Piero della Francesca, Andrea Mantegna, Filippo Lippi, Giorgione, Tintoretto, Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Raphael, Giovanni Bellini, and Titian took painting to a higher level through the use of perspective, the study of human anatomy and proportion, and through their development of an unprecedented refinement in drawing and painting techniques.
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.
Subsequently, in the 18th century, Italian Rococo was mainly inspired by French Rococo, since France was the founding nation of that particular style, with artists such as Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Canaletto.
Italian Neoclassical sculpture focused, with Antonio Canova's nudes, on the idealist aspect of the movement.
Futurism was succeeded by the metaphysical paintings of Giorgio de Chirico, who exerted a strong influence on the Surrealists and generations of artists to follow like Bruno Caruso and Renato Guttuso.
Main article: Literature of Italy
Formal Latin literature began in 240 BC, when the first stage play was performed in Rome.
Latin literature was, and still is, highly influential in the world, with numerous writers, poets, philosophers, and historians, such as Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Virgil, Horace, Propertius, Ovid and Livy.
The Romans were also famous for their oral tradition, poetry, drama and epigrams.
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.
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.
Italian Renaissance authors produced a number of important works.
Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince is one of the world's most famous essays on political science and modern philosophy, in which the "effectual truth" is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal.
Another important work of the period, Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, continuation of Matteo Maria Boiardo's unfinished romance Orlando Innamorato, is perhaps the greatest chivalry poem ever written.
Giovanni Francesco Straparola and Giambattista Basile, which have written The Facetious Nights of Straparola (1550–1555) and the Pentamerone (1634) respectively, printed some of the first known versions of fairy tales in Europe.
In the 18th century, playwright Carlo Goldoni created full written plays, many portraying the middle class of his day.
The Romanticism coincided with some ideas of the Risorgimento, the patriotic movement that brought Italy political unity and freedom from foreign domination.
Italian writers embraced Romanticism in the early 19th century.
The 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.
A movement called Futurism influenced Italian literature in the early 20th century.
Modern literary figures and Nobel laureates are Gabriele D'Annunzio from 1889 to 1910, nationalist poet Giosuè Carducci in 1906, realist writer Grazia Deledda in 1926, modern theatre author Luigi Pirandello in 1936, short stories writer Italo Calvino in 1960, poets Salvatore Quasimodo in 1959 and Eugenio Montale in 1975, Umberto Eco in 1980, and satirist and theatre author Dario Fo in 1997.
Main article: Italian philosophy
Over the ages, Italian philosophy and literature had a vast influence on Western philosophy, beginning with the Greeks and Romans, and going onto Renaissance humanism, the Age of Enlightenment and modern philosophy.
Roman philosophers include Cicero, Lucretius, Seneca the Younger, Musonius Rufus, Plutarch, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Clement of Alexandria, Sextus Empiricus, Alexander of Aphrodisias, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Augustine of Hippo, Philoponus of Alexandria and Boethius.
Italian Medieval philosophy was mainly Christian, and included several important philosophers and theologians such as St Thomas Aquinas, the foremost classical proponent of natural theology and the father of Thomism, who reintroduced Aristotelian philosophy to Christianity.
Notable Renaissance philosophers include: Giordano Bruno, one of the major scientific figures of the western world; Marsilio Ficino, one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the period; and Niccolò Machiavelli, one of the main founders of modern political science.
Italy was also affected by the Enlightenment, a movement which was a consequence of the Renaissance.
Cities with important universities such as Padua, Bologna and Naples remained great centres of scholarship and the intellect, with several philosophers such as Giambattista Vico (who is widely regarded as being the founder of modern Italian philosophy) and Antonio Genovesi.
Beccaria is famous for his On Crimes and Punishments (1764), a treatise that served as one of the earliest prominent condemnations of torture and the death penalty and thus a landmark work in anti-death penalty philosophy.
Criticism of the Sensist movement came from other philosophers such as Pasquale Galluppi (1770–1846), who affirmed that a priori relationships were synthetic.
During the late 19th and 20th centuries, there were also several other movements which gained some form of popularity in Italy, such as Ontologism (whose main philosopher was Vincenzo Gioberti), anarchism, communism, socialism, futurism, fascism and Christian democracy.
Anarcho-communism first fully formed into its modern strain within the Italian section of the First International.
Early and important Italian feminists include Sibilla Aleramo, Alaide Gualberta Beccari, and Anna Maria Mozzoni, though proto-feminist philosophies had previously been touched upon by earlier Italian writers such as Christine de Pizan, Moderata Fonte, and Lucrezia Marinella.
Giuseppe Peano was one of the founders of analytic philosophy and contemporary philosophy of mathematics.
Main article: Commedia dell'arte
See also: Theatre of ancient Rome
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.
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, 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.
Main article: Music of Italy
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's most famous composers include the Renaissance composers Palestrina, Monteverdi and Gesualdo, the Baroque composers Scarlatti, Corelli and Vivaldi, the Classical composers Paisiello, Paganini and Rossini, and the Romantic composers Verdi and Puccini.
While the classical music tradition still holds strong in Italy, as evidenced by the fame of its innumerable opera houses, such as La Scala of Milan and San Carlo of Naples (the oldest continuously active venue for public opera in the world), and performers such as the pianist Maurizio Pollini and tenor Luciano Pavarotti, Italians have been no less appreciative of their thriving contemporary music scene.
Italy is widely known for being the birthplace of opera.
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.
Introduced in the early 1920s, jazz took a particularly strong foothold in Italy, and remained popular despite the xenophobic cultural policies of the Fascist regime.
Today, the most notable centres of jazz music in Italy include Milan, Rome, and Sicily.
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.
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.
Main article: Cinema of Italy
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.
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.
After the war, Italian film was widely recognised and exported until an artistic decline around the 1980s.
Notable Italian film directors from this period include Vittorio De Sica, Federico Fellini, Sergio Leone, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Luchino Visconti, Michelangelo Antonioni and Roberto Rossellini; some of these are recognised among the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time.
The mid-1940s to the early 1950s was the heyday of neorealist films, reflecting the poor condition of post-war Italy.
As the country grew wealthier in the 1950s, a form of neorealism known as pink neorealism succeeded, and other film genres, such as sword-and-sandal followed as spaghetti westerns, were popular in the 1960s and 1970s.
In recent years, the Italian scene has received only occasional international attention, with movies like Life Is Beautiful directed by Roberto Benigni, Il Postino: The Postman with Massimo Troisi and The Great Beauty directed by Paolo Sorrentino.
The aforementioned Cinecittà studio is today the largest film and television production facility in continental Europe and the centre of the Italian cinema, where many of the biggest box office hits are filmed, and one of the biggest production communities in the world.
In the 1950s, the number of international productions being made there led to Rome's being dubbed "Hollywood on the Tiber".
More than 3,000 productions have been made on its lot, of which 90 received an Academy Award nomination and 47 of these won it, from some cinema classics to recent rewarded features (such as Roman Holiday, Ben-Hur, Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, The English Patient, The Passion of the Christ, and Gangs of New York).
Main article: Sport in Italy
The most popular sport in Italy is football.
Italian clubs have won 48 major European trophies, making Italy the second most successful country in European football.
Italy's top-flight club football league is named Serie A and is followed by millions of fans around the world.
Lega Basket Serie A is widely considered one of the most competitive in Europe.
Rugby union enjoys a good level of popularity, especially in the north of the country.
Italy ranks as a tier-one nation by World Rugby.
Italy has a long and successful tradition in individual sports as well.
Bicycle racing is a very familiar sport in the country.
Alpine skiing is also a very widespread sport in Italy, and the country is a popular international skiing destination, known for its ski resorts.
Tennis has a significant following in Italy, ranking as the fourth most practised sport in the country.
The Rome Masters, founded in 1930, is one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world.
Motorsports are also extremely popular in Italy.
Italy has won, by far, the most MotoGP World Championships.
Italian sportsmen have won 522 medals at the Summer Olympic Games, and another 106 at the Winter Olympic Games, for a combined total of 628 medals with 235 golds, which makes them the fifth most successful nation in Olympic history for total medals.
Fashion and design
Italian fashion has a long tradition, and is regarded as one most important in the world.
Milan, Florence and Rome are Italy's main fashion capitals.
According to Top Global Fashion Capital Rankings 2013 by Global Language Monitor, Rome ranked sixth worldwide when Milan was twelfth.
Major Italian fashion labels, such as Gucci, Armani, Prada, Versace, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni, Fendi, Moschino, Max Mara, Trussardi, and Ferragamo, to name a few, are regarded as among the finest fashion houses in the world.
Also, the fashion magazine Vogue Italia, is considered one of the most prestigious fashion magazines in the world.
The country has produced some well-known furniture designers, such as Gio Ponti and Ettore Sottsass, and Italian phrases such as "Bel Disegno" and "Linea Italiana" have entered the vocabulary of furniture design.
Examples of classic pieces of Italian white goods and pieces of furniture include Zanussi's washing machines and fridges, the "New Tone" sofas by Atrium, and the post-modern bookcase by Ettore Sottsass, inspired by Bob Dylan's song "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again".
The city of Milan hosts Fiera Milano, Europe's largest design fair.
Milan also hosts major design and architecture-related events and venues, such as the "Fuori Salone" and the Salone del Mobile, and has been home to the designers Bruno Munari, Lucio Fontana, Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni.
Main article: Italian cuisine
Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World with the introduction of items such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize, now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century.
Italian cuisine is noted for its regional diversity, abundance of difference in taste, and is known to be one of the most popular in the world, wielding strong influence abroad.
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.
Cheese, cold cuts and wine are a major part of Italian cuisine, with many regional declinations and Protected Designation of Origin or Protected Geographical Indication labels, and along with coffee (especially espresso) make up a very important part of the Italian gastronomic culture.
Public holidays and festivals
See also: Public holidays in Italy
Public holidays celebrated in Italy include religious, national and regional observances.
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.
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 (Saint Ambrose).
There are many festivals and festivities in Italy.
In 2013, UNESCO has included among the intangible cultural heritage some Italian festivals and pasos (in Italian "macchine a spalla"), such as the Varia di Palmi, the Macchina di Santa Rosa in Viterbo, the Festa dei Gigli in Nola, and faradda di li candareri in Sassari.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italy.