Travel Guides: Italy
Picutre: Destination360 Verona Italy
Italy, officially the Italian Republic is a European sovereign state, located on the Italian Peninsula and including several islands in the Mediterranean, the most important being Sicily and Sardinia.
It is bordered to the north-west by France, Switzerland and Austria to the north and north-eastern by Slovenia. It also surrounds two independent enclaves: San Marino and the Vatican, and has an exclave surrounded by Switzerland called Campione d’Italia. Italy’s capital is Rome. Italy was a place of origin of many European cultures, such as the Etruscans and Romans, and modern cultural movements, most notably the Renaissance. Rome is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, and has long been a center for Western civilization. Today Italy is a democratic republic and a developed country, occupying the seventh position as GDP, eighth as quality of life and twentieth in human development index. It is a founding member of the European Union and one of the members of the G8, NATO, the Council of Europe and Western European Union.
Italy stretches from the Alps and the famous lakes in the north to the island of Sicily in the south. Italy is full of culture, history, great scenery, making it one of the favorite destinations of tourists from around the world, Rome, the capital, is distinguished by the historical Roman origin, Etruscan, Renaissance and Baroque. Then there is the magnificent Vatican, the romantic Venice, Sicily, the largest and most famous island in the Mediterranean. Another reason why Italy is among the most wanted destinations is the culinary dishes, wines and music. Italy is situated in Southern Europe and consists mainly of a boot-shaped peninsula and two large islands. Italy is divided into 20 regions, five of which have special status: Valle d’Aosta, Trentino – South Tyrol, Sicily, Sardinia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
Cultural tourism, the historical and even the mountain one are true emblems of Italy. Venice, with its running “streets”, Rome, Naples, Milan, all packed testimonies of the Roman Empire, the cathedral or cultural buildings. Too little is known about the Italian coast, on the Riviera and the Mediterranean show, which in Italy is at home. Italy is the largest peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea, next to two of the largest islands of this sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Of the 20 regions that make up the “boot” only two are landlocked practically the lands beyond the Po River valley being with hills and mountain shapes. Otherwise, it shares with France, Croatia, Slovenia, Tunisia and Albania the seas that surround it, the Adriatic, Ionian, Tyrrhenian and Liguria. So, it is a small country, but with 8,500 miles of coastline.
It is true that much of the coast consists of cliffs and can not be arranged for beaches, but enough resorts remain worthy of tourist attention. In terms of climate, the entire Mediterranean region enjoys excellent conditions from May to September, with very good months, maybe too hot in June and July. Almost all beaches have a smaller or larger sizes furnished with paid access, but very clean, and that provide sun-beds, changing rooms, bars and many other facilities. There are also plenty of free beaches, more wildlife. Form of government: republic. Area: 300,000 sq km. Population: 58.6 million inhabitants. Official language: Italian. Religion: 95% Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox. Capital: Rome. Currency: EUR. National Day: June 2. Time Zone: GMT+1. Internet domain: .it, .eu. Telephone: 0039.
Italy became a state in 1861 when city-states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor Emmanuel. In 1920, Benito Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship and disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany made Italy to be defeated in the Second World War. In 1946, Italy was proclaimed republic and became a key member of NATO and the European Economic Community. Total area: 301,230 sq km, Land: 294,020 sq km, Water: 7210 km. Climate: Predominantly Mediterranean, alpine in the north, hot and dry in the south. Extreme points: The deepest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m. Highest point: Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) de Courmayeur 4,748 m (a secondary peak is Mont Blanc). Population: 57,998,353 (July 2003 estimate). Age structure: Between 0 and 14 years: 14% (male 4,193,412; female 3,947,679), 15-64 years: 67.2% (male 19,625,428; female 19,337,861), over 65 years: 18.8% (male 4,516,995; female 6,376,978) (2003 estimate). Ethnic groups: Italians, Germans, French, Slovenian, Albanian, Greek.
Religion: Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodoxy. Languages spoken: Italian. Independence Day: June 2. Means of communication: Phone: 25 million (1999), Mobile: 20.5 million (1999), TV stations: 358, Internet country code: .it, Internet users: 19.25 million (2001 estimate), Airports: 134 (2002 estimate). Apennine Mountains are located in the center of the peninsula, going eastward, joining the Alps, which then form an arc enclosing Italy from the north. There is also a large alluvial plain, the Po-Venetian plain, drained by the Po River and its many tributaries flowing down from the Alps, Apennines and Dolomites. Other well-known rivers are: Tiber, Adige and Arno. Italy’s highest point is White Mountain (Monte Bianco) 4,808 m, but Italy is more typically associated with two famous volcanoes: the currently dormant Vesuvius, near Naples and Etna on Sicily.
Environment, current issues: air pollution by industrial emissions such as sulfur dioxide, pollution and coastal rivers by industrial waste and animal damage acid rain lakes, inadequate treatment of industrial waste. Climate is continental, with an average temperature of 1.5 º C in January and of 24 º C in July. Italy is full of culture, history, great scenery, making it one of the favorite destinations of tourists from around the world. Italy’s capital is situated on the River Tiber and has a long history, being the capital for centuries of the Roman republic, the Roman Empire and modern Italy. It is the capital of Lazio and the Province of Rome. Rome is a major tourist center. Full of historical monuments of Roman origin, Etruscan, Renaissance and Baroque left by the passage of time, has to offer something for all tastes. The largest and most important city in Italy, economic and cultural center is inhabited by over 2.5 million people, at which can be added millions of tourists who visit it every year. The main tourist attractions: the Coliseum, Trajan’s Column, the Pantheon, hundreds of churches and monuments, the imposing Vatican, romantic Venice and Sicily, the largest and most famous island in the Mediterranean.
Santa Maria Maggiore Church: Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the four main churches in Rome, built in 352 AC and is dedicated to St. Mary. The Church was built after to the Pope Liberius the Virgin Mary appeared in a dream, which urged him to make such a construction. Castle Sant ‘Angelo: The building, originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian, is a strange building, circular, massive, which is reached across one of the most beautiful bridges in the world: Pont Sant ‘Angelo, created by architect Bernini. In the sixth century it was transformed into a papal fortress, being connected by underground passages from the Vatican. There were few Pontiffs who have felt the need to use the secret passage in times of tribulation. Today, the mausoleum is an interesting museum, especially as it is known that here was a place where Tosca committed suicide, subsequently evoked by Puccini.
The Church Il Gesu di Roma: Built between 1554 and 1584, Il Gesu (Chiesa del Sacro Nome Italian di Gesu, best known under the name Il Gesu) is a large church in Rome, the first church of the Jesuits. The church’s general project was made by the architect Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, and the facade was designed by Giacomo della Porta. The building served over time as a model for many churches built in Baroque style in central Europe. Coliseum remains the most famous and largest arena ever built by the Romans. Its construction initiative Emperor Nero had a major influence because they had gladiator fights in that time. Thus, there was a huge arena for such public performances. The term comes from the colossal statue – 36 meters – that represented Nero as the god of the sun, once located near the amphitheater, then demolished. Not only the statue, but the auditorium was a grand sight.
In the form of an ellipse with major axis of 186 m, 150m short axis it covered an area of 520 m and a height of 55 m, providing seats for about 50,000 spectators. The foundation on that it was built was 12 feet thick. To build something like this was even a challenge for the Roman builders. It required – among many other construction materials – tens of thousands of tons of marble (brought from nearby Tivoli) and nearly 300 tons of iron to bind the blocks together. As a precedent in modern prefabricated materials, many of the parts of the Coliseum was built elsewhere and brought to the arena construction site for assembly. This method allowed an accelerated pace which led to the construction of the building in just seven years.
Capitol Hill: Localization of municipal authorities, Capitol Hill was the center of the government of old Rome and is the geographical center of the city today. The most beautiful view you can admire is the night, when the streets are empty. The market was designed by Michelangelo in 1583. It is also bordered by three buildings designed by the famous Renaissance artist: Palazzo Nuovo and Palazzo dei Conservatives, which together are home to the Capitoline Museums, Palazzo and Senatorio. Bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which is in the center of the square is a copy made by old photographs. The original date of the end of II century AC was severely affected by pollution and pigeons, being removed in 1981. After it was restored was exhibited in the Palazzo Nuovo.
The Wishes Fountain: A splendid – Fontana di Trevi was built by architect Salvi in 1735 and ended in 1762. This fountain is a perfect example of rococo style with dramatic effects – marble aquatic creatures, dominated by an impressive Oceanus. The water source comes from the Acqua Vergine, so called because, according to legend, a virgin has revealed the source for the thirsty soldiers. The story is carved right in Oceanus. It is said you have to throw a penny in the fountain to make sure that you will return to Rome, but also that the wish will come true. Pantheon: With absolutely perfect proportions, the Pantheon was considered in antiquity as the “Miracle of Rome”. Findings remained valid until now, because this miracle up proud, just as Adriano was built 1900 years ago. This temple is a great example of one of the largest Roman inventions: the dome.
With a diameter of 43.5 meters – the equivalent distance between shoes and torch of the Statue of Liberty – Pantheon’s dome remained until the 15th century the biggest building of its kind in the world. The building is a perfect hemisphere, with a height and diameter that are equal. A structure of this type was feasible at that time only because of another Roman invention, concrete. But how was it possible for the Romans to build a dome of that size without reinforcing steel to strengthen it? Using pumice mixed into concrete, the builders of Rome have created an incredibly easy rolling and durable. It was shaped in a mold which is narrow, ranging from 6.7 meters thick at the base of the dome at its peak only 0.6 meters.
Market Navonna: Piazza Navona is one of the most famous and most beautiful squares of Rome. Great, full of terraces and artists who paint outdoors, Piazza Navona has no less than three wells. The Fontana dei Quattro Fiume is the largest (Fountain of Four Rivers). Each of the four statues that decorate this monument is a river on many different continents: the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Amazon. The other two wells are in north Fontana di Nettuno and Fontana del Moro market in the south. Here in winter it is organized one of the largest Christmas fairs in Europe. Vatican – Holy See: There are many religions that have a state, but Catholicism is not just a religion. Holy See – The Vatican is probably the richest independent state in the world, an impressive collection of priceless treasures of art to compensate for the total lack of natural resources.
For art lovers, the Vatican is the supreme center, housing universally known treasures, from the Sistine Chapel to the famous market built by Bernini. Naples: Naples is the largest city in southern Italy. It is one of the regional capitals and has a population of one million inhabitants, and with the metropolitan area gather three million inhabitants. It lies midway between Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei volcanic area. Naples was a Greek colony that was called Neapoli (new city) and is influenced by a passion for pizza margherita. Naples is a city with a beautiful geographic position, around the bay and namesake of Mount Vesuvius, rich in monuments like Castel Nuovo (XII), the Arc de Triomphe, the Royal Palace (XVII century), Palace and National Gallery from Capodimonte, churches, lying near the Roman town of Pompeii being covered with lava during the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius in 79 AC.
Milan attractions: Dome – It ranks 3 among the largest churches in the world. The square where the Dome is, is most sought by tourists. It is open daily from 9.30 to 17.00; Church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie. Inside it was the work of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”. The visit should be planned in advance. It is open daily from 7.30 to 19.00; Pinacoteca di Brera – Contains a collection of works of art made by well known authors. Open: Tuesday-Sunday between 8.30 and 19.30. Galeria Vittorio Emanuele II – An elegant gallery that includes restaurants, cafes, etc. It is both a center for cultural activities and for the modern ones. Other cities and tourist attractions: Assisi – the city is a whole monastic Roman – Gothic San Francesco in XIII century, consisting of two overlapping basilica, above the frescoes by Giotto depicting the life of the saint.
Bologna – the city contains many palaces, churches, fountains, two angled towers and one of the oldest universities in the world. Padova – houses a large-century basilica Il Santo from XIII century, which houses the tomb of St. Anthony of Padua, Scrovegni Chapel from the XIV century painted by Giotto, palaces, a university where learned some Roman princess. Pisa – Piazza del Duomo or Campo dei Miracoli with the famous tower of Pisa – Tore pendents / Leaning Tower, which has a height of 30 feet and weighing 14,453 tons. Construction began in August 1173. Siena – the famous Piazza del Campo, the square-shaped fan, bordered by the Palazzo Publico includes a high tower of 88 m. Ravenna – VI century church of San Vitale presenting with famous mosaics and the kings of Justinian and Theodora with their suites, other basilicas, Dante’s tomb, the mausoleum of Theodoric.
Romantic Destinations: Riviera sites are designed for coastal tourism sectors, the most important being the Italian Riviera, consisting of a chain of resorts – the sea: San Remo, Diano Marina, Alassio, Nervi, Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, etc …, then Riviera wafer located in the Gulf of Naples: Amalfi, Sorrento, Capri and Ischia islands, Veneziana: Lido di Venezia, Riccione, Rimini, located in the Sardinian island of Sardinia, Palermitana located in the Palermo area. Venice: Located in saltwater lagoon of the Adriatic Sea, about 5 km from the earth, Venice stretches on more than 100 islands. The main way on the water is the Grand Canal, which meanders from the Piazza San Marco to the edge of town.
Throughout the Grand Canal can be seen some of the most beautiful palaces in Europe, rose by wealthy Venetian merchants. The main attractions of the city are, along the Grand Canal, San Marco Square and Basilica, Doges Palace, Bridge of Sighs, Ponte Rialto, the historic center neighborhoods: Castello, Cannaregio, San Polo, Santa Croce, Dorsoduro, with countless architectural treasures, artistic and cultural. There may be omitted islands lagoon – Murano, Burano, Mazzorbo, Torcello, or Pellestrina Sant’Erasmo. Italian Riviera: The most visited destination in the same time to reach the beach of Italy’s Riviera, a continuation of the French, located on the continental coast of the country, a sort of extension of the Côte d’Azur, Liguria Sea bathing, as this area is called. Live-region consists of a long string of villages, small towns with a Mediterranean, stretching near Tuscany, Monterosso is the most visited.
Here are Moneglia, about an hour of Genoa, and Vernazza. The surroundings of the beaches are distinguished by green orchards almost all year, while the waters are crossed by ferries that link the cities together. Locals are also very present on these beaches, such as the atmosphere in the season looks very much like that of many market towns, but not missing portions of sand quiet refuge where those who do not like noise. Unfortunately for enthusiasts, not all water sports are popular here; one example being the jetski’s quite rare on the Riviera, only the peaceful being preferred, such as sailing. In the area of Rome, Ostia is the closest beach, but not necessarily enjoy the best assessment of the scale is small and congestion, connoisseurs often prefer Terracina, much larger and more wild, only one – 2 hours from the capital and as close to Naples (town of Terracina is praised for its quiet atmosphere) or Sperlonga, a classic beach, with an endless promenade with shaded areas for rest and plenty of parts with free acces.
Also on the west coast, south of Naples, there are two large resorts, Amalfi and Sorrento, which is found near the island of Capri, famous for its cave Blu Grotto, the entire island being a true spectacle of nature. Adriatic islands: At least as beautiful are the beaches on the Adriatic coast, from Trieste, which is near Caorle and Bibione, two cosmopolitan cities, beaches tidy and pleasant, then, in the south, Cesenatico, with its thermal baths, but also with specific ports crowded with atmosphere, or perhaps San Mauro Mare, a much smaller resort, recommended for families in search of perfect peace, and Ravenna, located between the blue sea and green pine forests with incredible natural reserves and an extremely fine sand.
It just continues to southern peninsula, where the resort Apulia, for example, is another place for looking so beautiful beaches and the nightlife. But the islands are without equal, whose beaches are considered the most beautiful Sicilian characterized by generous size strips of sand, and Sardinia – the quality and clean sand. The latter, which definitely deserves an article dedicated exclusively, is the second largest island in the Mediterranean and each of its resorts can be a holiday destination. The famous Costa Smeralda or Golfo di Marinella are just two examples, two places where the beaches are surrounded by steep cliffs, abundant vegetation, among whom were high hotels, restaurants, bars, water sports and night life is not lacking in the program prepared for tourists.
Italian beaches are fun beyond lazy hours under the sun, sports and diving (on the west coast there is a reserve underwater), yachting, which are made available guides and maps, fishing (especially in the islands, boats are available for rent). For those who want to watch a great time, cycling, rafting, golfing are just some of the options offered by local travel agencies. And for lovers of Italian cuisine, there is opportunity everywhere courses in the company of renowned chefs.
Politics: The 1948 Constitution established a bicameral parliament (Parlamento), consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate (Senato della Repubblica), a judiciary and an executive (led by a prime minister) (Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministers). The President is elected for 7 years by the parliament sitting jointly with a small number of regional delegates. The president nominates the prime minister, who proposes the other ministers (formally named by the president). Council of Ministers (mostly, but not necessarily composed of members of Parliament) must retain the confidence of both chambers (Fiducia).
The chambers are popular and are elected directly by a mixed majority and proportional system. Chamber of Deputies has 630 members. In addition to 315 elected, the Senate includes former presidents and several other persons, in accordance with constitutional provisions. Both houses are elected for 5 years but can be dissolved before the normal deadline. Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic Code and the latest developments. A constitutional court, the Corte Constituzionale, which can pass over the constitutionality of laws, is an innovative post-World War II.
Italian regions have a degree of regional autonomy under the constitution of 1948. However, five regions (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Sardinia, Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige and Valle d’Aosta) have received some autonomy and greater cultural opportunities. Each region has an elected council and a Giunta Regionale (executive committee) headed by a president. Giunta is accountable to the council and is required to lead the region if the council fails to retain confidence. Form of government is therefore analogous to the structure of national governance. The main goal is to decentralize the regions of the state institutions and after a reform of 2001 powers were expanded to regions.
Provincial and municipal governments follow the same principles – and Giunta led by councils of presidents (in municipalities are mayors). Regional autonomy has been a problem in recent years of Italian politics, no doubt to the manifestations of the Lega Nord party. Italy is divided into 20 regions of which five enjoy a special autonomous status: Abruzzo; Basilicata; Calabria; Campaign; Emilia-Romagna; Friuli-Venezia Giulia; Lazio; Liguria; Lombardy; Marche; Molise; Piedmont; Puglia; Sardinia; Sicily; Tuscany; Trentino-Alto Adige; Umbria; Valle d’Aosta; Veneto. A region can be subdivided into provinces.
Economy: Member of the G8, Italy represents the sixth economy in 2004, after the United States, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom of Great Britain and France. Italy has a diversified industrial economy with a per capita income close to countries like France and the United Kingdom. Capitalistic economy remains divided into a well developed industrial north, dominated by private companies and agricultural in south, with an unemployment rate of 20%. Most raw materials needed by industry and more than 75% of energy needs are imported.
In the past decade, Italy has pursued a tight fiscal policy of compliance with criteria for economic and monetary union, had a low inflation rate that allowed the design of joining the Euro in 1999. Italian economic performance has lagged behind its European partners; the current government initiated a series of reforms to improve competitiveness in the short term and long-term growth. It moved slowly, however, in implementing reforms. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Italy was 30.5 billion dollars in 2009, compared to 17 billion dollars in 2008.
Italy ranks 5 in Europe in terms of population density, about 196 people per km ². From a country of mass emigration in the past 20 years, Italy has become a major recipient of immigrants, 7.5% of the nation’s population is from abroad. Even if Italy’s population is growing, this is largely due to the wave of migration. The nation has a low fertility rate, 1.41 children per family and a life expectancy that ranks 19 in world, after New Zealand and Bermuda and surpassing Gibraltar and Monaco. In late 2008, Italy’s population exceeded 60 million. Italy has a large population, which ranks as number four in the European Union and 23 in the world.
The population density of 199.2 persons per square kilometer; it holds the 5th place in the European Union. The highest recorded population density is in northern Italy, which occupies one third of the country and about half of the country’s total population. After the World War II, Italy has experienced a prolonged economic growth, which caused a massive rural exodus to cities and at the same time turned a nation of many immigrants, in a welcoming immigrant country. High fertility persisted until 1970, when rates declined below normal, so in 2008 one in five Italians was over 65 years. Despite this, in 2000, Italy has seen a rise in birth rates (especially in northern regions), for the first time in many years, especially due to massive immigration in the last two decades. Total fertility rate has also witnessed an increase significantly in recent years, thanks to increasing birth rates, both among the foreign born, and among women born Italian, who has risen from 1.32 children per woman in 2005 to 1.41 children per woman in 2008.
In early 2010, authorities in Italy had registered 4,279,000 residents of other nationalities. This number has reached a rate of 7.1% of the population and represented an increase as the 388,000 people every year. These figures include more than half a million children born in Italy of foreign persons, second generation of immigrants being an important element in the demographic landscape, but excludes people of other nationalities who subsequently acquired Italian nationality, it was applied a number of 53,696 persons in 2008.
The figures also exclude illegal immigrants, so-called clandestine whose number is difficult to determine. In May 2008, The Boston Globe has established an estimate of 670,000 people for this group. With the expansion of the European Union, the most recent wave of migration was in the surroundings of Europe, particularly Eastern Europe and growing in Asia, North Africa, which was replacing the largest generation immigrants. Approximately 950,000 Romanian, of which 10% of Gypsies are officially registered as living in Italy, Albanians and Moroccans replacing the largest ethnic minority.
The number of unregistered Romanians is difficult to estimate, but The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network has suggested that in 2007 would have to be half a million people or more. Since 2009, foreign born population in Italy has been divided as follows: Europe (53.5%), Africa (22.3%), Asia (15.8%), USA (8.1%) and Oceania (0.06%). Distribution of foreign born population in Italy is very uneven: 87.3% of immigrants living in northern and central regions (the most developed regions in economic terms), while only 12.8% live in the southern half of the peninsula. Some ethnic minority groups are legally recognized and a number of minority languages co-official status along the Italian in different parts of the country. French is co-official in Valle d’Aosta, when, in fact Franco-Provençal language is commonly spoken here.
The German language has the same status in some parts of the Province of Bolzano-Bozen and Trentino and Ladin in this neighborhood. Slovenian is officially recognized in the provinces of Trieste, Gorizia and Udinese in Venice Giulia. In these regions, official documents are bilingual (trilingual communities of Ladin), or are available by request to the Italian language co-official language. Traffic signs are also multilingual, with the exception of Valle d’Aosta, where-except that even Aosta maintained Latin as Italian as in English-French words are used in general tend to be more Italian during the fascist period.
Education in minority languages is possible, where such schools operate. Roman Catholicism is by far the most widespread religion in the country, although the Catholic Church is not the official state religion. 79.8% of Italians are Roman Catholics, although only one third of them were described as active members (36.8%). Other Christian groups in Italy are represented by more than 700,000 Orthodox Christians, including 470,000 and 180,000 newcomers Greek Orthodox, 550,000 Pentecostals and Evangelists (0.8%), of which 400,000 are members of the Assembly of God, 235.685 Witnesses of Jehovah (0.4%), 30,000 Valdezins, 25,000 Adventists of Seventh-day, 22,000 Mormons, 15,000 Baptists, Lutheran 7000, 5,000 Methodists (affiliated with Valdezins).
The country’s oldest religious minority is the Hebrew community, comprising around 45,000 people (0.06%). It is no longer the largest non-Christian group. As a result of significant immigration from other parts of the world, approximately 1 million Muslims (1.8% of total population) live in Italy, although only 50,000 are Italian citizens. In addition there are 110,000 Buddhist (0.2%), 70,000 Sik adepts and 70,000 followers of Hindu (0.1%) in Italy. Italy’s population is formed of 92.5% of Italians, 4% of other Europeans (mainly Albanian, Romanian, Ukrainian and others), 2% North Africans and 1.5% citizens of other ethnicities.
Italy religion is represented in 90% of Roman Catholics (about one-third practicing), other Christians at a rate of 2%, 3% Muslim, atheists or agnostics 5%. Italy is in general a linguistic and religious homogeneity; however, its culture, economy and policy are different. Italy has the fifth largest European population density reaching 196 people per km ². Minority groups are small, the largest being the German speaking in South Tyrol (1991: 287,503 Germans and 116,914 Italians) and the Slovenian near Trieste. Other minority groups with partial official languages are French in Valle d’Aosta, Sardinia in the Sardinian, Ladin in the Dolomites, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, all four Romance languages.
In addition there are several small local minorities, and the Occitan-speaking valley in southern Piedmont, the Catalan cities of Alghero and Sardinia, the Albanian language in certain villages in Calabria and Sicily, and ancient Greek dialects in villages of Calabria. Although Roman Catholicism is the religion of the majority (85% of newborn citizens are usually Catholic) followed by Protestant and Jewish religion, but is found and a growing Muslim immigrant community. Italy has an immigrant population of around 4 million people. Italy is well known for arts and culture, and because of its numerous monuments, including the Tower of Pisa and the Roman Coliseum, but also for its food (pizza, pasta, etc.), wine, lifestyle, elegance, design , cinema, theater, literature, poetry, visual arts, music (notably Opera), holidays, and general taste.
Renaissance and Baroque artistic movements emerged in Italy from the 14th century and 15th respectively at the end of the 16th century, leading to an artistic revolution in Italy, first in Europe and then later throughout the world. Literary genres that flourished in Italy, as the poetry of Petrarch, Tasso and Ariosto’s, that the prose of Dante, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, and Castiglione’s, exerted a lasting influence in the development of Western culture, like painting, sculpture and architecture contributed by great artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, Botticelli, Fra Angelico and Michelangelo. Musical influence of Italian composers in the Baroque era, such as Monteverdi, Palestrina, and Vivaldi proved to be remarkable.
Later in the 19th century, Italian romantic opera composers Gioacchino Rossini excelled because of Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. Artists, writers, filmmakers, architects, contemporary Italian composers and designers contribute significantly to Western culture. Football is the main national sport. Italy won the Soccer World Cup four times: in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006. Italian Seria A football championship has given some of the best soccer players worldwide. The best known teams are A.C. Milan and Inter Milan FC, Rome, S.S. Lazio Rome, Fiorentina and Juventus.
In the early 90′s is the disintegration of the Soviet Union and fighting the Cold War. Italian Communist Party has become more moderate and is known as the Democratic Left Party. Christian Democratic Party, on the opposite side, lost some support. A new party, the Northern League, condemned corruption and calls for proper northern Italy to secede from the south to form a new country, Padania. Although elected Socialist Prime Minister Giuliano Amato in 1992, the following year the Socialist Party virtually disappeared from the political scene.
It follows a period in which political life is marked by corruption, bribery and numerous scandals, the most famous of which is Tangentopoli. They involve many members of parliament. In 1994, Craxi fled to Tunisia to escape arrest. Referendums in 1991 and 1993 without the proportional system of parliamentary representation as the basis and within local governments are established the principle of winner takes all. Regarding foreign policy, Italy is in line with the United States, being a NATO member since 1949. In 1998, it is permissible in the European Monetary Union. After the disappearance of the Communist Party and the Christian Democrats, two new coalitions appeared: Center-Left and Centre-Right. In March 2001, Prime Minister Amato dissolves the Parliament.
Elections that are put in front of Rome’s former mayor, Francesco Rutelli, the former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, form the party “Forza Italy”. The latter, on May 15, 2001, is the winner, by convincing voters of his strong pro-American views. Italy is still on the way of economic prosperity and headed by a secular and commercial culture, which replaces the Catholic character of agriculture. Paying attention to family, Italy has the lowest birthrate in the industrialized world. However, corruption and organized crime is a problem. Tax evasion and the underground economy continue to be a scourge of the economy. The influence of church, family and local authorities remain prevalent in the south, but the Southern problem persists.
Women have adapted to the labor market and, by 1980, formed one third of the workforce. In terms of favorite sports, football exceeds cycling as the preference. American culture has an impact on the Italian. Half a century after the unification, about 13 million Italians emigrated mainly in North America, such as in the U.S. are almost as many Sicilians in the country of origin. After the Second World War, follows a new wave of emigration, now to: Switzerland, France and Germany. Most residents have moved south to northern industrialized cities. The family remains the dominant feature of social life and the divorce rate is one of the lowest, especially since it was legalized only in 1970. Gender equality was legislated in 1975 and abortion in 1978. Catholic Church continues to play its traditional role, still holding a large economic and social power.
Mafia is still a problem in southern Italy. Although there have been strong legal action against the mafia, murder, in 1992, two judges, demonstrates that the mafia is still a redoubtable power. Italy is a complex world. It became an economic power and a close ally of U.S.. Although it has an advanced industry, in terms of cultural tradition is one that plays it national side. Italian history is probably the most important in the development of cultural and social development in the Mediterranean. The country has been host to important human activities in prehistoric times, and that excavations can be found in many regions: Latium and Tuscany, Umbria and Basilicata. After Magna Graecia, the Etruscan civilization and the Roman Empire that came to dominate this part of the world came the medieval Humanism and the Renaissance that further helped to shape European philosophy and art.
Rome contains some of the most important examples of Baroque. Italy had become a modern nation-state belatedly – on March 17, 1861 – the states of the peninsula and the Two Sicilies were united under King Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy dynasty. The architect of Italian unification, however, was Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, the Chief Minister of Victor Emmanuel. Rome itself remained for a decade under the Papacy, and became part of the Kingdom of Italy only on September 20, 1870, the final date of Italian unification. The Vatican is now an independent enclave surrounded by Italy, such as San Marino. Italy participates with the Entente in the First World War. Benito Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship that began in 1922 led to a disastrous alliance with Germany and Japan called Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis (Axis) and ultimately Italy’s defeat in the Second World War.
On June 2, 1946 a referendum on the monarchy resulted in the establishment of the Italian Republic, which led to the adoption of a new constitution on January 1, 1948. Members of the royal family were sent into exile because of their association with the fascist regime. Italy was a founding member of NATO and the European Union, and joined the growing political and economic unification of Western Europe, including the introduction of the Euro in 1999.11