Global Profile: Italy

| October 19, 2013

The Colosseum, one of Italy’s national landmarks. || Image: Wikipedia

Words by Andrea Love 


ITALY, located in south-central Europe, is renowned for delightful cuisine, stunning architecture, artwork by the greats, and romantic linguistics. Known officially as the Italian Republic, the country borders France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia and is comprised of some of the most varied and scenic landscapes on Earth. Italy oozes history and culture, with an archaeological record stretching back tens of thousands of years. Though divided by politics and geography early on, Italy developed a unique culture that was shaped by many regional customs.

A boot-shaped nation, Italy is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. One-fifth of the land is relatively flat and plain, limited mostly to the Po Valley, and the rest is divided among hills and mountains. The northern boundary is marked by the Alps with the highest point being Mont Blanc. Italy is located in a temperate zone and the climate varies across the country. Italy is dominated by multiple meteorological situations and depending on the season, the weather can go from heavy storms to blissfully warm sunshine.

From the turn of the 20th Century, Italy transformed from a highly traditional, agricultural community to an industrialised state. Though the popularity of computers and Internet have grown, the Italians places much importance on social meetings and utilising public spaces. Meeting with friends on a daily basis is the norm, and locals frequent the bars, cinemas, and discos in the nighttime.

Strong agricultural traditions of the country give rise to many festivals and jubilees, celebrating the harvest, food, country, and seafaring pursuits. Popular celebrations include the olive and bruschetta festival at Spello, the fish festival at Termoli and the hazelnut festival in Canelli. Festivities vary from commemorations of historical events to sport and there are many to celebrate the visual and performing arts.

Italy is exploding with culture, not only in construction and food, but through art, theatre, sculpture, fashion, and literature. Italy was at the front of both artistic and intellectual development during the Renaissance era, drawing motivation from the classical Greek and Roman Empires. Art and architecture reflected earlier Romanesque and Gothic forms, which escalated into the baroque style of the 16th Century. Great names in Italian art still remain popular in modern society; Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, and Donatello are all well known for revolutionising art, just to name a few. Milan is a world leader in high fashion, home to supermodels, designers, and photographers working for globally recognised, luxury labels such as Versace, Gucci, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, and Armani.

Italian cuisine is well known on a global level. Food is a primary element of Italy and work patterns will revolve around the midday meal. You will find a surplus of bars and trattorias that offer cheap, quick meals to the casual diner, however still maintain culinary traditions. Contrary to popular beliefs, there is no one style of Italian cooking. The regional differences across the country all influence the cuisine. Food is characterised by local traditions, geography, way of life, and history of the area. There are similarities however; Italians love their noodles and pasta, and they are often dressed with olive oil, tomatoes, cream, butter, or cheese. If you’re travelling to Italy, depending on the area you visit, popular culinary items will vary. In Tuscany and Umbria, wild boar is a popular dish, whereas seafood and shellfish are the meals of choice for the coastal regions. The south sees citrus fruits, olive groves, and vineyards in abundance. Italy is one of the world’s largest wine producers and every region is known for their particular wine.

Ready to go?

Speak: Italian

Shop: Euro

Explore: Rome, Tuscany, Piazza del Campo, Positano, Lake Como

Taste: Wild boar, truffles, affogato, burrata, porcini mushrooms

Photograph: Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pompeii, Colosseum, canals of Venice

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Category: FEATURED, LIFESTYLE, Uncategorized

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