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Coordinates: 43°N 12°E / 43°N 12°E / 43; 12

Italian Republic
Repubblica Italiana  Italian
Flag Emblem
Anthem: Il Canto degli Italiani  Italian
"The Song of the Italians"
Location of  Italy  dark green

– in Europe  light green & dark grey
– in the European Union  light green  – 

and largest city
41°54′N 12°29′E / 41900°N 12483°E / 41900; 12483
Official languages Italiana
Demonym Italian
Government Unitary parliamentary
constitutional republic
 •  President Sergio Mattarella
 •  Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
 •  President of the Senate of the Republic Pietro Grasso
 •  President of the Chamber of Deputies Laura Boldrini
Legislature Parliament
 •  Upper house Senate of the Republic
 •  Lower house Chamber of Deputies
 •  Unification 17 March 1861 
 •  Republic 2 June 1946 
 •  Founded the EEC now the European Union 1 January 1958 
 •  Total 301,338 km2 72nd
116,347 sq mi
 •  Water % 24
 •  2015 estimate 60,674,003 23rd
 •  2011 census 59,433,744 23rd
 •  Density 2013/km2 63rd
5215/sq mi
GDP PPP 2016 estimate
 •  Total $2213 trillion 12th
 •  Per capita $36,191 31st
GDP nominal 2016 estimate
 •  Total $1852 trillion 8th
 •  Per capita $30,294 25th
Gini 2014 327
HDI 2014  0873
very high · 27th
Currency Euro €b EUR
Time zone CET UTC+1
 •  Summer DST CEST UTC+2
Drives on the right
Calling code +39c
ISO 3166 code IT
Internet TLD itd
a French is co-official in the Aosta Valley; Slovene is co-official in the province of Trieste and the province of Gorizia; German and Ladin are co-official in South Tyrol
b Before 2002, the Italian Lira The euro is accepted in Campione d'Italia, but the official currency there is the Swiss Franc
c To call Campione d'Italia, it is necessary to use the Swiss code +41
d The eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states

Italy Italian: Italia , officially the Italian Republic Italian: Repubblica Italiana, is a unitary parliamentary republic in Europe Located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, San Marino and Vatican City Italy covers an area of 301,338 km2 116,347 sq mi and has a largely temperate seasonal climate or Mediterranean climate; due to its shape, it is often referred to in Italy as lo Stivale the Boot With 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth most populous EU member state

Since classical times, ancient Phoenicians, Carthaginian, Greeks, Etruscans, and Celts have inhabited the south, centre and north of the Italian Peninsula respectively, with various Italic peoples dispersed throughout Italy alongside other ancient Italian tribes and Greek, Carthaginian, and Phoenician colonies The Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom, which eventually spread throughout Italy, assimilating and conquering other nearby civilisations and forming the Roman Republic Rome ultimately emerged as the dominant power, conquering much of the ancient world and becoming the leading cultural, political, and religious centre of Western civilisation The legacy of the Roman Empire is widespread and can be observed in the global distribution of civilian law, republican governments, Christianity and the Latin script

During the Middle Ages, Italy suffered sociopolitical collapse amid calamitous barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics rose to great prosperity through shipping, commerce, and banking, and even laid the groundwork for capitalism These independent city-states and regional republics, acting as Europe's main port of entry for Asian and Near Eastern imported goods, often enjoyed a greater degree of democracy in comparison to the monarchies and feudal states found throughout Europe at the time, though much of central Italy remained under the control of the theocratic Papal States, while Southern Italy remained largely feudal, partially as a result of a succession of Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Spanish, and Bourbon conquests of the region

The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science, exploration, and art with the start of the modern era Italian culture flourished at this time, producing famous scholars, artists, and polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli Explorers from Italy such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery Nevertheless, Italy's importance as a hub of commercial and political power significantly waned with the opening of trade routes from the New World, as New World imports and trade routes became more influential in Europe and bypassed the East Asian and Mediterranean trade routes that the Italian city-states had dominated Furthermore, the Italian city-states constantly engaged one another in bloody warfare, with this tension and violent rivalry culminating in the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, a series of wars and foreign invasions that left the Italian states vulnerable to annexation by neighbouring European powers Italy would remain politically fragmented and fall prey to conquest, occupation, and general foreign domination by European powers such as France, Spain, and Austria, subsequently entering a long period of decline

By the mid-19th century, a rising movement in support of Italian nationalism and Italian independence from foreign control lead to a period of revolutionary political upheaval known as the Risorgimento, which sought to bring about a rebirth of Italian cultural and economic prominence by liberating and consolidating the Italian peninsula and insular Italy into an independent and unified nation-state After various unsuccessful attempts, the Italian Wars of Independence, the Expedition of the Thousand and the capture of Rome resulted in the eventual unification of the country, now a great power after centuries of foreign domination and political division From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, the new Kingdom of Italy rapidly industrialised, especially in the so-called Industrial Triangle of Milan, Turin and Genoa in the north, and soon acquired a small colonial empire However, the southern areas of the country remained largely impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading the way to the rise of a Fascist dictatorship in 1922 The subsequent participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction, and a civil war following the rise of the Italian resistance movement In the years that followed, Italy abolished the Italian monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom, and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil eg Anni di piombo, Mani pulite, Second Mafia War and Maxi Trial, became one of the world's most developed nations

Italy has the third largest economy in the Eurozone and eighth largest economy in the world It has a very high level of human development and enjoys the highest life expectancy in the EU Italy plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military, cultural and diplomatic affairs, and the country is both a regional power and a great power Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and the member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7/G8, G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, and many more As a reflection of its vast cultural wealth, Italy is home to 51 World Heritage Sites, the most in the world, and is one of the most visited countries


  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History
    • 21 Prehistory and antiquity
    • 22 Middle Ages
    • 23 Early Modern
    • 24 Italian unification
    • 25 Fascist regime
    • 26 Republican Italy
  • 3 Geography
    • 31 Environment
    • 32 Climate
  • 4 Politics
    • 41 Government
    • 42 Law and criminal justice
      • 421 Law enforcement
    • 43 Foreign relations
    • 44 Military
    • 45 Administrative divisions
  • 5 Economy
    • 51 Agriculture
    • 52 Tourism
    • 53 Infrastructure
    • 54 Science and technology
  • 6 Demographics
    • 61 Metropolitan cities and Functional urban areas
    • 62 Ethnic groups
    • 63 Languages
    • 64 Religion
    • 65 Education
    • 66 Health
  • 7 Culture
    • 71 Architecture
    • 72 Visual art
    • 73 Literature and theatre
    • 74 Music
    • 75 Cinema
    • 76 Sport
    • 77 Fashion and design
    • 78 Cuisine
  • 8 See also
  • 9 Notes
  • 10 References
  • 11 Bibliography
  • 12 External links


Main article: Name of Italy

The assumptions on the etymology of the name "Italia" are very numerous and the corpus of the solutions proposed by historians and linguists is very wide According to one of the more common explanations, the term Italia, from Latin: Italia, was borrowed through Greek from the Oscan Víteliú, meaning "land of young cattle" cf Lat vitulus "calf", Umb vitlo "calf" The bull was a symbol of the southern Italic tribes and was often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Social War Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus states this account together with the legend that Italy was named after Italus, mentioned also by Aristotle and Thucydides

The name Italia originally applied only to a part of what is now Southern Italy – according to Antiochus of Syracuse, the southern portion of the Bruttium peninsula modern Calabria: province of Reggio, and part of the provinces of Catanzaro and Vibo Valentia But by his time Oenotria and Italy had become synonymous, and the name also applied to most of Lucania as well The Greeks gradually came to apply the name "Italia" to a larger region, but it was during the reign of Emperor Augustus end of the 1st century BC that the term was expanded to cover the entire peninsula until the Alps


Main article: History of Italy

Prehistory and antiquity

Main articles: Prehistoric Italy, Nuragic civilisation, Etruscan civilisation, Magna Graecia, Roman Italy, Ancient Rome, Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic, and Roman Empire The Colosseum in Rome, built c 70 – 80 AD, is considered one of the greatest works of architecture and engineering of ancient history, and a wonder of the world

Excavations throughout Italy revealed a Neanderthal presence dating back to the Palaeolithic period, some 200,000 years ago, modern Humans arrived about 40,000 years ago 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, and many others – were Indo-European peoples; the main historic peoples of possible non-Indo-European heritage include the Etruscans, the Elymians and Sicani in Sicily and the prehistoric Sardinians, which includes the Nuragic civilisation Other ancient Italian peoples of undetermined language families but of possible non-Indo-European origins include the Rhaetian people and Cammuni, known for their rock carvings

The temple of Concordia in Agrigento, the largest and one of the best-preserved Doric temples

Between the 17th and the 11th centuries BC Mycenaean Greeks established contacts with Italy and in the 8th and 7th centuries BC Greek colonies were established all along the coast of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula became known as Magna Graecia Also the Phoenicians established colonies on the coasts of Sardinia and Sicily

Rome, a settlement around a ford on the river Tiber conventionally founded in 753 BC, 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 Roman legacy has deeply influenced the Western civilisation, shaping most of the modern world In a slow decline since the third century AD, the Empire split in two in 395 AD The Western Empire, under the pressure of the barbarian invasions, eventually dissolved in 476 AD, when its last Emperor was deposed by the Germanic chief Odoacer, while the Eastern half of the Empire survived for another thousand years

Middle Ages

Main article: Italy in the Middle Ages The Iron Crown of Lombardy, for centuries symbol of the Kings of Italy Castel del Monte, built by German Emperor Frederick II, UNESCO World Heritage site

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Italy 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 a rump realm the Exarchate of Ravenna and started the end of political unity of the peninsula for the next 1,300 years The Lombard kingdom was subsequently absorbed into the Frankish Empire by Charlemagne in the late 8th century 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 for the former Ghibellines or for the latter Guelphs from momentary convenience

Painting of Marco Polo, the Venetian explorer of the 13th century

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 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 In coastal and southern areas, the maritime republics, the most notable being Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Amalfi, heavily involved in the Crusades, grew to eventually dominate the Mediterranean and monopolise trade routes to the Orient

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 as Giudicati, although some parts of the island were under Genoese or Pisan control until the Aragonese conquered it in the 15th century The Black Death pandemic of 1348 left its mark on Italy by killing perhaps one third of the population However, the recovery from the plague led to a resurgence of cities, trade and economy which allowed the bloom of Humanism and Renaissance, that later spread in Europe

Early Modern

Leonardo da Vinci, the quintessential Renaissance man self portrait, c 1512 Explorer Christopher Columbus discovering Americas and paving the way to trade roads and the conquistadors conquests

In the 14th and 15th centuries, northern-central Italy was divided into a number of warring city-states, the rest of the peninsula being occupied by the larger Papal States and the Kingdom of Sicily, referred to here as Naples Though many of these city-states were often formally subordinate to foreign rulers, as in the case of the Duchy of Milan, which was officially a constituent state of the mainly Germanic Holy Roman Empire, the city-states generally managed to maintain de facto independence from the foreign sovereigns that had seized Italian lands following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire The strongest among these city-states gradually absorbed the surrounding territories giving birth to the Signorie, regional states often led by merchant families which founded local dynasties War between the city-states was endemic, and primarily fought by armies of mercenaries known as condottieri, bands of soldiers drawn from around Europe, especially Germany and Switzerland, led largely by Italian captains Decades of fighting eventually saw Florence, Milan and Venice emerged as the dominant players that agreed to the Peace of Lodi in 1454, which saw relative calm brought to the region for the first time in centuries This peace would hold for the next forty years

The Renaissance, a period of vigorous revival of the arts and culture, originated in Italy thanks to a number of factors, as the great wealth accumulated by merchant cities, the patronage of its dominant families like the Medici of Florence, and the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy following the Conquest of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks The Italian Renaissance peaked in the mid-16th century as foreign invasions plunged the region into the turmoil of the Italian Wars The ideas and ideals of the Renaissance soon spread into Northern Europe, France, England and much of Europe In the meantime, the discovery of the Americas, the new routes to Asia discovered by the Portuguese and the rise of the Ottoman Empire, all factors which eroded the traditional Italian dominance in trade with the East, caused a long economic decline in the peninsula

Following the Italian Wars 1494 to 1559, ignited by the rivalry between France and Spain, the city-states gradually lost their independence and came under foreign domination, first under Spain 1559 to 1713 and then Austria 1713 to 1796 In 1629–1631, a new outburst of plague claimed about 14% of Italy's population In addition, as the Spanish Empire started to decline in the 17th century, so did its possessions in Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and Milan In particular, Southern Italy was impoverished and cut off from the mainstream of events in Europe In the 18th century, as a result of the War of Spanish Succession, Austria replaced Spain as the dominant foreign power, while the House of Savoy emerged as a regional power expanding to Piedmont and Sardinia In the same century, the two-century long decline was interrupted by the economic and state reforms pursued in several states by the ruling élites During the Napoleonic Wars, northern-central Italy was invaded and reorganised as a new Kingdom of Italy, a client state of the French Empire, while the southern half of the peninsula was administered by Joachim Murat, Napoleon's brother-in-law, who was crowned as King of Naples 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

Italian unification

Main articles: Italian unification, Kingdom of Italy, and Military history of Italy during World War I Victor Emmanuel meets Giuseppe Garibaldi near Teano The Altare della Patria in Rome, resting place of the Unknown Soldier More than 650,000 Italian soldiers died on the battlefields of World War I

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 In the context of the 1848 liberal revolutions that swept through Europe, an unsuccessful war was declared on Austria The Kingdom of Sardinia again attacked the Austrian Empire in the Second Italian War of Independence of 1859, with the aid of France, resulting in liberating Lombardy

In 1860–61, general Giuseppe Garibaldi led the drive for unification in Naples and Sicily, allowing the Sardinian government led by the Count of Cavour to declare a united Italian kingdom on 17 March 1861 In 1866, Victor Emmanuel II allied with Prussia during the Austro-Prussian War, waging the Third Italian War of Independence which allowed Italy to annex Venetia Finally, as France during the disastrous Franco-Prussian War of 1870 abandoned its garrisons in Rome, the Italians rushed to fill the power gap by taking over the Papal States

The Constitutionl 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 In 1913, male universal suffrage was adopted As Northern Italy quickly industrialised, the South and rural areas of North remained underdeveloped and overpopulated, forcing millions of people to migrate abroad, while 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 Somalia, Eritrea and later Libya and the Dodecanese under its rule

Italy, nominally allied with the German Empire and the Empire of Austria-Hungary in the Triple Alliance, in 1915 joined the Allies into the war 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 war was initially inconclusive, as the Italian army get struck in a long attrition war in the Alps, making little progress and suffering very heavy losses 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 obtained most of the promised territories, but not Dalmatia except Zara, allowing nationalists to define the victory as "mutilated" Moreover, Italy annexed the Hungarian harbour of Fiume, that was not part of territories promised at London but had been occupied after the end of the war by Gabriele D'Annunzio

Fascist regime

Main articles: Italian Fascism and Military history of Italy during World War II Benito Mussolini, Duce of Fascist Italy

The socialist agitations that followed the devastation of the Great War, inspired by the Russian Revolution, led to counter-revolution and repression throughout Italy The liberal establishment, fearing a Soviet-style revolution, started to endorse the small National Fascist Party, led by Benito Mussolini In October 1922 the Blackshirts of the National Fascist Party attempted a coup the "March on Rome" which failed but at the last minute, King Victor Emmanuel III refused to proclaim a state of siege and appointed Mussolini prime minister Over the next few years, Mussolini banned all political parties and curtailed personal liberties, thus forming a dictatorship These actions attracted international attention and eventually inspired similar dictatorships such as Nazi Germany and Francoist Spain

In 1935, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, 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 After initially advancing in British Somaliland and Egypt, the Italians were defeated in East Africa, Greece, Russia and North Africa

After the attack on Yugoslavia by Germany and Italy, suppression of the Yugoslav Partisans resistance and attempts to Italianisation resulted in the Italian war crimes and deportation of about 25,000 people to the Italian concentration camps, such as Rab, Gonars, Monigo, Renicci di Anghiari and elsewhere After the war, due to the Cold war, a long period of censorship, disinterest and denial occurred about the Italian war crimes and the Yugoslav's foibe killings Meanwhile, about 250,000 Italians and anti-communist Slavs fled to Italy in the Istrian exodus

An Allied invasion of Sicily began in July 1943, leading to the collapse of the Fascist regime and the fall of Mussolini on 25 July On 8 September, Italy surrendered The Germans shortly succeeded in taking control of northern and central Italy The country remained a battlefield for the rest of the war, as the Allies were slowly moving up from the south

In the north, the Germans set up the Italian Social Republic RSI, a Nazi puppet state with Mussolini installed as leader The post-armistice period saw the rise of a large anti-fascist resistance movement, the Resistenza 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

Republican Italy

Main article: History of the Italian Republic Alcide De Gasperi, first republican Prime Minister of Italy and one of the Founding Fathers of the European Union

Italy became a republic after a referendum held on 2 June 1946, a day celebrated since as Republic Day This was also the first time that Italian women were entitled to vote Victor Emmanuel III's son, Umberto II, was forced to abdicate and exiled The Republican Constitution was approved on 1 January 1948 Under the Treaty of Peace with Italy of 1947, most of Julian March was lost to Yugoslavia and, later, the Free Territory of Trieste was divided between the two states Italy also lost all its colonial possessions, formally ending the Italian Empire

Fears in the Italian electorate of a possible Communist takeover 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 The Marshall Plan helped to revive the Italian economy which, until the late 1960s, enjoyed a period of sustained economic growth commonly called the "Economic Miracle" In 1957, Italy was a founding member of the European Economic Community EEC, which became the European Union EU in 1993

In 1957 Italy was among the EEC's six founding members in the Treaty of Rome

From the late 1960s until the early 1980s, the country experienced the Years of Lead, a period characterised by economic crisis especially after the 1973 oil crisis, widespread social conflicts and terrorist massacres carried out by opposing extremist groups, with the alleged involvement of US and Soviet intelligence The Years of Lead culminated in the assassination of the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro in 1978 and the Bologna railway station massacre in 1980, where 85 people died

In the 1980s, for the first time since 1945, two governments were led by non-Christian-Democrat premiers: one liberal 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, gaining entry into the G7 Group However, as a result of his spending policies, the Italian national debt skyrocketed during the Craxi era, soon passing 100% of the GDP

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' investigation – demanded radical reforms The scandals involved all major parties, but especially those in the government coalition: the Christian Democrats, who ruled for almost 50 years, underwent a severe crisis and eventually disbanded, splitting up into several factions The Communists reorganised as a social-democratic force During the 1990s and the 2000s decade, centre-right dominated by media magnate Silvio Berlusconi and centre-left coalitions led by university professor Romano Prodi alternatively governed the country

In the late 2000s, Italy was severely hit by the Great Recession From 2008 to 2015, the country suffered 42 months of GDP recession The economic crisis was one of the main problems that forced Berlusconi to resign in 2011 The government of the conservative Prime Minister was replaced by the technocratic cabinet of Mario Monti Following the 2013 general election, the Vice-Secretary of the Democratic Party Enrico Letta formed a new government at the head of a right-left Grand coalition In 2014, challenged by the new Secretary of the PD Matteo Renzi, Letta resigned and was replaced by Renzi The new government started important constitutional reforms such as the abolition of the Senate and a new electoral law


Main article: Geography of Italy Topographic map of Italy

Italy is located in Southern Europe, between latitudes 35° and 47° N, and longitudes 6° and 19° E To the north, Italy borders France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia, and is roughly delimited by the Alpine watershed, enclosing the Po Valley and the Venetian Plain To the south, it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula and the two Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia, in addition to many smaller islands The sovereign states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italy, while Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland

The country's total area is 301,230 square kilometres 116,306 sq mi, of which 294,020 km2 113,522 sq mi is land and 7,210 km2 2,784 sq mi is water Including the islands, Italy has a coastline and border of 7,600 kilometres 4,722 miles on the Adriatic, Ionian, Tyrrhenian seas 740 km 460 mi, and borders shared with France 488 km 303 mi, Austria 430 km 267 mi, Slovenia 232 km 144 mi and Switzerland 740 km 460 mi San Marino 39 km 24 mi and Vatican City 32 km 20 mi, both enclaves, account for the remainder

The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula's backbone and the Alps form most of its northern boundary, where Italy's highest point is located on Monte Bianco 4,810 metres or 15,780 feet The Po, Italy's longest river 652 kilometres or 405 miles, flows from the Alps on the western border with France and crosses the Padan plain on its way to the Adriatic Sea The five largest lakes are, in order of diminishing size: Garda 36794 km2 or 142 sq mi, Maggiore 21251 km2 or 82 sq mi, shared with Switzerland, Como 1459 km2 or 56 sq mi, Trasimeno 12429 km2 or 48 sq mi and Bolsena 11355 km2 or 44 sq mi

Monte Bianco/Mont Blanc, on the Franco-Italian border is the highest point in the European Union

The country is situated at the meeting point of the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate, leading to considerable seismic and volcanic activity There are 14 volcanoes in Italy, four of which are active: Etna the traditional site of Vulcan’s smithy, Stromboli, Vulcano and Vesuvius Vesuvius is the only active volcano in mainland Europe and is most famous for the destruction of Pompeii and Herculanum Several islands and hills have been created by volcanic activity, and there is still a large active caldera, the Campi Flegrei north-west of Naples

Although the country comprises the Italian peninsula 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


See also: List of national parks of Italy and List of regional parks of Italy See also: Category:Environment of Italy National green and regional orange parks in Italy

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

Hilly landscape with vineyards in Tuscany

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


Southern Italy has a Mediterranean climate Main article: Climate of Italy

Thanks to the great longitudinal extension of the peninsula and the mostly mountainous internal conformation, the climate of Italy is highly diverse In most of the inland northern and central regions, the climate ranges from humid subtropical to humid continental and oceanic In particular, the climate of the Po valley geographical region is mostly continental, with harsh winters and hot summers

The coastal areas of Liguria, Tuscany and most of the South generally fit the Mediterranean climate stereotype Köppen climate classification Csa Conditions on peninsular coastal areas can be very different from the interior's higher ground and valleys, particularly during the winter months when the higher altitudes tend to be cold, wet, and often snowy The coastal regions have mild winters and warm and generally dry summers, although lowland valleys can be quite hot in summer Average winter temperatures vary from 0 °C 32 °F on the Alps to 12 °C 54 °F in Sicily, like so the average summer temperatures range from 20 °C 68 °F to over 25 °C 77 °F


Main article: Politics of Italy Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister since 2014 Sergio Mattarella, President of the Republic since 2015

Italy has been a unitary parliamentary republic since 2 June 1946, when the monarchy was abolished by a constitutional referendum The President of Italy Presidente della Repubblica, currently Sergio Mattarella since 2015, is Italy's head of state The President is elected for a single seven years mandate by the Parliament of Italy in joint session 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 proportional voting system The parliament is perfectly bicameral: the two houses, the Chamber of Deputies that meets in Palazzo Montecitorio and the Senate of the Republic that meets in Palazzo Madama, have the same powers The Prime Minister, officially President of the Council of Ministers Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri, is Italy's head of government The Prime Minister and the cabinet are appointed by the President of the Republic, but must pass a vote of confidence in Parliament to come into office The incumbent Prime Minister is Matteo Renzi of the Democratic Party

The Italian Chamber of Deputies in plenary section

The prime minister is the President of the Council of Ministers—which holds effective executive power— and he must receive a vote of approval from it to execute most political activities The office is similar to those in most other parliamentary systems, but the leader of the Italian government is not authorised to request the dissolution of the Parliament of Italy

Another difference with similar offices is that the overall political responsibility for intelligence is vested in the President of the Council of Ministers By virtue of that, the Prime Minister has exclusive power to: Coordinate intelligence policies, determining the financial resources and strengthening national cyber security; Apply and protect State secrets; Authorise agents to carry out operations, in Italy or abroad, in violation of the law

A peculiarity of the Italian Parliament is the representation given to Italian citizens permanently living abroad: 12 Deputies and 6 Senators elected in four distinct overseas constituencies In addition, the Italian Senate is characterised also by a small number of senators for life, appointed by the President "for outstanding patriotic merits in the social, scientific, artistic or literary field" Former Presidents of the Republic are ex officio life senators

Italy's three major political parties are the Democratic Party, Forza Italia and the Five Stars Movement During the 2013 general election these three parties won 579 out of 630 seats available in the Chamber of Deputies and 294 out of 315 in the Senate Most of the remaining seats were won by a short-lived electoral bloc formed to support the outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti, the far left party Left, Ecology, Freedom or by parties that contest elections only in one part of Italy: the Northern League, the South Tyrolean People's Party, Vallée d'Aoste and Great South On 15 November 2013, 58 splinter MPs from Forza Italia founded New Centre-Right

Law and criminal justice

Main articles: Law of Italy, Judiciary of Italy, and Organised crime in Italy The Supreme Court of Cassation

The Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic code and later statutes The Supreme Court of Cassation is the highest court in Italy for both criminal and civil appeal cases The Constitutional Court of Italy Corte Costituzionale rules on the conformity of laws with the constitution and is a post–World War II innovation Since their appearance in the middle of the 19th century, Italian organised crime and criminal organisations have infiltrated the social and economic life of many regions in Southern Italy, the most notorious of which being the Sicilian Mafia, which would later expand into some foreign countries including the United States The 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 146% of the Italian GDP is produced The Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, nowadays probably the most powerful crime syndicate of Italy, accounts alone for 3% of the country's GDP However, at 0013 per 1,000 people, Italy has only the 47th highest murder rate in a group of 62 countries and the 43rd highest number of rapes per 1,000 people in the world in a group of 65 countries, relatively low figures among developed countries

Law enforcement

Main article: Law enforcement in Italy A Lamborghini Gallardo provided to the Polizia di Stato

Law enforcement in Italy is provided by multiple police forces, five of which are national, Italian agencies The Polizia di Stato State Police is the civil national police of Italy Along with patrolling, investigative and law enforcement duties, it patrols the Autostrada Italy's Express Highway network, and oversees the security of railways, bridges and waterways The Carabinieri is the common name for the Arma dei Carabinieri, a Gendarmerie-like military corps with police duties They also serve as the military police for the Italian armed forces The Guardia di Finanza, English: Financial Guard is a corps under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance, with a role as police force The Corps is in charge of financial, economic, judiciary and public safety The Corpo Forestale dello Stato National Forestry Department is responsible for law enforcement in Italian national parks and forests Their duties include enforcing poaching laws, safeguarding protected animal species and preventing forest fires

Foreign relations

Main article: Foreign relations of Italy The European Parliament Italy is one of the 28 EU members

Italy is a founding member of the European Community, now the European Union EU, and of NATO Italy was admitted to the United Nations in 1955, and it is a member and 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 turns in the rotating presidency of international organisations include the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe CSCE, the forerunner of the OSCE, in 1994; G8; and the EU in 2009 and from July to December 2003

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 deployed troops in support of UN peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Mozambique, and East Timor and provides support for NATO and UN operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania Italy deployed over 2,000 troops in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom OEF from February 2003 Italy still supports international efforts to reconstruct and stabilise Iraq, but it had withdrawn its military contingent of some 3,200 troops by November 2006, maintaining only humanitarian operators and other civilian personnel In August 2006 Italy deployed about 2,450 troops in Lebanon for the United Nations' peacekeeping mission UNIFIL Italy is one of the largest financiers of the Palestinian National Authority, contributing €60 million in 2013 alone


Main article: Italian Armed Forces The aircraft carrier MM Cavour

The Italian Army, Navy, Air Force and Carabinieri collectively form the Italian Armed Forces, under the command of the Supreme Defence Council, presided over by the President of Italy From 2005, military service is entirely 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 $358 billion, equal to 17% of national GDP As part of NATO's nuclear sharing strategy Italy also hosts 90 United States nuclear bombs, located in the Ghedi and Aviano air bases

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, recently deployed in UN missions It also has at its disposal a large number of Leopard 1 and M113 armoured vehicles

A Eurofighter Typhoon operated by the Italian Air Force

The Italian Navy in 2008 had 35,200 active personnel with 85 commissioned ships and 123 aircraft It is now equipping itself with a bigger aircraft carrier the Cavour, new destroyers, submarines and multipurpose frigates In modern times the Italian Navy, being a member of the 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 As a stopgap and as replacement for leased Tornado ADV interceptors, the AMI has leased 30 F-16A Block 15 ADF and four F-16B Block 10 Fighting Falcons, with an option for more The coming years will also see the introduction of 121 EF2000 Eurofighter Typhoons, replacing the leased F-16 Fighting Falcons Further updates are foreseen in the Tornado IDS/IDT and AMX fleets A transport capability is guaranteed by a fleet of 22 C-130Js and Aeritalia G222s of which 12 are being replaced with the newly developed G222 variant called the C-27J Spartan

An autonomous corps of the military, the Carabinieri are the gendarmerie and military police of Italy, policing the military and civilian population alongside Italy's other police forces While the different branches of the Carabinieri report to separate ministries for each of their individual functions, the corps reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs when maintaining public order and security

Administrative divisions

Main articles: Regions of Italy, Metropolitan cities of Italy, Provinces of Italy, and Municipalities of Italy

Italy is subdivided into 20 regions regioni, five of these regions having a special autonomous status that enables them to enact legislation on some of their local matters The country is further divided into 14 metropolitan cities città metropolitane and 96 provinces province, which in turn are subdivided in 8,047 municipalities comuni

Apulia Basilicata Calabria Sicily Molise Campania Abruzzo Lazio Umbria Marche Tuscany Sardinia Emilia-Romagna Liguria Piedmont Friuli
Venezia Giulia Aosta
Valley South Tyrol Trentino Veneto Lombardy Adriatic Sea Ionian Sea Mediterranean Sea Tyrrhenian Sea Ligurian Sea

Region Capital Area km² Area sq mi Population
Abruzzo L'Aquila 10,763 4,156 1,331,574
Aosta Valley Aosta 3,263 1,260 128,298
Apulia Bari 19,358 7,474 4,090,105
Basilicata Potenza 9,995 3,859 576,619
Calabria Catanzaro 15,080 5,822 1,976,631
Campania Naples 13,590 5,247 5,861,529
Emilia-Romagna Bologna 22,446 8,666 4,450,508
Friuli-Venezia Giulia Trieste 7,858 3,034 1,227,122
Lazio Rome 17,236 6,655 5,892,425
Liguria Genoa 5,422 2,093 1,583,263
Lombardy Milan 23,844 9,206 10,002,615
Marche Ancona 9,366 3,616 1,550,796
Molise Campobasso 4,438 1,713 313,348
Piedmont Turin 25,402 9,808 4,424,467
Sardinia Cagliari 24,090 9,301 1,663,286
Sicily Palermo 25,711 9,927 5,092,080
Tuscany Florence 22,993 8,878 3,752,654
Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol Trento 13,607 5,254 1,055,934
Umbria Perugia 8,456 3,265 894,762
Veneto Venice 18,399 7,104 4,927,596


Main article: Economy of Italy A Ferrari 488 Italy maintains an innovative automotive industry, and is one of the world's largest exporters of manufactured goods

Italy has a capitalist mixed economy, ranking as the third-largest in the Eurozone and the eighth-largest in the world The country is a founding member of the G7, G8, the Eurozone and the OECD

Italy is regarded as one of the world's most industrialised nations and a leading country in world trade and exports It is a highly developed country, with the world's 8th highest quality of life and the 25th Human Development Index The country is well known for its creative and innovative business, a large and competitive agricultural sector Italy is the world's largest wine producer, and for its influential and high-quality automobile, machinery, food, design and fashion industry

Nutella, manufactured by Ferrero SpA Italy is the largest chocolate making country in the world

Italy is the world's sixth largest manufacturing country, characterised by a smaller number of global multinational corporations than other economies of comparable size and a large number of dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises, notoriously clustered in several industrial districts, which are the backbone of the Italian industry This has produced a manufacturing sector often focused on the export of niche market and luxury products, that if on one side is less capable to compete on the quantity, on the other side is more capable of facing the competition from China and other emerging Asian economies based on lower labour costs, with higher quality products

The country was the world's 7th largest exporter in 2009 Italy's 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 129%, France 114%, and Spain 74% Finally, tourism is one of the fastest growing and profitable sectors of the national economy: with 486 million international tourist arrivals and total receipts estimated at $455 billion in 2014, Italy was the fifth most visited country and the sixth highest tourism earner in the world

Italy is part of a monetary union, the Eurozone dark blue, and of the EU single market

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 very hard by the Financial crisis of 2007–08 and the subsequent European sovereign-debt crisis, 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 135% of GDP in 2014, ranking second in the EU only after the Greek one at 174% For all that, the largest chunk of Italian public debt is owned by national subjects, a major difference between Italy and Greece, and the level of household debt is much lower than the OECD average

A gaping North–South divide is a major factor of socio-economic weakness It can be noted by the huge difference in statistical income between the northern and southern regions and municipalities The richest region, Lombardy, earns 127% of the national GDP per capita, while the poorest, Calabria, only 61% The unemployment rate 119% stands slightly above the Eurozone average, however the average figure is 79% in the North and 202% in the South


A Tuscan wine; Italy is the largest producer of wine in the world Vineyards in the Chianti region The Italian food industry is well known for the high quality and variety of its products

According to the last national agricultural census, there were 16 million farms in 2010 -324% since 2000 covering 127 million hectares 63% of which are located in Southern Italy The vast majority 99% are family-operated and small, averaging only 8 hectares in size Of the total surface area in agricultural use forestry excluded, grain fields take up 31%, olive tree orchards 82%, vineyards 54%, citrus orchards 38%, sugar beets 17%, and horticulture 24% The remainder is primarily dedicated to pastures 259% and feed grains 116%

Italy is the first largest producer of wine in the world, 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 The most famous Italian wines are probably the Tuscan Chianti and the Piedmontese Barolo Other famous wines are Barbaresco, Barbera d'Asti, Brunello di Montalcino, Frascati, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Morellino di Scansano, and the sparkling wines Franciacorta and Prosecco Quality goods in which Italy specialises, particularly the already mentioned wines and regional cheeses, are often protected under the quality assurance labels DOC/DOP This geographical indication certificate, which is attributed by the European Union, is considered important in order to avoid confusion with low-quality mass-produced ersatz products


Main article: Tourism in Italy See also: Tourism in Rome and Tourism in Milan Tourists at the Trevi Fountain in Rome

With 507 million tourists a year 2015, Italy is the fifth most visited country in international tourism arrivals, and the sixth highest tourism earner in the world Tourism is one of Italy's fastest growing and most profitable industrial sectors, with an estimated revenue of €1891 billion People mainly visit Italy for its rich art, cuisine, history, fashion and culture, its beautiful coastline and beaches, its mountains, and priceless ancient monuments The Roman Empire, Middle Ages, and renaissance have left many cultural artifacts for the Italian tourist industry to use Many northern cities are also able to use the Alps as an attraction for winter sports, while coastal southern cities have the Mediterranean Sea to draw tourists looking for sun Italy is also home to fifty UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the most in the world

Rome is the third most visited city in Europe and the 14th in the world, with an average of 7-10 million tourists a year; the Colosseum one of the world's most popular tourist attractions, with 4 million tourists and the Vatican Museums 42 million tourists are respectively the 39th and 37th most visited places in the world Milan is the 7th EU's most important tourist destinations, and Italy's second, with 77 million arrivals In addition to numerous tourist destinations, Milan also has numerous hotels, including the ultra-luxurious Town House Galleria, which is the world's first seven-star hotel, ranked officially by the Société Générale de Surveillance, and one of The Leading Hotels of the World Venice has an average of 50,000 tourists a day 2007 estimate and in 2006 it was the world's 28th most internationally visited city, with 2927 million international arrivals that year Other popular cities are: Pisa home to the unmistakable Leaning Tower, Florence the city of Renaissance, and the home to Michelangelo's David, Genoa, Bologna, and Turin Italy has some of the world's most ancient tourist resorts, dating back to the time of the Roman Republic, when destinations such as Pompeii, Naples, Ischia, Capri and especially Baiae were popular with the rich of Roman society; Pompeii is currently Italy's third and the world's 48th most visited tourist destination, with over 25 million tourists a year


Main article: Transport in Italy FS' Frecciarossa 1000 high speed train, with a maximum speed of 400 km/h 249 mph, is the fastest train in Italy and Europe

In 2004 the transport sector in Italy generated a turnover of about 1194 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 Ferrovie dello Stato, 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 national inland waterways network comprised 1,477 km 918 mi of navigable rivers and channels in 2002 In 2004 there were approximately 30 main airports including the two hubs of Malpensa International in Milan and Leonardo da Vinci International in Rome and 43 major seaports including the seaport of Genoa, the country's largest and second largest in the Mediterranean Sea In 2005 Italy maintained a civilian air fleet of about 389,000 units and a merchant fleet of 581 ships

Italy needs to import about 80% of its energy requirements

Main article: Water supply and sanitation in Italy

Italy does not invest enough to maintain its drinking water supply and sanitation infrastructure, while water and sanitation tariffs are among the lowest in the European Union 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

Science and technology

Main article: Science and technology in Italy Clockwise from left: Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electric battery; Galileo Galilei, recognized as the Father of modern science, physics and observational astronomy; Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the long-distance radio transmission; and Enrico Fermi, creator of the first nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1

Through the centuries, Italy has fostered the scientific community that produced many major discoveries in physics and the other sciences During the Renaissance Italian polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci 1452–1519, Michelangelo 1475–1564 and Leon Battista Alberti 1404–72 made important contributions to a variety of fields, including biology, architecture, and engineering Galileo Galilei 1564–1642, a physicist, mathematician and astronomer, played a major role in the Scientific Revolution His achievements include key improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations, and ultimately the triumph of Copernicanism over the Ptolemaic model
Other astronomers suchs as Giovanni Domenico Cassini 1625–1712 and Giovanni Schiaparelli 1835–1910 made many important discoveries about the Solar System In mathematics, Joseph Louis Lagrange born Giuseppe Lodovico Lagrangia, 1736–1813 was active before leaving Italy Fibonacci c 1170 – c 1250, and Gerolamo Cardano 1501–76 made fundamental advances in mathematics Luca Pacioli established accounting to the world Physicist Enrico Fermi 1901–54, a Nobel prize laureate, led the team in Chicago that developed the first nuclear reactor and is also noted for his many other contributions to physics, including the co-development of the quantum theory and was one of the key figures in the creation of the nuclear weapon He, Emilio G Segrè, and a number of Italian physicists were forced to leave Italy in the 1930s by Fascist laws against Jews, including Emilio G Segrè 1905–89 who discovered the elements technetium and astatine, and the antiproton, and Bruno Rossi 1905–93, a pioneer in Cosmic Rays and X-ray astronomy

Other prominent physicists include: Amedeo Avogadro most noted for his contributions to molecular theory, in particular the Avogadro's law and the Avogadro constant, Evangelista Torricelli inventor of barometer, Alessandro Volta inventor of electric battery, Guglielmo Marconi inventor of radio, Ettore Majorana who discovered the Majorana fermions, Carlo Rubbia 1984 Nobel Prize in Physics for work leading to the discovery of the W and Z particles at CERN In biology, Francesco Redi has been the first to challenge the theory of spontaneous generation by demonstrating that maggots come from eggs of flies and he described 180 parasites in details and Marcello Malpighi founded microscopic anatomy, Lazzaro Spallanzani conducted important research in bodily functions, animal reproduction, and cellular theory, Camillo Golgi, whose many achievements include the discovery of the Golgi complex, paved the way to the acceptance of the Neuron doctrine, Rita Levi-Montalcini discovered the nerve growth factor awarded 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine In chemistry, Giulio Natta received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963 for his work on high polymers Giuseppe Occhialini received the Wolf Prize in Physics for the discovery of the pion or pi-meson decay in 1947 Ennio de Giorgi, a Wolf Prize in Mathematics recipient in 1990, solved Bernstein's problem about minimal surfaces and the 19th Hilbert problem on the regularity of solutions of Elliptic partial differential equations


Main article: Demographics of Italy Map of population density in Italy as at the 2011 census

At the end of 2013, Italy had 60,782,668 inhabitants The resulting population density, at 202 inhabitants per square kilometre 520/sq mi, is higher than that of most Western European countries However, the distribution of the population is widely uneven The most densely populated areas are the Po Valley that accounts for almost a half of the national population and the metropolitan areas of Rome and Naples, while vast regions such as the Alps and Apennines highlands, the plateaus of Basilicata and the island of Sardinia are very sparsely populated

The population of Italy almost doubled during the 20th century, but the pattern of growth was extremely uneven because of large-scale internal migration from the rural South to the industrial cities of the North, a phenomenon which happened as a consequence of the Italian economic miracle of the 1950–1960s High fertility and birth rates persisted until the 1970s, after which they start to dramatically decline, leading to rapid population ageing At the end of the 2000s decade, one in five Italians was over 65 years old However, in recent years Italy experienced a significant growth in birth rates The total fertility rate has also climbed from an all-time low of 118 children per woman in 1995 to 141 in 2008 The TFR is expected to reach 16–18 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 41 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 Functional urban areas

Metropolitan City REGION Area
Population Municipal Cities
1 January 2016
FUA Population
Rome Latium - Lazio 5,352 4,340,474 4,370,538
Milan Lombardy 1,575 3,208,509 4,252,246
Naples Campania 1,171 3,113,898 3,627,021
Turin Piedmont 6,829 2,282,127 1,801,729
Palermo Sicily 5,009 1,271,406 1,006,602
Bari Apulia 3,821 1,263,820 589,407
Catania Sicily 3,574 1,115,535 657,293
Florence Tuscany 3,514 1,113,348 760,325
Bologna Emilia-Romagna 3,702 1,005,831 770,998
Genoa Liguria 1,839 854,099 723,959
Venice Venetia - Veneto 2,462 855,696 499,966
Messina Sicily 3,266 640,675 277,584
Reggio Calabria planned Calabria 3,183 555,836 221,789
Cagliari Sardinia 1,248 430,413 476,974
Verona Venetia - Veneto 514,433
Padua Venetia - Veneto 506,212

Ethnic groups

Main article: Immigration to Italy Italy is home to a large population of migrants from Eastern Europe and North Africa

In 2014, Italy had about 49 million foreign residents, making up some 81% 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 nationality; this applies to about 130,000 people a year The official figures also exclude illegal immigrants, that were estimated in 2008 to number at least 670,000

Starting from the early 1980s, until then a linguistically and culturally homogeneous society, Italy begun to attract substantial flows of foreign immigrants After the fall of the Berlin Wall and, more recently, the 2004 and 2007 enlargements of the European Union, large waves of migration originated from the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe especially Romania, Albania, Ukraine and Poland An equally important source of immigration is neighbouring North Africa in particular, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia, with soaring arrivals as a consequence of the Arab Spring Furthermore, in recent years, growing migration fluxes from Asia-Pacific notably China and the Philippines and Latin America have been recorded

Currently, about one million Romanian citizens around one tenth of them being Roma 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 Overall, at the end of the 2000s decade the foreign born population of Italy was from: Europe 54%, Africa 22%, Asia 16%, the Americas 8% and Oceania 006% The distribution of immigrants is largely uneven in Italy: 87% of immigrants live in the northern and central parts of the country the most economically developed areas, while only 13% live in the southern half of the peninsula


Main articles: Languages of Italy and Italian language Geographic distribution of the Italian language in the world:   native language   secondary or non-official language   Italophone minorities

Italy's official language is Italian It is estimated that there are about 64 million native Italian speakers while the total number of Italian speakers, including those who use it as a second language, is about 85 million Italy has numerous regional dialects, however, the establishment of a national education system has led to decrease in variation in the languages spoken across the country during the 20th century Standardisation was further expanded in the 1950s and 1960s thanks to economic growth and the rise of mass media and television the state broadcaster RAI helped set a standard Italian

All the minority language groups officially recognised by Italy

Twelve historical minority languages are legally recognised: Albanian, Catalan, German, Greek, Slovene, Croatian, French, Franco-Provençal, Friulian, Ladin, Occitan and Sardinian Law number 482 of 15 December 1999 French is co-official in the Valle d’Aosta—although in fact Franco-Provencal is more commonly spoken there German has the same status in South Tyrol as, in some parts of that province and in parts of the neighbouring Trentino, does Ladin Slovene is officially recognised in the provinces of Trieste, Gorizia and Udine

Because of significant recent immigration, Italy has sizeable populations whose native language is not Italian 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 219% of the foreign residents aged 6 and over Other prevalent mother tongues are Arabic spoken by over 475,000 people; 131% of foreign residents, Albanian 380,000 people and Spanish 255,000 people Other languages spoken in Italy are Ukrainian, Hindi, Polish, and Tamil amongst others

According to the 2015 EF Education First report, Italy is ranked 28th out of 70 countries in all around the world, registering a medium competence level of English attributed to the value of 54,02


Main article: Religion in Italy St Peter's Basilica, the largest church of Christendom

Roman Catholicism is, by far, the largest religion in the country, although Catholicism is no longer officially the state religion In 2010, the proportion of Italians that identify themselves as Roman Catholic was 812%

The Holy See, the episcopal jurisdiction of Rome, contains the central government of the entire Roman Catholic Church, including various agencies essential to administration Diplomatically, it is recognised by other subjects of international law as a sovereign entity, headed by the Pope, who is also the Bishop of Rome, with which diplomatic relations can be maintained 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; the Holy See dates back to early Christian times Ambassadors are officially accredited not to the Vatican City State but to "the Holy See", and papal representatives to states and international organisations are recognised as representing the Holy See, not the Vatican City State

Minority Christian faiths in Italy include Eastern Orthodox, Waldensians and other Protestant communities In 2011, there were an estimated 15 million Orthodox Christians in Italy, or 25% of the population; 05 million Pentecostals and Evangelicals of whom 04 million are members of the Assemblies of God, 235,685 Jehovah's Witnesses, 30,000 Waldensians, 25,000 Seventh-day Adventists, 22,000 Latter-day Saints, 15,000 Baptists plus some 5,000 Free Baptists, 7,000 Lutherans, 4,000 Methodists affiliated with the Waldensian Church

One of the longest-established minority religious faiths in Italy is Judaism, Jews having been present in Ancient Rome since before the birth of Christ Italy has for centuries welcomed Jews expelled from other countries, notably Spain However, as a result of the Holocaust, about 20% of Italian Jews lost their lives This, together with the emigration that preceded and followed World War II, has left only a small community of around 28,400 Jews in Italy

Soaring immigration in the last two decades has been accompanied by an increase in non-Christian faiths In 2010, there were 16 million Muslims in Italy, forming 26% of population In addition, there are more than 200,000 followers of faiths originating in the Indian subcontinent with some 70,000 Sikhs with 22 gurdwaras across the country, 70,000 Hindus, and 50,000 Buddhists There were an estimated 4,900 Bahá'ís in Italy in 2005

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 Otto per mille 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 Bologna University is the oldest academic institution of the world, founded in AD 1088 Sapienza University of Rome is the largest university by enrollments in Europe

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 The 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 has been evalued 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

Tertiary education in Italy is divided between public universities, private universities and the prestigious and selective superior graduate schools, such as the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa The university system in Italy is generally regarded as poor for a world cultural powerhouse, with no universities ranked among the 100 world best and only 20 among the top 500 However, the current government has scheduled major reforms and investments in order to improve the overall internationalisation and quality of the system

In 2013, UNESCO added the Mediterranean diet to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of Italy promoter, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, and Croatia


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 92% of the national GDP in 2012, very close the OECD countries' average of 93%

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 6th in the world for life expectancy In comparison to other Western countries, Italy has a relatively low rate of adult obesity below 10%, probably thanks to the health benefits of the mediterranean diet The proportion of daily smokers was 22% in 2012, down from 244% 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 The city of Venice, built on 117 islands The Leaning Tower and the Duomo of Pisa The Royal Palace of Caserta

For centuries divided by politics and geography until its eventual unification in 1861, Italy has developed a unique culture, shaped by a multitude of regional customs and local centres of power and patronage During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, a number of magnificent courts competed for attracting the best architects, artistis and scholars, thus producing an immense legacy of monuments, paintings, music and literature

Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites 51 than any other country in the world, and has rich collections of art, culture and literature from many different periods The country has had a broad cultural influence worldwide, also because numerous Italians emigrated to other places during the Italian diaspora Furthermore, the nation has, overall, an estimated 100,000 monuments of any sort museums, palaces, buildings, statues, churches, art galleries, villas, fountains, historic houses and archaeological remains


Main article: Architecture of Italy

Italy has a very broad and diverse architectural style, which cannot be simply classified by period, but also by region, because of Italy's division into several regional states until 1861 This has created a highly diverse and eclectic range in architectural designs

The Florence cathedral has the largest brick dome in the world, and is considered a masterpiece of world architecture

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 Several of the finest works in Western architecture, such as the Colosseum, the Milan Cathedral and Florence cathedral, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the building designs of Venice are found in Italy

Italian architecture has also widely influenced the architecture of the world British architect Inigo Jones, inspired by the designs of Italian buildings and cities, brought back the ideas of Italian Renaissance architecture to 17th-century England, being inspired by Andrea Palladio Additionally, Italianate architecture, popular abroad since the 19th century, was used to describe foreign architecture which was built in an Italian style, especially modelled on Renaissance architecture

Visual art

Main article: Art of Italy The Last Supper 1494–1499 by Leonardo da Vinci Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan Mona Lisa 1501–1504 by Leonardo da Vinci, the world's best known work of art

The history of Italian visual art is part of Western painting history Roman art was influenced by Greece and can in part be taken as a descendant of ancient Greek painting However, Roman painting does have important unique characteristics The only surviving Roman paintings are wall paintings, many from villas in Campania, in Southern Italy Such painting can be grouped into 4 main "styles" or periods and may contain the first examples of trompe-l'œil, pseudo-perspective, and pure landscape

Panel painting becomes more common during the Romanesque period, under the heavy influence of Byzantine icons Towards the middle of the 13th century, Medieval art and Gothic painting became more realistic, with the beginnings of interest in the depiction of volume and perspective in Italy with Cimabue and then his pupil Giotto From Giotto on, the treatment of composition by the best painters also became much more free and innovative They are considered to be the two great medieval masters of painting in western culture

Michelangelo's David 1501–1504, Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence

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 Michelangelo was an active sculptor from about 1500 to 1520, and his great masterpieces including his David, Pietà, Moses Other prominent Renaissance sculptors include Lorenzo Ghiberti, Luca Della Robbia, Donatello, Filippo Brunelleschi, Andrea del Verrocchio

In the 15th and 16th centuries, the High Renaissance gave rise to a stylised art known as Mannerism In place of the balanced compositions and rational approach to perspective that characterised art at the dawn of the 16th century, the Mannerists sought instability, artifice, and doubt The unperturbed faces and gestures of Piero della Francesca and the calm Virgins of Raphael are replaced by the troubled expressions of Pontormo and the emotional intensity of El Greco In the 17th century, among the greatest painters of Italian Baroque are Caravaggio, Annibale Carracci, Artemisia Gentileschi, Mattia Preti, Carlo Saraceni and Bartolomeo Manfredi 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

In the 19th century, major Italian Romantic painters were Francesco Hayez, Giuseppe Bezzuoli and Francesco Podesti Impressionism was brought from France to Italy by the Macchiaioli, led by Giovanni Fattori, and Giovanni Boldini; Realism by Gioacchino Toma and Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo In the 20th century, with Futurism, primarily through the works of Umberto Boccioni and Giacomo Balla, Italy rose again as a seminal country for artistic evolution in painting and sculpture 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

Literature and theatre

Main article: Literature of Italy Dante, poised between the mountain of Purgatory and the city of Florence, displays the famous incipit Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita in a detail of Domenico di Michelino's painting, 1465

The basis of the modern Italian language was established by the Florentine poet Dante Alighieri, whose greatest work, the Divine Comedy, is considered among the foremost literary statements produced in Europe during the Middle Ages There is no shortage of celebrated literary figures in Italy: Giovanni Boccaccio, Giacomo Leopardi, Alessandro Manzoni, Torquato Tasso, Ludovico Ariosto, and Petrarch, whose best-known vehicle of expression, the sonnet, was created in Italy

Prominent philosophers include Giordano Bruno, Marsilio Ficino, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Giambattista Vico Modern literary figures and Nobel laureates are nationalist poet Giosuè Carducci in 1906, realist writer Grazia Deledda in 1926, modern theatre author Luigi Pirandello in 1936, poets Salvatore Quasimodo in 1959 and Eugenio Montale in 1975, satirist and theatre author Dario Fo in 1997

Carlo Collodi's 1883 novel, The Adventures of Pinocchio, is the most celebrated children's classic by an Italian author

Italian theatre can be traced back to the Roman tradition which was heavily influenced by the Greek; as with many other literary genres, Roman dramatists tended to adapt and translate from the Greek For example, Seneca's Phaedra was based on that of Euripides, and many of the comedies of Plautus were direct translations of works by Menander During the 16th century and on into the 18th century, Commedia dell'arte was a form of improvisational theatre, and it is still performed today Travelling troupes of players would set up an outdoor stage and provide amusement in the form of juggling, acrobatics, and, more typically, humorous plays based on a repertoire of established characters with a rough storyline, called canovaccio


Main article: Music of Italy Giacomo Puccini, Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently worldwide performed in the standard repertoire

From folk music to classical, music has always played an important role in Italian culture Instruments associated with classical music, including the piano and violin, were invented in Italy, and many of the prevailing classical music forms, such as the symphony, concerto, and sonata, can trace their roots back to innovations of 16th- and 17th-century Italian music

Italy's most famous composers include the Renaissance composers Palestrina and Monteverdi, the Baroque composers Scarlatti, Corelli and Vivaldi, the Classical composers Paganini and Rossini, and the Romantic composers Verdi and Puccini Modern Italian composers such as Berio and Nono proved significant in the development of experimental and electronic music 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, and performers such as the pianist Maurizio Pollini and the late tenor Luciano Pavarotti, Italians have been no less appreciative of their thriving contemporary music scene

Luciano Pavarotti, one of the most influential tenors of all time

Italy is widely known for being the birthplace of opera Italian opera was believed to have been founded in the early 17th century, in Italian cities such as Mantua and Venice Later, works and pieces composed by native Italian composers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini, are among the most famous operas ever written and today are performed in opera houses across the world La Scala operahouse in Milan is also renowned as one of the best in the world Famous Italian opera singers include Enrico Caruso and Alessandro Bonci

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 Later, Italy was at the forefront of the progressive rock movement of the 1970s, with bands like PFM and Goblin Italy was also an important country in the development of disco and electronic music, with Italo disco, known for its futuristic sound and prominent usage 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

Producers/songwriters such as Giorgio Moroder, who won three Academy Awards for his music, were highly influential in the development of EDM electronic dance music Today, Italian pop music is represented annually with the Sanremo Music Festival, which served as inspiration for the Eurovision song contest, and the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto Singers such as pop diva Mina, classical crossover artist Andrea Bocelli, Grammy winner Laura Pausini, and European chart-topper Eros Ramazzotti have attained international acclaim


Main article: Cinema of Italy The Lion of Saint Mark is the symbol of the Golden Lion award from the Venice Film Festival, the oldest film festival in the world and one of the most prestigious and publicised

The history of Italian cinema began a few months after the Lumière brothers began motion picture exhibitions The first Italian film was a few seconds, showing Pope Leo XIII giving a blessing to the camera The Italian film industry was born between 1903 and 1908 with three companies: the Società Italiana Cines, the Ambrosio Film and the Itala Film Other companies soon followed in Milan and in Naples In a short time these first companies reached a fair producing quality, and films were soon sold outside Italy Cinema was later used by Benito Mussolini, who founded Rome's renowned Cinecittà studio for the production of Fascist propaganda until World War II

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 Dario Argento Movies include world cinema treasures such as La dolce vita, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Bicycle Thieves 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

Italy is the most awarded country at the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, with 14 awards won, 3 Special Awards and 31 nominations


Main article: Sport in Italy The Azzurri at the 1982 FIFA World Cup one of the four won by Italy

The most popular sport in Italy is, by far, football Italy's national football team nicknamed Gli Azzurri – "the Blues" is one of the world's most successful team as it has won four FIFA World Cups 1934, 1938, 1982, and 2006 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, Serie A, ranks as the fourth best in Europe and is followed by millions of fans around the world

Other popular team sports in Italy include volleyball, basketball and rugby Italy's male and female national teams are often featured among the world's best The Italian national basketball team's best results were gold at Eurobasket 1983 and EuroBasket 1999, as well as silver at the Olympics in 2004 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's national team competes in the Six Nations Championship, and is a regular at the Rugby World Cup Italy ranks as a tier-one nation by World Rugby Italy men's national volleyball team winning three World Championships in a row 1990, 1994 and 1998 an three silver medal in Olympics 1996, 2004, 2016 Italy has a long and successful tradition in individual sports as well Bicycle racing is a very familiar sport in the country Italians have won the UCI World Championships more than any other country, except Belgium The Giro d'Italia is a cycling race held every May, and constitutes one of the three Grand Tours, along with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, each of which last approximately three weeks Alpine skiing is also a very widespread sport in Italy, and the country is a popular international skiing destination, known for its ski resorts Italian skiers achieved good results in Winter Olympic Games, Alpine Ski World Cup, and World Championship 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 Italian professional tennis players won the Davis Cup in 1976 and the Fed Cup in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2013 Motorsports are also extremely popular in Italy Italy has won, by far, the most MotoGP World Championships Italian Scuderia Ferrari is the oldest surviving team in Grand Prix racing, having competed since 1948, and statistically the most successful Formula One team in history with a record of 224 wins

Historically, Italy has been successful in the Olympic Games, taking part from the first Olympiad and in 47 Games out of 48 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 The country hosted two Winter Olympics in 1956 and 2006, and one Summer games in 1960

Fashion and design

Main articles: Italian fashion and Italian design Prada shop in Hong Kong

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

Italy is also prominent in the field of design, notably interior design, architectural design, industrial design and urban design 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"

Today, Milan and Turin are the nation's leaders in architectural design and industrial design 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 Some of the most popular Italian foods: pizza, pasta, gelato and espresso

Modern Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with roots as far back as the 4th century BC Italian cuisine in itself takes heavy influences, including Etruscan, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine, and Jewish 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

A key factor in the success of Italian cuisine is its heavy reliance on traditional products; Italy has the most traditional specialities protected under EU law 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 Desserts have a long tradition of merging local flavours such as citrus fruits, pistachio and almonds with sweet cheeses like mascarpone and ricotta or exotic tastes as cocoa, vanilla and cinnamon Gelato, tiramisù and cassata are among the most famous examples of Italian desserts, cakes and patisserie

See also

  • Index of Italy-related articles
  • Outline of Italy


  1. ^ The Italian peninsula is geographically located in Southern Europe, while North Italy can be placed partly or totally in Central Europe Due to cultural, political and historical reasons, Italy is a Western European country
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  • Hacken, Richard "History of Italy: Primary Documents" EuroDocs: Harold B Lee Library: Brigham Young University Retrieved 6 March 2010 
  • "FastiOnline: A database of archaeological excavations since the year 2000" International Association of Classical Archaeology AIAC 2004–2007 Retrieved 6 March 2010 
  • Hibberd, Matthew The media in Italy McGraw-Hill International, 2007
  • Sarti, Roland, ed Italy: A reference guide from the Renaissance to the present 2004
  • Sassoon, Donald Contemporary Italy: politics, economy and society since 1945 Routledge, 2014
  • "Italy History – Italian History Index" in Italian and English European University Institute, The World Wide Web Virtual Library 1995–2010 Retrieved 6 March 2010 

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