It is an art lover’s paradise, a country that hosts some of the world’s greatest architectural masterpieces, stores up to sixty percent of the world’s art and attracts almost 44 million visitors a year. The culture of Italy is strongly rooted in its ancient Roman heritage, which can be traced back thousands of years. Although not a unified political state until 1861, Italy has had a substantial impact on European culture, especially in the fields of philosophy, art, literature, science, opera, cuisine, architecture, fashion but also in numerous others. Italian cuisines such as pizza, pasta and lasagne are internationally renowned and collectively they represent what is arguably the most popular cuisine in the world.
One of the most important aspects of Italian culture is found in its architecture. From the Roman Coliseum of Rome to the floating City of Venice, the architecture of Italy is a testament to the wealth of heritage and history that it hosts. It holds the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, with 44 such sites spread across the country. Some of the most famous include the Historic City of Florence, The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Excavations of Pompeii. The Sistine Chapel, built by the genius Michelangelo, is probably the most beautifully decorated interior in the world and is famous for its painted ceiling.
The number of famous artists born in Italy is impressive. From Donatello, to Correggio, to Sassoferrato, to Gandolfi, Italy has inspired artists for centuries and is undoubtedly a paradise for lovers of art. Leonardo da Vinci, one of greatest Italian Renaissance artists, is also responsible for painting the Mona Lisa, regarded as the most iconic and famous painting in the world, now at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Italy has also contributed greatly to the world of music. Italian opera is internationally renowned and the works of famous Italian composers such as Bellini, Verdi and Rossini are regarded as among the finest operas ever created. Italian folk music is diverse and is generally regarded as a series of regional folk styles rather than one national genre. Folk music had existed long before Italy became a unified state and different regions adopted different styles of folk music in accordance to the geographical location of the area. For example, in Southern Italy the influence of the Arabic world in folk culture was historically much stronger than in the north – where Celtic and Persian influences played a significant role.
The culture of Italy is also still rooted in its Roman Catholicism. On Sunday virtually all shops close and a significantly greater number of Italians attend church regularly than their French, British or German counterparts. A higher percentage of Italians believe in a God or ‘life force’ than most other western and southern European countries. The influence of the Roman Catholic Church is very strong, with the Vatican being in the centre of Rome, a city which is the also the centre of Italian politics.
Warm, welcoming, family-centric, style-conscious, openly emotional and loyal, today’s Italian culture draws upon a rich and creative history that is largely unparalleled.