Italy is a great nation full of historical and cultural importance. It is the birthplace of Roman law and renaissance art. Roman law is comparable to the style of government and law system used in the United States today. Italy is home to decadent food and beautiful architecture. From the magnificent Alps and Mount Vesuvius to the various lakes, beaches, and lagoons, Italy’s immense beauty has drawn visitors from around the world. People visit Italy for many reasons. Some come for the pleasure of watching and participating in sports and activities such as soccer, biking, skiing, boating, and swimming.
Others travel for the exquisite food or to view historical structures. Furthermore, Italy has great religious significance. Roman Catholics continue to make pilgrimages to Rome and other prominent religious cities to see the holy churches and spiritual shrines. Music and dance are also a part of Italy’s culture. Italians have contributed greatly to music. For example, their love of Opera has resulted in most large cities possessing at least one theatre.
Geographically, Italy is a peninsula that extends out into the Mediterranean sea. Its landmass has a unique shape that resembles a high-heeled boot. Italy possesses mountains terrain and coastal shores. Italy’s population, as of 2016, is 61.6 million people. The ‘phrase’ of Italy is ‘Bel Paese’ which translates to ‘Beautiful Country’ in English. The capital of Italy is Roma or Rome, a city often called the Eternal City, which comes from an ancient myth. Rome’s population is 2.6 million people making it Italy’s largest city.
Italy is a very educated country where more than 98% of Italians are literate, meaning that they are capable of reading and writing. Most Italians are of a Christian religion with 90% being Roman Catholics. The Italian flag consists of three colored vertical stripes. On the left there is a green stripe, white is in the middle, and red located to the right. The green stripe stands for hope, the white is for faith, and the red represents charity. During ancient times, people settled in Italy and created separate civilizations with unique cultures.
These civilizations were not united under one ruler or governing method because of the many mountains that cut across Italy. These civilizations would eventually become Roman provinces, which had little impact on the settled people. At the end of the Roman Empire’s prolonged decline, these provinces were no longer protected from attacks or invasions by Germanic tribes. At last, in 476 A.D., the Roman Empire collapsed. Over the following 1,500 years, several people and groups attempted to seize power over Italy. It was an extended period of suppression in Italy, but finally on June 2, 1946, only 72 years ago, Italy gained its independence and became its own country.
They held an election so they could decide upon what form of government they were going to practice. This election was the first in which women were permitted to vote. They decided upon a way of governing related to their preceding parliamentary system. It was determined that the new leader of Italy would be a president elected by the parliament to serve a seven-year term. Mount Vesuvius, an active volcano residing in Italy, erupted on August 27, 79 A.D., destroying the nearby city of Pompeii and killing 2,000 people. Now the site of Pompeii is a popular tourist attraction with around 2.5 million visitors per year. Although earthquakes are rare in the Alps, there have been a few throughout the years. One that occurred in 1980 killed 2,500 people and another happened in 1997 killing 11 people, injuring over 100, and damaging irreplaceable art depicting St. Francis that was inside of the Basilica church in Pompeii. In January of 1348, a plague known as the black death reached Italy when merchants fleeing a Mongol attack landed in Italy.
Rats on their ships carried flees that carried the virus. When the fleeing merchants landed in Italy they unknowingly brought the plague along with them. Over 1.7 million were victims of the Black Plague. In some areas, the death count grew so high that people abandoned entire cities. In World War I Italy remained neutral until 1915 when they joined England and France in the fight against Germany and Austria because of an agreement is known as the Treaty of London. This treaty stated that if Italy were to join the war on the Allied powers side, then if the war was a victory for the Allies, Italy was to acquire land. However, after the Allied powers triumph in 1918, Italy was not granted the territory in which it had been promised.
Later in World War II, Italy joined the conflict in 1940 on the side of the Axis powers(Germany and Japan), but Italy was not prepared or equipped for battle and countless Italian lives were lost as a result. In 1943, Italy switched sides, once again fighting with the Allied powers. Italy is well-recognized for its wide variety of decadent food, but mainly for its pizza and pasta! Pasta is such a regularly enjoyed meal in Italy that it is the National Dish of Italy! There is even a common saying that Italians tell one another that goes, ‘There will always be a plate of pasta for you at my house.’ This saying means that you will always be welcome in my home. Italy is not the only country in which their culture enjoys pizza. In fact, many cultures around the world also love pizza.
The pizza itself is actually quite old. Even Neolithic people had their own different version of pizza, but it was nothing like the cheesy pizza with tomato sauce that most people envision today when they imagine pizza! It was quite simply flatbread baked in the sun on a stone seasoned with whatever spices were available to them at the time. In 1830 the first pizzeria opened in Naples, Italy, serving pizza consisting of a disk of dough baked with olive oil, cheese, and sometimes toppings like tomatoes, onions, olives, or anchovies, but it did not include red sauce on it.
That ingredient would come later. There have been many important and influential Italians throughout the years. The most famous being Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour and Giuseppe Garibaldi both who contributed greatly towards the unifing Italy. A man named Goffredo Mameli composed the Italian national hymn. Alessandro Manzoni wrote the first novel in Italian. Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia was the first president of unified Italy. Italians have also had a great impact on technology. A man by the name of Eugenio Barsanti developed the first internal combustion engine driven by gas. Tito Livio Burattini developed an early system of measurement based upon time in the 15th century.
Guglielmo Marconi invented an early version of radio transmission and even received a Nobel Prize in physics for his contributions to science and the modern world. A well-known inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci, was an Italian who invented prototypes of the parachute and the airplane. These inventions were too advanced for his time period so they could not be developed for common use. This book was very informational and taught me a lot about Italy, but I did not enjoy reading it. I feel that reading should be fun and to me reading this book seemed like a task or something that I must do, rather than something that I wanted to do. There were a few interesting facts, but the rest were just standard facts about the history of Italy. I most likely feel this way because I enjoy reading fiction books more than non-fiction books.