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  • Welcome to Italy

    Italy History | Rome | Bologna

    This site is a complete guide to Italy. You will find here every thing you need to know about Italy. For History of Italy visit Italian History page. For Guide to individual cities please visit click the Individual city pages linked below.

    About Italy

    Italy or Italia in Italian language is located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe, Italy also has two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, The Sicily and The Sardinia. Italy shares its northern Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. While within Italy are The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City. while Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclaved in Switzerland

    Italy has been a very important country in the history. Many European cultures lived and flourished here, such as the Etruscans and the Romans, and later Italy was the birthplace of the universities and of the movement of the Renaissance, that began in Tuscany and spread all over Europe. Italy's most talked about capital Rome was for centuries the center of Western civilization, it also spawned the Baroque movement and seats the Catholic Church. Italy possessed a colonial empire from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. For more details click History of Italy

    Today, Italy is a democratic republic and a developed country with the 8th-highest Quality-of-life index rating in the world. It is a founding member of what is now the European Union (having signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957), and a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It is a member of the G8 (having the world's 7th largest nominal GDP), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization (WTO), the Council of Europe, the Western European Union, the Central European Initiative, and a Schengen state. It has the world's 7th largest defence budget and shares NATO's nuclear weapons. On 1 January 2007, Italy began a two year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

    Where does the word Italy come from?

    The origin of the term Italy or Italia in Italian language, from Latin Italia, is uncertain. According to one of the more common explanations, the term was borrowed through Greek, from Oscan V'teli', meaning "land of young cattle" (cf. Lat vitulus "calf", Umb vitlo "calf") and named for the god of cattle, Mars. The bull was a symbol of the southern Italian tribes and is often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Samnite Wars.

    The name Italia applied to a part of what is now southern Italy. According to Antiochus of Syracuse, it originally only referred to the southern portion of the Bruttium peninsula (modern Calabria), but by his time Oenotrians 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 not until the time of the Roman conquests that the term was expanded to cover the entire peninsula

    Italy : When to Go

    The main tourist season in Italy runs from April to mid-October. The so-called low season from fall to early spring is cooler and rainier, but if you're seri- ous about seeing the sights and not so concerned about weather, you'll reap rewards from visiting at this time: flights are cheaper, hotel rooms are often discounted, crowds at sights are smaller, and locals are less likely to be experiencing " tourist fatigue. If you do care about the weather, aim for a visit in late spring, early summer, or early fall. july is hot and crowded; August is even hotter, and because it's the month when most Italians go on vacation, the cities can feel like they're occupied exclusively by tourists. If you visit at this time of the year, it's smart to adopt the siesta mentality: get up and out early, nap during the afternoon, and head back out in the evening. Be sure to confirm that your hotel has air-conditioning; it has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, but it�s still not a given.


    Winters throughout the territory covered here are rainy and cool, but temperatures seldom drop below freezing. The region of Emilia-Romagna is notorious for its winter fog, which can make driving an impos- sibility. In Venice, spring and fall are the seasons for tzcqua alta, the short-term flooding that can engulf low- lying parts of the city, including the Piazza San Marco, at high tide. Summers are dry and hot-the past decade has seen some of the hottest on record. May through early june and mid September through mid Octobet are the idyllic times to be here: temperatures are mild, and rains have either tapered off (in the spring) or not yet started in earnest (in the fall).

    Life in Italy

    Coffee or Cafe

    The Italian day begins and ends with cof- fee, and more cups of coffee punctuate the time in between. To live like the Italians do, drink as they drink, standing at the counter or sitting at an outdoor table of the corner bar. (In Italy, a "bar" is a coffee bar.) A primer: caff means coffee, and Italian standard issue is what Americans call espresso short, strong, and usually taken very sweet. Cappuccino is a foamy half-and-half of espresso and steamed milk; cocoa powder (cacao) on top is acceptable, cinnamon is not. If you're thinking of hav- ing a cappuccino for dessert, think again-- Italians drink only caffe or caff macc/viato (with a spot of steamed milk) after Itmchtime. Confused? Homesick? Order caffe amer- icano for a reasonable facsimile of good old filtered joe.

    Italian Culture

    If you want to get a sense of contemporary Italian culture and indulge in some of its pleasures, start by familiarizing yourself with the rituals of daily life. These are a few highlightsthings you can take part in with relative ease.


    Imagine the most rabid American football fan, the ones who paint their faces on game day and sleep in pajamas emblazoned with the logo of their favourite team. Throw in a dose of melodrama along the line of a tear-jerking soap opera, Ratcher up the intensityby fector 10 and you will start to get sense of how Italians feel about football or CALCIO in Italian. On Sunday afternoons through out the long september to May season stadiums are packed in Italy from tip to toe. Those who don't get a chance to be at the stadium are glued to televisions enjoying the game. Afternoon silence on the city streets, or er- ratic restaurant service around the same time, accompanied by occasional cheers and groans from a neighboring room. If you want a memorable, truly Italian experience, at- tend a game yourself. Availability of tick- ets may depend on the current fortunes of the team in the town where you're stay- ing, but they often can be acquired with some help from your hotel concierge.

     ll Geluto (Ice Cream)

    During warmer months, geltzto-the Ital- ian equivalent of ice cream is a national obsession. It's considered a snack rather than a dessert, bought at stands and shops in piazzas and on street corners, and con- sumed on foot, usually at a leisurely stroll. along La Passegiata, below.) Gelato is softer, less creamy, and more intensely flavored than its American counterpart. lr comes in simple flavors that capture the essence of  the main ingredient. (You won't find Chunky Monkey or Cookies 'n Cream.)

    At most gelaterias standard choices in- clude pistachio, nocciola (hazelnut), caffe, and numerous fresh-fruit varieties. Quality varies; the surest sign that you've hit on a good spot is a line at the counter.

    Lu Pusseggicito (Snelling)

    A favorite Italian pastime is the passeggiattz (literally, the promenade). In the late after- noon and early evening, especially on week- ends, couples, families, and packs of teenagers stroll the main streets and piaz- zas of Italy's towns. It's a ritual of ex- changed news and gossip, window shopping, flirting, and gelato eating that adds up to a uniquely Italian experience. To join in, simply hit the streets for a bit of wander- ing. You may feel more like an observer than a participant, until you realize that ob- serving is what la passeggiata is all about.

    Renaissance Art

    Travel veterans will tell you that the seem- ingly countless masterpieces of Italian art can cause first-time visitors eyes glazed over from a heavy downpour of images, dates, and names to lean, Pisa-like, on their companions for support. After a surfeit of Botticellis and Raphaels, even the mir- acle of the High Renaissance may begin to pall. The secret is to act like a tortoise, not a hare, and take your sweet time. Instead of trotting after brisk tour guides, allow the splendors of the age to unfold slowly. Don't stop at the museums; get out and explore the chapels, palaces, and town squares for which ItaIy's marvelous art was conceived centuries ago and where much of it remains.

    Take in Michelan gelos David in Florences Accademia, but then meander down the nearby 15 th-cen- tury street where the sculptor was born. Those caveats aside, here are the places to go when you're ready for an art feast:

    Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Allow the better part of a day to explore the world's greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art.

    Musei Vaticani, Rome. To gaze up at the impossible brushstrokes forming Michelangelo's Adam into muscular perfection at the zenith of the Sistine Chapel is to confront the divine- however you define it.

    Basilica di San Francesco, Arezzo. Piero della Francesa's True Cross frescoes merit a pilgrimage to this Tuscan town.

    Galleria deil'Accademia. Venice. Come here to experience the rich colors that are the trademark of the Venetian Renaissance.

    Monumental Churches

    Few images arc more identifiable in Italy than the country's great churches Stunning works of architecture that has coutinued to build. Across the boot you'll find churches in styles ranging from flying buttressed medieval Gothic to rococo zirlll fanciful baroque. The name duomo (derived from the Latin for l10uSc, d01'n1.1S, and the root of the English "dome") is used to refer to rhs principal church of a town or city. Liemr. ally speaking, the bigger the city, the morr- splendid its duorno. Still, some inipressir.-E . Churches inhabit some unlikely places in the Umbrian hill towns of Assisi and ( lm- eto, for example.

    Basilica di San Pietro, Rome. You've probably seen the Catholic Churches' mother ship a thousand times on TV, but the imposing splendor of the Vatican cam be captured by the small screen.

     Duomo, Orvieto. Few cathedrals can claim masterpieces inside and out, but here you'll find Italy's most perfect Gorhic facade matched with Luca Signorellik phenomenal frescoes in the Cappella di San Brizio.

    Duomo, Florence. Brunelleschi's dome is the most recognizable in Iran;. 311 Uflcqualed feat of 15th-century engineering.

    Stanto Stefano, Bologna. A splendid basilica is also an archaeological phenomenon: you can see here remnants of numerous churches that have stood on the same spot through the ages. Basilica di San Marco, Venice. This one building above all others capture " East-meets-West character of Venice

    Traditional Cooking

    Italian cuisine all comes back to- its di casa ( home cooking). From Tuscany-l8- ribolitta (bread soup) to a simply grilled whole fish from along the Adriatic coast line, the finest plates are often the simplest.

    The emphasis is on exceptionally good materie prime {primary ingredients) handled with skill and with respect for the foods themselves and for the traditional methods of preparing them. Each region of Italy has its own distinct, time-tested cuisine that's a source of local pride, and even sophisticated restaurants often maintain an orthodox focus on gen- erationsold recipes. Chefs revere the most humble ingredients, devoting the same at- tention to day-old bread that they do to costly truffles. Here are a few places where the simplest food will take your breath away:

    Dar Poeta. Rome. Pizza in Italy is in a dif- ferent class than what you get any- where else. This popular pizzeria is open=minded enough to serve both Roman (thin-crusted) and Neapolitan (slightly thicker) varieties.

    Bucadisantantonio, Lucca. Simple, tradi- tional Tuscan cuisine is created here with exceptionai grace.

    Antica Noe, Florence. If Florence had din- ers, this unpretentious restaurant would be the best diner in town. What's on the menu depends on what's best that day at the market. Cantinone Gia Schiavi, Venice. Venetian wine bars are known as bacari, and at the best of them, such as this one, you can make a simple meal of the sumptu- Ous ciccbetri (snacks).

    Il Dolce For Niente

    The sweetness of doing nothing has long. been an att form in Italy. This is a country in which life's pleasures are warmlyoel- ebrated, not guiltily indulged. Of course, doing nothing doesn't really mean noth- ing. It means doing things differently. It means lingering over a glass of wine for the better part of an evening just to watch the sun slowly set. It means coming home from wherever you are at midday, whether you're a suited businessman or a third- grade schoolgirl, just to have lunch at the family table. it means savoring a slow and flirtatious evening passeggiata along the main street of a little town, a procession with no des tination other than the town and its streets. And it means making a commitment- however temporary to thinking, feeling, and believing that there is nowhere that you have to be next, that there is no other time than the magical present.

    Sunset, Piazzale Michelangelo. Florence. The view looking down over the great city ofthe Renaissance takes on an added glow at twilight. Piazza del Campo, Siena. Perhaps it's the sloping shell shape that makes this one of Italy's most pleasing town squares. Have a gelato, take a Scot, and watch the world go by.  Gondola ride. Venice. There is still nothing more romantic than a glide along Venice`s canals in a gondola, your es- corted trip to nowhere. watched over by Gothic palaces with delicately arched eyebrows.

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