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Italian culture is as varied and diverse as the Italian people. The culture of Italy can be found in the Roman ruins remaining in much of the country, the laws and philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church, the architecture, and on the terraces of the many football clubs. It can also be tasted in Italy's magnificent food.


People of Italy are usually referred to as Italian(s) as a whole. However, there are many regional groups that go by their ethnic name, such as Lombards, Sicilians, Sardinians, Milanese, etc.


Main Article Food

Also see Cuisine of Italy


Italian sports are similar to those played in other European countries. Popular sports include football (soccer), rugby, basketball, skiing, archery, race car driving, and skating. Italy has successfully participated in the Olympics since the second summer Olympics in 1900 and since the 1948 Winter Olympics. Italy sponsors a national rugby union team. The Italian Football Federation organizes all professional soccer events in Italy. The famous Italian Grand Prix is held at Monza. The beginnings of chess theory developed in Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries.


Languages of Italy

Main Article Languages of Italy

Italy currently has one national language Italian. Several other languages are also spoken throughout the country. Over the centuries many regional languages have developed that some consider dialects of modern Italian. Examples include Milanese, spoken near the city of Milan, Neapolitan, spoken near Naples, Sicilian, spoken on Sicily, etc.

For a more complete list see: List of Languages of Italy

Religion in Italy

Main Article Religion

Roman Catholicism is the majority religion — 85% of native-born citizens are nominally Catholic — there are mature Protestant and Jewish communities and a growing Muslim immigrant community. All religious faiths are provided equal freedom before the law by the constitution. Before the arrival of Christianity in the 1st century A.D. the country was mostly pagan and worshiped the Roman Gods. Eventually Christianity replaced paganism and became the majority religion of the Roman Empire and Italy. The Pope of the Roman Catholic Faith resides within Rome in what is now known as Vatican City.

Islam in Italy

Islam was almost entirely absent in Italy from the time of that country's unification in 1861 until the 1970s, when the first trickle of North African immigrants began arriving. These North Africans, mostly of Berber or Arab origin, came mainly from heavily Islamic Morocco, though they have been followed in more recent years by Tunisians, Albanians and to a lesser extent, Libyans,Egyptians, Pakistanis, Middle Eastern Arabs and Kurds. Some estimate the number of Italian converts to be around 10,000.


Main Article Art of Italy

Italian art stretches from the Roman times to the Modern era. Several famous artists are from Italy. Italy is also rich in Music, cinema, literature, and architecture.

Italian cinema and theatre

The history of Italian cinema began a few months after the Lumière brothers had discovered it. The first film was a few seconds long and was Pope Leo XIII giving a blessing to the camera. The Industry was born between 1903 and 1908 with three companies: the Roman Cines, the Ambrosio of Turnin and the Itala Film. Other companies would soon have 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 too. The cinema was later used by Mussolini as a form of propaganda during World War II. The blockbuster film The Passion of the Christ was recently made in Italy.

Italian theatre can be traced back into the Roman which was heavily influenced by the Greek tradition, and, 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 , although it is still performed today. Travelling teams 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.

For more information see: History of theater and Commedia dell'arte

Roman and Palladian Architecture

The Two most well known types of Italian architecture are Roman and Palladian.

The Romans adopted classical Greek architecture for their own purposes, which were so different from Greek buildings as to create a new architectural style. The two styles are often considered one body of classical architecture. Sometimes that approach is productive, and sometimes it hinders understanding by causing us to judge Roman buildings by Greek standard. One of the most famous types of Roman architecture is the Roman baths and aqueducts.

Palladian European style of architecture derived from the designs of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580). The term "Palladian" normally refers to buildings in a style inspired by Palladio's own work; what is recognised as Palladian architecture today is an evolution of Palladio's original concepts. Buildings by Palladio himself are rare, and all are in Italy. They include Villa Capra and Villa Badoer, as well as many churches in the Veneto. In both his architectural treatises and the buildings Palladio designed and built, he followed the principles defined by the Roman architect Vitruvius and his 15th-century disciple Leone Battista Alberti who adhered to principles of classical Roman architecture, as opposed to the rich ornamental style of the Renaissance.

Music of Italy

Main Article Music of Italy

Since Roman times, Italy has been one of the cultural centers for all of Europe. It was the home of the Italian Renaissance, as well as many of the most influential composers of later centuries. It also incorporates multiple regional styles of folk music as well as a burgeoning record industry that supports a wide variety of rock, pop, hip hop and opera musicians. Italy has many distinct types of Music depending on location. The origins of music notation are from Italy. See Music of Italy for more information.


The most ancient examples of plainsong, a monophonic, liturgical music also known as chant come from Italy in the 4th century. Chant is sung a cappella and without time signatures. Saint Ambrose of Milan codified these chants, which became known as Ambrosian chant.

Italian hip hop

Italian hip hop' started in the early 1990s. One of the first hip hop crews to catch the attention of the Italian mainstream was Milan's Articolo 31, then and still today produced by Franco Godi, who had written the soundtrack to the animated TV series Signor Rossi in the 1970s. The European Music Office's report on Music in Europe claimed that, in general, hip hop from the south of Italy tends to be harder than that from the north [1][1].

Music of Central Italy

The highly urban provinces of central Italy are best-known for the medieval sung poetry ottava rima, from Tuscany, Lazio and Abruzzo. Ottava rima is performed by the poeti contadini (peasant poets) who use the poems of Homer or Dante, as well as more modern lyrics which address political or social issues. It is often completely improvised, and sometimes competitive in nature. Tuscan folk poetry is closer in form and style to high-culture poetry than is typical elsewhere in Italy.

Music of Genoa and Northern Italy

The northern regions of Italy show a strong Celtic influence in their culture, which has largely disappeared during the 20th century. Roots revivalists have revived traditional songs, though, from Piedmont (La Ciapa Rusa), Lombardy (Baraban) and Padua (Calicanto).

Music of Naples

Naples is best-known for its canzone napoletan a song tradition, which is said to date back to the song "Te voglio bene assaie" from 1839. It drew upon the rural villanella tradition of the 16th century, and it has been popularized by performers like Enrico Caruso. Canzone napoletana featured often satirical or incisive lyrics with polyphonic harmony and elements of classical music. More modern performers include Roberto Murolo, Sergio Bruni and Renato Carosone.

Music of Sardinia

Probably the most culturally distinct of all the regions in Italy, Sardinia is an isolated island known for the tenores' polyphonic chant, sacred songs called gozos, and launeddas, a type of bagpipes similar to the Greek aulos. Launeddas are used to play a complex style of music that has achieved some international attention, especially Dionigi Burranca, Antonio Lara, Luigi Lai and Efisio Melis; Burranca, like many of the most famous launedda musicians, is from Samatzai in Cagliari. An ancient instrument, dating back to at least the 8th century BC, launeddas are still played during religious ceremonies and dances (su ballu). Distinctively, they are played using extensive variations on a few melodic phrases, and a single song can last over an hour.

Music of Sicily

Sicily is home to a great variety of Christian music, including a cappella devotional songs from Montedoro and many brass bands like Banda Ionica, who play songs from a diverse repertoire. Harvest songs and work songs are also indigenous to the agricultural island, known as "Italy's granary". Sicilian flute music, called friscaletto, is also popular among traditionalist Sicilians, as are Messina's male choirs.

See also

Art Museums | Automotive Museums | Bicycles Museums | Motorcycle Museums