Currency: Euro (EUR)
Calling Code: 39
Italy is a European nation bordering Austria and Switzerland to
the north, Slovenia to the north-east and France to the north-west.
In 5th place in the world for number of tourist presences in 2014. There are many cities and natural beauties that have been included by UNESCO in the list of World Heritage Sites.
The Italian region (between the 47th and 36th
parallel north) is located almost in the center of the temperate
zone of the boreal hemisphere.
It consists of a peninsula with a mountainous backbone from which flourishing valleys and small plains open. The largest plain is the Po Valley, also called Valpadana, Val Padana or Valle Padana and is located in the north, where the peninsula joins the continent.
From a climatic point of view, Italy is favored by the large body of
water of the Mediterranean Sea, which surrounds it almost on all sides.
This sea constitutes above all for the Italian peninsula (less so for
the Hellenic, Iberian and Anatolian ones) a beneficial reservoir of heat
and humidity. In fact, within the temperate zone, it determines a
particular climate called temperate Mediterranean.
Italy is conventionally divided into four types of climate:
Alpine climate, dominating the Alps and the northern and central Apennines, characterized by low night-time and winter temperatures and mainly summer rainfall;
Mediterranean climate, enjoyed by the islands and the peninsula from Rome down (but also coastal towns in Liguria, Tuscany, and other provinces on the Mediterranean Sea), with mild temperatures in winter and marked drought in summer;
Peninsular climate, characteristic of some localities north of Lazio, with milder temperatures along the coast and in the immediate hinterland than towards the interior (where at the highest altitudes the climate is alpine) and with rainfall mainly in spring and autumn .
Climate of the Po Valley, with a wide annual range (low temperatures in winter, high temperatures in summer) and rainfall in spring and autumn.
The official language is Italian. In addition, each region has one or
more local languages or dialects. However, there are numerous linguistic
minorities, generally protected but very little spoken. Only in
Trentino-Alto Adige, Valle d'Aosta and Friuli-Venezia Giulia are these
The largest of the linguistic minorities, both in terms of territory and population, is the South Tyrolean/South Tyrolean one, which speaks a German very similar to Hochdeutsch; in the same region (and also in a small part of Trentino) Ladin is spoken, with a certain territorial continuity to the Romansh spoken in the Grisons.
In Valle d'Aosta the patois is widespread, in fact a Franco-Provençal dialect; Walser, a German dialect, is spoken in four municipalities in the Lys valley.
Occitan and Franco-Provençal are widespread in western Piedmont.
In Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in the provinces of Trieste, Gorizia and Udine, the Slovenian language is widespread, and in those of Udine, Pordenone and Gorizia there are Friulian-speaking communities.
In Molise, in the province of Campobasso, there is a substantial Arbëreshë-speaking community distributed in various municipalities, and a Croatian-speaking one.
In Campania, in the municipality of Greci, in Irpinia, there is an arbëreshë community, the only one in the region.
In Puglia there are several Greek and Albanian communities; in the Daunia mountains (in Celle and Faeto) there is even a Franco-Provençal linguistic island.
In Basilicata, in the province of Potenza there are Albanian-speaking communities.
In Calabria, in the province of Cosenza and Crotone there are Albanian and Greek speaking communities in the metropolitan city of Reggio Calabria.
In Sardinia there is the Sardinian linguistic minority. The Sardinian language is actively spoken by around one million people and understood by 97% of the population in Sardophone areas. Also around Alghero there is an area where Catalan is spoken.
In Sicily there are some Albanian-speaking municipalities, but in the recent past Greek was also widespread.
Northwestern Italy — Includes Liguria, Lombardy, Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta. Territory of the Ligurian Riviera, including Portofino and Cinque Terre. The Alps, world-class cities such as the industrial capital of Italy (Turin), its great port (Genoa), the main business center of the country (Milan), share the visitors of the region, with areas with beautiful landscapes such as those of Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, and little-known Renaissance treasures such as Mantua or medieval treasures such as the city of Bergamo.
Northeastern Italy — Includes Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto. From the canals of Venice to the foodie capital of Bologna, from towering mountains like the Dolomites and world-class ski resorts like Cortina d'Ampezzo to the delightful cities of Parma and Verona, these regions offer plenty to see and do. The bilingual area of South Tyrol and the cosmopolitan city of Trieste offer a unique touch of central Europe.
Central Italy — Includes Abruzzo, Lazio, Marche, Tuscany and Umbria. Steeped in art and history. Rome boasts the remaining wonders of the glorious Roman Empire and some of the world's best-known monuments, combined with a bustling big-city atmosphere. Florence, cradle of the Renaissance, is Tuscany's main attraction, while the magnificent countryside and nearby cities such as Siena, Pisa and Lucca have much to offer those looking for other places rich in history awarded the title of World Heritage Site. Umbria is dotted with many picturesque towns such as Perugia, Orvieto, Gubbio and Assisi. The Marches mainly offer the suggestive Ascoli Piceno and Urbino.
Southern Italy — Includes Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise. Bustling Naples, the dramatic ruins of Pompeii, the romantic Amalfi coast, Ischia and Capri, tranquil Puglia and the enchanting beaches of Calabria, the Sassi of Matera one of the oldest cities in the world and designated European Capital of Culture for 2019 ; and everywhere, the majestic 2,500-year-old center-of-the-world ruins make the area culturally interesting. Widespread agritourisms that make the less visited areas of the boot ideal places to explore (e.g. Irpinia, Sannio).
Sicily — The beautiful island famous for archaeology, (the Valley of the Greek temples), seascapes, clear beaches, mostly hilly hinterland full of breathtaking landscapes and some of the best food Italian cuisine has to offer.
Sardinia - large island about 250 km west of the Italian coast. Beautiful panoramas, crystal clear waters and splendid beaches: one of the most sought-after seaside destinations among Italians and not.
The Italian peninsula also includes two small independent states:
Vatican City, located in the middle of Rome, is an independent city-state, seat of the Roman Catholic Church.
San Marino, City-State of the Republic of the same name.
14 are the conurbations officially recognized by the Italian State in article 114 of its constitution:
Rome (Lazio) — Capital of the nation, center of gravity of Western culture.
Bari (Apulia) - Industrious commercial area, famous for its trulli and the remains of St. Nicholas.
Bologna (Emilia-Romagna) — Seat of the oldest university in Europe.
Cagliari (Sardinia) — Seaside and cultural tourist destination.
Catania (Sicily) — Ancient Greek city that rises at the foot of Etna, full of traces of the sumptuous past, its center is late Baroque.
Florence (Tuscany) - Great Renaissance artistic center, with the famous Uffizi Gallery.
Genoa (Liguria) - Historic port full of beauties and museums and birthplace of Christopher Columbus.
Messina and Reggio Calabria — historic cities located on both sides of the homonymous Strait of Messina.
Milan (Lombardy) — Capital of the Italian economy and of high fashion around the world.
Naples (Campania) — teeming capital known throughout the world as the "city of pizza" as the first pizza was served here. It rises near the Vesuvius volcano and the archaeological excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Palermo (Sicily) - A city that has seen the succession of countless civilizations, each with its own trace.
Turin (Piedmont) — First capital of reunified Italy and site of the XX Winter Olympic Games.
Trieste (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) - former port of the Austrian Empire, meeting place of Latin, Slavic and German cultures.
Venice (Veneto) — The city of canals, poetic and romantic, famous all over the world.
Amalfi coast — The Amalfi coast is an area of great physical beauty
and natural diversity and is bordered by numerous towns such as Amalfi,
Positano and Ravello with architectural and artistic works of great
importance. The rural areas show the versatility of the inhabitants in
adapting the use of the land, according to its different nature, to
productions ranging from terraced vineyards to orchards on the slopes to
wide mountain pastures.
Costa Smeralda — Very famous in the world for its elitist international tourism which has made it one of the main destinations, the object of attention and worldly news on the glossy pages of the weeklies, the Costa represents one of the most beautiful areas of Sardinia, and has in Porto Cervo the its entertainment capital.
Dolomites - The site of the Eastern Alps is home to some of the most beautiful mountain scenery ever, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs and a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys. The Tre Cime di Lavaredo are certainly a symbol of this World Heritage Site.
Isle of Capri — It enjoys worldwide fame, supported by the frequentation of it by famous people and stars from all over the world, especially in the Sixties, making it a destination for elitist tourism which is now somewhat downsized. Nonetheless the island and the town of Capri, which also has a characteristic center of notable beauty, continue to be a place of natural wonders of which the famous Blue Grotto is just one example.
Ischia Island - The largest island in the Gulf of Naples is very popular for its thermal waters and for the splendor of its nature and bathing beaches. The main center of the same name shows in the nucleus Ischia Ponte the ancient characteristics of a picturesque fishing village; the district of Ischia Porto flaunts the character of an elegant spa and seaside resort.
Lake Como — Lake Como, with the cities of Como and Lecco, constitutes a homogeneous tourist area which, in addition to the two major cities, includes the numerous coastal towns on its shores.
Lake Garda - The largest body of water in the peninsula and in Lombardy, it offers tourist opportunities of various kinds: climatic stays, including winter ones, for the elderly and families, bathing and water sports; excursions on the reliefs that surround the lake basin; entertainment for young people in the innumerable clubs and amusement parks that are located nearby, including on the Venetian shore.
Lake Iseo — Iseo, Pisogne, Lovere, Sarnico and Monte Isola are the cities of this lake formed by the Oglio which with its waters has filled the glacial valley excavated by the Valcamonica glacier. It is the fourth largest among the great Lombard lakes, and like the others it enjoys a good tourist activity.
Lake Maggiore - A natural environment of enchanting beauty, glimpses and inlets that look like paintings, coastal villages of elegant simplicity and great charm; it is not for nothing that the Lake has transformed its fame from national to worldwide. The Borromean Islands are significant and in particular Isola Bella which houses an imposing Baroque palace with refined gardens.
Pollino massif - located between Basilicata and Calabria, it hosts the largest national park in Italy, included in the list of UNESCO world geoparks. It is particularly known for the presence of the loricate pine, of which it keeps a specimen called "Italus", considered the oldest tree in Europe.
Sorrento peninsula - The Sorrento coast is the northern part of the peninsula, with Sorrento as the main center of tourism, a seaside resort surrounded by gardens and citrus groves, in an elevated position on a terrace overlooking the sea. An elegant center among the best known of Italian tourism, it represents one of the most popular seaside destinations in Campania for elite tourism.
Adriatic Riviera — The beaches, gulfs and cliffs of the Adriatic are places of primary importance in the Italian seaside tourism sector. Every region bordered by this sea has developed seaside resorts of great attraction. The phenomenon of marine tourism on the Adriatic was born on the Romagna Riviera, with Rimini queen of family tourism which distinguishes the big holiday business in Romagna.
Paestum — ancient city of Magna Graecia, displays the best preserved Greek Doric temples from around the world, plus the remains of a gymnasium wall, city walls, and house walls. It is one of the main archaeological parks in Italy and Europe and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Vulci Archaeological and Naturalistic Park — Includes the vast archaeological area of the ancient Etruscan city of Vulci with the necropolis surrounding the urban layout.
Sassi of Matera - First site in Southern Italy registered among the World Heritage Sites. The Sassi of Matera are an urban settlement deriving from the various forms of civilization and anthropization that have occurred over time. From the prehistoric ones of the entrenched villages of the Neolithic period, to the habitat of the rock civilization of oriental origin (IX-XI century), which constitutes the urban substrate of the Sassi, with its walkways, canalizations, cisterns; from the western Norman-Swabian civitas (11th-13th century), with its fortifications, to the subsequent Renaissance expansions (15th-16th century) and Baroque urban arrangements (17th-18th century); and finally from the hygienic-social degradation of the 19th and first half of the 20th century to the evacuation ordered by national law in the fifties, up to the current recovery started starting from the law of 1986. Today they are a highly sought-after film set at national and international level .
Excavations of Pompeii — The excavation area transports us as if by magic to the Roman city of Pompeii, as if time had not passed since the moment before the eruption which overwhelmed everything and buried it in a blanket of ash, magma and lapilli which allowed to preserve and return, a unique example in the world, an entire Roman city photographed in its daily life and frozen in a (dramatic) moment of its life. Naturally included among the World Heritage Sites, the city would need more careful and respectful maintenance, to avoid the recurrence of unfortunate collapses and dramatic collapses that have been occurring there for some time, causing irreparable damage to a truly unique and unrepeatable. Like Pompeii, Herculaneum and Oplontis have been included among the World Heritage Sites, also submerged by the eruption of Vesuvius.
Italy is a member of the Schengen Area.
There are no border controls between the countries that have signed and implemented the treaty, i.e. those of the European Union (with the exception of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania) and then Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Airports in Europe are, therefore, divided into "Schengen" and "non-Schengen" lanes, which effectively behave like the national equivalents of "domestic" and "international" flights. If you are flying from outside Europe to one Schengen country and then continue to another, you will go through immigration and customs checks at the first stop and then continue to your final destination without further checks. Note that regardless of whether you are traveling within the Schengen area or not, many airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.
Citizens of the EU or EFTA (the "European Free Trade Association", known in English as EFTA, and made up of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) only need a valid ID card to enter expatriation or a passport, both obviously valid, in no case will you need a visa for a stay of any length; the same criteria also apply to foreign citizens, in addition they will only have to show the regular entry visa that allowed them access to the first member state.
Non-EU/EFTA citizens generally require a passport to enter a Schengen country and most will need a visa.
Since 2012, even minors must have an identity card to leave the country and must be accompanied by at least one of the parents indicated in this document. In the absence of the parents, the minor must have an "accompanying declaration" signed by them and validated by the competent bodies, which indicates the person or organization to which the minor will be entrusted.
Citizens of the following countries do not require a visa to enter the Schengen Area: Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, United Arab Emirates, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, North Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United Kingdom, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Taiwan (China), East Timor, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela, and British Overseas Citizens, Hong Kong or Macao.
Non-EU/EFTA citizens cannot stay more than 90 days in any 180-day period within the Schengen area as a whole (not individual states) and, in general, cannot work during their stay (even if some Schengen countries make exceptions to certain nationalities, such as New Zealand). The 90-day count starts once you enter a Schengen Area country and is not reset even when you leave one Schengen country for another.
Non-EU/EFTA citizens (even if exempt from a visa, except for Andorran, Monegasque or San Marino), must ensure that their passport is stamped both when entering and when leaving the Schengen area. Without an entry stamp, you may be treated as a visa overstay when attempting to leave the Schengen area; furthermore, those without an exit stamp may be denied entry the next time they try to enter the Schengen area because they may be found to have overstayed on their previous visit. If it is absolutely not possible to get a passport stamp, make sure you keep documents such as boarding passes, transport tickets and ATM receipts which can help convince border inspection personnel of your legal stay in the Schengen area
Italy has its own national airline, Ita Airways, and several other smaller companies.
There are more than 400 low cost lines to and from Italian airports.
Airlines based in Italy
Air Dolomiti, belonging to the Lufthansa group, has Munich airport as its hub. The airline's Italian bases are Verona-Villafranca airport and Trieste.
Alidaunia - Based in Foggia
Ita Airways is the Italian flag carrier.
Blue Panorama Airlines
Blu-express belonging to the blu panorama group
Mistral Air - Founded in 1981 by the famous actor Bud Spencer, it is part of the Italian Postal group. Work on pilgrimage destinations at the service of the Roman Opera Pellegrinaggi
Neos - Controlled by the Agnelli family
Italy has an important network of maritime connections. On average, over 70,000 ferry departures a year connect the main Italian ports with Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, Tunisia, Spain, Morocco, Malta, Greece, Croatia and Albania, carrying over 100 million passengers.
The main ports with traffic and tourist ferries are:
Ancona for the central Adriatic
Civitavecchia for Lazio and Rome
Genoa and Imperia for the Northwest
Livorno Piombino and Civitavecchia for Central Italy
Palermo Trapani and Messina for Sicily
Porto Torres Olbia Golfo Aranci Arbatax and Cagliari for Sardinia
Salerno for Campania with Naples
Bari and Brindisi for Southern Ionian Italy
Venice and Trieste for the Northeast
On the train
The national company Trenitalia of Ferrovie dello Stato manages most of the national railway connections.
International rail connections are guaranteed by special long-distance trains that connect the main Italian cities with France (through the Thello and SCNF companies), Switzerland (through the FFS company), Germany, Austria, Slovenia and some Eastern European countries.
The flagship high-speed trains (Freccia Rossa), on main routes such as Rome-Milan and Turin-Milan-Venice-Trieste, are known for their impeccable service and punctuality; the same cannot be said of the minor regional trains, sometimes late, even considerable, and with poor hygienic conditions. In the summer months, the temperature on the trains could be rather rigid due to the disproportionate use of air conditioning.
The high-speed connections between the main Italian cities are operated by Trenitalia Frecce and the private company Italo.
For information on routes and timetables, visit the pages of the companies (see links above).
Some companies allow you to arrive in Italy from abroad (France, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands).
The national railway company Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), which today operates under the Trenitalia brand, and other regional railway companies cover all of Italy as a relatively inexpensive and relatively punctual means of transport.
The Frecce are high-speed trains that run on special routes and connect the Italian metropolises with high speed and comfort.
The red Frecciarossa ("Red Arrow") connects northern Italy (Milan, Turin, Venice, Bologna) with two main lines along the coasts of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Adriatic Sea via Rome-Naples to Salerno and via Ancona- with a maximum speed of 300 km/h. Pescara to Bari.
The Frecciargento ("Silver Arrow") runs on high-speed and conventional routes south to Reggio Calabria and Lecce. Its top speed is 250 km/h.
The Frecciabianca ("White Arrow") trains connect large and medium-sized Italian cities between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., sometimes every hour and half-hour. They also reach top speeds of 250 km/h.
In addition, there are the train types InterCity, EuroCity and InterCity Notte in long-distance transport. All other trains operate as regional trains, with much older rolling stock, less train density and comfort. Even between larger cities, there are sometimes only a few pairs of trains, and a regular hourly timetable with regular departures has only been implemented in Italy to a limited extent. A number of regional lines have been shut down in recent decades and some have been replaced by buses.
For regional trains there are 3 resp. 5-day passes for 29/49 euros (2022), which makes them a cheap alternative to single tickets if you are not in a hurry. You can find them under "Promo" at the vending machine.
Tickets can be booked online on the Trenitalia website, where there is also electronic timetable information.
The private company Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (NTV), which also runs high-speed trains (max. 250 km/h) under the italo brand, operates as a competitor to the state railway in long-distance transport, namely from Turin and Milan, Verona or Venice and Padua in the north via Bologna, Rome and Naples to Salerno.
Practically every place in Italy can be reached by bus. The bus is a popular means of transport in Italy, which is sometimes faster, cheaper and more comfortable than the train. However, it is not easy to use. Here are some hints:
In Italy, a distinction is made between city buses, regional buses and national buses.
City and local buses run within cities or to surrounding incorporated towns. Sometimes even the narrow inner cities are provided with minibuses. The timetables are usually posted or can be found on the Internet, sometimes only a frequency (once an hour, every 20 minutes, etc.) is given.
Regional buses are operated by regional or local companies. Certain companies supply regions or provinces, other local companies simply drive to the larger towns and cities in the region in a star pattern. There is no central timetable information here either, more or less up-to-date timetables can be found on the individual websites of the operating companies. However, network planning can then be such that from Sicilian city A, the bus company based in A offers trips to Palermo, Catania and the most important surrounding cities, and company B in city B also offers bus connections to Palermo and Catania for passengers in the cities, but there are no direct bus connections between A and B. By studying the websites of the various companies, you may find a place that is served by both companies, the search is similar to searching for the common denominator. On site, it is worth asking at the tourist information office or at the bus station, passers-by or taxi drivers may have advice, but they may prefer to drive you themselves.
Long-distance bus companies: Long-distance bus companies such as Eurolines, Ibus, Italybus, Interbus operate throughout the country (and sometimes even with departure points abroad) and drive to individual cities. However, they only carry passengers from Milan, for example, and go directly to small provincial towns in Apulia. However, no passengers are taken from one of these small towns to the next 30 km away, even if the stops are consecutive on the timetable.
There is no Italian timetable information for all bus companies, but you can find it with a web search with the keywords "starting point", "destination" and "autobus" or "Pullman" (as an expression for long-distance bus).
Bus stops: Only some of the buses leave from central bus stations or the station forecourt. Many bus stops are located near shopping malls, arterial roads or intersections, but unfortunately they are not always marked. Each bus company sometimes has its own bus stop (which is sometimes indicated in the timetable: "opposite the pharmacy" or "in front of Bar X".) On the street, it is best to ask passers-by for "pullmann / autobus" (bus) and "fermata" (stop).
Many Central Europeans find the proverbial “Italian driving style” somewhat chaotic. This may be due to the fact that road traffic regulations, especially in the south, are often handled more flexibly than in more northerly countries, but the days of "no rules" are largely over. In Italy, too, the "automobilisti" are placing increasing value on a well-kept vehicle with a shiny body and damage to the bodywork that annoys them at least as much as it does further north. The times are over when people drove and parked "on fender contact". Private towing on highways is prohibited.
If you want to explore Italy by car, it is best to find out about the route beforehand using an online route planner or up-to-date maps. Useful road atlases include the Michelin Italia road atlas (ISBN 978-2067209534) or the Touring Club Italiano road atlas (ISBN 978-8836551552), both of which include most provincial roads and newly built bypasses. Overview maps of the whole of Italy, on which larger cities are only shown as dots, only help to provide an overview. In the frequent cases in which the main street does not lead straight through the town, they do not help, you can use the Michelin maps to find your way around the main street.
Navigating by signposts is not easy in Italy. Too often these are old, weather-worn and crooked, or the writing is so small that you can't read them to the end without a lap of honour. Clusters of 15 or more signposts on a pole are not uncommon. On the other hand, the nearest town is often not specified as the route destination on the signpost, but the provincial capital, which is 100km away, is on every third signpost, even if it is only a provincial road "through the villages". It is therefore worth taking a look at the road map to take the well-developed "Strada Statale", the road numbering is very helpful.
The navigation system is very often used today. You have to reckon with the fact that the route will lead you along adventurous paths, since the old main road leads through the winding town center and a new bypass directs through traffic quickly around the old town center. Here it is worthwhile handing the road atlas to the passenger in addition to the "Navigation". Drivers of wide mobile homes in particular are well advised to look out for blue signposts for trucks over 3.5 t, which also indicate routes that can be driven by "heavy ships".
Experience has shown that the navigation system is extremely helpful for recognizing which town you are in (due to large-scale incorporations, the town sign of a large city can be two towns before the city limits and you look in vain for the intended parking lot or train station), or on which street (SS... ) one drives resp. which exit you are approaching.
An absolute must is to stick to the suggested detours (yellow signs). Even if you hope to find a light-signal-controlled route on which you can sneak through without detouring in one-way traffic, it's never worth it! The bridge, for which a bypass is signposted for revision, may simply no longer be there and the construction of the new one may take several years.
Most Italian motorways are toll roads. In contrast to the past, when you passed a payment point in the middle of a section of the motorway and had to pay the fee for this section (and there were huge traffic jams), in most cases you take a ticket when you enter the motorway and pay when you leave the Autobahn at a toll booth. The ticket booths with cash acceptance are marked, you can also pay at the machine with notes, coins and credit card.
The exits are signposted early, the arrows to the exit are also painted on the right-hand lane ahead of time, but slower caravan teams can continue in this lane without any problems, since the actual exit begins with its own lane.
Via cards are recommended for paying tolls on motorways. You pay for the card in advance (there are cards for 25, 50 or 75 euros) and you can drive on the motorway without cash and use the blue lanes (Via Card) at the payment points (max. 2 cards per payment transaction possible). Via-Cards are available at petrol stations, motorway service stations and in Switzerland from the TCS. You can easily purchase them at one of the service stations after entering the motorway, since you are usually not billed until you leave the motorway. Be careful, the yellow lanes are reserved for the Telepass with automatic billing of the toll amount.
The cashless stations don't always work perfectly, they don't debit the card payment, but print out a receipt that says how much is left to pay. The barrier still goes up. If you keep driving without paying back, you can run into problems later, sometimes even years later. Debt collection agencies send additional claims. The ADAC therefore recommends keeping the toll receipts for a long time.
Reversing in front of the payment point (if you have entered the wrong lane) is strictly forbidden. If payment is not possible, it is still possible to continue your journey. Either an employee can be called via the intercom system, or a ticket is printed out (the car number is scanned and the vehicle registered), which can easily be paid for at home by credit card.
Motorcyclists are required to wear an ECE-compliant helmet. Failure to comply may result in the motorcycle being confiscated on site. Furthermore, it is forbidden to let go of the handlebars or lift your legs, i. H. no greetings. The regulations are sometimes implemented quite drastically.
Legal regulation on child seats in cars: In vehicles with Italian registration, only child seats that are equipped with an alarm signal are permitted for children up to four years of age to prevent children from being forgotten in the car. This also applies to all rental cars with Italian registration, regardless of the nationality of the driver. If the child seat is part of the rental car contract, the lessor must provide a seat that complies with the regulations. In all other cases, the owner of the child seat is responsible. From March 2020, violations of this new provision will result in fines of between 81 and 326 euros.
Drink driving is capped at 0.5‰ (0.0‰ for novice drivers in the first three years). Penalties for exceeding this are drastic and start at €530.
In general, drivers drive with great attention and their own right of way is not ruthlessly enforced. Trying to anticipate the likely behavior of the driver in front (if the driver in front pulls slowly toward the center line, he'll probably stop to turn left even if he doesn't signal...) will have more trouble keeping up in Italian traffic than not using the brakes, because he has right of way according to the rules of precedence. For better understanding, some more subtle, unwritten rules that are not always correctly recognized by foreigners:
Communication between the drivers is of greater importance. Much is clarified by hand signals, headlight flashers or horns.
Mutual consideration and thinking. Italian drivers are generally less assertive of their rights and are more often willing to make concessions to others in favor of better traffic flow. This can usually compensate for the occasional thoughtlessness of other road users.
In general, Italians driving very hard on the center line indicate they are in a hurry, they appreciate a little swerving to the right to make overtaking easier. On the other hand, older people like to drive the "Cinquecento" at 30 km/h on the very right edge of the road, an invitation to overtake if the route is clear enough. With a double safety line, however, overtaking is definitely not indicated, warning signs often warn of lane dividers.
On motorways and outside built-up areas, dipped headlights (or alternatively daytime running lights) must be used all year round during the day. Motorbikes always and everywhere.
The horn is often used as a means of communication. Italians like to honk their horns before entering a curve, especially on narrow, confusing and winding country roads. If nobody honks back, they assume the curve is clear and use the full width of the road. Foreigners must get used to immediately honking their horns back around a bend.
In Sicily, a slow alternation of high and low beams is sometimes used on the motorway to warn the vehicle ahead of unexpected overtaking manoeuvres.
On mountain roads, vehicles traveling uphill always have the right of way, unless there is an alternative nearby.
Buses always have the right of way.
The signage is not as reliable and consistent as one is used to in Germany or Switzerland. Therefore drive carefully on unfamiliar roads, not every tight bend is signposted. Speed limits are implemented more flexibly, especially in the south, while speeding in northern Italy is increasingly being prosecuted rigorously.
In Italy, the displayed speed is the maximum speed, which, however, may not be driven continuously for traffic safety reasons. For example, while in Switzerland there is a speed limit of 60 km/h before a dangerous curve, on Italian narrow provincial roads there is an open limit of 90 km/h and it is your own fault if you underestimate a curve and end up in a ditch.
Speed traps are often located at critical points with tight curves and are usually marked on the freeway. The police officer with the radar pistol hiding behind a bush just before the out-of-town sign is only very rarely found. The Systema Tutor is a speed section control system: the passage time is recorded between separate measurement points and the average speed is calculated, exceeding which a fine is due. In this case, briefly accelerating to overtake does not result in a fine if you then drive “mannerly” again. The system now covers up to 40% of the Italian motorway network, so that the otherwise so often experienced rushing off after passing the well-known radar location is not worthwhile.
If you want to merge into fast-moving traffic from a side street, you roll boldly onto the roadway while seeking visual contact to announce your intention, and you will usually soon be let in. If you wait behind the line with elegant restraint, you risk aging there prematurely.
The same applies to pedestrians: Don't wait at a zebra crossing for someone to stop, that generally won't happen. If you start boldly at a meaningful moment and thus make it clear that you want to cross the street now, you will be stopped willingly. The same applies to green pedestrian lights, they only stop if you really start walking.
Italy is also known for the fact that any load protruding backwards on the vehicle (including bicycles on cars and mobile homes) must be marked with a 50 × 50 cm red and white striped panello.
Smoking is prohibited in the vehicle if pregnant women or minors are traveling.
Since 2016, Italian traffic tickets can be collected across the EU. They remain enforceable for five years. It should be borne in mind that the fines for equivalent violations in Italy are significantly higher than in Germany. Most fines offer a 30% discount if paid within five days. Otherwise, the amount due is doubled if payment is not made within 60 days. Car rental companies charge fines to the credit card on file.
Getting around in Italy is easier if you get used to the street numbering and the identification colors of the signposts. The motorways, which usually have to be paid for, are generally marked in green. It is easy to overlook the small signposts to the next motorway junction, which are only marked with the license plate number of the provincial town, so the small green sign CT indicates the way to the next motorway junction with destination Catania. Blue signposts stand for main roads, which are designated as "Strada statale" (SS), higher numbers can designate new routes parallel to the old Strada statale, these are partly dual-lane, but not without crossings. So after Apulia the SS16 continues to exist, on the parallel SS613 you can get ahead much faster and without passing through towns, which can be very time-consuming in Italy.
White signposts denote local destinations, brown destinations that might be of interest to tourists, and often a logo denotes the type of destination (archaeological site or bathing beach).
In the event of accidents involving foreign road users, do not move vehicles, but call the police directly. This takes a lot of patience and nerves, but it saves you problems with the insurance company later on.
In more and more inner cities, “traffic-calmed zones” (Italian: Zona a traffico limitato, ZTL) are designated. Entry into these is only permitted with a registered number plate. The respective municipality then enacts additional restrictions in terms of times, vehicle size or maximum speed. The access roads are monitored by cameras. Unauthorized entry can be expensive, 80-300 € per violation, i. H. every time the number is entered.
A current overview of individual cities and their detailed rules can be found on Accessibilità Centri Storici.
The official language is Italian. French is also spoken locally in
the northwest (Aosta Valley) and there is a German-speaking majority in
South Tyrol. Ladin is spoken in some Dolomite valleys, Furlanisch in
Friuli, distantly related to Romansh in Switzerland. A separate
language, Sardinian, is also spoken on Sardinia. But there are also
pronounced dialects in other parts of the country that have little in
common with the standard language. Up until the middle of the 20th
century, dialect was spoken almost everywhere and standard Italian was
only spoken on special occasions. In recent decades, however, standard
Italian has been on the rise, especially in the larger cities and among
the younger generations.
Slovene is also a minority in Friuli Venezia Giulia. In some places in southern Italy, in Apulia, the elders speak a Greek dialect, the Griko, which dates back to the time of Magna Graecia.
In the touristically well-developed areas, you can get along well with English. Especially in the interior of the country, however, English hardly helps and you have to communicate in Italian. See the Italian phrasebook
Italy boasts a multitude of tourist destinations. In addition to the
numerous historic centers of the major cities of each region in Italy,
as well as their museums, civil and religious monuments, the seas,
mountains, and islands are to be counted, often able to offer a
multitude of proposals related to natural riches and cultural aspects of
the place (including the uses, customs and folk traditions).
The main cities of art are Rome, Florence and Venice, but in reality there is no Italian municipality without some artistic beauty. To discover these hidden beauties, off the beaten track by tourists, one can, for example, start from the list of the most beautiful villages in Italy in which the ANCI (National Association of Italian Municipalities) promotes small nuclei, municipalities but sometimes even individual fractions possess a great artistic and cultural value.
In Italy, over the centuries, numerous populations and cultures have
followed one another that have contributed to enriching the exceptional
artistic heritage of the beautiful country.
Prehistory — The history of Italy is among the richest and oldest in the world: finds discovered in Puglia in fact attest to the presence of men as early as 1.5 million years ago. From the 4th millennium BC it was Ötzi, the Similaun mummy found at the foot of the glacier of the same name in Alto Adige and preserved today with a thousand precautions in Bolzano. A large part of the rock carvings of Val Camonica also date back to the Neolithic period and were declared by UNESCO in 1979 the first Italian World Heritage Site. Finally, the Sardinian nuraghes are more recent: a type of stone construction with a truncated cone shape, unique in their kind and representative of the Nuragic civilization.
Etruscans — The Etruscans were a people of ancient Italy, established themselves in an area called Etruria, roughly corresponding to Tuscany, Umbria up to the Tiber river and northern Lazio. The Etruscan civilization had a profound influence on the Roman civilization, subsequently merging with it at the end of the 1st century BC. Most of the necropolises of this population remain such as those of Populonia and Cerveteri in which sculptures of considerable value have been found such as the Sarcophagus of the Spouses preserved in the Etruscan museum of Villa Giulia and wall paintings, some of which have been preserved very well such as the Tomb of the Leopards in Tarquinia. If you have limited time you can still consider visiting the Etruscan museum of Villa Giulia in Rome.
Magna Graecia — Starting from the 8th century BC. the Greeks colonized part of southern Italy and Sicily. Numerous temples and theaters remain today from this domination such as those of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Segesta and Selinunte in Sicily, the archaeological park of Paestum in Campania, and the areas of Eraclea and Metaponto in Basilicata.
Ancient Romans — From Aosta to Pompeii and Herculaneum, from Aquileia to Lecce, Italy is full of testimonies of this glorious past. In addition of course to the Colosseum, the Imperial Forums and the other attractions of Rome and those of the cities mentioned above, the Arena of Verona, the villas of the Santa Giulia Museum in Brescia and the Roman theater in Taormina certainly deserve a mention.
Christianity — In addition to the famous St. Peter's Basilica, in reality in the Papal State, scattered throughout the peninsula there are numerous Christian architectures dating back to different eras and architectural styles: from the Romanesque style (700-1200) of the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio in Milan, to the Gothic one of the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi and the cathedral of Orvieto to the Renaissance one (1400-1600) with the Dome of Brunelleschi in Florence and Baroque (1600-1830) with the Basilica of Santa Croce in Lecce. However, each town has its own church and bell tower and, especially the more historic ones, are full of frescoes and works of art. Some examples are the Contarelli Chapel with paintings by Caravaggio in Rome and the Church of Santa Maria presso San Satiro in Milan with the illusory perspective of the apse designed by Bramante. In rural areas there are also convents and monasteries with frescoes and stupendous cloisters such as the Abbey of Montecassino.
Byzantine Italy — The Byzantine Empire, otherwise known as the Eastern Roman Empire, controlled northern Italy until its defeat by the Lombards in 751. Classic example of Byzantine art is Venice with the Basilica of San Marco, but equally important are the golden mosaics of the churches of Ravenna.
Middle Ages — although known in history as the period of the dark ages, important monuments, palaces and artifacts also date back to the Middle Ages. Starting right from the Longobards, Bergamo with the Upper Town, Benevento with the monumental complex of Santa Sofia and the other UNESCO heritage cities belonging to the category The Longobards in Italy: places of power should certainly be mentioned. Then there are the numerous castles that almost every municipality built for the defense of the population. Many have been lost, others have been converted into noble palaces, but just as many are still present today. The most famous is probably Castel del Monte in Puglia, built by the emperor and ruler of the Kingdom of Sicily Federico II, but the Castles of Alto Adige or the Venice Arsenal, built starting from the 12th century for the he need to give greater development to the shipbuilding industry of the Serenissima, and the Castle of Melfi in Basilicata, seat of five historic councils between the Normans and the Papacy, and where Frederick II promulgated the Liber Augustalis, a work of great value in the history of law.
Renaissance — Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Brunelleschi ...: there are many Italian artists who embellished cities and towns, churches and museums during the Renaissance. The "cradle" of this artistic-cultural movement is Tuscany par excellence. Your journey can start from Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence from which you can admire the panoramic view of the city and continue walking through the streets of the centre, passing over Ponte Vecchio, visiting the Uffizi Gallery, Piazza della Signoria and the aforementioned Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore . Urbino is also a symbol of the Renaissance, where numerous artists such as Piero della Francesca were welcomed to the court of Federico da Montefeltro, whose most famous works, Pala Montefeltro and Double portrait of the dukes of Urbino, are however found respectively in Brera (Milan) and the Uffizi . The majestic Palazzo Ducale remains today in the Marche city with the National Gallery of the Marche inside which houses, among other things, the famous painting "Ideal City" of uncertain attribution. It is certainly impossible to mention all the Renaissance attractions, but the frescoes by Andrea Mantegna and Giulio Romano in Mantua, the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, Vicenza and the Palladian villas in the Veneto region certainly deserve a mention.
Neoclassicism — The main exponents of Italian Neoclassicism are Antonio Canova, Luigi Vanvitelli and Giuseppe Piermarini. The first, descended from a family of stonemasons from Possagno, is certainly the most famous and his works can be found in the main museums of the world: for example Cupid and Psyche is kept in the Louvre museum. In Italy, among other things, "Pauline Bonaparte as Venus victor" is kept in the Borghese Gallery (Rome) and a sculptural group inspired by the myth of Orpheus in the Correr Museum in Venice. The architect Vanvitelli instead built the famous Royal Palace of Caserta in which, however, some Baroque influences persist. His pupil, Piermarini, finally designed the Villa Reale in Monza and the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan.
In addition to the cultural and artistic tourism described in the
previous section, naturalistic tourism and tourism in the Alps and the
Apennines and seaside tourism are also widespread both in all the
coastal regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea and in the largest lakes
of the country, first of all the Lake Garda.
In the winter season in the Alps it is also possible to ski. The main ski slopes are located in:
Veneto: Cortina d'Ampezzo, Falcade), Alleghe, Pieve d'Alpago
Friuli-Venezia Giulia: (Piancavallo, Tarvisio, Sella Nevea, Ravascletto-Zoncolan), Forni di Sopra, Sappada
Trentino-Alto Adige Dobbiaco, Curon Venosta, Val Gardena, Madonna di Campiglio, San Martino di Castrozza, Pinzolo, Andalo-Dolomites Paganella, Moena
Lombardy: Ponte di Legno, Foppolo, Livigno, Bormio,
Piedmont: Sestriere, Bardonecchia, Sauze d'Oulx, Claviere, Pragelato, Prali, Cesana Torinese
Valle d'Aosta: Courmayeur, Breuil-Cervinia, Pila, La Thuile, Monte Rosa Ski.
Some plants are also found in the Apennines:
Tuscany: Abetone, Monte Amiata
Emilia-Romagna: Monte Cimone, Cerreto Laghi
Marches: Sibillini Mountains
Lazio: Mount Terminillo
Abruzzo: Ovindoli, Pescasseroli, Roccaraso
Molise: Campitello Matese
Basilicata: Sellata-Arioso, Volturino, Viggiano
Calabria: Gambarie, Camigliatello Silano
The main seaside resorts are instead scattered throughout the Italian coast. Starting from Liguria and skirting the peninsula we find the Cinque Terre, Viareggio, the Amalfi Coast, Salento, Otranto, the localities of the Gargano, the Costa dei trabocchi, Giulianova, San Benedetto del Tronto, Rimini, Riccione, Jesolo, Lignano and Grado. Then there are the two major islands, Sicily and Sardinia, and the numerous smaller islands such as the Aeolian Islands, Pantelleria, Lampedusa, the Isle of Capri and the Tremiti Islands.
The main spa resorts are mainly located in the central-northern part of the peninsula. Starting from Lombardy we find San Pellegrino Terme, Boario, Trescore and Bormio. In Emilia-Romagna there are the localities of Tabiano, Cervazza, Cervia and Salvarola. Finally in Tuscany there are Saturnia and Montecatini.
The main Italian amusement parks are Mirabilandia in Ravenna and Aquafan in Riccione in Emilia-Romagna, Gardaland and Canevaworld on Lake Garda and Miragica in Puglia.
Wine tourism is also widespread. The best known vineyards (and wines) are found in the Langhe (Piedmont), Chianti (Tuscany), Franciacorta (Lombardy), Valpolicella (Veneto and Collio (Friuli Venezia Giulia).
The national currency is the euro (€, EUR). It is one of the 25
European countries that use this common currency: many belonging to the
European Union in particular the eurozone, together with the 6 non-EU
members who however have no say in the affairs of the eurozone.
Collectively, these 25 countries have a population of over 330 million.
One euro is divided into 100 cents. According to European legislation, the € symbol is always placed after the quantity (for example €15). All banknotes have exactly the same bill and all are legal tender in all eurozone countries.
Banknotes — All banknotes have exactly the same design.
Coins — All eurozone countries have coins issued with a national design on one side and a common design on the reverse. The coins can be used in any Eurozone country, regardless of the design used (ie a 1 Euro coin from Finland can be used in Portugal).
Commemorative 2 euro coins — These come in two variants: the common form and the commemorative mint. In this case they differ from the normal 2 euro coins only in their "national" part and circulate freely as legal tender. Each country can produce a certain amount as part of its normal coin production and sometimes "at European level" 2 euro coins are produced to commemorate special events (for example, the anniversary of major treaties).
Other commemorative coins — The much rarer variant is related to commemorative coins of other amounts (for example 10 euros or more) which have very particular designs and often contain non-negligible quantities of gold, silver or platinum. Although at a purely legal level their value is nominal, the value of the material used is usually much higher, therefore it will be very unlikely to see them in circulation.
The cost of living is considered by some to be excessive compared to the average salary. Prices are not always related in a balanced way to the average wages of citizens. Many families turn to the local markets or, in the case of agricultural products, directly to the producer, to save a few euros. Prices for entertainment and leisure activities, including bars, are constantly growing. There is no shortage of very high prices for luxury and superfluous items. Note the tangible difference in prices between northern (more expensive) and southern Italy.
Purchases can be made in the large shopping centres, or even in the
classic city shops, but also in the small village shops, which are very
Cash is recommended, but major credit cards are also well accepted (a fortiori for payments over €30, given that it is mandatory by law to also accept electronic payments for this type of amount), while in many shops in the towns smaller, payment by check is rarely accepted; contactless payment is also gradually spreading, using special credit cards or systems such as Apple Pay.
Italian cuisine is world-famous and has a strong regional influence.
While northern Italian cuisine is a little closer to German (they often
use more butter than olive oil), southern Italian cuisine is markedly
different. Oil is the basic ingredient, followed by garlic and then
everything else. A lot of fish is cooked on the coasts, while sheep
products (especially cheese) are produced and cooked inland.
Small guide through the gastronomic terms:
A bar in Italy is not a place to drink cocktails. An Italian bar serves coffee (and other drinks) from early morning until late at night, breakfast in the morning, and later often panini or other small dishes. The bar is a social meeting place and the barista (or baristas) is usually a local resource that tourists can also use. Daily newspapers are also available free of charge in the bar. Depending on the size of the bar, the selection can be considerable and occasionally includes foreign newspapers. The Torrefazione (coffee roastery) offers various types of self-roasted coffee and other coffee drinks, but usually no food or other drinks apart from small pastries.
There are restaurants as osteria, trattoria or ristorante. A Ristorante is usually a bit more upscale, a Trattoria is often more of an inn, and the Osteria could be translated as "wine bar". All can be excellent, the cuisine is mostly regional. There are also trattorias as excursion restaurants in the country, with a bit of luck also with a large playground.
Pizza is served in the pizzeria in a simple setting; in "normal" restaurants (outside the tourist areas) they are not. There is nothing else in a good pizzeria for that; at best, a few other specialties that can be prepared in the pizza oven. Each region makes pizza in its own way, and of course each believes in their own twist. However, most Italians eventually admit that the Neapolitan version - wood-fired with a high, irregular rim - is the original and "real". As fast food there is also the pizza al taglio, pieces of pizza straight to the hand.
There are also various places that are named after the food that is served there: the paninoteca serves panini caldi (gratinated sandwiches or toast), slices of pizza and the like, in the piadineria there are piadine (flatbreads with filling). The spaghetteria specializes in pasta, while the rosticceria offers fried or grilled dishes to take away or eat right away.
A tavola calda is a cheap self-service fast food restaurant, but usually without fast food, but with simple, freshly pre-cooked seasonal dishes that are heated up for the customer. Lots of working people eat here for lunch.
Italians, especially in the south, love sweets and pastries. This is available in the pasticceria, or confectionery. Here you can get small pastries such as cornetti, biscotti (biscuits), pastafrolla (shortcrust pastry), bignets (cream puffs) and other local specialties, with a cup of coffee if you like. The pasticceria is usually also open on Sunday mornings, as it is customary to eat pastries after a sumptuous Sunday lunch. And of course you get the Italian ice cream from the gelateria, either in a waffle (cono) or in a cup (coppa); here you usually do not pay for the scoop but for the portion size, which can be made up of different types (e.g. a small portion of ice cream with two types of ice cream).
In the evening we go to the birreria or the pub for a beer, or to the enoteca or vineria for a glass of wine (high-priced wines are also served here by the glass). In both you can also get small things to eat.
The tea room came to Italy with the British. Although Italy is a nation of coffee drinkers, tea rooms are not prototypical, but they are a good alternative to the usually very lively bar. Games, books and magazines are often also available in tea rooms and invite you to linger.
In addition to holiday accommodation, the agriturismo (farm with holiday guests) often also has a dining room or a large kitchen in which fresh, seasonal dishes from their own cultivation or their own breeding and production are offered, including more and more organic farms. Especially in the countryside, the agriturismo is a cheap alternative to the restaurants in the cities. The opening times vary greatly depending on the season, because the kitchen is often only used on the side, if necessary call ahead.
Many restaurants charge a "base fee" for cover, bread, breadsticks, and service; the famous coperto or pane. This is normal and must also be paid for. However, little or no tip is given in Italy. When dining among friends, the bill is usually split the "Roman way" - everyone pays an equal share of the total. Separate billing is not common in restaurants. Guests are gladly invited, if you want to return the favour, you should be quicker next time.
The following order of dishes is customary for a festive meal:
antipasto (starter), for example crostini or bruschetta, small items made from pickled, grilled or fresh vegetables, regionally also snacks made from (fresh) cheese or seafood and fish, prosciutto di Parma (cured ham), in summer also verdure in pinzimonio, mixed, freshly harvested vegetables for dipping in olive oil.
primo (first course), e.g. B. pasta (noodles) or gnocchi made from potatoes, filled pasta, sometimes small casseroles (sformatino) made from vegetables or crespelle (pancakes) with filling, and soups during the cooler months of the year.
secondo (main course), mostly grilled or roasted meat, fish, game or poultry. As a rule, the main course does not come with any side dishes (apart from a small garnish), so you have to order potatoes and/or vegetables separately. Popular side dishes are patate fritte (potato wedges fried in olive oil, no French fries), patate in tegame (braised fried potato pieces with herbs), polenta (corn porridge), fagioli (bean kernels, various types, usually stewed) or fagiolini (green beans or string beans) or .other seasonal vegetables. Cheese platters or grilled pecorino are also offered regionally as a secondo, for vegetarians there are occasionally vegetable or egg dishes, e.g. B. frittata (omelet) with vegetables.
dolci (dessert) such as pudding, ice cream, sorbet or cake and seasonal fruit.
The dishes are basically divided into primi and segundi piatti as well as contorni (side dishes) on the menu, but the guest is in no way bound to this order of dishes; he can choose as he pleases and leave it at a drink and a primo with contorno, for example for a light supper. The courses are billed individually and can lead to a high total in the case of an extensive meal, 40 € per person  is already cheap. Just be aware that the courses are usually served in the "right" order - so if one person takes the primo and the other takes the secondo, they may be served one after the other.
Incidentally, the pizza is a piatto unico, i.e. a complete meal in a single dish.
Eating out together is a popular relationship-building ritual among
families who can afford it. Parents, children (even the youngest),
grandparents and often friends or relatives make up groups for which
three or more tables often have to be put together in the restaurant.
People meet at 8 p.m. for an aperitif in a cocktail bar/gelateria, where the children get an ice cream sundae and a coke, while the older ones get in the mood for the evening with an Aperol, Campari or similar.
About an hour later you go to your favorite restaurant; there at the latest the group grows to its full (see above) size. During the meal, which extends over several courses (see kitchen), further news from politics, sports and neighborhoods are exchanged (much less discreetly than is usual in Germany). Finally, as midnight approaches, the table is lifted.
This is the hour of the ragazzi (this is the Italian word for all people from the age of motor scooters up to the late twenties - in friendly contact also considerably older people). From around 11 p.m., they invade the inner cities with their various motor vehicles (very few bicycles) from all directions in the outer parts of the city and the surrounding area, which is a nightcap for foreign tourists visiting an enoteca/birreria ingesting, results in a noisy and stinking, yet fascinating spectacle. In this way, the hip spots in the city center fill up until every bar and every outdoor seating area is crowded with young people. People don't get drunk to the point of unconsciousness, nor do other failures regularly occur, since social interaction with their (conversational) partner or mobile phone or both is also in the foreground among young people.
The principle of a large disco (e.g. in Germany) or even all-under-one-roof entertainment (as is common in the USA) is not very common. Here, too, one may look for the causes in the social structure. The favorable weather certainly also plays a role. Nevertheless, you can see the trend towards larger units further away from the city centers from one or the other shell.
The above observations come from different places in Sicily during the warm half of the year. It can be assumed that the conditions described are close to an extreme situation. With increasing distance from the tourist centers, outside of the high season and/or in other (economically more "developed") parts of the country, the foreign traveler may find something different.
Holiday apartments and holiday homes are ideal for individual
holidays in Italy. In rural areas, in addition to agriturismo
accommodation, there is an Italian specialty: the Albergo Diffuso. It
literally means "scattered hotel". The principle is that authentic rooms
decorated in local style are spread over different buildings within the
In Italy there are also many campsites that are well equipped. If you are looking for a medium standard, you should pay attention to at least 4 stars for the campsite. Underneath, there is often a lack of warm shower water or you have to pay for it separately with tokens. In the high season from July to September it is difficult to find a free place with large tents. However, spontaneous campers with small tents (igloos...) almost always find a place.
Many communities impose a tourist tax, which is often not included in the advertised room rate. Usually the rate depends on the quality of the accommodation. In 2023 you should expect €1.00-4.00/night. Children (age limits vary greatly) and sometimes the elderly and severely disabled are exempt. There is also a time limit, which is 3 to 10 days.
Wild camping is usually forbidden, there are regionally different fines, with an average of € 300. Some regions, such as Veneto, Sardinia and Sicily, are particularly strict. In Tuscany there is no regulation. In any case, it makes sense to inquire at the respective municipality.
Places are available in hotels and boarding houses, motels, hostels, student residences, farmhouses, holiday villages, holiday homes and apartments, campsites, camper stops, guest houses, widespread hotels, refuges and Bed and Breakfasts.
January 1 - New Year
January 6 - Epiphany
April 25 - Anniversary of the Liberation
May 1 - Labor Day
June 2 - Proclamation of the Republic
August 15 - August 15th - Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven
November 1 - All Saints' Day
November 4th - Anniversary of the Victory (moved to the following Sunday)
December 8 - Immaculate Conception
December 25 - Christmas
December 26 - Boxing Day
December 31st (half holiday) - San Silvestro
There are also movable holidays:
Easter and the Monday after Easter, known as Easter Monday or, commonly, Easter Monday
Patron saint of the locality. In the entries of the localities the name of the saint and the date of celebration are indicated. During this day religious functions are celebrated in the various Italian municipalities with processions through the streets of the town and with the exchange of gifts between the civil authority (mayor) and the religious authority (parish priest).
On these occasions, the shops are generally closed throughout the day, with very particular exceptions of shops open for half a shift, in the morning. Exceptions are obviously the shops in the most touristic areas which often remain open even on Sundays.
Other events and parties
Every year FAI, the Italian Environmental Fund, organizes events to discover Italy's artistic, naturalistic and architectural assets. During these days it is possible to visit places that are usually closed because they are private or simply not open to the public: in fact, private villas, castles, but also historic factories, public buildings and museums are open. Guided tours are free, but it is possible to leave a small donation at the discretion of the tourist. The two main events organized by this association are:
FAI Spring Days: since 1992, in conjunction with the beginning of spring, the FAI has opened tourist sites scattered throughout Italy for two days.
FAI Autumn Day: Newest event and least open assets. In October, goods are opened in almost all the provinces of Italy. Each city chooses its own itinerary, a theme that will be possible to learn more about by visiting all the selected attractions.
Carnival celebrations are also historic in Italy. Known all over the world are those of Venice and Viareggio, but parades of allegorical floats and masks are organized in many towns. Each region also has its own typical desserts, generally fried such as frittelle, chiacchiere and castagnole (the names vary according to the region). A list of the main Italian allegorical parades is available on the thematic page on carnival in Italy.
Finally, a list of the main events and festivals is available on this page, divided by month.
In Italy it is no different than in the rest of the world: caution
helps to avoid dangerous situations. Do not wander alone through empty
streets at night, avoid dark alleys, and do not unnecessarily display
watches, jewelery and expensive cameras. Watch out for wallets,
handbags, etc. at markets. In big cities, you should especially avoid
parks at night. In cities, expensive cars should be parked in a guarded
multi-storey car park.
Counterfeit watches, bags, sunglasses, perfumes and other branded goods are often offered to the traveler on beaches and other places frequented by tourists. It is expected that tourists will also recognize such offers as fakes, if you buy anyway, you are committing a crime! (Either when the purchase is observed, or later when you are checked by customs on re-entering your home country). When purchasing high-quality genuine branded items, the receipt must be kept in any case.
If you are overwhelmed with a situation, do not be afraid to ask passers-by for help. Italians are extremely helpful when spoken to directly.
You don't have to be afraid of the mafia, they only collect money at the bus parking lot, but leave tourists alone because they have enough to do with Italians. Southern Italy and Sicily are therefore no more unsafe than other parts of the country.
Medical care in Italy is of good quality in all parts of the country.
There are no special health risks and no special vaccinations are
necessary. The European Health Insurance Card (“tessera sanitaria”) is
valid in the practices of panel doctors (“il medico di base”) of the
Italian National Health Insurance Fund (SSN). You have to advance the
money for some examinations and the prescription fee (in the pharmacy
they say "devo pagare solo il ticket") yourself and then claim it from
your health insurance company, keep the receipts and documents. Many
German and English speaking doctors and dentists practice in tourist
areas, ask your host. A consultation in a private practice costs €50-80
for a general practitioner but up to €150 for a specialist. Health
insurance for travel abroad is useful, as the statutory health insurance
companies sometimes only reimburse standard rates.
In cities there is usually a pronto soccorso (emergency room/emergency practice) for urgent cases or an ospedale (hospital) with an emergency room. For small things you can easily contact a pharmacy, they are prepared for first aid.
Dental services are generally billed privately in Italy.
Prescription drugs are only available in a "Farmacia", which are identified by a green cross. A pharmacist is also present in a “Parafarmacia”, but only over-the-counter medicines are sold.
One of the great assets of Italy is its wonderful, extraordinarily
mild climate, which it owes to the wall of the Alps, the influence of
the sea, which is everywhere, and the favorable southerly exposure of
entire landscapes. But here too an important difference between
continental and peninsular Italy is noticeable; that has a strikingly
continental, this predominantly maritime climate. Three regions can be
distinguished: the Po region, central Italy and southern Italy, which
includes the Ligurian coast.
In the Po Valley, cold winters alternate with hot summers; Despite an average annual temperature of 13 °C, temperatures of -17 °C occur and the winter, although shorter, is usually colder than in the Rhine Valley between Koblenz and Bonn. The only exception is a narrow hem directly at the foot of the Alps and on the Lombard lakes. Accordingly, the vegetation in Lombardy is thoroughly Central European; only those plants from the south can be grown here which, like rice, the summer heat lasts just long enough; only on the lakes numerous forms of Mediterranean flora and also the olive tree return.
In central Italy, the Tyrrhenian slope is preferred to the Adriatic because of the higher winter temperatures, which is particularly evident in the fact that date palms grow along the entire coast with only a short interruption, and in Tuscany also citrus trees with some protection. The mean annual temperature is 14.5 °C, but as recently as Rome -5.9 °C has been observed, and snow can be expected once or twice every winter, although it does not stay put. Here, too, the Central European character of the flora predominates, only in the coastal zone evergreen Mediterranean trees and shrubs are common and significant areas are dedicated to the olive tree.
Only in southern Italy and in the climatic oasis of Liguria formed by the Apennines does the full Mediterranean flora prevail, and the northerner finds the Italy that he was already looking for at the foot of the Alps. It is only here, from Monte Gargano and Terracina onwards, that citrus fruits are grown on a large scale and date palms are common; It is only from here that the Central European woody plants are pushed back to the heights of the mountains and there are opuntias and agaves and representatives of the Mediterranean flora in abundance, the evergreen oaks, the carobs, Pistacia lentiscus, the strawberry tree, the phyllyrees, laurel, myrtle, oleander and that great number of southern aromatic subshrubs and bulbous plants, there are the wintry green meadows of the south, covered with colorful floral decorations, which take the place of the meadows of the north. The mean annual temperature in this area is 17 °C, but rises to 18.5 °C in Sicily; the winter is very mild, 10 - 11 °C, so there is no break in the vegetation and only the mountains are covered with snow for a long time. Here the evergreen zone, which does not reach 500 m in central Italy, rises to 800 m, only then does the belt of deciduous trees begin, mostly with sweet chestnuts; the region of 1,000 - 2,000 m is peculiar to beech and pine, but only at the highest altitudes of Abruzzo and Corsica is alpine vegetation found.
You shouldn't just sit down at an empty table in Italian restaurants.
It is better to wait until you are assigned a table; you can of course
suggest a table to the waiter. When a restaurant is full, you wait at
the bar until a table becomes free; the waiter pays attention to the
Showing yourself drunk in public is considered "bottom drawer" in Italy. Even if "Vino" is almost always on the table, Italians almost never drink too much. Drug use in public is absolutely taboo anyway.
Clothing: in Italy, as a Catholic country, clothing regulations still apply. At least in the south, family beaches are not bathed "topless", beachwear, shorts and spaghetti tops are not the appropriate outerwear for visiting upscale shops, museums and especially churches.
Attention winter sports enthusiasts, children up to the age of 14 are
required to wear helmets on Italy's slopes!
In Italy, the normal European voltage of 230V/50Hz is used. The most common connector is the L-type, with three pins side by side, of which there are two versions. Euro flat plugs and Schuko plugs also fit into the "smaller" of these, whereby these then lose the protective contact function. Occasionally you will also find Schuko sockets.
Schuko adapters are easily and inexpensively available in supermarkets in most areas; otherwise in electronics stores
Since 2005 there has been a strict smoking ban in all public buildings, including restaurants and offices. It is still allowed outdoors and in designated smoking areas.
This is also further restricted locally, in Naples and Bolzano smoking is also prohibited in all public areas where children and pregnant women could be, such as streets, squares, playgrounds, open-air stages and sports stadiums, etc.
In South Tyrol, you go naked to the sauna, whereas holidaymakers in central and southern Italy should enter the sauna lightly clothed. If you are unsure, you should ask the operator of the sauna.
Small post offices open from Monday to Friday 8.20 a.m. to 1.35 p.m., often also on Saturdays until 12.35 p.m. Larger post offices Mon.-Fri. 8.20-19.05 and Saturday morning.
Italy has a well-developed mobile network. There are 4 providers: TIM, Vodafone, Wind and 3IT, the last two are in the process of being merged. 3G (UMTS) is available nationwide, the LTE coverage is significantly better with Vodafone and TIM than with the others. EU citizens benefit from heavily regulated roaming prices in Italy; if you have an EU flat rate, you can even make calls "just like at home". Local SIM cards are available, also for vacationers, at the points of sale of the providers (more information in the Prepaid-Data-Wiki (English)).
In Italy, the area code must always be dialed. With Italian telephone numbers it should be noted that the 0 (unlike in German-speaking countries) is not an access code and must therefore always be dialed when calling from abroad.
Postal services are offered everywhere by the Poste Italiane company, which also carries out express courier services (through SDA) and financial and mail services, through Bancoposta. Avoid going to post offices in large cities: there are often very long queues and it can take a few hours before being served.
Normal opening hours are:
Minor post offices: Monday-Friday 8.30 -14.00; Saturday 8.30-12.00
Ordinary post offices: Monday-Friday 8.30 -19.00; Saturday 8.30-12.00
Central post offices in large cities: Monday-Friday 8.00-20.00; Saturday 8.00-16.00 (data to be verified locally)
For detailed information on opening hours and the services that each office offers, visit the appropriate page on the poste.it website.
There are also various private companies operating in the area that offer postal and express courier services, such as Mail Boxes Etc.
The main operator is Telecom Italia SpA, recently sold to a consortium of investors led by the Spanish Telefonica. Telecom manages almost all of the public workstations; these normally work with a prepaid card. There are three main mobile telephone operators: TIM (Telecom Italia), Vodafone, Wind 3, while virtual operators have also appeared in Italy, such as Coop Voce and Ho mobile, which do not have their own network but rely on the infrastructures of others, while Iliad is progressively adopting a proprietary infrastructure but not with uniform coverage. Network operators offer services in 2G and 4G technology, while 3G is only adopted by TIM and Wind3 (Vodafone has decided to stop using it during 2021).
112: Single European number for emergencies (telephone districts in which it is active, such as Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lazio (prefix 06 - 0774), Liguria, Lombardy, Marche, Piedmont, Sicily, Tuscany, Umbria, Valle d'Aosta, in Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano, replaced the old 112, 113, 115 and 118)
114: Childhood Emergency
116117: Single European number for non-urgent care (in Italy currently active in some provinces of Lombardy, Piedmont and Trento)
117: Finance Police
118: Health emergency (as an alternative to 112)
1515: Forestry Corps (for forest fires)
1518: Traffic information
1530: Emergency at sea
803116: Roadside assistance (ACI)
800025777: Rainbow Telephone
803160: Italian Post Office
186: Telegram dictation
1518: Travel Informed
893 49049: Ita Airways
892021: State Railways
42400: Information about the last missed call
42142: Automatic alarm clock
4176: International Information
For those who are away from home, connection to the network usually takes place through their own hotel, by subscribing to a mobile Internet plan offered by one of the mobile telephone companies or by going to an Internet café.
Access via wi-fi, very widespread abroad, is penalized in Italy by an anti-terrorism law which goes by the name of the Pisanu decree. This was launched as a result of the 2005 London Underground bombings.
Thus, to access the public and free hot spots you need to enter a password, and to get it you need to send a text message from your mobile phone to a number that is provided. In this way navigation is linked to a SIM which in turn is linked to an identity document. Through this trick the safety rules would be complied with.
The Pisanu decree expired on December 31, 2010 and as of 2014 is no longer in force.
The origin of the word Italia is not exactly known. According to the most common point of view, the term came from Greece and means "country of calves". The bull was a symbol of the peoples who inhabited southern Italy, and was often depicted heading the Roman She-Wolf. Initially, the name Italia was applied only to that part of the territory that is now occupied by Southern Italy (the modern province of Calabria).
By the beginning of the I millennium BC. the south and center of Italy were inhabited by Italian peoples, one of which was the Latins. The Latins formed the Latin Union, which included 30 civitas, the governing bodies of each of which were a national assembly (comitia or consilia), a council of elders (curiae or senate) and leaders (Rexes). According to Latin legends, initially the strongest civitas was Lavrent, then Lavinia strengthened, then Alba Longa, in the VI century Rome became the most powerful civitas of the union. After the Samnite wars, by 290, Rome had made all the other Italian nations dependent on itself. Part of the lands of the non-Roman provincial population was transferred to the Romans, Roman settlements were founded - colonies - thus the Romanization of Italy took place. Under the Roman emperor Diocletian, a division into provinces was introduced in Italy, headed by presidents and consuls. After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476, the king of Italy was proclaimed commander Odoacer, a rug by birth, but in 493 his possessions were seized by the Ostrogoths, and he himself was killed.
In 555, Italy was
conquered by Byzantium. The whole territory of Italy was divided
into dukes, led by dukes, who were formally subordinate to the
exarch of Ravenna. In 572, part of the duchies of Italy were
conquered by the Lombards. Byzantium remained the Roman Duchy, the
Duchies of Naples, the Duchy of Amalfi, the Duchy of Calabria, the
Duchy of Pentapol, the Exarchate of Ravenna and the Republic of
Venice, as well as the Sicily Theme (conquered by the Arabs in 956)
and Sardinian judicates. However, the Lombard and Byzantine dukes
increasingly turned into virtually independent rulers.
In 752, the secular authority of the popes was established in the Duchy of Rome, the Exarchate of Raven and Pentapolis, which laid the foundation for the Papal region. In 774, Italy was annexed to the Frankish state. Only in the south were several Lombard duchies preserved (Spoletal duchy, Duchy of Benevento, and later the Principality of Salerno and the Principality of Capua stood out from them). In 800, the Frankish king Charlemagne proclaimed himself the new Roman emperor. After the death of his great-grandson Charles III Tolstoy, civil strife began in the Italian kingdom.
In 951, the King of Italy proclaimed the German king Otto I the Great. However, the power of the king of Italy became nominal, the entire territory of northern Italy was divided into brands: Tuscan (Tuscany), Friulian (later Verona) (Venice), Hebrew (was soon annexed to the Turin brand), Saluzzo, Monferrat, Turin (all four in Piedmont ), Milan (Lombardy). The stamps were ruled by margraves, each of whom was actually a sovereign ruler.
However, already in the XI-XII centuries, most brands fell into communes, which were aristocratic city-states. The Tuscan brand completely disintegrated, the Verona brand was absorbed by Venice, the Turin brand was annexed to Savoy in 1091, only Saluzzo and Monferrat have survived from the previous brands. In some Tuscan communes, democratic elements were periodically strengthened.
In 1071, the Norman nobleman Robert Guiscard conquered Apulia and Calabria, in 1072 Sicily, in 1073 Amalfi, in 1078 Salerno, forming the Duchy of Apulia and Calabria and the County of Sicily, which united in 1130 into the Kingdom of Sicily. In 1135, the Principality of Capua passed under his authority, in 1140 - the Duchy of Gaet, in 1144 - the Duchy of Naples. At the same time, the Papal Region is also strengthening - in 1081 the Duchy of Benevento joins it, and in 1201 - the Duchy of Spoleto.
The beginning of the Renaissance in
Italy is considered to be the year 1401, when a competition was held
for the relief of the doors of the Florentine Baptistery. Among the
participants of the competition were the architect Filippo
Brunelleschi, who became the author of the design of the dome of the
Florentine cathedral, and the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti. The winner
of the competition was the master of the new era of Ghiberti.
By the 15th century, the communes of Tuscany were united around Florence into the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Lombardy was united around Milan into the Duchy of Milan, Romagna was united around Ferara into the Duchy of Duchy, all these states were monarchies. Aristocratic republics remained in Venice and Genoa. In the 16th century, the domination of Spain was consolidated in a large part of Italy, and after the war for the Spanish Succession of 1701-1714, the domination of the Austrian Habsburgs.
In 1797, the French Army entered Italy, the Cispadan Republic, the Transpadan Republic, the Venetian Republic, the Ligurian Republic, the Piedmont Republic, the Roman Republic, the Neapolitan Republic were formed, all were oligarchic republics. In the same 1797 they merged into the Cisalpine Republic, renamed in 1802 the Italian Republic, which in turn was transformed into the Kingdom of Italy in 1805, the king of which was Emperor of France Napoleon I. In 1814, the French army left Italy, were the Duchy of Modena was restored, the Duchy of Parma, the Kingdom of Naples and the Papal States were restored in 1799, the Kingdom of Sardinia was returned to Piedmont, Emilia - to the Papal States, Lombardy and Veneto - Austria.
The struggle for a united Italy was led
by the carbonaries, Young Italy and other organizations, in which
Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Mazzini were key figures. By the end
of 1860, Italy was largely united around the Sardinian kingdom
(since 1861 the Italian kingdom). In 1865-1870, the capital was
Florence, in 1870 Rome was annexed to the Italian kingdom, which
became the new capital.
XX and XXI centuries
In 1914, the Declaration of Italy on neutrality in the outbreak of World War II was signed. In April 1915, Italy signed an agreement with the Entente countries on their participation in the war. In May of that year, Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary, and then Germany. In August 1917, an anti-war uprising of workers in Turin took place in Italy. In January 1919, the formation of the Catholic People's Party (subsequently - the Christian Democratic Party). In March 1919, the fascist movement emerged (the formation of the first “military alliance”). In August 1919, an election reform was carried out in the country (introduction of voting on party lists and a proportional system of representation in the Chamber of Deputies). January 1921 was marked by the formation of the Communist Party of Italy (KPI, since 1944 - IKP). In November of the same year, the fascist “military alliances” were transformed into a party.
In 1922, after the campaign of the black shirts to Rome and the presentation of their demands to the king, the Nazis came to power and established a dictatorship led by Benito Mussolini (1922-1943). February 7, 1924 is the establishment of diplomatic relations between Italy and the USSR. In 1929, according to the Lateran Treaty, Italy guaranteed the sovereignty of the Vatican. In 1935-1936 Italy captured Ethiopia, in 1939 - Albania. Having entered into a military alliance with Nazi Germany and Japan, Italy entered World War II in 1940. In 1940, hostilities began with the participation of Italy in the Balkans (against Greece and Yugoslavia). In 1941-1943, Italy accepted complicity in Nazi aggression against the USSR; Italy soon suffers a military defeat in East Africa.
Despite the fact that historically Italy was not inherent in anti-Semitism, 1937, when the Hitler coalition began to form, is considered to be the starting point of the Holocaust in Italy.
1941 was marked by the declaration by Italy and Germany of the US war.
In July 1943, the United States, Britain and their allies landed in Italy with the aim of defeating the fascist troops and leaving Italy from the war. On September 3, the Italian government signed a ceasefire, on September 8, 1943, Italy surrendered to the United Nations, and a National Liberation Committee was created in Rome with the participation of 6 anti-fascist parties.
In September 1943, there was a Nazi occupation of Northern and Central Italy (the "Republic of Salo").
In June 1944 Rome was liberated; a single partisan party was created. In the same year, full diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union were restored. In December 1944, the Roman Protocols were signed (an agreement between the Anglo-American command and the Resistance forces on cooperation at the final stage of the war and the further fate of partisan formations).
In 1945, the Nazi regime of Mussolini was overthrown by the actions of the Resistance movement (the highest point was the April Uprising of 1945) and the Anglo-American forces in Italy. By the 21st century, Italy is not as strongly condemned as Germany in Germany by the gloomy pages of its history related to fascism, admirers of Mussolini's ideology have survived, some continue to honor the memory of the Duce, and a fascism museum was opened in his homeland in Preappio in 2016, funded, in addition to city authorities and sponsors, also the Italian government. This memorial caused a mixed reaction from society, despite the guarantees that the museum would not be engaged in the propaganda of fascist ideology.
In 1946, following a national referendum, Italy became a parliamentary republic.
In November 1947, the Constitution of the Italian Republic was
adopted, it officially entered into force on January 1, 1948.
According to the current Constitution of Italy, it is the legal
successor of the Kingdom of Italy, a parliamentary board is
established, and at the same time, the previously adopted laws and
property rights to real estate that are not recognized as invalid.
Between 1948 and 2015, constitutional amendments were introduced
more than 15 times.
After the Second World War, the Christian Democratic Party of Italy (CDP) was established in the political arena, which formed the governments in 1945-1981 and in 1987-1992.
In 1948, parliamentary elections were held, which consolidated until 1953 the establishment of the political dominance of the CDA. In June 1948, Prime Minister De Gasperi signed an agreement with the United States to extend the "Marshall Plan" to Italy.
March 1949 - Italy joins NATO. In 1960, neo-fascism intensified and the mass anti-fascist movement rose. 1969 - “Hot Autumn” (the struggle for new conditions of collective labor agreements and the expansion of the rights of workers' organizations).
The late 1960s and early 1970s in Italy marked the onset of an era of organized crime and political extremism. The country was shocked by numerous terrorist attacks, in many cities there were regular bombings, abductions and killings of politicians, businessmen, judges, police and journalists. During 1977, 2128 acts of political violence were committed in Italy. In 1978, a world-wide crime took place in Rome - the abduction and murder by terrorists from the "Red Brigades" of the former prime minister, chairman of the Christian Democratic Party, Aldo Moro. In 1979, 2150 terrorist attacks were carried out in the country. In August 1980, the bloodiest terrorist attack in the entire post-war history of Italy took place - terrorists blew up a station in Bologna, killing 85 people. Italy was threatened by a right-wing dictatorship (similar to the pro-fascist regime of the "black colonels" in Greece), but the country overcame the crisis by constitutional means.
1976-1979 - the policy of "national solidarity."
In 1980, the five-party coalition came to power. In 1988, in terms of purchasing power parity, Italy was slightly ahead of the USSR, entering in the top ten most developed countries in the world in economic indicators.
January 1991 was marked by the 20th Congress of the IKP and the cessation of its existence (the formation of the Democratic Party of the Left Forces and the Party of the Communist Reconstruction). 1991-1993 - transition from a proportional electoral system to a majority; Operation Clean Hands and the crisis of traditional government parties.
In 1993, Italy acceded to the Maastricht Treaty.
The sharp increase in corruption at all levels of government has led to a change in the electoral system. On August 4, 1993, a new law on parliamentary elections was approved.
The post-war history of Italy is characterized by a frequent change of government. Since 1994, Silvio Berlusconi four times became Prime Minister of Italy, held this post intermittently until November 2011.
In 2007, a large-scale reform of special services was carried out in Italy.
The 63rd Government of the Italian Republic began work on February 22, 2014, chaired by Matteo Renzi. Since December 12, 2016, after Renzi’s resignation caused by a failure in the constitutional referendum, the same government was headed by Paolo Gentiloni.
After the parliamentary elections in March 2018, the new government took more than two months to form. The 65th government of the Italian Republic has been in force since June 1, 2018 under the presidency of Giuseppe Conte.
In February 2020, Italy becomes the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe.
The majority of the national territory lies on the
northwest-southeast oriented Apennine Peninsula, which is shaped like a
boot. The maximum length of the peninsula, which is largely shaped by
the Apennine mountain range, is around 1000 km, and the maximum width is
around 240 km. It is surrounded by parts of the Mediterranean Sea,
namely the Ligurian, Tyrrhenian, Ionian and Adriatic Seas. In the
Mediterranean Sea are by far the two largest Italian islands, Sardinia
and Sicily, as well as several smaller groups of islands. The total
coastline length is 7600 km. To the north, the Po Valley connects to the
peninsula, which makes up the main part of the densely populated North
Italian Plain. The national territory finds its northern end in the
Alps, where it partially reaches the main Alpine ridge.
Internally, Italy is often divided into Upper, Central and Lower/Southern Italy (also called Mezzogiorno).
Bordering countries are France (length of the common national border: 488 km), Switzerland (734.2 km), Austria (430 km), Slovenia (232 km) as well as the enclaves of San Marino (39 km) and the Vatican City (3 km) . The national borders have a total length of about 2000 km. With the municipality of Campione d'Italia, Italy has an exclave surrounded by Switzerland. Another border is with Croatia (sea border).
Italy is mostly mountainous. The Apennine runs through the peninsula
named after it along the longitudinal axis and reaches 2912 m s.l.m. its
greatest height in the Gran Sasso. In the north, a large part of the
Alps belongs to Italy: the highest peak is Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) at
4810 m, which lies on the border with France. (However, the course of
the border on Mont Blanc is disputed. According to the French, Mont
Blanc de Courmayeur, at 4748 m asl, is the highest peak in Italy.) The
highest mountain massif that stands entirely on Italian soil is the Gran
Paradiso at 4061 m asl. in the Graian Alps.
The Italian coasts are divided by numerous bays, especially on the western side, including the Gulf of Naples.
The Po plain (ital. Pianura Padana) in the north is by far the largest plain in Italy with an area of 50,000 km².
Hydrographically, Italy belongs almost exclusively to the Mediterranean Sea. Only the valley of the Lago di Livigno and the uppermost part of the Val d'Uina drain into the Black Sea via the Inn and Danube. The Drau, which has its source in the Pustertal in South Tyrol, and the Gailitz, which flows through the area around Tarvisio, also drain there. Furthermore, the valley of the Lago di Lei drains into the North Sea via the Rhine. The longest rivers are the Po (652 km), the Adige (410 km) and the Tiber (405 km), followed by the Adda and the Oglio. The largest Italian lakes include Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore and Lake Como in northern Italy, and Lake Bolsena and Lake Trasimeno in central Italy.
Italy includes the large Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia as well as the archipelagos of the Aeolian and Aegadian Islands north and west of Sicily. There are numerous small islands around Sardinia, including Sant'Antioco, Asinara, San Pietro and the La Maddalena archipelago. The Pontine Islands stretch off the coast of Lazio. In the Tyrrhenian Sea there are also the Campanian Archipelago (including the islands of Capri and Ischia), the Tuscan Archipelago (also Elba) and the Aeolian Islands. The Tremiti Islands are in the Adriatic Sea. The Pelagie Islands, which include Lampedusa, and the island of Pantelleria already belong geologically to Africa.
The climate is subtropical with sometimes very clear differences in
the different regions.
Northern Italy is bordered by the Alps and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, limiting the influence of the Mediterranean on the climate. Winters are cool, in the towns of the Po Valley there are occasional light frosts, occasional snowfall that can remain overnight or for a few days; in the months of November to January there are often long periods of dense fog on the plain. Summers are long and hot, humidity is high.
Central Italy has milder winters and dry, warm to hot summers due to the influence of the Mediterranean Sea. About south of the 45th degree of latitude, wild pine stands are also common. This typical Mediterranean tree species hardly tolerates temperatures below 0 °C and immediately starts dying from below, which shows that frosts are almost non-existent in these areas.
Southern Italy and the Italian islands have a warm, Mediterranean climate almost all year round. Autumn comes late, winters are damp and mild with daily temperatures of 10 to 15 °C and spring comes early (almond blossom from the end of January). It can get very hot in summer, with temperatures often exceeding 40 °C. Due to low rainfall in the summer months, periods of drought are a common problem in this region.
In the Alps and in the Apennines there is mostly a cold mountain climate due to the altitude, the summers there are mostly mild.
The average annual sunshine duration is around 1250 hours in the north, around 1700 hours in the middle (Rome around 1680 hours) and rises to over 2000 hours in the very south and on Sicily.
A new Italian cold record of −48.3 °C was measured on the Pala di San Martino in Trentino in December 2010. The maximum temperature of 48.5 °C was recorded on August 10, 1999 at the Catenanuova weather station in the province of Enna in Sicily. This is also the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe.
The recent acceleration of climate change has exacerbated existing environmental problems across the Mediterranean region, including in Italy. For five broad and interconnected impact areas (water, ecosystems, nutrition, health and security), current changes and future scenarios consistently point to substantial and increasing risks in the coming decades. Rainfall is decreasing in large parts of Italy, while temperatures are rising and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent. The consequences of the changes in the Alps are particularly visible. The consequences can also be seen in agriculture. The climate crisis is also threatening the country's cultural heritage: 13 out of 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy are threatened by coastal erosion because they are located in the low-lying coastal region.
In 2014 there were 24 national parks in Italy with a total area of
around 15,000 km². Known for its alpine ibex population, the Gran
Paradiso National Park in the Aosta Valley and Piedmont regions was
first established in 1922. The largest national parks are the Pollino
National Park, which extends over 1925 km² in the regions of Calabria
and Basilicata and is home to the Italian wolf, the Cilento and Vallo di
Diano National Park with over 1810 km² in Campania and the Gran Sasso
and Monti della Laga National Park with over 1413 km² in Abruzzo, on
whose territory the Corno Grande, the highest peak of the Apennines, is
In addition, 134 regional parks have been established, covering an area of 13,000 km². The largest regional parks include the Parco dei Nebrodi in Sicily with around 860 km², the Adamello-Brenta Natural Park with around 621 km² in the province of Trento in the Southern Alps, whose establishment also serves to protect the last Italian occurrence of alpine brown bears, and the Parco dell'Etna with a unique flora and fauna around the Etna volcano with over 580 km².
In 2009, the Ministry of the Environment listed 871 aree naturali protected.
The population of Italy in 1861 was estimated at around 22 million.
In 1961 the population was around 51 million. Today, Italy has around 60
million inhabitants (as of June 2020) and thus ranks 23rd in the world.
Within the European Union, the country is third behind Germany and
France. With a population density of almost 200 inhabitants per km²,
Italy is one of the countries with a high population density within the
European Union. Italy's population roughly doubled over the course of
the 20th century. At the beginning of the 21st century, Italy's
population grew very slowly.
The COVID-19 pandemic in Italy is having a demographic impact: 746,146 people died in 2020, about 100,000 more than the average for the years 2015 to 2019 (excess mortality). Emigration has increased and immigration has decreased. ISTAT puts the population decline at 384,000 people. Never since the founding of Italy have so few children been born as in 2020 (404,104 children).
In 2021, 71 percent of Italy's residents lived in cities. Especially from 1950 to 1960 there was a strong rural exodus. Since the 1980s, this trend has reversed in favor of suburbs and small towns (suburbanization). In the period from 1951 to 1974 there was also strong internal migration to northern Italy: around four million southern Italians migrated to the industrial centers in the north.
The life expectancy of Italians from birth, one of the highest in the
world, was 82.3 years in 2020 (women: 84.7, men: 80.1). About 19 percent
of Italians were older than 65, making it one of the oldest societies in
the world. The number of births per woman was statistically 1.2 in 2020,
one of the lowest values in the European Union. An excess of deaths
(birth rate: 6.8 per 1000 inhabitants vs. death rate: 12.6 per 1000
inhabitants) contributed to the population decline in 2020. Due to the
COVID-19 pandemic in Italy, mortality was higher than usual; In 2021 it
The mortality rate from cardiovascular diseases was 33 per 10,000 inhabitants in 2006; it was 40.5 for men and 27.7 for women. This is one of the lowest rates in all of Europe. Cancer diseases follow closely behind these symptoms. In 2006, these values were 26.6, with men (37.3) dying significantly more frequently than women (19.4). Vibo Valentia (19.4) and Lodi (33.6) showed extreme values. The metropolises are also above average, especially Naples (29); then follow Milan (28.9), Rome (27.9), Genoa (27.9) and Turin (27.2). The rate was particularly high for men in the Aosta Valley and in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, and for women in Trentino.
Child mortality in Italy in 2018 was 3.0 per thousand (OECD: 6.8 per thousand). In the case of child mortality, the rate has been halved since the mid-1990s to 3.4 deaths per 1000 births within the first year. The average in Europe in 2006 was 4.7. Finland, Switzerland, Slovenia and Luxembourg ranged from 2.6 to 1.8, while Romania scored 11. Within Italy, the province of Enna (7.4) had the highest score and the Aosta Valley (0.8) the lowest.
As in almost all OECD countries, an increase in the proportion of obese people can also be observed in Italy. This value rose from 7.0 percent in 1994 to 9.9 percent in 2005 (in Germany this rate was 13.6 percent in the same year). In 2019, 53% of adult EU citizens had a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more; in Italy it was 46% (37% women and 55% men).
The proportion of daily smokers fell from 27.8 percent to 22.3 percent in the comparative period 1990 to 2005 (OECD: 24.3 percent). Since January 10, 2005, there has been a general smoking ban in all publicly accessible buildings. Alcohol consumption also fell (see also List of countries by alcohol consumption).
Italy has seen a decline in the number of doctors per 100,000 population since the peak in 2002. In 2004 there were 416.7 doctors, in 2007 there were only 363.5. Only in Liguria did their number increase from 514.7 to 581.9, which means that the supply was densest there. Lazio followed with 511.1 doctors. In the south, only Sicily, with 425, was above the national average.
The school system in Italy is characterized by great uniformity in
terms of structure and structure. The essential provisions for
instruction and education are no different in Milan than in Palermo.
There are only differences in the area of vocational training, which is
part of the competence of the individual regions. The school system is
divided into the following levels: preschool (scuola dell'infanzia,
formerly scuola materna, three years, 3 to 6), elementary school (scuola
primaria, formerly scuola elementare, five years, 6 to 11), middle
school (scuola secondaria di primo grado, formerly scuola media
inferiore, three years, 11 to 14) and high schools (scuola secondaria di
secondo grado, formerly scuola media superiore, five years, 14 to 19).
State secondary schools are divided into grammar schools, technical
colleges and vocational schools. In the grammar schools there is a
humanistic, a scientific and a modern language branch (liceo classico,
scientifico, linguistico) as well as the so-called art grammar school
(liceo artistico). The Fachoberschulen (istituto tecnico), which lead to
general higher education entrance qualifications and also to a
professional qualification, are divided into several training areas, in
which numerous specializations are offered. On the one hand, the area of
vocational training is covered by the state vocational schools (istituto
professionale), where a professional qualification can be obtained after
three years, and after two more years the university entrance
qualification. On the other hand, there are the professional training
centers (centro di formazione professionale) maintained or supervised by
the Italian regions.
Compulsory schooling in Italy has become compulsory education that has been gradually increased. In the past it was eight years (6 to 14), making elementary and middle school compulsory (scuola dell'obbligo). At the end of the 1990s, it was increased to nine years. In 2004, a twelve-year school and vocational training obligation was introduced. After completing middle school, this can be achieved either by attending state high schools or regional vocational schools. Alternatively, company training can also be carried out, whereby courses at regional vocational schools must also be completed. If the training courses at regional vocational training centers are completed with a state examination, the path to the vocational Abitur is free. Those who achieve a first professional qualification before the age of 18 are exempt from twelve years of compulsory education and training.
Italy has made significant progress in foreign language education: English is taught in elementary school, and a second modern foreign language can also be learned from middle school (from the 6th grade). The five-year grammar schools usually also have Latin classes, and the Liceo Classico also includes ancient Greek.
Overall, the PISA studies gave the Italian school a relatively poor rating. In 2009, Italy scored 486 points in reading, 483 in mathematics and 489 in science. However, there is also a sharp north-south divide in Italy in the school system: the Lombardy region achieved 526 points in the natural sciences, while Calabria only got 443. In 2012, Italy was able to improve marginally, but the regional differences remained almost unchanged. The PISA results in German-speaking schools in South Tyrol in reading skills (503), mathematics (513) and science (530) were above average.
Unlike in the German-speaking countries, there are no independent universities of applied sciences in the higher education sector. As a result, the proportion of people with a university degree is lower than elsewhere in the European Union and is around 15 percent. With the Bologna process, Italian universities were also divided into a three-year bachelor's degree (laurea triennale or laurea breve) followed by a two-year master's degree (laurea magistrale, formerly laurea specialistica). Law is offered as a five-year laurea magistrale. As far as higher education institutions are concerned, the following distinctions can be made:
Università: universities in the classic sense;
Politecnici: Technical Universities;
Scuole superiori: Top universities that support talented students. The best known is the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, usually just called Normale, which was founded by Napoleon;
Istituti di alta formazione artistica e musicale: colleges of art and music that are not actual universities but belong to higher education;
Istruzione e formazione tecnica superiore: higher vocational education.
67 of the 95 universities in Italy are state-run. The best-known private universities are the Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in Milan and the Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali in Rome. The University of Bologna is the oldest university in the world, it was founded in 1088. A total of 1,809,186 students are enrolled in Italian universities. In 1960/61 there were only 217,000. With nearly 114,000 students, La Sapienza University in Rome is one of the largest universities in Europe.
The expansion of the old people's colleges and adult education centers (università per la terza età) is also relatively new.
Italy is a Roman Catholic country with a high density of Roman
Catholic institutions. In 2000 there were 227 dioceses, 252 bishops
officiated, of whom 224 were local bishops and 26 auxiliary bishops.
Article 7 of the Italian Constitution regulates the relationship between
the state and the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church in
Italy has traditionally been influential, which used to correlate with a
high number of priests. In addition to 34,300 diocesan priests, there
were 21,450 religious priests around 2005. The number of priests has
been falling for a long time. While it was still 109,688 in 1871,
between 1991 and 2004 alone it fell from 57,200 to 51,600, for men
religious from 5,000 to 3,500, for women religious from 125,800 to
In 2008, 51 million (85 percent) of people living in Italy professed their Roman Catholic faith. The second largest Christian denomination was therefore the Orthodox Church with 1,187,130 followers. Their share has increased significantly due to the immigration of Romanians. The third largest Christian religious community is the Jehovah's Witnesses with over 251,000 active (missionary, also called "announcers") members and almost 2900 assemblies (congregations). It is also the largest community in Europe of this Christian special community. Around 550,000 people felt they belonged to Protestant religious communities (including Waldensians and Baptists).
Italy's capital, Rome, is the enclave of Vatican City State, which is the center of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope is at the same time its head of state, the head of the Roman Catholic Church and the Bishop of Rome. The Holy See, as a non-governmental, independent subject of international law that is distinct from the Vatican City State, represents the mini-state at the international level.
Among the non-Christians, Muslims, mostly immigrants from Muslim countries, were the largest denomination with 1,293,704 (see also Islam in Italy). In addition, 197,931 Buddhists and 108,950 Hindus lived in Italy. The Jewish community numbers around 45,000, but in 2009 only 24,400 members were considered to be direct members of a community. Four million people did not identify with any denomination in 2008.
A representative survey commissioned by the European Commission as part of the Eurobarometer in 2020 showed that religion is important for 50 percent of people in Italy, for 34 percent it is neither important nor unimportant and for 15 percent it is unimportant.
In addition to the official language Italian, there are the regional
official languages German and Ladin in Trentino-South Tyrol, French in
the Aosta Valley and Slovenian in Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
In addition, a 1999 state law provides protection for the following minority languages:
Albanian (see Arbëresh), distributed throughout the Mezzogiorno
Franco-Provençal, the actual vernacular of the Aosta Valley and some valleys in Piedmont with small language islands in Apulia
Furlan, the language of Friuli
Greek (see Griko) in Apulia and Calabria
Catalan in Alghero, Sardinia
Molise Croatian in the Molise region
Occitan in the southern Alpine valleys of Piedmont
Sardinian, the language of Sardinia.
With a few exceptions, this law has not yet been implemented. The establishment of multilingual offices, mother-tongue schooling and the promotion of radio and television programs as provided for by the law have not been implemented. Some progress has only been made in the naming of places: numerous traffic signs in Friuli also bear the Furlanic name, while in Sardinia the Sardinian place name may also appear in addition to the Italian one. In the schools of Friuli it is also possible to take lessons in the Furlan language.
Fersentalerisch and Cimbrian are Bavarian dialects that are widespread in some language islands in north-eastern Italy. In Trentino they are protected as minority languages. In some of the Alpine valleys in the north-west, the High Alemannic Walser dialect is spoken, which is recognized and promoted in the autonomous region of Valle d'Aosta.
In addition, numerous dialects of Italian are spoken in Italy. These can be divided into three large dialect groups, some of which are classified as independent languages:
Northern Italian dialects: These include the Gallo-Italian dialects (mainly Piedmontese and Lombard) and Veneto;
Central and southern Italian dialects: These include the Roman dialect and Sicilian.
The recognition of dialects as independent languages is controversial in linguistics, as well as in politics. For example, the traffic signs of some municipalities, especially those managed by the Lega Nord, have been expanded to include the dialect name of the place.
The number of foreigners residing in Italy has been increasing
steadily since the 1990s. According to the national statistics institute
ISTAT, as of December 31, 2019, there were 5,306,548 foreign nationals
residing in Italy, representing 8.8 percent of the total population.
In addition, around 120,000 Roma live in Italy, 70,000 of whom are citizens.
Illegal immigrants are not included in the statistics. The OECD estimates 500,000 to 750,000, Caritas estimates that there are one million foreigners in the country without a residence permit. This would mean that up to six million foreigners would be staying in Italy.
Most immigrants are located in northern and central Italy, where they account for 10.1 percent and 9.7 percent of the population, respectively. In the southern Italian regions, the proportion of foreigners is 2.9 percent. The cities with the largest proportion of foreigners in 2009 were: Rome (242,725), Milan (181,393), Turin (114,710), Genoa (42,744), Florence (40,898), Bologna (39,480), Verona (34,465), Brescia ( 31,512), Padua (25,596), Naples (24,384), Reggio Emilia (24,401), Prato (24,153), Venice (23,928) and Modena (22,857). The number of Arabs in Italy is put at 692,201.
Between 1876 and 1915 Italy was hit by one of the largest waves of
emigration. An estimated 14 million citizens left the country to seek
their fortunes mainly in America – in the United States as workers, in
Argentina and Brazil as farmers. With a population of 33 million at the
turn of the century, this corresponds to almost a third of the
population. 1913 was the year with the highest recorded number of
emigrants: over 870,000 Italians left their homeland.
The fascist dictatorship tried to stem the emigration, but could not prevent another 2.6 million Italians from leaving the country. Argentina and France in particular were preferred emigration countries between the world wars, especially since the United States and Brazil had introduced stricter immigration rules.
After the Second World War, emigration was increasingly directed towards European countries. Many who had temporarily gone as guest workers to Belgium, Germany, France and Switzerland settled indefinitely in their host countries.
4,106,640 Italians living abroad are still registered in the consular register of persons. The table below shows the countries (except Italy) where most Italian citizens reside.
Italian citizens residing abroad can vote in general elections in Italy and are represented by 12 deputies and six senators. They are also allowed to take part in national referendums.
On June 2, 1946, Italians were called to a referendum on the form of
government and to elections to the Constituent Assembly.
28,005,449 Italian citizens were eligible to vote, of whom 24,946,878 went to the polls, representing 89.1% of the eligible voters. For the first time, women were allowed to vote. The official result was announced by the Court of Cassation on June 18, 1946: 54.27% of the votes for the republic, 45.73% for the monarchy, and 1,509,735 invalid votes (of which 1,146,729 were blank ballots).
In terms of regional majorities, Italy was practically divided into two camps: in the north, the republic won with 66.2%, while in the south the monarchy came in at 63.8%.
Italy has been a parliamentary republic since 1946. The Italian
constitution, originally called La Costituzione della Repubblica
Italiana, was adopted on December 22, 1947, came into force on January
1, 1948 and is characterized by a compromise character that stems from
immediate post-war history: from the experience of the common resistance
struggle against fascism (Resistenza) the anti-fascist (liberal,
socialist, communist and catholic) parties united in the “National
Liberation Committee” decided to work out the new constitution together.
Peculiarities of the Italian constitution are the central role granted to the parliament (bicameral system, bicameralismo perfetto), the prime minister's comparatively limited formal influence, the strong emphasis on plebiscitary elements (changes to the constitution may have to be confirmed by a referendum, and the citizens also have the option , making use of referendums and legislative initiative), the powerful Constitutional Court and decentralization in the wake of reforms in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Italy is a member of several supranational organizations. On April 4, 1949, NATO joined. Italy has been a member of the United Nations since December 14, 1955. The country is also a founding member of the European Union on January 1, 1952.
Officially, the government is called the Council of Ministers
(Italian: consiglio dei ministri or simply consiglio), the Prime
Minister operates as President of the Council of Ministers, in Italian
i.e. presidente del consiglio (dei ministri). If one only speaks of the
“president”, it can mean both the state president and the prime
Ministers are collectively responsible for the actions of the Council of Ministers and individually responsible for the actions of their portfolios. Ministers are appointed by the President of the Republic on the proposal of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister does not have the power to independently appoint or dismiss ministers.
The Prime Minister determines the general policy of the government and takes responsibility for it. He maintains the unity of direction in politics and administration by promoting and coordinating the activities of the ministers. Because of the dependency on the often unstable political majorities, the prime minister as “Chairman of the Council of Ministers” is often regarded only as primus inter pares.
As a collegial body, the Council of Ministers plays a prominent role in the Italian constitutional system, especially in the legislative process:
he prepares bills,
it issues decrees-laws, which must then be converted into laws by Parliament in order for the decrees-laws to remain effective,
it is commissioned by Parliament with the drafting of laws within certain framework conditions by means of enabling laws and can issue so-called decrees representing the law in this respect.
The official residence of the Italian Prime Minister is the Palazzo Chigi in Rome. The Presidency of the Council of Ministers supports him there. Giorgia Meloni has been the Prime Minister of Italy since October 22, 2022.
The Italian Parliament consists of two chambers: the Senate (Senato
della Repubblica) and the Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei deputati).
Both chambers have absolutely equal rights in the legislative process
and differ only in terms of the number, composition and electoral
process of their members. Both chambers meet independently of each
other. In each chamber there are standing committees and special
commissions, which are also independent of each other.
The Chamber of Deputies is the larger parliamentary chamber whose 400 deputies (including 8 representatives of Italians living abroad) are elected every five years.
The Senate of the Republic consists of 200 elected senators (including 4 representatives of Italians living abroad). They are also elected (at the same time as the deputies) for five years, but not on a national level but on a regional basis. Each of the 20 regions has a fixed number of senators, which varies according to the population of the region.
In addition, there are a maximum of five senators appointed for life by the President. In addition, after the end of their term of office, the state presidents are also senators for life by operation of law. Currently (October 2022) there are six senators in parliament for life, five of whom are president-appointed senators and one is a former president.
The head of state in Italy is the President (actually: President of
the Republic, Italian: Presidente della Repubblica). According to the
constitutional norm, he primarily performs representative functions,
participates in the formation of the government and is the supreme
commander of the armed forces. In constitutional reality, he often plays
a decisive role in overcoming government crises, which were much more
frequent in the Italian Republic in the second half of the 20th century
than in other European countries.
Its main power is to dissolve Parliament (either chamber or both). However, he may not exercise these in the last six months of his mandate unless they correspond in whole or in part to the last six months of the legislative period.
He has another important function in connection with legislation. Since every law requires the signature of the President before it can be promulgated, he can prevent it from coming into force, at least for the time being. In fact, if Parliament approves the law again, the Italian Constitution will oblige him to sign it. So he does not have a real right of veto.
The President of the Republic is elected by the united chambers of Parliament (parlamento in seduta comune) and representatives of the 20 regions: three per region, with the exception of Valle d'Aosta, which can only have one representative. The President is elected by secret ballot with a two-thirds majority of the Assembly. After the third ballot, an absolute majority is sufficient. Any citizen who has reached the age of 50 can be elected. The official residence of the President is the Quirinale Palace in Rome. Sergio Mattarella has been the President of the Italian Republic since February 3, 2015.
The Italian legal system is assigned to the Roman-Germanic legal
family and can look back on a history that stretches back from the
Middle Ages to Roman law.
The most important sources of law besides the Italian Constitution (Costituzione della Repubblica Italiana, 1948) are the Civil Code (Codice civile, 1942), the Code of Civil Procedure (Codice di Procedura Civile, 1940), the Penal Code (Codice penale, 1930) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (Codice di Procedure Penalty, 1988). In addition, there are numerous codifications (codici) and standard texts (testi unici) in individual legal areas (from labor law to administrative law).
The highest organ of ordinary jurisdiction in Italy is the Court of Cassation (Corte Suprema di Cassazione), and the Constitutional Court (Corte Costituzionale) is responsible for constitutional jurisdiction.
Universal male suffrage had been in force since 1919. In the spirit of feminist reforms, the House of Commons (Camera dei deputati) voted 174 to 55 in 1919 to also give women the right to vote, but the Senate (Senato del Regno) refused to endorse the measure . On May 15, 1925, Mussolini appeared in person in Parliament to support a bill that would give women local suffrage. In the same year, however, he abolished all local elections. In 1945, the Christian Democrats and the Communists introduced a bill introducing universal suffrage. All other parties supported it and it became law on February 1, 1945. was elected the following year. However, according to Article 3 of Decree 23 of January 30, 1945, visible sex workers (i.e. those who practiced their trade outside of approved brothels) were excluded from the right to vote, so that the right to vote for women was restricted. Passive women's suffrage was also introduced on February 1, 1945, with the same restrictions as for active women's suffrage. Article 7 of Decree 74 of March 10, 1946 confirms the eligibility of citizens who are 25 years old on election day, i.e. without restrictions.
The healthcare system in Italy is structured at regional level. The
local medical companies (Aziende Sanitarie Locali) are subordinate to
the respective regional governments. The regional characteristics mean
that the quality of services varies greatly from region to region. There
is a sharp north-south gradient, which causes a strong health tourism,
especially towards Veneto, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna.
The excellent performance of these regions led the WHO in 2000 to rank Italy second, after France, in the world ranking of health systems. The long waiting times (often several months) for inpatient treatment are seen as negative.
General practitioners in Italy receive a flat rate per capita for patients who have been registered on a list. In addition, dental services must be borne entirely by the citizens themselves.
Total healthcare spending was 8.7 percent of gross domestic product in 2019, exactly in line with the OECD average. The vast majority of this expenditure (75 percent) is borne by the public sector (OECD: 71.7 percent).
The Italian police system is multi-tiered and partly organized
militarily. The individual police organizations are subordinate to
different ministries or the lower regional authorities. This traditional
system has been retained for reasons of tradition, but also to prevent
too much police power being concentrated in one hand or in one ministry.
At the national level, there is the civilian Polizia di Stato (State
Police), which reports to the Ministry of the Interior. It mainly takes
over police tasks within the big cities.
The state police are supplemented by the Carabinieri, a gendarmerie force that reports to the Ministry of Defense and carries out police work on the instructions of the Ministry of the Interior, especially in rural areas. Comparable structures can also be found in France (Gendarmerie Nationale) and in Spain (Guardia Civil). In addition, the Italian Ministry of Finance has the Guardia di Finanza (Financial Guard), a financial and customs police force that also takes on border protection tasks. At the local level there are, among other things, the municipal police (Polizia Municipale), which primarily take care of local road traffic.
In Italy, the Prime Minister has been directly responsible for the intelligence services since 2007 and, in cooperation with the interministerial steering committee Comitato interministeriale per la sicurezza della Repubblica (CISR), sets their operational priorities. The Dipartimento delle Informazioni per la Sicurezza (DIS), which reports to the head of government, coordinates the work of the foreign intelligence service Agenzia Informazioni e Sicurezza Esterna (AISE) and the domestic intelligence service Agenzia Informazioni e Sicurezza Interna (AISI). There is also the military specialist service Centro Intelligence Interforze (J2), which is part of the General Staff. The intelligence services have been controlled by a special parliamentary committee since 1977.
In 2019, around 28,900 professional and around 20,000 voluntary firefighters were organized in the fire brigade in Italy, who worked in over 900 fire stations and fire stations, in which 2,330 fire engines and 307 turntable ladders and telescopic masts were available. The proportion of women is three percent. Many children and young people are organized in the youth fire brigades. The national fire brigade association Corpo national dei Vigili del Fuoco represents the Italian fire brigade in the world fire brigade association CTIF.
Italian security policy is still based on integration into NATO, the
EU and the UN. Italy sees itself as the main player in the extended
Mediterranean region (“mediterraneo allargato”). The Italian Navy is
classified as a deep sea navy and is able to operate worldwide. In terms
of security policy, the focus for Italy is on the situation in Libya and
the refugee crisis. In the field of disarmament, Italy advocates
worldwide compliance with the treaties, including the ban on cluster
bombs. It supports the initiative to create a world free of nuclear
The Italian armed forces consist of the Esercito Italiano (army), Marina Militare (navy) and Aeronautica Militare (air force) branches, as well as the Carabinieri. Currently (2021) around 163,000 soldiers are serving in the armed forces, plus around 110,000 carabinieri and around 30,000 civilian employees.
Compulsory military service has been suspended in Italy since July 1, 2005. With the conversion to a professional and volunteer army, the number of army, navy and air force personnel was set at a total of 190,000 soldiers. Because of the financial and economic crisis that followed, cuts and downsizing also had to be made in the armed forces. In 2021, defense spending amounted to around 25 billion euros, which corresponded to 1.41 percent of gross domestic product.
By 2024, the number of armed forces personnel (excluding the carabinieri) is to be reduced to 150,000 soldiers and 20,000 civilian employees. The Defense White Paper of 2015 somewhat restricted the focus of the armed forces on foreign missions within the framework of the EU, NATO and the United Nations.
The stock of US nuclear weapons on Italian territory has been significantly reduced since the end of the Cold War. The United States is still storing nuclear bombs in Aviano, and others are assigned to an Italian squadron in Ghedi as part of nuclear sharing.
Italy is a founding member of both the European Union and the Council
of Europe. As a member of the EU, the Italian Republic also joined the
European Monetary Union in 1990 and is part of the European single
market. In addition to economic interests, they are also active in other
EU policy areas, for example Italy is part of the Schengen area,
judicial and police cooperation in Europe with the help of Europol and
Eurojust. Italy is one of the most integration-friendly member states of
the EU. Italy actively supports the process of EU enlargement to include
new members (particularly the Western Balkans and Turkey). Italy is
committed to further deepening the European Union. A particular concern
of Italy in terms of European policy is the establishment of a viable
mechanism based on the principle of solidarity for the sustainable
management of the refugee crisis.
The regional priorities of Italian foreign policy include the Mediterranean region, the Western Balkans, the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa with a special focus on the former colonies, and Latin America with its large number of Italian emigrants and their descendants (Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil , Venezuela). Due to its central location, Italy also sees itself as a bridge between Europe and the southern Mediterranean countries, namely Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. Italy is very concerned about the large number of refugees who mostly reach Italy and the EU via Libya. In relation to Russia, with which there are intensive economic relations, Italy is committed to maintaining the dialogue, even in the current tense situation.
Italy is involved in many UN missions and is one of the largest contributors of troops.
Italy is politically divided into 20 regions (regioni), each with its own government. These regions are divided into a total of 90 provinces (province) and 15 metropolitan cities (città metropolitane). Provinces and metropolitan cities are subdivided into a total of 7904 municipalities (comuni).
Italy is an industrial country with a formerly heavily controlled
economy: the state-owned company IRI (1933-2002) now had 1,000
subsidiaries and employed up to 500,000 people. In the course of the
1990s, state-owned companies were gradually privatised, also in order to
service public sector debt, and the markets were opened up and
Italy's gross domestic product (GDP) totaled €1.8 trillion in 2019 (before the COVID-19 pandemic). This corresponds to around 30,000 euros per capita. This made Italy the third largest economy in the EU (excluding the UK) and (2019) the eighth largest economy in the world, behind Germany and France.
Economic growth in Italy has steadily declined over the decades: between 1970 and 1979, GDP grew by 40 percent, between 1980 and 1989 by 25 percent, and between 1990 and 1999 by 13 percent. From 2000 to 2009, GDP only grew by 1.2 percent. The Great Recession and the euro crisis led to a decline in GDP (−5.3 percent in 2009; −3.0 percent in 2012; −1.8 percent in 2013), the highest growth between 2010 and 2019 was 1. 7 percent achieved in 2010 and 2017 respectively. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy's GDP fell by 8.9 percent in 2020.
Italy's most important trading partner is Germany, with an export share of 12.7 percent and an import share of 15.9 percent, followed by France with 11.2 percent and 8.5 percent respectively. The main export markets for Italian products also include Spain (6.5 percent), the United States (6.2 percent) and the United Kingdom (5.2 percent). Italy also gets most of its imports from China (6.2 percent), the Netherlands (5.3 percent), Libya (4.6 percent) and Russia (4.2 percent).
In the Global Competitiveness Index, which measures a country's competitiveness, Italy ranks 30th out of 141 countries (as of 2019). The country was ranked 74th out of 180 countries in the 2020 Economic Freedom Index.
The informal economy is high in Italy. The Ministry of Economy and Finance estimates that it accounts for 10.7 percent of GDP (2018).
Italy has a wide variety of raw material deposits. Significant mineral resources of the country are fluorite, coal, mercury, sylvin and zinc. The world-famous Carrara marble is quarried in the Apuan Alps around Carrara and Massa. There are large deposits of natural gas (Po Valley, Adriatic Sea) and oil (Basilicata, Sicily).
The energy supply in Italy is characterized by a very high import
dependency, approx. 79 percent of the energy requirement is imported.
The consumption of electrical energy in Italy was 334.6 TWh in 2011, representing an increase of 1.3 percent compared to the previous year. More than 10 percent is produced by hydroelectric power, with the share of energy production from renewable energies increasing by 7.8 percent in 2011 compared to the previous year.
Today, Italy produces its electricity primarily in thermal power plants, with 64.4 percent of it being produced with natural gas and the rest with oil and other fuels. The largest power plant Alessandro Volta is in Montalto di Castro and has an output of 3600 MW. In 2009, however, the power plant only ran for 2,000 to 3,000 hours (out of a possible 8,760) because the electricity produced is too expensive.
The photovoltaic share increased by 268 percent during 2011, reaching an annual production of 19.7 TWh in 2017, while the wind turbines (mainly in Puglia and the rest of the south) provided around 10 TWh. Geothermal energy is mainly extracted in central Italy, for example in Larderello, and brought 4.3 TWh. In 2011, among the member states of the European Union, Italy's hydropower provided a significant share of the supply from renewable energy sources: 45.2 TWh were generated - this corresponds to around 15 percent of the total energy generated from hydropower in the EU countries.
Italy had four nuclear power plants before 1990. Triggered by the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine (April 26, 1986), Italy gradually phased out nuclear power from 1987 onwards. In 1990 the last Italian nuclear power plant was shut down.
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, the Italian cabinet decided in March 2011 to postpone a return to nuclear energy for another year; on June 12 and 13, 2011, in a referendum with 57 percent turnout, 94.1 percent of those voting rejected re-entry.
Italy is now the world's largest net importer of electricity, importing around 15 percent of demand in the first half of 2014 (22.3 TWh out of a total demand of 153 TWh); much of it comes from French nuclear power plants. In 2012, a total of 43.104 billion kWh were imported net, of which 24.668 billion came from Switzerland and 11.37 billion from France. Electricity prices in Italy are among the highest in the EU for industrial customers.
The main energy producers are Eni, Enel, Edison, ERG, A2A and Sorgenia, while Terna is responsible for the distribution network.
Although agriculture only plays a minor role in the national economy
(approx. 2 percent), it produces some important products. Viticulture is
important, as the country is the largest wine producer in the world (as
of 2015) ahead of France with around 49 million hectoliters, as is the
production of olive oil: Italy is the second largest producer here
(after Spain), with 442,000 tons in 2013 and cheese making (parmesan,
mozzarella, pecorino or ricotta). Citrus fruits such as oranges and
lemons, nightshades such as tomatoes and aubergines, cucurbits such as
courgettes, watermelons and honeydew melons, salad plants such as rocket
and radicchio, as well as legumes and nuts are also grown and exported.
The strength of the Italian economy lies in the manufacturing sector, especially in small and medium-sized family-run companies. According to the central statistics institute ISTAT, 95.2 percent are micro-enterprises with fewer than 10 employees. Of all European countries, Italy has the highest global market share (2019) in manufacturing with 2.1 percent (after Germany with 5.3 percent) (leaders are China and the United States with 28.7 and 16.8 percent respectively). In 2021, Italy recorded the second highest value of industrial production sold within the European Union at 16 percent (after Germany at 27 percent and ahead of France at 11 percent, Spain at 8 percent and Poland at 6 percent).
The most important industries include machine, aircraft (Leonardo), ship (Fincantieri) and vehicle construction (Fiat Group (including: Alfa Romeo, Iveco, Lancia, Maserati), Ferrari, Piaggio and Pirelli), the chemical industry and the Manufacture of electronic products (Magneti Marelli). The textile industry is very well represented and with its well-known brand names (Armani, Benetton, Diesel, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Prada or Versace) stands for the epitome of made in Italy. Luxottica is the world's largest eyewear manufacturer. The main Italian exports also include products from the food industry (Barilla, Campari, Lavazza, Parmalat): the largest company in the sector is Ferrero. The Italian company with the highest turnover is the oil and gas group Eni.
In the service sector, Italy is primarily represented internationally by large banks such as Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo. Assicurazioni Generali is one of the largest insurance companies in the world.
The tourism industry has been one of Italy's most important sources of income for decades. Italy is one of the classic travel destinations in the world. Popular destinations are the Alps, the coastal areas on the Ligurian and Adriatic Seas, numerous historic cities, museums, archaeological sites and traditional customs such as the Venice Carnival, Palio di Siena or Calcio storico.
Italy, which was still the most visited country in the world in the 1970s, is now in 5th place (behind France, Spain, the United States and China) with around 65 million tourists (2019).
From 1970 to 1998, the unemployment rate rose from 5.4% to 12.1%,
followed by a decline in the unemployment rate until the mid-2000s (low
of 6.1% in 2007). After the outbreak of the Great Recession and the
subsequent euro crisis, Italy's unemployment rate rose due to the
economic crisis and marked a high of 12.7% in 2014. Since then, the rate
has fallen and stood at 9.5% in 2021. Youth unemployment is many times
higher at 23.1% in June 2022.
The OECD also found that wages were among the lowest among industrialized countries. The average net income of the Italians was only 19,861 dollars, which means that they are also overtaken by the Greeks and Spaniards. The OECD average is $24,660 (2007 data). The self-employment rate is all the higher in Italy. It is around 33 percent of the labor force (compared to 17 percent in Spain and 10 percent in Germany).
The total number of people in employment is estimated at 22.8 million by the end of 2021. The employment rate was 59.41% in 2021. In 2020, 3.61% of all workers worked in agriculture, 25.61% in industry and 70.78% in the service sector.
The economic dichotomy of the country is characteristic of Italy. The
heavily industrialized north faces the underdeveloped south.
With the post-war boom, the industrial triangle of Milan, Turin and Genoa (triangolo industriale) developed in north-west Italy. As a result, the boom spread to north-eastern Italy and central Italy with their traditionally highly networked and urbanized structures: to distinguish between north-western Italy (“first Italy”) and southern Italy (“second Italy”), the industrial districts in this area were referred to under the technical term “ Third Italy” summarized. In the meantime, the first and third Italy have grown together and the borders of the industrial triangle have also shifted (Milan - Bologna - Treviso).
The entire northern Italian region has a well-developed service sector and, as part of the so-called blue banana, is one of the economically strongest areas in Europe.
Central Italy has an economy based on businesses in the textile, footwear and furniture sectors, and particularly on tourism. In addition, Rome is the seat of all administrations, many large companies (Eni (oil and gas), Enel (energy supply), Leonardo (armaments), Poste Italiane (logistics), TIM (telecommunications), Unicredit (banking)) and organizations (FAO) and Herz of the Italian film industry (Cinecittà).
The south of the country, also called Mezzogiorno, is one of the structurally weakest regions in Europe. This is accompanied by an increased crime rate and not least organized crime, which exercises control over many sectors of the economy, especially in Campania, Calabria and Sicily.
The economic division of the country is also reflected in the unemployment figures: in 2021 the unemployment rate in north-west Italy was 6.6%, in north-east Italy 5.4% (South Tyrol 3.9%), in central Italy 8.8%, in southern Italy (including islands) at 16.7%.
Italy is a country that is not only characterized by strong local differences, but also has a relatively unequal distribution of income. In the list of countries by income distribution, Italy ranks 97th with a Gini coefficient of 35.9. For comparison, Germany is 139th, Austria 149th and Switzerland 135th (the higher the position, the lower the inequality).
According to a 2017 study by Bank Credit Suisse, Italy was the country with the seventh largest total national wealth in the world. The combined holdings of Italians in real estate, stocks and cash totaled $10.853 billion. Wealth per adult averages $223,572 and median $124,636 (Germany: $203,946 and $47,091 respectively). The Gini coefficient of wealth distribution was 71.9 in 2016, indicating moderate wealth inequality.
According to Forbes, confectionery manufacturer Giovanni Ferrero is the richest Italian in 2021 with assets of $35.1 billion, followed by eyewear manufacturer Leonardo Del Vecchio and his family and pharmaceutical entrepreneur Stefano Pessina. The richest Italians also include fashion designer Giorgio Armani, media entrepreneur and politician Silvio Berlusconi and the family of household appliance manufacturer De'Longhi.
In Italy there are numerous historical and folkloric traditions of
various kinds, known and famous also internationally. Worth mentioning
here are the Palio di Siena horse race, the Calcio storico in Florence
and the Regata storica in Venice. The carnival festivals in Venice,
Viareggio, Ivrea, Mamoiada, Acireale, Sciacca, Florence and Rome. The
rites of Holy Week in some municipalities, as well as different
traditions such as the Infiorata di Genzano, the Giostra del Saracino in
Arezzo, the Festa dei Ceri in Gubbio and the Giostra della Quintana in
UNESCO has included the processions with shoulder tower shrines (Macchina di Santa Rosa in Viterbo, Varia di Palmi in Palmi, Gigli di Nola in Nola and Faradda di li Candareri in Sassari) since 2013 and the Sicilian Marionette Theater since 2001 in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Italian cuisine (cucina italiana) is considered to be one of the most
influential national cuisines in the world.
Internationally known products include Italian olive oil, pesto, ice cream, panettone, tiramisu, various types of cheese such as Parmesan, mozzarella or gorgonzola, sausage and meat products such as mortadella, salami, San Daniele ham or Parma ham and, of course, pasta and pizza. There is also a wide range of local wines such as Chianti and Barolo.
Food is an important aspect of everyday life in Italy and the cultivation of the kitchen is an indispensable part of the national culture. In 2010, Italian cuisine was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.
In 1953 the Accademia Italiana della Cucina was founded in Milan. This would like to preserve the knowledge of Italian cuisine and table culture and pass it on to the following generations. To this end, it organizes meetings and conferences, set up the Franco Marenghi study center and awards prizes and awards. The Academy publishes the monthly journal Civiltà della Tavola. Another project to initially preserve Italian culinary art, the Associazione Slow Food, was founded in Bra by Carlo Petrini in 1986.
In a survey conducted by the Goethe-Institut in 2013, 42 percent of the participants considered Italian cuisine to be the best cuisine in Europe. The survey, conducted in 24 languages and 30 countries, was entitled "What does Europe mean to you personally?"
Occasionally, the high life expectancy is attributed to the Mediterranean diet, which contains a lot of fish, olive oil, fruit and vegetables, for example. Italian cuisine consists of a variety of regional cuisines and can draw on a variety of ingredients and specialties.
Perhaps the most famous polymath and humanist in history, Leonardo da
Vinci made multiple contributions to a wide variety of fields including
painting, sculpture, architecture, anatomy, mechanics, engineering, and
natural philosophy. One of the most important founders of modern exact
natural sciences, Galileo Galilei was an astronomer, physicist,
mathematician, engineer, cosmologist and philosopher and started a
Other well-known Italian scientists of the Renaissance were Leon Battista Alberti, writer, mathematician, art and architectural theorist as well as architect and medalist. Pietro Bembo, his theory of the Italian literary language was groundbreaking. She contributed to the fact that the "language dispute" over the question of which variant of Italian was best suited as a literary language was decided in favor of Tuscan.
Here is a brief overview of other well-known personalities in science: the astronomer and mathematician Giovanni Domenico Cassini; the physicist Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electric battery and co-founder of the theory of electricity, the mathematicians Lagrange (born Giuseppe Lodovico Lagrangia), Fibonacci and Cardano; Guglielmo Marconi, Nobel laureate in physics, co-inventor of radio; the physicist Enrico Fermi, also a Nobel laureate, known for nuclear research; the navigator Christopher Columbus, who discovered America in 1492; Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, population geneticist and founder of the Human Genome Project (HGP).
Between 995 and 1087, the medical teaching and research institute
Schola Medica Salernitana developed, one of the first and most important
medical institutions of the Middle Ages. Systematic gynecology was
founded in the 12th century with the collective manuscript Trotula.
Notable medical scientists and discoveries of the following centuries: in the 16th century, Gabriele Falloppio describes the structure of the fallopian tubes; In 1665 Marcello Malpighi, considered the founder of plant anatomy and comparative physiology, as well as microscopic anatomy, describes the capillary circulation, the theory of the functioning of the lungs and the structure of the renal corpuscles; Giovanni Battista Morgagni, founder of modern pathology; Giovanni Maria Lancisi, whose scientific achievements include findings on hygiene, influenza, rinderpest and, above all, malaria; In 1854 Filippo Pacini discovered the bacterium Vibrio cholerae as the causative agent of cholera; In 1893 Bartolomeo Gosio isolated the first antibiotic from a mold; and Lazzaro Spallanzani, whose seminal discoveries are in the field of physiology.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, well-known physicians such as Camillo Golgi (discoverer of the Golgi apparatus named after him), Daniel Bovet, Salvador Luria, Renato Dulbecco, Rita Levi-Montalcini and Mario Capecchi were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Francis of Assisi's hymn to the sun is considered the oldest
testimony of Italian literature. With his work The Divine Comedy, the
Florentine Dante Alighieri laid the foundations of the modern Italian
language and one of the greatest works of world literature. The poet
Francesco Petrarca was the actual founder of Renaissance humanism and
made the sonnet known as a poem form. He wrote numerous Latin works. His
cycle of poems Canzoniere, written in Italian, is considered the most
important collection of poems in European literature after antiquity.
Giovanni Boccaccio wrote the Decameron, a collection of 100 novellas
embedded in a framework story. These three, namely Dante, Petrarch and
Boccaccio, were also known as the three Florentine crowns (Le tre corone
The Enciclopedia Italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti (called Enciclopedia Italiana or Enciclopedia Treccani for short) was published in the first edition, consisting of 35 text volumes and an index volume, between 1929 and 1937 by the Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana and is a multi-volume universal encyclopedia in Italian . The publishing house, founded in 1925, is also the editor of the national biography Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani.
Italy's great writers also include Ludovico Ariosto, Giambattista Basile, Umberto Eco, Carlo Goldoni, Giacomo Leopardi, Alessandro Manzoni, Giambattista Marino, Torquato Tasso and Emanuele Tesauro.
Italian Literature Nobel Prize winners are the poet Giosuè Carducci (1906), the writer Grazia Deledda (1926), the playwright Luigi Pirandello (1936), the poets Salvatore Quasimodo (1959) and Eugenio Montale (1975) and the satirist, playwright and actor Dario Fo (1997).
Niccolò Machiavelli is considered one of the most important political
philosophers of modern times because of his work Il Principe (The
Prince). Il Principe is considered one of the first - if not the first -
work of modern political philosophy. Together with the Discorsi created
at the same time, it represents Macchiavelli's main work. Both the
concept of Machiavellianism and that of anti-Machiavellianism derive
The most prominent philosophers from Italy also include Giordano Bruno, Francesco Patrizi da Cherso, Marsilio Ficino, Cristoforo Landino, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Marsilius of Padua, Coluccio Salutati and Giambattista Vico.
Italian painting has enjoyed an important position in Europe for
centuries, from the Romanesque to the Gothic era, from the Renaissance
to the Baroque.
Italy had a special position in Gothic painting because the architecture there was given large wall surfaces. Giotto di Bondone delivered the pinnacle of Gothic frescoes with his unprecedented naturalism. Later, book illumination remained the dominant form of painting for a long time and thus had a great influence on the development of panel painting. Here, too, Italy played a special role, since panel painting held a leading position there from the beginning of the Gothic period. Gothic in its purest style was embodied in Italy by Simone Martini with his courtly elegance. From the second half of the 14th century, thanks to the influence of the Italians, panel painting also took precedence over book illumination north of the Alps, not least because of Martini, but also because of the well-travelled Gentile da Fabriano and Pisanello.
Renaissance painting has its origins in the work of some unusually talented forerunners in late 13th-century Italy and began in Florence in the early Renaissance around 1420, reached its climax in the High Renaissance at the beginning of the 16th century, and was secondary in its late period Mannerism that emerged around 1520. The most important painters of the Renaissance include Fra Angelico, Bellini, Botticelli, Giotto, Mantegna, Masaccio, Michelangelo, Raffael, Tintoretto, Titian and Leonardo da Vinci.
In Baroque painting, inspiration also came from Italy. The brothers Agostino and Annibale Carracci, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Guido Reni and in the art of frescoes and ceiling painting, among others. Pietro da Cortona, Luca Giordano, Andrea Pozzo, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, who also works in Germany, are among the main masters.
With the end of the Baroque, painting in Italy experienced a serious decline. It was only in the 20th century with Futurism that Italy was able to rejoin the artistic avant-garde, above all through the works of Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà and Gino Severini.
Giorgio de Chirico's Pittura metafisica is also considered a forerunner of Surrealism.
Some of the most important monuments in the western world, such as
the Colosseum in Rome, Milan Cathedral, Florence Cathedral, the Leaning
Tower of Pisa and the Palaces of Venice are located in Italy.
The ancient Romans already set standards in the field of architecture and introduced the construction of arches and domes. The Renaissance was shaped by Italian architectural theorists like Leon Battista Alberti and architects like Filippo Brunelleschi.
The work of the Venetian Andrea Palladio inspired a neoclassical architectural style. From the late 17th to the early 20th century, Palladianism influenced architecture around the world, particularly in Britain, Australia and the United States.
Important contemporary architects are Renzo Piano (Genoa), Flavio Albanese (Vicenza) and Massimiliano Fuksas (Rome).
Sculptors from the Italian peninsula shaped the art of all periods: for example, the Magistri Comacini the Romanesque, Arnolfo di Cambio and others the Gothic (but where France led), Donatello the early Renaissance; Michelangelo the High Renaissance; Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini the Italian Baroque; Antonio Canova classicism.
Due to its cultural wealth, Italy has the highest concentration of
museums in the world. The museums form an important basis for tourism.
Since 1974 the Ministry of Cultural Goods and Activities has existed under different names. 157 state archives, 298 archaeological sites, 58 libraries, 244 museums, a total of 1052 state institutions are assigned to the ministry, plus 2119 non-state institutions (as of February 26, 2012). Some of the museums are national museums. These include the National Archaeological Museum in Ferrara, as well as those of Florence, Rome, Naples and Taranto, and the Museo Nazionale Alinari della Fotografia in Florence. There is also the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia in Reggio, the Museo Nazionale GA Sanna in Sardinia and the National Museum of 21st Century Art in Rome. However, the term "national museum" is not precisely defined, so that numerous other state museums of national importance are to be included.
A study published annually by the Italian Touring Club on the number of visitors to the 30 most visited museums calculated a total of around 23 million visitors for 2008. This corresponds to around a quarter of all visitors to the around 3800 public museums and 1800 archaeological sites in Italy.
Italy also counts well-known composers: Palestrina and Monteverdi in
the Renaissance, Scarlatti, Corelli and Vivaldi in the Baroque, Paganini
and Rossini in the Classic, Verdi and Puccini in the Romantic, and
Einaudi and Albanese in Neoclassicism.
Italy is widely known as the birthplace of opera. Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini penned some of the most famous operas that are performed all over the world today, including at La Scala in Milan. Classical interpreters such as Enrico Caruso, Alessandro Bonci, Beniamino Gigli, Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli have rendered services to the opera.
The most famous Italian singers of popular music include Domenico Modugno, Adriano Celentano, Gigliola Cinquetti, Paolo Conte, Toto Cutugno, Lucio Dalla, Gianna Nannini and Eros Ramazzotti. The Italians are also represented in less frequented genres such as power metal (Rhapsody) and punk rock (Vanilla Sky or Evolution So Far). The Sanremo Festival is Italy's largest music competition and has been held annually in the Ligurian city of Sanremo since 1951.
The Italian film industry took concrete shape between 1903 and 1908.
During fascism, cinema was also used for regime propaganda purposes. In
the south-east of Rome, a separate film city was even built, Cinecittà.
Important directors of the post-war period are Vittorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti, Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Sergio Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci. Among the actors, notably Anna Magnani, Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Monica Vitti, Marcello Mastroianni, Giulietta Masina and Vittorio Gassman have achieved international recognition. The most well-known Italian film productions include bicycle thieves, Rome, open city, The Leopard, La Strada - The Song of the Road, The Sweet Life and the spaghetti westerns Play Me a Song of Death and Two Glorious Scoundrels.
In the last three decades, Italian films have only occasionally received international attention, such as Cinema Paradiso by Giuseppe Tornatore, The Postman with Massimo Troisi or Life is Beautiful by and with Roberto Benigni.
Founded in 1932, the Venice International Film Festival (Mostra internazionale d'arte cinematografica di Venezia) is part of the Biennale for Contemporary Art and takes place every year from late August to early September on the Lido in Venice. The film festival is the oldest film festival in the world and is still one of the most important international film festivals.
fashion and design
Italian fashion has a long tradition. Milan is Italy's most important fashion metropolis, Rome, Turin, Naples, Genoa, Bologna, Venice and Vicenza are also important centres. The big Italian fashion brands include u. Armani, Benetton, Brioni, Dolce & Gabbana, Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, Ferragamo, Gucci, Max Mara, Missoni, Moschino, Prada, Valentino and Versace.
Italy is also a leader in design, especially interior design. Gio Ponti and Ettore Sottsass are worth mentioning in this context.
The daily newspapers with the greatest reach include Corriere della
Sera (RCS MediaGroup), La Repubblica (Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso), La
Stampa (Fiat S.p.A.) and Il Messaggero (Caltagirone Editore). Il Sole 24
Ore is the most widely read business newspaper and is owned by the
employers' association Confindustria. The Catholic Avvenire belongs to
the Italian Bishops' Conference.
The daily sports newspapers are a special feature of the Italian press landscape. There are currently three daily newspapers that deal exclusively with sport and all have relatively large circulations (La Gazzetta dello Sport, Tuttosport and Corriere dello Sport – Stadio).
There are also numerous regional daily newspapers, the main publishers of which are the Caltagirone Group (Il Messaggero and Il Gazzettino) and the Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso (including Il Tirreno, La Nuova Sardegna, Messaggero Veneto – Giornale del Friuli).
The range of Italian weekly magazines is comparable to that of the German-speaking area. You can also see the difference between gossip press like the tabloids Oggi and Gente and sophisticated magazines. Reputable news magazines include the left-liberal L'Espresso and Panorama, which belongs to the Mondadori Group.
Since the switch to DVB-T and the shutdown of analogue signals in
2011, Italy has had a wide range of free-to-air television.
In addition to the three national radio programs and the traditional television stations Rai Uno, Rai Due and Rai Tre, the state-controlled Radiotelevisione Italiana broadcasts seventeen other stations.
In addition, there is a large number of private broadcasters that have their stations in almost every major city. These are financed by advertising, the program consists largely of music and shows. There are big qualitative differences. A few well-established broadcasters have joined together to form a large broadcasting network, while others limit themselves to broadcasting films. Altogether there are around 1700 television stations in Italy, which reach around 30 million viewers.
The private channels Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4 are combined under the name Mediaset. They reach millions of viewers every day and broadcast popular formats such as TV series, feature films, documentaries, reality shows and sports broadcasts. The switch to DVB-T has added ten additional free-to-air Mediaset programs.
There is also a very extensive pay-TV service, Sky Italia, which had 4,740,000 subscribers in July 2016.
In 2021, 74.9 percent of Italian residents used the internet.
In the areas inhabited by language minorities, media in other languages are widespread in addition to Italian. The Dolomites and the Neue Südtiroler Tageszeitung are the two German-language daily newspapers in South Tyrol, Primorski Dnevnik is the Slovene-language daily newspaper for the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. The local editorial offices of the Rai produce television programs in the minority languages, while the Rai Südtirol offers a full program in German. Thanks to international agreements, French and Swiss stations can be received in the Aosta Valley, while in South Tyrol the radio station is responsible for broadcasting foreign programs from the German-speaking area.
Sport is very important in Italy. Fascist Italy used this to gain
national and international prestige through victories at the 1934 and
1938 World Cups and the 1932 Summer Olympics. The Comitato Olimpico
Nazionale Italiano, equivalent to the German DOSB, was founded in 1942.
Italy was the venue for the 1934 and 1990 World Cups and the 1968 and 1980 European Football Championships.
The Olympic Games have been held several times in Italy: the 1960 Summer Games in Rome and the Winter Games in Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956 and Turin 2006. The 2026 Winter Games are to be held in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo.
In Italy, football (calcio) is the most popular and practiced sport. The top division in Italian professional football is Serie A, which is one of the most important European leagues. The best-known clubs are AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus Turin, which are among the most successful football clubs in Europe. Other well-known clubs are AS Roma, Lazio Roma, SSC Napoli and AC Florence. The Italian national team is one of the most successful national football teams in the world. At the World Cup, Italy has represented 18 times and won the title four times (1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006). The selection took part ten times at the European Championships and won the title in 1968 on their own country and in 2021. In addition, the team was once an Olympic champion. The Ultra movement has its roots in Italy in the early 1950s and 1960s, when football fans (tifosi) first came together in groups to support their respective favorite teams in a organized way.
Motor sports are also very popular in Italy. Even before the Second World War, drivers such as Tazio Nuvolari and the manufacturers Alfa Romeo and Fiat established the Italian racing tradition. After the war, Ferrari became the best-known and most successful team in Formula 1. With Giuseppe Farina (1950) and Alberto Ascari (1952 and 1953), Italy had two Formula 1 world champions. The Italian Grand Prix has been held without interruption since 1950 until today (2021); all but once (1980) at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola is also homologated for Formula 1.
There are a variety of hillclimb courses from north to south. Hillclimb racing enjoys a high reputation and is sportingly important with distances between 6 and 17 km. In the European Hill Climb Championship, Italy can provide several routes and boast a large number of champions.
Motorcycle racing is also very popular. Giacomo Agostini is the most successful rider in the history of the motorcycle world championship; Today, this tradition is continued, above all, by crowd favorite Valentino Rossi. The manufacturers Moto Guzzi, Gilera, MV Agusta, Ducati and Aprilia are also known all over the world for their successes. Every year, hundreds of thousands of spectators flock to the Formula 1 and motorcycle races on the traditional racetracks of Monza, Imola and Mugello. In Lonigo, located between Verona and Vicenza, and in Terenzano near Udine, the Speedway World Championship Grand Prix of Italy takes place every year as part of the Speedway Individual World Championship.
Italy is also known as a cycling country. The Giro d'Italia is the second most important cycling race in the world after the Tour de France. Important one-day races that are counted among the classics are Milan-Sanremo and the Tour of Lombardy. Among the most important cyclists are Vincenzo Nibali and Mario Cipollini, or in the history of cycling Gino Bartali, Alfredo Binda, Ottavio Bottecchia, Giovanni Brunero, Fausto Coppi, Luigi Ganna, Carlo Galetti, Felice Gimondi, Costante Girardengo, Fiorenzo Magni, Gastone Nencini, Marco Pantani and Giovanni Valetti.
With the exception of Apulia, there are well-equipped ski areas in all Italian regions, with the Dolomiti Superski and Sellaronda ski areas being particularly popular with tourists. Two of the best-known active skiers are the 2010 Olympic champion in slalom, Giuliano Razzoli, for men and Manuela Mölgg for women. The most successful Italian skier is Alberto Tomba.
Rugby union is also a popular sport, especially in the north of the country. The Italy national team competes in the annual Six Nations, along with England, France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as the quadrennial Rugby Union World Cup. Italy has qualified for all World Cups so far. The home stadium of the national team has been the Olympic Stadium in Rome since 2011.
In addition, water polo, basketball and volleyball are among the most popular sports in Italy.