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Annibale Caracci and Caravaggio were the most important early Baroque painters. Caracci is also credited with the invention of caricature , a visual version of parody. Giorgio de Chirico gained fame for his haunting paintings of empty city squares. Amedeo Modigliani won renown with a series of portraits. Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, it has its roots in ancient Rome.

For feasts Roman cooks used many spices, developed recipes for cheesecake and omelets , and roasted all types of meat. Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World and the introduction of potatoes , tomatoes , bell peppers and maize , now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century.

Italian cuisine, like other facets of the culture, speaks with highly inflected regional accents. There are certain self-consciously national constants: Classics such as Pasta e fagioli , while found everywhere, are prepared differently according to local traditions. Gastronomic explorations of Italy are best undertaken by knowing the local traditions and savouring the local foods on the spot.

Northern Italy, mountainous in many parts, is notable for the alpine cheeses of the Valle d'Aosta, the pesto of Liguria, and, in Piedmonte, the Alba truffle. In the Alto Adige, the influence of neighboring Austria may be found in a regional repertoire that includes speck and dumplings. In the north, risotto and polenta have tended to serve the staple function taken by pasta across the rest of the country. Southern Italy includes the hearty food of Lazio in which meat and offal frequently figure, but also the vegetable-focused fare of Basilicata, historically one of Italy's poorest regions.

The islands of Sicily and Sardinia have distinctively different foodways. The former is notable for its many sweet dishes, seafood, and citrus fruit, while Sardinian cuisine has traditionally looked to its hilly interior with a cuisine centered on lamb, sucking pig, breads, and pecorino sardo. It is in the food of Naples and Campania, however, that many visitors would recognize the foods that have come to be regarded as quintessentially Italian: Also, Italy exports and produces the highest level of wine, [42] [43] exporting over 2.

As of [update] , Italy was responsible for producing approximately one-fifth of the world's wine. Etruscans and Greek settlers produced wine in the country long before the Romans started developing their own vineyards in the 2nd century BC. Roman grape-growing and winemaking was prolific and well-organized, pioneering large-scale production and storage techniques like barrel -making and bottling.

The country is also famous for its gelato , or traditional ice-cream often known as Italian ice cream abroad. There are gelateria s or ice-cream vendors and shops all around Italian cities, and it is a very popular dessert or snack, especially during the summer. Sicilian granitas , or a frozen dessert of flavored crushed ice, more or less similar to a sorbet or a snow cone , are popular desserts not only in Sicily or their native towns of Messina and Catania, but all over Italy even though the Northern and Central Italian equivalent, the gratta checca , commonly found in Rome or Milan is slightly different from the traditional granita siciliana.

Italy also boasts an assortment of desserts. The Christmas cakes pandoro and panettone are popular in the North pandoro is from Verona, whilst panettone is milanese , however, they have also become popular desserts in other parts of Italy and abroad. The Colomba Pasquale is eaten all over the country on Easter day, and is a more traditional alternative to chocolate easter eggs. Tiramisu is a very popular and iconic Italian dessert from Veneto which has become famous worldwide.

Other Italian cakes and sweets include cannoli , the cassata siciliana, fruit-shaped marzipans and panna cotta. Coffee, and more specifically espresso , has become highly important to the cuisine of Italy. Cappuccino is also a famous Italian coffee drink, which is usually sweeter and less dark than espresso, and can be served with foam or cream on top, on which chocolate powder and sugar is usually sprinkled. Caffelatte is a mixture of coffee and milk, and is usually drunk at breakfast time unlike most other Italian coffee-types, children and adults drink it alike, since it is lighter and more milky than normal coffee.

The Bicerin is Turin's own coffee. It is a mix between cappuccino and normal hot chocolate, and is made with equal amounts of drinking chocolate, coffee and a slight addition of milk and creamy foam. Italy's public education is free and compulsory from 6—16 years of age. Italy has both public and private education systems. Primary school lasts five years. Until middle school, the normal educational curriculum is uniform for all: Secondary education Scuole medie is further divided in two stages: The lower tier of Scuole Medie corresponds to Middle School, lasts three years, and involves an exam at the end of the third year; Scuole Superiori usually last five years even though Istituti Professionali might offer a diploma after only three years.

Every tier involves an exam at the end of the final year required to access the following tier. The secondary school situation varies, since there are several types of schools differentiated by subjects and activities. This exam takes place every year in June and July and grants access to any faculty at any University. Italy hosts a broad variety of universities, colleges and academies. The Sapienza University of Rome , founded with the Papal bull In supremae praeminentia dignitatis issued on 20 April by Pope Boniface VIII , is the largest EU university by enrollments [48] and at the same time it is present in all major international university rankings.

Milan's Bocconi University , has been ranked among the top 20 best business schools in the world by The Wall Street Journal international rankings, especially thanks to its Master of Business Administration program, which in placed it no. In an Italian research ranked the Sapienza University of Rome and the University of Milan as the best in Italy over indicators such as scientific production, attraction of foreign students, and others , [56] whose research and teaching activities have developed over the years and have received important international recognitions.

The University of Milan is the only Italian member of the League of European Research Universities , a prestigious group of twenty research-intensive European Universities. Sapienza is member of several international groups, as: Italy is the wellspring of Western civilization and has been a world crossroads for over 2, years.

Though its archaeological record stretches back tens of thousands of years, Italian history begins with the Etruscans , an ancient civilization that rose between the Arno and Tiber rivers. At that time, Italy was a hodgepodge of peoples and languages.

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They included the Celts in the north, Greek colonists in southern Italy, and such mountain peoples as the Sabines and the Samnites. In addition, the Phoenicians , who were great sea traders, established colonies throughout the Mediterranean region, including settlements on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

The Etruscans and the other inhabitants of the peninsula were supplanted in the 3rd century BC by the Romans , who soon became the chief power in the Mediterranean world and whose empire stretched from Iraq to Scotland by the 2nd century AD.

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With Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity in , Rome became the open and official seat of the Catholic Church, and Italy has had a profound effect on the development of Christianity and of Western concepts of faith and morality ever since. According to historian William Lecky , the hospitals were unknown before Christianity.

During the Middle Ages, which lasted from about the 5th century through the 15th century, the Roman Catholic Church replaced the Roman Empire as the unifying force in Europe. In addition, the influence of the Church on the spread of literacy, has had a significant impact on European society. Wegener has carefully documented the correlation between Bible translation and the spread of literacy in European languages.

This new intellectual approach has been called Scholasticism. Italy, in virtue of this, became a seat of great formal learning in with the establishment of the University of Bologna , the first university in Europe. Other Italian universities soon followed. Among the eminent personalities of the Christian world during the Middle Ages, perhaps the most important was that of Benedict of Nursia. His formula ora et labora , influenced the idea of work in Western monasticism and indirectly prepared the way for our modern high esteem of labor.

For the development of their ideas about purgatory western theologians relied heavily on the authority of Pope Gregory I.

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In Italy medieval communes were sworn associations of townsmen that arose during the 11th century to overthrow the rule of the local bishop or feudal magnates. The communal experience of medieval Italy was somehow salient for the origins of modern democracy. An intellectual revival, stimulated in part by the freer atmosphere of the cities and in part by the rediscovery of ancient Greek and Latin writings, gave rise to the humanist attitudes and ideas that formed the basis of the Renaissance.

Renaissance period saw a rebirth of many interests, particularly in the arts. The leader of this group was an architect, Filippo Brunelleschi. He designed churches reflecting classical models. To him we also owe a scientific discovery of the first importance in the history of art: In painting, Leonardo da Vinci and other Italian painters used a technique called sfumato that created softness in their portraits.

At the same time, Italy witnessed the revival of the fresco. In music, both the small-scale madrigal and the large-scale opera were inventions of the period with a long future. Italian cities invented the modern conservatory to train professional musicians, as they invented the art academy as a place to master the techniques and the theory of painting, sculpture, and architecture. Rome and Venice witnessed the emergence of the first art "market" where buyers and sellers exchanged artworks as commodities. It was no accident that the origin of the European system of banks was born in Renaissance Italy.

By the s, the Medici family dominated the ruling class of Florence. The family controlled the largest bank in Europe and was headed by a series of talented and ambitious men. Under Medici domination, the Florentine republic in some ways resembled a signorial government. Some of the greatest explorers of the late 15th century and early 16th century were Italians exposed to the traditions of the Renaissance.

Christopher Columbus — like such other Italian explorers as John Cabot , Giovanni da Verrazzano , and Amerigo Vespucci — was willing to take enormous risks to achieve results that people had never dreamed of.

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In a sense, Columbus's arrival in America in was one of the greatest achievements of the Renaissance. In general terms, the Baroque era is sometimes called the era of genius, since it was at this time in history that the scientific revolution that established the foundations of modern science was launched.

In the pantheon of the scientific revolution, Galileo Galilei takes a high position because of his pioneering use of quantitative experiments with results analyzed mathematically. The intellectual dynamism in 18th century Italy was considerable, across the gamut of genres. Italian elites became conversant with French Enlightenment principles and with English ideas, too, spread by young aristocrats on the grand tour.

By the s and s, the Italian authors who were members of academies and contributors to philosophical and literary journals began to disseminate their ideas close to the realm of power in Milan and Turin, Parma and Modena, Florence and Naples. Important representatives of the Italian Enlightenment were Pietro Verri , Pietro Giannone , and Philip Mazzei , a close friend of Thomas Jefferson, who spent many years in America and had an indirect influence on the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

Inspired by Cesare Beccaria 's theses — on liberal ideas and humanitarian sentiments — the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was the first state in the world to abolish the death penalty in Italy continued its leading cultural role through the Romantic period, when its dominance in painting and sculpture diminished and it reestablished a strong presence in music. For example, the great vocal tradition of 19th-century European opera was bel canto , which simply means "beautiful singing. Italian artists have been quite influential in the 20th century, and some of the Italian exponents of Modernism in the s and s continue to have a strong presence in the international contemporary art market.

A new movement called Fascism , led by Benito Mussolini, a former Socialist, grew increasingly popular. Italian Fascism became a model for similar movements in Europe and Latin America. The nationalism of Italian Fascism was culturally based. Known in many circles as the father of the Atomic Age, Enrico Fermi was an Italian who bore witness to the discovery, control, and use of atomic power. Following World War II , Italian neorealism became an important force in motion pictures, [22] and by the s, Italy had established itself as one of a handful of great European film cultures.

In the same years, the country has also been central to the formation of the European Union. If the origins of the western intellectual heritage go back to the Greeks and, less directly, to the peoples of Egypt and the Near East , the contribution of Rome to the wider spreading of Western Civilization was tremendous. In fields such as language, law, politics, religion, and art Roman culture continues to affect our lives.

Ancient Italy is identified with Rome and the so-called Romanophilia. Despite the fall of the Roman Empire, its legacy continued to have a significant impact on the cultural and political life in Europe. For the medieval mind, Rome came to constitute a central dimension of the European traditionalist sensibility.

The idealisation of this Empire as the symbol of universal order led to the construction of the Holy Roman Empire. Writing before the outbreak of the First World War, the historian Alexander Carlyle noted that "we can without difficulty recognize" not only "the survival of the tradition of the ancient empire" but also a "form of the perpetual aspiration to make real the dream of the universal commonwealth of humanity. During much of the Middle Ages about the 5th century through the 15th century , the Roman Catholic Church had great political power in Western Europe.

Throughout its history, the Catholic faith has inspired many great works of architecture, art, literature, and music. Fascination about anything Italian during the Renaissance period culminated in the international movement of Italophilia. As for Italian artists they were in demand almost all over Europe. Italian actors performed at the courts of France, Spain, Poland and elsewhere. The Italian language was fashionable, at court for example, as well as Italian literature and art.

According to Robin Kirkpatrick, Professor of Italian and English Literatures at Cambridge University, Shakespeare shared "with his contemporaries and immediate forebears a fascination with Italy. The movement of "international Italophilia" around certainly held the German territories in its sway, with one statistic suggesting that up to a third of all books available in Germany in the early 17th century were in Italian. Emperors Ferdinand III and Leopold I were great admirers of Italian culture and made Italian which they themselves spoke perfectly a prestigious language at their court.

German baroque composers or architects were also very much influenced by their Italian counterparts. During the 18th century, Italy was in the spotlight of the European grand tour, a period in which learned and wealthy foreign, usually British or German, aristocrats visited the country due to its artistic, cultural and archaeological richness.

Since then, throughout the centuries, many writers and poets have sung of Italy's beauty; from Goethe to Stendhal to Byron , Italy's natural beauty and her people's creativity inspired their works.

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Percy Bysshe Shelley famously said that Italy is "the paradise of exiles. Italiophilia was not uncommon in the United States. Thomas Jefferson was a great admirer of Italy and ancient Rome. Jefferson is largely responsible for the neo-classical buildings in Washington, D. Spain provided an equally telling example of Italian cultural admiration in the 18th century. The installation of a team of Italian architects and artists, headed by Filippo Juvarra , has been interpreted as part of Queen Elisabeth Farnese's conscious policy to mould the visual culture of the Spanish court along Italian lines.

The engagement of Corrado Giaquinto from Molfetta and eventually the Venetian Jacopo Amigoni as the creators of the painted decorative space for the new seat of the Spanish court was a clear indication of this aesthetic orientation, while the later employment of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and his son Giovanni Domenico confirmed the Italophile tendency. The Victorian era in Great Britain saw Italophilic tendencies.

Britain supported its own version of the imperial Pax Romana , called Pax Britannica. John Ruskin was a Victorian Italophile who respected the concepts of morality held in Italy. During the Fascist era , several leaders in Europe and Latin America modeled their government and economic system on Italian Fascism. Adolf Hitler was an avid admirer of Benito Mussolini. Since then Italy has experienced a strong economic growth, particularly in the s and s, which lifted the country to the position of being one of the most industrialized nations in the world.

The Italian peninsula has been at the heart of Western cultural development at least since Roman times. Also prominent in Latin literature were the orator-rhetorician Cicero ; the satirist Juvenal ; the prose writers Pliny the Elder , his nephew Pliny the Younger ; and the historians Sallust , Livy , and Suetonius. Julius Caesar , renowned as a historian and prose stylist, is even more famous as a military and political leader.

The first of the Roman emperors was Octavian, better known by the honorific Augustus. Noteworthy among later emperors are the tyrants Caligula and Nero , the philosopher-statesman Marcus Aurelius , and Constantine I , who was the first to accept Christianity. No history of the Christian Church during the medieval period would be complete without mention of such men of Italian birth as St. Francis of Assisi , and the philosopher-theologians St. Anselm of Canterbury and St. No land has made a greater contribution to the visual arts. During the 16th century, the High Renaissance, Rome shared with Florence the leading position in the world of the arts.

Among the great painters of the late Renaissance were Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese. Giorgio Vasari was a painter, architect, art historian, and critic. A noted contemporary architect was Pier Luigi Nervi. Music, an integral part of Italian life, owes many of its forms as well as its language to Italy.

The musical staff was either invented or established by Guido of Arezzo. A leading 14th-century composer was the blind Florentine organist Francesco Landini. Italian-born Luigi Cherubini was the central figure of French music in the Napoleonic era, while Antonio Salieri and Gaspare Spontini played important roles in the musical life of Vienna and Berlin, respectively.

Composers of the 19th century who made their period the great age of Italian opera were Gioacchino Rossini , Gaetano Donizetti , Vincenzo Bellini , and, above all, Giuseppe Verdi. Arturo Toscanini is generally regarded as one of the greatest operatic and orchestral conductors of his time; two noted contemporary conductors are Claudio Abbado and Riccardo Muti. Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano. In philosophy, exploration, and statesmanship, Italy has produced many world-renowned figures: Notable intellectual and political leaders of more recent times include the Nobel Peace Prize winner in , Ernesto Teodoro Moneta ; the sociologist and economist Vilfredo Pareto ; the political theorist Gaetano Mosca ; the philosopher, critic, and historian Benedetto Croce ; the educator Maria Montessori ; Benito Mussolini , the founder of Fascism and dictator of Italy from to ; Carlo Sforza and Alcide De Gasperi , famous latter-day statesmen; and the Communist leaders Antonio Gramsci , Palmiro Togliatti , and Enrico Berlinguer.

The great Romantic English poet, Lord Byron , described Italian as a language that sounds "as if it should be writ on satin. Italian, like English, belongs to the Indo-European family of languages. Like French and Spanish, it is a Romance language, one of the modern languages that developed from Latin. In particular, among the Romance languages, Italian is considered to be the closest to Latin in terms of vocabulary.

Standard Italian evolved from a dialect spoken in Tuscany , given that it was the first region to produce great writers as Dante , Petrarch and Boccaccio. Thanks to its cultural prestige, this dialect was adopted first in the Italian states , and then by the Kingdom of Italy after the unification in It may be considered somewhat intermediate, linguistically and geographically, between the Italo-Dalmatian languages of the South and the Gallo-Italic languages of the North, and through Corsican varieties with Sardinian , becoming the center of a dialect continuum.

Its development was also influenced by the other Italian dialects and by the Germanic language of post-Roman invaders. There are only a few communities in Italy in which Italian is not spoken as the first language, but many speakers are native bilinguals of both standardised Italian and other regional languages. Today, despite regional variations in the form of accents and vowel emphasis, Italian is fully comprehensible throughout the country. Many influences in Italy have helped standardize Italian.

They include military service, education, and nationwide communication by means of newspapers, books, radio, and television. Italy is one of the world's greatest centers of architecture, art, and books. Among its many of libraries, the most important are in the national library system, which contains two central libraries, in Florence 5. While both libraries are designated as copyright libraries, Florence now serves as the site designated for conservation and cataloging of Italian publications and the site in Rome catalogs foreign publications acquired by the state libraries.

Italy, a world center of culture, history and art, has more than 3, museums. They contain, perhaps, the most important collections of artifacts from ancient civilizations. Taranto's museum, for example, offers material enabling scholars to probe deeply into the history of Magna Graecia. The archaeological collections in the Roman National Museum in Rome and in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples are probably among the world's best.

The classical age is not the only age represented in Italy's museums. The Italian Renaissance is well represented in a number of museums: Many of these museums, are the former palaces of kings or the houses of royal families. In , the first internet connection in Italy was experimented in Pisa , the third in Europe after Norway and England.

Currently Internet access is available to businesses and home users in various forms, including dial-up, cable, DSL, and wireless. According to data released by the fibre-to-the-home FTTH Council Europe, Italy represents one of the largest FTTH markets in Europe, with more than 2,5 million homes passed by fibre at end-December ; [91] at the same date the country reported around , fibre subscribers. The government aims to extend the fibre-optic network to rural areas.

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As of [update] , there were about 90 daily newspapers in the country, but not all of them had national circulation. Among the most important periodicals are the pictorial weeklies — Oggi , L'Europeo , L'espresso , and Gente. Famiglia Cristiana is a Catholic weekly periodical with a wide readership.

The majority of papers are published in northern and central Italy, and circulation is highest in these areas. Rome and Milan are the most important publication centers. A considerable number of dailies are owned by the political parties, the Roman Catholic Church, and various economic groups. In general, the journalistic level of the Italian papers is high, and two dailies, Milan's Corriere della Sera and Turin's La Stampa , enjoy international respect. The law provides for freedom of speech and the press, and the government is said to respect these rights in practice.

Of all the claimants to the title of the "Father of Radio", the one most associated with it is the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi.

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By he flashed the first wireless signal across the English Channel and two years later received the letter "S", telegraphed from England to Newfoundland. This was the first successful transatlantic radiotelegraph message in Today, radio waves that are broadcast from thousands of stations, along with waves from other sources, fill the air around us continuously.

Italy has three state-controlled radio networks that broadcast day and evening hours on both AM and FM. In addition, many private radio stations mix popular and classical music. The first form of televised media in Italy was introduced in , when the first experimental broadcasting began.

However, this lasted for a very short time: There are two main national television organisations responsible for most viewing: The television networks offer varied programs, including news, operas, game shows, sitcoms, cartoons, plays, documentaries, musicals, and films-all in Italian. All programs are in color, except for the old black-and-white movies. Conventional satellite dishes can pick up European broadcasts, including some in English. Italy set up its present form of government in That year, the people voted to change their nation from a monarchy ruled by a king to a republic headed by a president.

King Umberto II immediately left the throne. The voters elected a group of members, called a Constituent Assembly , to write a constitution. The Constitution was approved in and became effective on 1 January The Constitution established a governing system made up of a president, a cabinet called the Council of Ministers headed by a prime minister, and a Parliament made up of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. The president of Italy is elected to a seven-year term by both houses of Parliament and a small number of regional representatives.

The president must be at least 50 years old. He or she appoints the prime minister, who forms a government. The president has the power to dissolve Parliament and call new elections. The president is the commander of the Italian armed forces, and can declare war. Italy has no vice president.

If the president of Italy becomes ill, the president of the Italian Senate takes over the office. If the president dies, a presidential election is held. The prime minister determines national policy and is the most important person in the Italian government. The prime minister is selected by the president — usually from the members of Parliament — and must be approved by Parliament. The prime minister has no fixed term of office and can be voted out of office by Parliament at any time. Members of the Cabinet are chosen by the prime minister, and they are usually selected from the members of Parliament.

They are then appointed by the president and must be approved by Parliament. The Italian prime minister and the cabinet are officially called the government. Italy was a founding member of the European Community — now the European Union. Roman Catholicism is by far the largest religion in the country.

Most baptisms, weddings, and funeral services are held in church. An agreement called a "Concordat" governs since the relationship between Italy and the Roman Catholic Church. For instance, the agreement exempts priests and other members of religious orders from military service and gives tax exemptions to Catholic organizations. Even though the main Christian denomination in Italy is Roman Catholicism, there are some minorities of Protestant , Waldensian , Eastern Orthodox and other Christian churches. In the past two decades, Italy has received several waves of immigrants and as a result, some , Muslims 1.

Italian church architecture is equally spectacular and historically important to Western culture , notably St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Cathedral of St. Football is a popular spectator and participation sport. The Italian national team is among the very best in the world and has won the World Cup on four different occasions: Only Brazil has a better record.

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  4. Major Italian clubs frequently compete at a high level of European competitions. Italy has also taken part in all the Winter Olympic Games , winning medals, and medals at the Summer Olympic Games. Italy has the sixth highest medal total of all time with Rugby union is also recognised in Italy; clubs compete domestically in the Super 10, as well as the European Heineken Cup tournament. Cycling is also a well-represented sport in Italy. Italians are second only to Belgium in winning the most World Cycling Championships.

    Scuderia Ferrari is the oldest surviving team in Grand Prix racing, having competed since , and statistically the most successful Formula One team in history, with a record of 15 Drivers' Championships and 16 Constructors' Championships. Other very popular sports in Italy are basketball , volleyball , and boxing. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Music and performing arts. Flag Coat of arms. Italian fashion and Italian design. Science and technology in Italy.

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    Italian people and List of Italians. Secondary, widely spoken or understood. Understood by some due to former colonisation. Libraries in Italy and Category: This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. Freedom of the Press report. List of newspapers in Italy. List of radio stations in Italy. List of television channels in Italy. Foreign relations of Italy. Roman Catholicism in Italy. Cambridge University Press, Treccani, il portale del sapere.

    The A to Z of Renaissance Art. Archived 16 July at the Wayback Machine. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Dorling Kindersley Ltd, Cornell University Press, Retrieved 20 August Design City Milan - Cecilia Bolognesi". Archived from the original on 10 January Retrieved 20 August — via Google Books. Four Centuries of Violin Making: Fine Instruments from the Sotheby's Archive. Laura Pausini a ruota libera: Archived 21 April at the Wayback Machine. TV Sorrisi e Canzoni Web. Griffe e ambiente, ecco la nuova Pausini. Archived 1 November at the Wayback Machine.

    Il Tempo , 6 March Countries and Their Cultures, The American Heritage Science Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Encyclopedia of Earth, Spain subsequently began to lag behind Britain, France and Germany both politically and economically. The country suffered enormous hardship during the civil war which raged between and and resulted in thirty six years of military dictatorship by General Francisco Bahamonde Franco. It was not until , following the death of Franco, that Spain was able to establish a peaceful and democratic society which saw a rapid growth in modernisation and the economy.

    They joined the European Union in and became a world-wide leader in freedom and human rights. In , Spain suffered a catastrophic economic recession but has begun recovery showing three years of GDP growth above the EU average. Although their unemployment record has fallen it remains high particularly among the young people of Spain. The official language in Spain is Spanish or Castilian Spanish.

    Remember this is only a very basic level introduction to Spanish culture and the people; it can not account for the diversity within Spanish society and is not meant in any way to stereotype all Spanish people you may meet! Many of the holidays in Spain are based on religion. Some of the holidays are national throughout Spain and marked N others are regional R. It is important to understand the strong regional cultures and identities that exist in Spain. There is enormous pride and interest in the heritage of Spanish art and the Spanish government support all forms of art and humanities which are reflected in their museums, universities and professional academies: The dance comes from the music traditions of Southern Spain in the areas of Andalusia, Extremadura and Murcia.

    Take the Culture Vulture's Quiz on Spain and see how much you have learnt about the country, its people and culture. You have only 3 minutes! The page document has been authored by one of our Spain country specialists and provides readers with much more detail that our free guide above.