Italian culture is steeped in the arts, architecture, music and food. Home of the Roman Empire and a major center of the Renaissance, culture on the Italian peninsula has flourished for centuries.Here is a brief overview of Italian customs and traditions.
Art and architecture In Italy
Until the mid-17th century,the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church put Italy on the map as the hub of Western culture.Famous painters,sculptors and architects thrived,especially in Rome.Italy has given rise to a number of architectural styles,including classical Roman, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical.Italy is home to some of the most famous structures in the world,including Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The concept of a basilica—which was originally used to describe an open public court building and evolved to mean a Catholic pilgrimage site — was born in Italy.Florence, Venice and Rome are home to many museums,but art can be viewed in churches and public buildings. Most notable is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican, painted by Michelangelo sometime between 1508 and 1512.Opera has its roots in Italy and many famous operas —including Aida and La Traviata, both by Giuseppe Verdi,and Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo — were written in Italian and are still performed in the native language. More recently,Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti made opera more accessible to the masses as part of the Three Tenors. Italy is home to a number of world-renowned fashion houses, including Armani, Gucci, Benetton, Versace and Prada.
Languages of Italy
The official language of the country is Italian. There are a number of dialects of the language spoken in the country, including Sardinian,Friulian,Neapolitan,Sicilian,Ligurian,Piedmontese, Venetian and Calabrian.Milanese is also spoken in Milan.Other languages spoken by native Italians include Albanian,Bavarian,Catalan,Cimbrian,Corsican,Croatian,French, German,Greek,Slovenian and Walser.
Doing business in Italy
Italians are known for their family-centric culture,and there are a number of small and mid-sized businesses.Even many of the larger companies such as Fiat and Benetton are still primarily controlled by single families.Meetings are typically less formal than in countries such as Germany and Russia, and the familial structure can give way to a bit of chaos and animated exchanges.Italian business people tend to view information from outsiders with a bit of wariness,and prefer verbal exchanges with people that they know well.
Italians celebrate most Christian holidays, including Christmas and Easter. Pasquetta, on the Monday after Easter, typically involves family picnics to mark the beginning of springtime.
November 1 commemorates Saints Day, a religious holiday during which Italians typically decorate the graves of deceased relatives with flowers. Many Italian towns and villages celebrate the feast day of their patron saint. September 19, for example, is the feast of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Napoli. April 25 is the Liberation Day, marking the 1945 liberation ending World War II in Italy in 1945.