Education in Italy

Italy – education

Education in Italy is characterized by the great differences between south and north. The education system, which was originally quite centrally controlled, has gradually become more decentralized as a result of a reform from 1974, just as it has become common in Italian schools for local school trials to take place. There is an eight-year teaching obligation.

The preschool, scuola materna, for 3-6 year olds is often private and sought after by almost everyone. The primary school, scuola primaria, lasts five years. Here there is teaching in a foreign language already from 2nd grade. Both preschool and primary school are characterized by creative, child-centered activities, with a background in e.g. Maria Montessori’s efforts and in development work in Reggio Emilia.

After primary school, the teaching obligation is fulfilled in the middle school, scuola media, which is three years old. approximately 90% (1992) continue schooling in either liceo classico and liceo scientifico, both five-year general and preparatory schools, in liceo artistico and istituto d’arte, which are schools of visual arts, music and dance, in istituti tecnici, which offers three -five-year vocational training, or in istituti professionali, which offers a more practically oriented three-year vocational training.

Only the first two directions offer maturità, which corresponds to the matriculation examination and provides access to higher education.

Italy has approximately 50 universities and other higher education institutions, including probably the oldest in Europe, the University of Bologna, founded in the late 1000-t.

OFFICIAL NAME: Repubblica Italiana


POPULATION: 61,000,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah)

AREA: 301,302 km²

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (S): Italian, Sardinian, German, Franco-Provencal, others

RELIGION: Catholics 90%, Muslims 2%, others 8%

COIN: Euro



POPULATION COMPOSITION: Italian nationals 98%, others 2%

GDP PER residents: $ 19,387 (2007)

LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 77 years, women 83 years (2007)




Italy is a southern European republic that stretches from the Alps in the north to Sicily in the south. The climate is predominantly subtropical and has from the earliest times favored a fertile agriculture, economically most rewarding in the subalpine plains around the river Po.

The Italian peninsula with its islands has been home to significant pieces of European culture. Thus, in ancient times, Rome was the center of the Roman Empire, and the city continued as the headquarters of the Catholic Church. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it was cities such as Venice and Florence that marked the economic and cultural progress. But the history of Italy is also marked by the interference of foreign powers and by division among themselves, which was only partially settled with the formation of the nation-state of Italy in the mid-1800’s.

  • Find two-letter abbreviation for each independent country and territory, such as IT which stands for Italy.

In the 1900’s. led fascism to a national catastrophe, which after World War II was replaced by a new democratic constitution and unparalleled industrial development. Italy, however, has not been able to overcome centuries-old antagonisms between north and south and between church and state.

Today, Italy is facing the post-industrial problems of European integration and globalization, which have also called into question its national identity.

Italy – constitution and political system

The Republic’s constitution is from 1948 with amendments from 1993. The legislative power lies with a bicameral parliament, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The term of office is five years in both chambers.

The Senate has 315 elected members, which are distributed proportionally in Italy’s 20 regions, as well as 11 senators, who are appointed for life by the president from among the country’s leading figures in science, art, literature and social sciences. The Chamber of Deputies has 630 members.

In 1993, the electoral rules were changed so that 75% of the elected members of the Senate are elected by a simple majority in single-member constituencies and the rest by proportional representation. A similar system was introduced for the Chamber of Deputies with its 28 region-based constituencies. The two chambers are equal in their powers.

The president is head of state and is elected for seven years by an electoral college composed of members from both chambers as well as 58 regional representatives; the head of state must be at least 50 years old. The President may dissolve Parliament, except for the last six months of his term of office.

The executive power lies with the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President, and a Council of Ministers, ie. a government composed on the proposal of the Prime Minister and approved by the President. With the title of Prime Minister, the Prime Minister heads the Council of Ministers, which is accountable to Parliament.

The regions are increasingly enjoying autonomy. Each region has a regional council with a legislative power designed to take into account the specificities of each region. The councils are elected every five years by ordinary, direct election. The executive power of the regions lies with a giunta regional, which is accountable to the regional council.

A government commissioner coordinates the activities of the regions and the parliament. The regions of Sicily, Sardinia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valle d’Aosta have particularly far-reaching autonomy.

Of the fifteen members of the Italian Constitutional Court, the President, the Chambers of Parliament jointly and the highest courts of the country each appoint five members. In addition to judging whether laws and decrees are in accordance with the Constitution, the court may delimit the powers of the state and regions, settle conflicts between state and regions and between regions, and hold the president and ministers accountable for their duties.

Following a referendum in 2001, it was decided to give the regions increased powers over education and the environment, as well as the right to appoint peace judges. The balance of power between the central government and the local governing bodies is also expected to change; Among other things, the government commissioner will be replaced by a council representing the municipalities and provinces.

Italy – legal system

Italian law has its roots in canon-Roman law, but has throughout the ages been influenced by French and German law. The civil law book Codice civile from 1865 had many similarities with the French Code civil (see Code Napoléon).

The new Codice civile from 1942 is in several respects an independent work, which, however, shows French and German influence. The law book, at its inception, was marked by the fact that the state and the Catholic Church were strongly connected; thus, divorce was not possible. It was not until 1970 that divorce was permitted by law after a heated public debate. Civil Codeprovides, like the other Continental European law books, rules on matters of persons and families as well as rules on inheritance, property rights and debt (bond law); furthermore, there is a special section about the work. The Codice Civil of 1942 superseded both the former Civil Code and the Commercial Code, thus abolishing the distinction between civil law and commercial law. In addition to the Codice Civil, there are four other major law books, one on civil procedure, one on criminal law and one on criminal procedure, as well as one that contains the rules on maritime and aviation.

In the latter half of the 1800’s. Italian jurisprudence was influenced by the German historical school, which practiced law as an exact science, viz. as a system which rests in itself without contact with other social sciences and which does not take into account the case law of the courts. It propagated to the courts, which interpreted the law strictly according to the word and the requirements of science. Only in the latter part of the 1900’s. the realistic jurisprudence in the United States, Germany and Scandinavia has left its mark on Italy; unlike before, account is taken of the court’s close connection with other sciences and of the importance of case law for the development of law.

Italy – military

The armed forces are (2006) after the abolition of conscription in 2005 of approximately 188,000. The army (Esercito Italiano) is approximately 110,000, the Navy (Marine Militare) approximately 33,000, the Air Force (Aeronautica Militare) approximately 45,000. The reserve is a total of approximately 56,500. The defenses are equipped with newer, western equipment, a large part of which comes from the country’s own arms industry.

The extent and geography of the country is reflected in the division of the army into a field army containing mountain units and a relatively large army force for territorial defense. The field army is partly organized and equipped for overseas efforts, partly for the defense of northern Italy. Italy’s significant fleet is diverse, reflecting the very different conditions and tasks in the sea areas around the country. The air force is also of considerable size and relatively versatile. The security forces, including the paramilitary Arma dei Carabinieri, comprise a total of 254,300.

Italian forces have been deployed on international missions under the auspices of the United Nations and NATO, including the Gulf War (1991) and the Kosovo War (1999).

Italy – economy

Italy belongs to the group of the world’s seven leading industrial nations, the G7 countries. From the late 1940’s to the mid-1960’s, the country underwent its “economic miracle” with high growth rates and a strong expansion of infrastructure. The public sector played the dominant role in the development of the economy, partly through regulations, partly through the state-owned companies ENI and IRI, which, among other things, owned power plants, shipyards, telecommunications companies, financial institutions and a wide range of manufacturing companies. The private part of the industry was and is rooted in many small and medium-sized companies, while there are only a few large and predominantly family-owned private companies such as Fiat, Olivetti and Pirelli.

Until the mid-1970’s, economic progress continued, but with growing balance problems as a result of government budget deficits and the balance of payments, as well as high inflation. Inflation was reinforced by the wage indexation, which had been an essential element of the social contract in the labor market since World War II.

The imbalances intensified after the first oil crisis in the early 1970’s, and in the face of relatively weak growth in the 1980’s, public sector debt accelerated. Not least the unstable political climate has hampered a consistent economic policy, and only after the formation of so-called technocratic governments in the mid-1990’s have the necessary structural reforms been implemented, including a privatization of public companies, and tightening of economic policy. The massive interest payments on the debt together with However, pensions for the large number of older people make it difficult to reduce the budget deficit at a satisfactory pace. In addition, tax collection is ineffective. In 1995, the total budget deficit was 7.1% of GDP, and public sector debt had risen to 125% of GDP. When Italy joined EMU in 1999, the budget approached the balance, but has since deteriorated; the deficit was 4.1% in 2005 and thus above the EU limit of 3% of GDP. Government debt had been reduced to 109% of GDP, still well above the EU 60% threshold.

In addition to public finances, the large and growing inequality between northern and southern Italy is the biggest problem in the Italian economy and politics. Previous attempts to reduce regional inequalities through, among other things, investment incentives and requirements for public companies to make a certain share of their purchases in southern Italian companies have largely failed. This has led to increasingly rabid demands for a complete reassessment of regional policy or a division of the country, as proposed by the separatist party Lega Nord. In the autumn of 1996, the government sought to counter the criticism by adopting an employment plan for the whole country, albeit with specially launched initiatives in southern Italy.

Since 1979, Italy has participated in the EU countries’ monetary cooperation, the EMS, and its exchange rate mechanism, the ERM. However, due to the large budget deficits and high inflation rates, the fixed exchange rate policy has not been unproblematic, and the lira has had to be written down several times. The wage indexation was finally phased out in 1992, creating new conditions for exchange rate policy; However, Italy still had to leave the ERM the same year after fierce speculation against the lira, which resulted in a devaluation of approximately 14% against the ECU. In the autumn of 1996, Italy rejoined the ERM in order to comply with the Maastricht Treaty’s convergence requirements of at least two years’ participation in the ERM prior to its accession to EMU.

Since the mid-1990’s, economic policy has increasingly been coordinated in line with the EU countries’ overarching objective of economic stability, such as order in public finances and low inflation. In 1999, Italy joined EMU, and in 2002 the lira was replaced by the euro. Despite a sharp fall in interest rates, economic growth has been well below the euro area average since the mid-1990’s. Only 58% of 15-64-year-olds are employed, which is the lowest proportion in the 15 old EU countries (Denmark: 76%). Nevertheless, unemployment has fallen from approximately 12% in 1998 to 8% in 2004. However, the development covers large regional differences. In prosperous northern Italy, 4% of the labor force was thus unemployed, while unemployment was 15% in poor southern Italy.

The devaluation in 1992, together with the tightening, had a positive effect on the development of the external balances, which have consistently shown large profits since then. Italy’s main trading partners are Germany and France, which together account for a quarter of total foreign trade. In 2005, Denmark’s exports to Italy amounted to DKK 16.7 billion. DKK, while imports from there amounted to 18.6 billion. Meat and meat products as well as fish are the main export products. Imports include of machinery for industry, automobiles and clothing.

Italy – social conditions

The Italian social security system consists partly of schemes that cover all citizens (residents), eg the health service, and partly of schemes linked to employment.

The most important cash insurance benefits include employees and a few other professional employees. They are administered centrally by the National Institute of Social Security and include unemployment benefits in the event of illness and unemployment, as well as pension schemes in connection with age, disability and the death of a breadwinner.

Unemployment insurance is mandatory for employees. Unemployment benefits are granted after two years of membership. There are seven qualifying days, and a maximum of 180 days’ unemployment benefits are paid within a year.

The retirement age is 55 years for women and 60 years for men. Entitlement to a pension is conditional on at least 15 years of employment. The pension is calculated on the basis of the last five years’ earned income and the number of years in gainful employment. With 40 years of previous employment, the pension is 80% of the average income for the last five years. In addition, there is an early retirement scheme, which provides ongoing payments after 35 years of employment, regardless of age.

Persons who are not covered by or who are insufficiently covered by the employee insurance can receive various forms of cash benefits; however, only if their income is sufficiently low. Employees and employers make mandatory contributions to the security system. Check youremailverifier for Italy social condition facts.

Italy – health conditions

Life expectancy in Italy is among the highest in the EU; for women approximately 84 years and almost 78 years for men (2005). Infant mortality is 8 per 1000. Mortality from cardiovascular disease has been declining since 1970 and is approximately 25% below the EU average, but remains the leading cause of death. From the early 1980’s, the incidence of lung cancer decreased in men, but it is still slightly increasing in women. The mortality rate from breast cancer is slightly below the EU average, while that for cervical cancer is only half that. The number of AIDS cases is among the highest in Europe, both in absolute and relative terms. At the end of 1996, 37,100 cases had been registered, of which a very large proportion were drug addicts. 554 children have contracted AIDS, of which 54% were born to drug addicts. approximately 40% of Italian men smoke, while it only applies to approximately 20% of women.

During the 1970’s, a large number of psychiatric institutions were closed down, which has meant that many severely mentally ill people have to be treated in ordinary hospitals or have been discharged. This development has affected healthcare in several European countries. The Italian health service underwent a major reform in 1993, forming approximately 300 administrative units responsible for the operation of hospitals and primary health care. The purpose was partly to get a better control of the expenditure on health care, partly to reduce differences between the different parts of the country. In 1992, Italy spent approximately 8% of GDP in the health care system, of which approximately 75% were government funds. In 1992, there were 7.1 hospital beds per. 1000 residents Italy, together with Russia, has the highest medical coverage in the world with 4.5 doctors per capita. 1000 residents

Italy – trade union movement

In 1900-t. Italian trade union movement has been characterized by national organizations with different political affiliations. The first trade unions emerged in the 1890’s, and from the turn of the century, both socialists and Christian groups organized themselves professionally.

After 1918, communists and anarchists broke out of the socialist organizations, so that in 1920 there were three important national organizations: the socialist CGDL, the Christian CIL and the revolutionary socialist USI.

The organizations were dissolved in 1927 by the fascist government. In the 1930’s, the trade unions really only functioned in exile, and it was not until after World War II that the Italian trade union movement resurfaced.

From 1945, an attempt was made to create a unitary trade union movement, and the organization CGIL was formed. After Democrazia Cristiana’s landslide victory in the 1948 parliamentary elections, the Christian groups broke out and formed the LCGIL, in 1949 the Social Democrats and Republican groups formed the FIL, and part of this organization joined the Christian LCGIL in 1950 and formed the CISL, while the rest of FIL became UIL.

The 1950’s were marked by division, but from 1960 there was a rapprochement between the national organizations, especially on the initiative of the metalworkers. This process was strengthened through the formation of the first center-left government in 1963.

During the so-called “hot autumn” in 1969 with a string of local strikes, the politically divided structures of most companies were replaced by joint factory councils. Against this background, a common structure was formed in 1972 for the national organizations CGIL, CISL and UIL with the formation of a unitary organization as a goal. Also at the federal level, strong cross-cutting associations were created.

The unification efforts made progress until 1984, when a crisis over the attitude towards economic policy led to the real dismantling of the common structure at national organization level; at the federal level, however, cooperation continued.

With the great upheavals in Italian politics in the 1990’s, the connection of the trade unions to the political parties has been loosened, so that a development towards trade union unity is once again traced.

Italy – libraries and archives

Italy’s late unification in 1870 has resulted in the country having two state national libraries (Rome and Florence) and six regional national libraries (Turin, Milan, Venice, Naples, Bari, Palermo). Public libraries, biblioteche comunali, are few and inadequate. There are almost 300 public libraries (in Denmark there are approximately 260), whose standard and level of service vary greatly; the best equipped are located in northern Italy.

The many humanistic book collections and monastery libraries of the Renaissance form the basis of modern research libraries. In total there are approximately 6000 publicly available libraries, of which approximately 1000 belong to the church; special mention should be made of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana and the Vatican Library.

The state archives consist of the central state archives in Rome (with archives from the 1800’s-1900’s, including the colonies in Africa and the Mussolini period) and more than 100 local state archives, the Archivi di Stato, among others. in Bologna, Milan, Venice, Florence, Naples and Palermo; they contain records of the individual regions from the Middle Ages onwards. The ecclesiastical archives are, according to the 1929 concordat between the papacy and the state, not subject to the state. Other autonomous archival institutions include The Historical Archives of the Chamber of Deputies and the Central Military Archives of Rome.

Italy – print mass media

The Italian peninsula’s oldest surviving newspaper is the Gazzetta di Mantova, founded in 1664. The print mass media is characterized by the fact that Italy has no popular daily press and only 116 newspapers are sold per year. 1000 residents (1992). The Italian dailies are predominantly omnibus newspapers, ranging from cultural material at a very high level to popular petit journalism. Italy’s leading daily newspaper was for 100 years Il Corriere della Sera (grdl. 1876 in Milan), which is traditionally considered the newspaper of the northern Italian bourgeoisie and has a circulation of approximately 739,000 (1994). In 1976 it was given competition by a new daily newspaper, La Repubblica(circulation approximately 568,000, 1995), which with its tabloid format, its more intrusive style and its clear political positions represented a renewal in the Italian magazine world. It is published, like the weekly L’Espresso, by the Roman magazine Repubblica-L’Espresso, whose main shareholder is the financier Carlo de Benedetti (b. 1934). Il Corriere della Sera is owned together with the daily newspaper La Stampa (founded in Turin in 1867 as Gazzetta Piemontese) and the sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport(grdl. 1896 in Milan) by the Fiat Group. Other major newspapers include Il Giornale (Grdl. 1974), controlled by financier and right-wing politician Silvio Berlusconi, and L’Unità, which was founded in 1924 as a party newspaper for the Partito Comunista Italiano (PCI) and has been a body for PCIs since 1990. succeeds the Partito Democratico di Sinistra (PDS). Further out on the left is the daily newspaper Il Manifesto (grdl. 1971). The most important business magazine is Il Sole/24 Ore (grdl. 1865), published by the employers’ association Confindustria. The most important Catholic dailies are L’Osservatore Romano (Grdl. 1861), the official newspaper of the Vatican City State, and L’Avvenire (Grdl. 1968 in Milan), which is controlled by the Italian Episcopal Conference.

For many Italian newspaper readers, the local magazines are an important supplement, if not exactly a replacement for the nationwide magazines. All the major local magazines have pages with news from the rest of Italy and abroad. Both Il Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica are published in several local editions, and La Repubblica has also established a chain of local newspapers. The two most read and most recognized news magazines are Panorama, grdl. 1967 in Milan, with a circulation of approximately 542,000 (1995) and L’Espresso, grdl. 1955 in Rome, with a circulation of approximately 454,000 (1995). Italy’s largest news agency, Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA), was founded in 1945 in Rome as a continuation of Agenzia Telegrafica Stefani (grdl. 1853).

Italy – electronic mass media

The Italian state radio began broadcasting regular radio programs in 1924, from 1944 under the name Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI). In 1939-40, experiments with television began, and in 1954 came the first television broadcasts. In the second half of the 1970’s, RAI, which had meanwhile added two new TV channels, began to face competition from a rapidly growing number of private local TV stations. In the early 1980’s, Silvio Berlusconi’s three nationwide television channels gained a dominant position in the private television market, later strengthened by a 1990 law that effectively divided the monopoly between the three state channels, RAI 1-3, and Berlusconi’s Canale 5, Rete 4 and Italia 1. Television today stands for far the predominant coverage of Italians’ media consumption.

Radio, which consists of three wide-ranging RAI channels and several thousand local stations, is very popular, but plays a far smaller role nationwide than television and the print mass media. The only private nationwide channel is Berlusconi’s Network 105, which predominantly broadcasts rock music.

Italy – visual art

The oldest art in Italy is discussed in articles about Etruscans, the Roman Empire, ancient Christian art and the Byzantine Empire.

Baroque and neoclassicism

Rome became an artistic powerhouse, and was spearheaded by a number of reform-minded and splendid popes. Roman Baroque art from the beginning of the 17th century was characterized by two directions, emanating from Caravaggio in Rome and the Carracci brothers in Bologna, respectively. Caravaggio painted large religious images with dramatic lighting and in a pointed realism, to several Roman churches. With their decoration of the large gallery in Palazzo Farnese, the Carracci were particularly important for a more classic, academic form of expression. AAAAAAAAAAAAA about Italian Baroque and neoclassicism.


Based on the liberal ideas of the Italian freedom and unity movement, il Risorgimento, the artist group I Macchiaioli (derived from the word macchia ‘spot’ or ‘blob’) was formed in Florence. The most prominent were the painters Giovanni Fattori, Silvestro Lega (1826-95) and Telemaco Signorini (1835-1901), and the movement’s main works were created approximately 1855-65. AAAAAAAAAAAAA about Italian visual art 1850-2016.

Italy – architecture

The oldest architecture in Italy is discussed in articles on Etruscans, the Roman Empire, ancient Christian art and the Byzantine Empire.

Baroque and neoclassicism

The Baroque style, in which the architectural elements of the Renaissance were translated into a new and dynamic design language, originated in Rome in the late 1500’s. A large-scale builder was the papacy, which already during Sixtus V (1585-90) launched a major building program, which as part of the renewal of the Counter-Reformation was to make Rome the most beautiful city in the Christian world…. AAAAAAAAAAAAA about Italian Baroque and Neoclassical architecture.


The architecture of the latter half of the 1800’s. ruled by historicism n. With the fall of Napoleon III in 1870 and the unification of Italy into one kingdom, a major expansion of the capital Rome began. As early as 1871, one of the city’s main streets, Via Nazionale, was laid out, and in 1880 Gaetano Koch began the semicircular building complex Esedra at the beginning of the street… AAAAAAAAAAAAA about Italian architecture 1850-2010.

Italy – crafts and design

Handicrafts from Italy have been of great importance in the European context, especially in the Renaissance and Baroque.

In the Renaissance, the furniture was few and simple. Wooden wardrobes, cassoni, decorated with marquetry, carvings or paintings, as well as wooden and metal folding chairs became widespread.

In the Baroque, the furniture types became more numerous, shapes and decoration more lavish, and furniture of bronze or gilded wood gained ground. Corpus works of the 16th century’s most famous jeweler, Benvenuto Cellini, were known throughout Europe. From the early Renaissance, Italian craftsmen gained great expertise in designing stucco work, a craft that was in international demand until the end of the 19th century, also in Denmark.

The Florentines were unsurpassed in the manufacture of marble and semi-precious stones, pietra dura works. The stones were composed in colored and imaginative motifs on floors and in furniture or used for cameos, vases etc.

From the 15th century, a special Italian ceramic is seen, majolica, which was mainly produced in Tuscany and Umbria with centers in Faenza, Urbino, Castel Durante and Deruta. The Della Robbia family specialized in sculptural majolica. As the first place in Europe, experiments were made with the manufacture of soft porcelain in Florence 1575-87; hard porcelain was made from 1720 in Venice and from 1743 at the Capodimonte factory in Naples.

As far back as 1291, Venetian glassmakers with workshops on the island of Murano developed a superb technique, first in cups, bowls and plates of dark blue, green and red glass with decorations in gold and enamel colors, then in thin, clear glass, opal glass and filigree glass. The glass tradition has survived to the 20th century, where Paolo Venini has created studio glass in a contemporary design language using the techniques of the past.

In the 20th century, functional, colorful and organically shaped industrial design has become internationally dominant. With Eugenio Quarti’s (1867-1929) futuristic furniture, the breakthrough was announced, which really took hold in the designs of Franco Albini and Gio Ponti from Milan in the 1930’s.

In the 1960’s, Italians produced the first furniture in plastic, and a completely new living and furniture style was created by the designer collective Studio Alchimia in the 1970’s and the Memphis group with Ettore Sottsass in the 1980’s.

Italy – literature

Italian literature is distinctive in as early as the 1300’s. to reach a climax that has not been surpassed since and which, despite the political division of the country, immediately established a common national tradition. It happened with three works also unique in European literature, Dante’s epic The Divine Comedy, Boccaccio’s collection of short stories Dekameron and Petrarca’s collection of poems Il Canzoniere, all written in Florentine vernacular over a period of only 50-60 years in the first half of the 1300’s. Flowering continued in the 1400’s and 1500’s. with the Renaissance culture, which spread from Florence to all of Italy and Europe, and which includes major works such as Ariostosand Tasso’s knight epic (The Furious Roland, 1532, and The Liberated Jerusalem, 1581) and Machiavelli’s Prince (1513). This coherent tradition has left deep traces in European literature and intellectual life and has at times served as a source of inspiration for genres, imagery, figures, myths, etc., in line with Greco-Roman culture. For example, there are over 300 operas with subjects from Ariosto and Tasso. In Denmark, this classical Italian literature became especially known in the Romantic period via Germany. Christian Winther’s Deer Flight is inspired by Ariosto, for example.

In the period 1600-30, Italian literary culture lost its dynamic power; Italian literature changed, and there has even been talk of a new “tradition” rooted in the Baroque intimate connection with the Counter-Reformation. It has created a special sensitivity of a sensual and mythical nature, which is often highlighted as a feature of also recent Italian literature, in contrast to, for example, the more intellectually influenced French tradition. The legacy of the classical national tradition continued, but compared to the dominant European currents, it gradually fell back to a provincial status. First from 1800-t. and especially in the 1900-t. Italian literature has once again come to play an equal role in the European context.

The language problem

Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarca made the Florentine vernacular from the 14th century. to a common Italian literary language. This language has remained astonishingly unchanged and is still understood immediately by a modern reader. The reason is that the literary culture in the absence of a political center has been its role as the preserver of a common Italian identity very consciously and therefore has maintained the classical language of the 14th century. as the norm. With this, however, a growing distance arose between a classical and idealizing written language and the concrete, changing reality and the spoken language, which was often dialect. It developed into a recurring aesthetic (and practical) problem, especially in relation to the theater and later to the romantic-realistic novel. First, radio and television have created a common spoken language that the written language can draw on.


Italian literature must be understood in a fundamental interplay between national and regional traditions. In contrast to, for example, French and Danish literature, it is linked to many centers. These centers have, in changing periods, acted as dynamos in the common cultural development. For example, Spanish-dominated Naples is a center of the Baroque, Milan was essential in the Enlightenment and Romanticism, while the great writers of verism from the late 1800’s. were Sicilians.

Until Carlo Dionisotti’s landmark work The History and Geography of Italian Literature (1967), Italian literary criticism has mainly described Italian literature in a common national perspective in an attempt to maintain an Italian identity through literature. Only with the literary history of Alberto Asor Rosa in the 1980’s has a radical attempt been made to introduce both a regional point of view and an understanding of the breaches of the national tradition. There is still a lack of knowledge about the growth layers of regional cultures.


In Italian literature, poetry plays a special role as the genre that, from “il dolce stil nuovo”, Dante and Petrarca to Montale, has retained an unbroken tradition, including a particular penchant for idealizing love poetry. The theater and the novel have had a more lame development partly due to the language problem, partly due to the lack of a broad bourgeois audience in the 1700’s and 1800’s. The finest cohesive theater tradition after 1600, which also extends beyond Italy’s borders, is next to the commedia dell’arte characteristically the opera, a sensuous form in which the word plays a minor role, with Monteverdi as the master of the Baroque, Rossini as the classicist and Verdi as of romance.


Italian literature takes a beautiful beginning with Francis of Assisi’s Sun Song from 1224 in Umbrian vernacular. Franciscan spiritualism in the 1200’s and 1300’s. has, in addition to the legends of Francis I Fioretti, created a widespread genre, “lauden”, with Jacopone da Todi’s poems as the supreme.

The first literary “school” arose at the court of Emperor Frederik II in Sicily approximately 1230-50 as a Provencal-inspired, conventional love poem with Jacopo da Lentini, inventor of the sonnet. The tradition was originally renewed around 1260-90 by Guido Guinizelli and Guido Cavalcanti, who create “il dolce stil nuovo” (“the sweet new style”), a philosophically idealizing love poem, which Dante is also based on, and which in recent times has inspired the English Pre-Raphaelites and Ezra Pound.

Dante is a monumental figure with an authorship that would be basic even without the main work. The Divine Comedy is one of the most ambitious works of poetry in European literature in its embrace of the entire medieval world of thought, depicted in a journey through the three realms of death, Hell, Purgatory, Paradise, to the mysterious realization of God.

Giovanni Boccaccio is a child of the mercantile Florence and of a long tradition of short stories with moral collections of examples, saint legends and short stories, including the anonymous, well-told Il Novellino (approximately 1290), which contains 100 stories in Florentine. Boccaccio’s masterpiece Dekameron (1352) is a human epic about eros as a force of nature and the necessity of diligence, told in 100 short stories. Both the classically inspired prose style, the frame narrative and the perfection of the short story as narrative art have had a great influence in Europe.

Francesco Petrarca is a cultural personality of the same format as Dante, but facing a new horizon, humanism, whose first main character he is with his extensive and landmark Latin production. The lyrical masterpiece in Italian, Il Canzoniere, is a tightly structured circle of poems about the poet’s recollection of the love of Laura. It is a radical modernization of the lyrical tradition with a new divided sense of life at the center and a wealth of symbolic images that continue with the petriarchists in the 1500-1600-t.

The self-conscious Florence also had its chroniclers, Dino Compagnis’ political memoirs, The Chronicle of Contemporary Events (approximately 1312), is dramatically well written, while Giovanni Villani’s chronicle from 1346 is the first actual historiography in Italian. Among the relatively few prominent texts not associated with Florence, the main work is the anonymous chronicle from approximately 1360, known as the Vita di Cola di Rienzo. It tells in ancient Roman about the violent events of Popeless Rome 1325-57. In addition, the Venetian Marco Polos Il Milione can be mentioned(1296), the famous account of his journey to Beijing and his years in the service of the Mongolian storkhan, originally written in French. It was read as an exotic geography book in the following centuries; Columbus owned a copy.


Whether the Italian Renaissance still applies, albeit modified, the characteristic of the Swiss cultural historian Jacob Burckhardt that it is “the modern” first beginning with a focus on the individual, detached from hierarchical contexts. It is a cross-cultural exploration with unusual interplay between arts and disciplines, between theory and practice, between the present and the inspiration of antiquity. It is also a bilingual culture, where the relationship between Latin and Italian is about genre, subject and audience. The literary system of the Renaissance therefore presents a “interdisciplinary” genre system, also in the individual author, which is far broader than today’s perception of fiction as fiction. This breadth of genre continues to characterize the perception of literature in Italy. It ranges from letters, treaties, dialogues and history writing for comedies, epics and poetry, all with the same stylistic and rhetorical ambition and artistic pursuit. Also the visual artists wrote: Leonardo da Vinci has left 2000 pages where he seeks to make words and drawings work together, Michelangelo wrote poems, Benvenuto Cellini a riveting, manneristic autobiography.

The most important phases in the process are the modern humanism’s modernization of ideas and aesthetics, which takes place in Latin, and which leaves a striking gap from 1375-1475 in the Italian-language literature. A main character is the architect and humanist Leon Battista Alberti. His book on the family, I libri della famiglia(1441), is a synthesis of the early renaissance’s view of man and society and appears as a 1400’s prose masterpiece. From 1475-1530, the right-wing renaissance culminated, and then the freely experimental, self-conscious literature underwent a codification in the classicist direction both within language and genre system and after the Counter-Reformation also with ideological censorship. The genres of the High Renaissance are partly inherited from the 14th century, partly newly invented, inspired by ancient models. Among the lyricists, Angelo Poliziano in particular must be highlighted, but also Pietro Bembo and, as something new, a number of female lyricists, among others. Vittoria Colonna and Gaspare Stampa (1523-54). The best collection of short stories since Boccaccio is written by Matteo Bandello (1554); it is a kind of short story chronicle in dark, strong colors about the contradictory contemporary. From here, Shakespeare has taken Romeo and Juliet.

The court culture was a representative culture in which the theater played an important role, and here the new genres, comedy, tragedy and shepherd drama premiered, eg Machiavelli’s still performed comedy La Mandragola (1518), Giraldi Cinzio’s bloody tragedies (1540-60), which has inspired Elizabethan theater, and Tasso’s shepherd drama Aminta (1573). A special position is occupied by Angelo Beolco’s dramatic one-act play in the Padovan dialect about the farmer Ruzante.

However, it is in the knight’s epic, where the popular storytelling tradition of Charlemagne’s knights is crossed with the aesthetic inspiration from the classical epic, that one finds the greatest coherent representation of the Renaissance’s perception of reality. The three Renaissance knight epics are linked to the Ferrara Court, where the prince and nobility were reflected in the knightly culture. In 1474-94, Boiardo gave in his In love Roland a noble, nostalgic picture of the world of knights. 20 years later, in the spirit of a new era, came Ariostos’ The Furious Roland (1516, 1521 and 1532). The epic is the most brilliant expression of the right-wing renaissance with its life energy, realistic psychology and ironic skepticism. Torquato Tassos It liberated Jerusalem (1581), written in the shadow of the Counter-Reformation, is a poem about a fundamental split between individualism and authority, between sensualism and religiosity.

Another major genre is the writing of history with two prominent figures such as Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini, who analyzed the political collapse of 1494-1527, of which they themselves witnessed. Machiavelli’s best-known work is The Prince (1513), a dramatic, illusion-free writing on how to preserve the state. Guicciardini’s masterpiece The History of Italy (1544) unfolds as a tragedy in the description of a state that finds itself in the moment it dissolves. Castiglione’s Treaty of the Courtman (1528), on the other hand, provides an idealized picture of court culture, which Europe enthusiastically embraced.


Traditionally, the Baroque period has been negatively assessed in Italian literary history, which has focused on the oppression exercised by the Catholic Church. Infamous examples are the heresy trials against Giordano Bruno, who was burned in 1600, Tommaso Campanella, whose political utopia The Sun State, written in 1602, was first published in Italian in 1904, and Galileo. However, the Baroque is also the last international artistic movement that has its origins and its special unfolding in Italy (and Spain). Interest in the visual culture, rhetoric and metaphor theory of the Baroque has grown in the 1980’s, having seen neo-Baroque features in its own culture.

The Baroque is theatrical in its basic conception of life as theater and illusion, but Italian theater, which characterizes Europe with commedia dell’arte and opera, has left no great texts. In poetry, the Baroque’s second main genre, language constructs its own theater with an artful metaphorical style, concettism, the purpose of which is to create surprising analogies. European famous was Giambattista Marino, who became court poet in Paris and whose poems are sensually musical. A prose masterpiece is GB Basiles Lo cunto de li cunti (1634-36), also called Pentameron, intended for the court of Naples. In a refined and comic intersection of folk tone and high baroque style, a number of classic folk tales are told in Neapolitan, including “Cinderella”. Galileo’s scientific works, often staged as lively dialogues, are written in a plastic, often ironic style that makes him the finest prose writer of the century.

1700-t. imported Enlightenment ideas from France; they were particularly prevalent in the Habsburg states of Lombardy and Tuscany. A major work is Beccarias On Crimes and Punishment (1764). It is a judicial post against the death penalty and torture that caused a stir even in Paris. But the most original figure is the Neapolitan Giambattista Vico, who was inspired by Baroque philology and rhetoric. His masterpiece, The New Science (1725-44), is the first theory of human social anthropological history with myth and poetic thinking at the center.

The theater unfolded especially in Venice with Goldoni’s excellent societal comedies and with the rival Carlo Gozzi’s underrated “theater adventure”, the story of Turandot. The opera dominated, Goldoni wrote 40 librettos, and the finest lyricist of the 1700’s, the Neapolitan Pietro Metastasio, who became court poet in Vienna, wrote the most famous librettos of his time. Mention should also be made of Lorenzo da Ponte’s texts to Mozart.

Towards the end of the century came the satirism of the classicist G. Parini over the decay of the nobility and the tragedies of V. Alfieri. In the 1700’s. autobiography becomes an important genre; Alfieri, Goldoni, Gozzi, Verri, Lorenzo da Ponte and Casanova have all written their life stories.


1800-t. falls in two periods, before and after the unification of Italy in 1870. Before, most of the literature is marked by the patriotic project, which connects with the ideas of Romanticism. After 1870, first the bohemian movement La scapigliatura (Carlo Dossi, Ugo Tarchetti and Verdi’s later librettist Arrigo Boito) and then the Italian version of naturalism, verism, with Luigi Capuana and especially G. Verga as the main figures sought to bring literature in step with Europe. While romance in Italy is tempered by tradition, so one has been able to doubt whether there was a real Italian romance, Italy itself is the theme of European romance from Shelley and Byron to Stendhal and HC Andersen.

The novel, the great new genre of the 1700’s and 1800’s, had a hard time gaining a foothold. The breakthrough work is the last letters of the Venetian Ugo Foscolo’s letter novel Jacopo Ortis (1802), inspired by Goethe’s Werther, but with a passionate political theme – Venice had fallen in 1797 – alongside love. Manzoni’s historical novel The Betrothed (1827 and 1840) has the status of the modern classic. It takes place around 1630 in Spanish-ruled Lombardy with large depictions of plague, famine and war. Its religious dimension is undermined by an illusion-free view of the calamities of history. Also noteworthy are the 27-year-old Ippolito Nievos En Italian’s confessions (1859), spanning 80 years of Italy’s collection history, with a captivating depiction of childhood.

Verism’s greatest writers are Sicilians, who write of a tragic and disillusioned experience of Italy’s unification and the modern project that continues in the strong Sicilian literature of the 1900’s. The largest is Verga with excellent short stories and the novels The Malavaglia Family (1881) and Mastro don Gesualdo (1889); overlooked are De Roberto’s excellent Vice Kings (1890). The century ends with D’Annunzio’s decadent and Fogazzaro’s intimate novels.

Giacomo Leopardi is the greatest poet of the 1800’s, who in his I Canti (1824 and 1836) renewed the poetic language. But the whole of authorship, from the philosophical-satirical Moral Stories to the diary’s 4000 pages of philosophical, aesthetic thoughts, edited with a view to publication, is a focal point in Italian literature. Not to be forgotten are two intriguing writers writing in dialect, Carlo Porta with realistic-expressive poems in Milanese and GG Belli with an irresistible collection of sonnets in Roman that make up a novel about the sleepy papacy in the 1830’s. Around the turn of the century came G. Pascoli’s intimate, musical poems. Two children’s books have influenced generations of readers, the Amicis’ edifying Cuore (1886) and Collodi’s more cheeky Pinocchio (1883).

1900’s first half

Italian literature has in the 1900-t. has been characterized by an advanced modernist culture especially in the period from 1900-25 and again after 1960, but also by a great contrast between this modern movement and an archaic culture that existed unchanged especially in southern Italy. This contrast is most strongly portrayed in Carlo Levi’s novel Christ Stopped by Eboli (1945), but also, for example, by Silone and by Maria Giacobbe, who lives in Denmark.

The beginning of the century was marked by a dynamic process of renewal, aggressive among futurists and in a lively magazine culture, while the dissolution of “the great style” and the new fragmented sense of life were described from within by the ironic-melancholic “twilight poets” with Gozzano as the most important, with the Trieste poet Umberto Saba and with the two greatest modernists, Pirandello and Svevo. From 1921 with Six Persons Seeking an Author, Pirandello makes an increasingly consistent break with the theatrical form of naturalism and stages the themes of identity loss and masks present already in the novel Il Fu Mattia Pascal (1904) and in the short stories. It was the Trieste Italian Italo Svevo who with Zeno’s confessions(1923) created the great modern novel in Italy, in which the difficulty of inhabiting the present, the division between consideration and life, is depicted in an ambivalent, ironic analysis of the strategies of the new consciousness, strongly inspired by Freud. Tozzi’s novels and short stories from the Siena region around 1920 also shed light on the irrational layer in the characters. CE Gadda’s somewhat later, ironic-expressionist writing, which gained great significance for the second modernism of the 1960’s, is rounded off by the same collapse experience.

Italian criticism has in the 1900’s. has been dominated by the idealistic philosopher Benedetto Croce, who influenced five generations of writers from 1900-50, and by the Marxist Antonio Gramsci, whose influence has been great since the publication of his Prison Records (1948).

In the culture of unity and greatness seeking fascism, Rome became the real and symbolic center. A dissection of the crisis of values ​​of the Roman bourgeoisie is found in Alberto Moravia’s extensive writing (completed 1989), most original in the debut novel The Indifferent (1929) with its early description of existential nausea. However, it is especially a number of poets who draw the period: Giuseppe Ungaretti, Salvatore Quasimodo and first and foremost Eugenio Montale, whose collections of poems Ossi di Seppia (1925), Le occasioni (1939) and La bufera e altro(1956) form a kind of “novel” in which the Ligurian landscape is a basic element in existential allegories. In the 1930’s, two fantastic writers, the surrealistic Landolfi and the more metaphysical Buzzati, were also hatched with the novel The Desert of the Tatars (1940).

1900’s second half

After World War II, a regional “neorealism” broke through, inspired by the writings of Pope and Vittorini. It is a cohesive cinematic, literary and political culture. Mention should be made of Vasco Pratolini’s novels from Florence, Domenico Rea’s short stories from Naples and especially Beppe Fenoglio’s authorship, which in its existential description of peasant life and resistance struggle in Piedmont’s heights extends beyond neorealism. Two novels, the first new international bestsellers from Italy, reflect a change, namely Italo Calvino’s philosophical fantasy The Climbing Baron (1957) and Tomaso di Lampedusa’s ironic-skeptical Sicilian novel The Leopard (1959). An actual neo-avant-garde was established in the 1960’s with Umberto Ecostheoretical writing The open work (1962) about the interpreter’s/reader’s place in the work as a landmark. Nanni Balestrini, Luigi Malerba, Giorgio Manganelli are also important writers in this context.

The most original and beautiful “open work” is The Invisible Cities (1972) by Calvino, which draws inspiration for its late modern phase in 1960’s semiotics in Paris.

After 1980, the contradictory Italian culture has often been seen as a chaotic, vital laboratory for the rapid shifts in late modern culture. These are exactly two Italian novels, Calvin’s If a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979) and Umberto Eco’s Rose’s Name(1980), who at this time also in a European perspective drew the postmodernist novel’s mixture of avant-garde and mainstream, where the metamorphoses of text and interpretation are a major theme. From approximately In 1980, recent Italian literature constitutes a center of power in which a number of fields can be distinguished: Calvino’s project of cognition is continued by Del Giudice and in Gianni Celati’s absurd-allegorical tales from the Posletten; an experience-conveying line, with Tondelli that has had an impact on a generation of young writers; and a “mannerist” literary-intertextual line, starring Antonio Tabucchi, in addition to Alessandro Baricco and Paola Capriolo. Also noteworthy are Stefano Benn’s linguistic comedy in satirical science fiction and Sandro Veronesi, who in The Roamed (1990) have defined the generation’s altered subject experience and surface scanning as “foaminess”.

Recent Italian literature has been regularly translated into Danish, including a number of prominent writings that ended in the 1980’s, but are central: Primo Levi’s autobiographical books based on Auschwitz of high ethical and artistic character, Natalia Ginzburg’s intimate, more and more inconsolable family portraits, Elsa Morantesfour great novels about longing for love, illusion and utopia as well as Calvino’s late writing. From her Sicilian vantage point, Sciascia delivers analyzes of the essence of power in mafia crime novels and, in an original genre, “rewriting” real processes from the archives of the Inquisition to the Aldo Moro affair. This form is an example of the genre mix or resolution that is a characteristic feature of recent literature, with Claudio Magris’ books on the Danube culture as another distinguished example. If you compare the books of Sciascias and Magris, you see how strong the regional tradition, here from Sicily and from the Trieste area, is still in modern literature.

Italy – theater

The medieval biblical games, laude, performed by lay people, got in 1400-1500-t. a more spectacular development in sacre rappresentazioni, a genre that gradually also dealt with worldly themes. From the Renaissance, Italy became the forerunner in terms of scenography, stage technology and theater buildings. I Sebastiano Serlios Secondo libro di prospettiva(1545, da. Second book on perspective) the principles and types of perspective scenography were formulated. The ancient inspiration permeated, among other things, the interior of Palladio’s and Scamozzi’s Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, built by an academy and inaugurated in 1585. In the princely Teatro Farnese in Parma, inaugurated in 1628, a U-shaped auditorium and scenery with perspective were seen; the floor in the hall could still be involved in the performance. With the introduction of the parterre, the theater hall all ‘italiana was completed, not least in the Venetian opera houses from the 1600’s. with lodges in horseshoe shape on the floors.

The humanistic drama of the Renaissance influenced the gallery of figures and intrigue in the improvised mask comedy, commedia dell’arte, which was a professional theater of actors, emerged in the mid-1500’s. A showdown with the masks was carried out in the 1700’s. by Carlo Goldoni, who created rewritten comedies of considerable psychological realism. 1800-t. was dominated by the great actors, often simultaneously capocomici, troupe leaders, as well as by the discussion between the traditional structure, the touring company, and the idea of ​​the permanent theater.

Conventionally, the theater was considered a slightly secondary art form. The futurists and since Pirandello sought in the first part of the 1900’s in various ways to add to it “artistic” qualities. With the establishment of the Dramatic Academy in 1935, the structure was modified with the traveling family companies. It was not until 1947 that Italy got what is reminiscent of a national stage, the Piccolo Teatro di Milano, founded by Giorgio Strehler and Paulo Grassi (1919-81) with the intention of bringing quality to the general population. The project was publicly subsidized and stationary, and it set the model for a number of teatri stabili in the following years.

In the 1960’s, a neo-avant-garde took the legacy of the futurists with Carmelo Bene (b. 1937) as a central name. The 1970’s launched partly political theater groups with Dario Fo as the front figure, partly experimental groups with impulses from Odin Theater in Holstebro. A certain state subsidy system exists in Italy, but the area is characterized by a lack of legislation.

Italy – ballet

The word ballet comes from the Italian balletto, which means small dance, and the first steps towards a classical ballet were literally taken by the many Italian princely courts of the Renaissance. Dance masters created new dance forms here and published as early as the 1400’s. Europe’s first textbooks, Trattato della danza (approximately 1460) by Guglielmo Ebreo. The balli or balletti, which Ebreo and others arranged, became role models for the court ballets that Italian dance masters developed, in France in the 1500’s.

Ballet also played a role in the many opera houses that became the setting for the musical-dramatic unfolding in Italy in the 17th century, but it was primarily as educators and theorists that the Italians in the following centuries inscribed themselves in Italian ballet history. Great importance for romantic ballet was given Carlo Blasis (1797-1878), who in the 1820’s published a number of textbooks and in 1837 became head of the Imperiale Regia Accademia di Danza, founded in 1813 in connection with La Scala in Milan. Other Italian opera houses first got their own schools in the 1900’s: the Teatro dell ‘Opera in Rome in 1928 and the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples in 1950. La Scala has built up a repertoire around dancers such as Carla Fracci (b. 1936) been the center of a traditional classical ballet in the latter half of the 1900’s.

Italy – music

Also because of its musical historical significance, Italy must be considered one of the great European cultural nations; after 1600, the country even took an absolutely leading position in the field.

Virtually all the classical musical genres that emerged since then originated in Italy and have undergone their first stages of development with Italian composers: opera, oratorio, cantata, sonata, concerto grosso, solo concerto, symphony.

The influence is also expressed in the numerous lecture titles and other musical concepts of Italian origin that are part of the common musical language: allegro, andante, largo, con brio, da capo, un poco, diminuendo, pizzicato, accompagnato, aria, fugue, etc..

The time until 1600

Reliefs and other iconographic representations from antiquity show that music had a function in the Roman Empire, but knowledge of its nature is severely limited.

As elsewhere in the Christian world, on the Italian peninsula in the first centuries of our era, various liturgical traditions with accompanying melodic material emerged. Alongside the ancient Roman rite, which became especially important as one of the starting points for the Gregorian chant, the Ambrosian liturgy arose in Milan, which has been preserved alive until the 1900’s.

The polyphonic music that originated and was developed in France from approximately 800, did not immediately reach Italy, where unanimity was maintained for a long time. First during the 1300-t. a special Italian polyphony briefly flourished, the so-called Trecento music; it is a counterpart to the French Ars nova and includes batch types such as madrigal (older type), ballata and caccia of Francesco Landini, the most important composer name of the period.

In the following century, the main emphasis was again north of the Alps, especially in Burgundy and Flanders, where the Franco-Dutch tradition continued, but this culminated in the 1500’s. with numerous composers who were either Italians or who worked in Italy: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, his students Felice and Giovanni Francesco Anerio, the Spaniard Tomás Luis de Victoria and the Dutchman Adrian Willaert.

In the 1500’s, the right-wing renaissance, the madrigal (newer type) appeared as one of several Italian counterparts to other countries’ worldly song forms (eg French chanson and German lied). The madrigal was intended for entertainment in higher social strata, and it was performed by soloists, possibly accompanied by individual instruments. Among the most prominent Italian madrigal composers are Costanzo Festa, Luca Marenzio, Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa and Claudio Monteverdi.

Adrian Willaert gained particular importance as the founder of the Venetian school; this style is above all characterized by the use of multi-choir technique, about which the vast space of St. Mark’s Church with many pulpits formed the ideal framework. In the years around 1600, the city of Venice was considered one of Europe’s most important musical centers, to which numerous composers and musicians were sent to be trained by the masters; to these belong first and foremost

Andrea Gabrieli, who Hans Leo Hassler became a student of, and his nephew Giovanni Gabrieli, who became a teacher for composers such as Heinrich Schütz and the Danes Hans Nielsen and Mogens Pedersøn. In Venice, the concert style was cultivated, which in addition to several choirs makes use of both vocal and instrumental forces.

At the same time, Girolamo Frescobaldi served as organist at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. With his fantasies, toccatas and ricercars, he helped to lay the foundation for the Baroque organ and harpsichord art, which through his student Johann Jacob Froberger came to Germany and here reached a climax with the works of Diderich Buxtehude and Johann Sebastian Bach.

In the last decade of the 1500-t. sought a group of composers, musicians and theorists in Florence, called Camerata, to revive the musical side of the drama of antiquity. The result was the emergence of a completely new genre, opera, which not only influenced all other forms of musical expression in the following century, but which also in one fell swoop made Italy the absolute center of music development at all.


The immediate predecessor of the new genre was the madrigal comedy, a mimetic theatrical performance in which the action was commented on musically by a group of soloists who did not appear on stage but sang behind the scenes; a famous example is Orazio Vecchis L’Amfiparnasso (1597). In contrast, the lines are sung by the performers in the opera. His musical premise was the monody, which is characterized by the melody part being accompanied by the general bass (basso continuo), ie. a bass voice performed by both a deep melody instrument (e.g. cello) and a chord instrument (lute, harpsichord, organ); see also baroque (music).

The first opera in history, Jacopo Peris Dafne (Florence 1597), was followed by his Euridice (1600). The first masterpiece of the genre is due to Claudio Monteverdi, whose L’Orfeo was built in private in Mantova in 1607.

In Venice, where Monteverdi succeeded Giovanni Gabrieli at St. Mark’s Church in 1613, the first opera house with public access was opened in 1637. To this end Monteverdi wrote several operas; preserved are only the last two, L’incoronazione di Poppea (1641, Coronation of Poppea )) and Il ritorno d’Ulisse (1642). Among his immediate successors are opera composers Francesco Cavalli and Antonio Cesti.

In the late 1600’s. shifted the focus south to Rome and to Naples, where composers such as Francesco Provenzale and in particular Alessandro Scarlatti helped develop the genre. The Neapolitan opera is characterized by a division of the monody into two different movement types: the recitative, in which the action-bearing dialogue is performed, and the aria, in which the characters’ changing feelings (affects) are expressed (see affect theory); great importance was given in this connection as the capo aria, which became the predominant type of aria in the Baroque period.

At the same time, the vocal manifestations reached a climax in the song of praise (bel canto), and it was at that time that the terms “prima donna” and “primo uomo” (‘first lady’, ‘first lord’) gained their special content. The especially Italian phenomenon of the castrate song also came into vogue in the 1600’s and 1700’s; the most famous name was Farinelli (Carlo Broschi).

From approximately In 1700, Venice became the center of opera worship again. Works by composers such as Leonardo Vinci, Leonardo Leo, Nicola Porpora, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and native Venetians such as Tommaso Albinoni and Antonio Vivaldi were performed here, and foreign composers came to learn the art, among others. Georg Friedrich Händel, Johann David Heinichen and Johann Adolf Hasse.

Conversely, the opera came to other countries through Italians who emigrated and worked north of the Alps, Jean-Baptiste Lully (Giovanni Battista Lulli) in France and Agostino Steffani in Germany in the 1600’s, Antonio Caldara in Vienna, Niccolò Jommelli in Germany and Giovanni Bononcini in England in the 1700’s.

In the 1600’s and 1700’s. opera became the all-dominating genre at all, not only in terms of the number of works that passed over the stages, but also because of its strong influence on other musical genres such as mass and other forms of church music, oratorio, clerical concert, and secular cantata; in all cases, the opera style rubbed off on the musical expression.

Italian opera developed in the second half of the 1700’s. in two directions: the serious opera seria, which continued the older tradition, and the comic opera buffa, which has its roots in the intermezzo, and which Domenico Cimarosa contributed. In the middle of the century, Pergolesi’s intermezzo La serva padrona was performed in France, which gave rise to a heated national dispute over the differences between French and Italian music, cf. France (music).

For construction in Italy, Christoph Willibald Gluck wrote in the second half of the 1700’s. a number of operas in the older style, before reforming the genre with Orfeo ed Euridice, first performed in 1762 in Vienna.

The opera in Italy became in the early 1800’s. above all cultivated by Gioacchino Rossini, who based on the style of Cimarosa and Gasparo Spontini wrote a significant number of theatrical works; however, he placed the main emphasis of his work within this genre in Paris. Here Luigi Cherubini also worked both as an opera composer and as director of the conservatory.

Rossini’s most important successors in Italy were Gaetano Donizetti and Vincenzo Bellini, whose music became one of the prerequisites for one of history’s greatest opera composers ever, Giuseppe Verdi. With major theatrical works such as Rigoletto (Venice 1851), La Traviata (Venice 1853), Don Carlos (Paris 1867, revised version Milan 1884), Aida (Cairo 1871), Otello (Milan 1887) and Falstaff (Milan 1893), he created a weighty Italian counterpart to Richard WagnersGerman musicals. Verdi’s popularity as a symbol of Italy’s collection is seen of that his name was interpreted as an abbreviation for “Vittorio Emanuele Re D’Italia” (Vittorio Emanuele, King of Italy).

At the transition to 1900-t. naturalism in opera, verism, was represented with works by Pietro Mascagni (Cavalleria rusticana, Rome 1890), Ruggiero Leoncavallo (Bajadser, Milan 1892) and Giacomo Puccini, who, however, are largely indebted to Verdi (including La Bohème, Turin 1896, Madame Butterfly, Rome 1900, Tosca, Milan 1904 and the unfinished Turandot, Milan 1926). Modern tonal languages, including twelve-tone technique, are expressed in scenic works by e.g. Luigi Dallapiccola (Fangen, Firenze 1950).

Since the opening of the first in 1637, several Italian opera stages have attracted attention outside the country’s borders, including the famous opera houses of Milan (Teatro della Scala), of Venice (Teatro La Fenice) and the ancient arena of Verona.

The oratorio

In an attempt to strengthen the faith of the Catholics in accordance with the provisions of the Tridentine Council after the upheavals of the Reformation, the later canonized Filippo Neri in the 1500’s. a number of devotions in Rome. They were held in chapels and special houses of prayer, oratorios, and included prayer, Bible reading, and spiritual singing. Here, biblical stories and freely fabricated scenes were performed in dramatic form with sung dialogue (eg between God and the soul), and thus the foundation was laid for the musical genre, which was named after the place of devotionals. Emilio de ‘Cavalieri’s musical dramatic works are considered predecessors of the oratorio, mysteriespillet The representation of animals and corpses (Rom 1600).

Among the first important contributors is Giacomo Carissimi, who wrote oratorios on Old Testament subjects, such as Jonas (year unknown) and his most famous work, Jephta (before 1650). During the 1600’s and 1700’s. the influence of the opera made a strong impact on the oratorio genre, both musically and linguistically.

On the one hand, the division of the monody into recitatives and arias was also carried out here, and on the other hand, oratorios for Italian texts were increasingly written; composers such as Alessandro Stradella and Alessandro Scarlatti contributed to this so-called oratorio volgare.

Only in Rome and Venice was Latin retained for a long time as an oratorio language; contributors include Antonio Lotti, Antonio Caldara, and Antonio Vivaldi (Juditha Triumphans, Venice 1716). The genre reached with Georg Friedrich Händel to England, where he with his great English-language works (eg Messiah 1742) laid the foundation for a long tradition of worship of the oratorio (Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Edward Elgar).


The 1500’s polyphonic song canzona, which originated in France (chanson), developed in Italy during the 1600’s. to two new genres: the cantata, which was a secular form, and the sonata (the two genre designations were initially used as adjectives meaning ‘sung’ and ‘played’ canzona, respectively).

Similar to their common starting point and with other vocal genres (eg motet), both types consisted of single movements, which were musically divided into a series of more or less contrasting sections, originally adapted to the underlying text. The earliest cantatas, whose genre designation was first used by Alessandro Grandi, followed this principle of form, but here again the influence of the opera prevailed, and towards the end of the 1600’s. was the “classical” Italian solo cantata with two arias (usually in da capo form) and one or two recitatives as first and third movement fully developed.

For the most part, the crew included basso continuo alone, but obligatory instruments do not occur infrequently. The lyrics are often about love or pastoral topics. In particular, Alessandro Scarlatti and the Venetian Benedetto Marcello have contributed to this genre, which is also found in foreign composers, among others. JS Bach (Non sa che sia dolore BWV 209 (1734?) For soprano, flute, strings and continuo) and Händel, who have composed several Italian solo cantatas and duets with continuo accompaniment.

The solo motet, which can be considered the ecclesiastical counterpart of the cantata set to non-liturgical texts in “modern” Latin, was usually written for a solo voice accompanied by strings and continuo. In addition to two arias with intermediate recitatives, it includes a concluding Alleluja aria. The genre is known with Alessandro Scarlatti and Vivaldi. Among the most famous examples, however, are Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate K 165, written in 1773 to an Italian soprano in Milan; JS Bach’s solo cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen BWV 51 (1730?) Is closely related to the Italian solo motet.

Of considerably greater extent than the cantata is the equally secular serenata, which usually includes many arias and intermediate recitations performed by several, often allegorical persons; the instrumental ensemble can also be considerably more extensive than that of the cantatas. This is music written and performed as a tribute to royalty and other high-ranking people, what the shameful content of the lyrics is marked by.


In the years around 1600, ie. in the transition from renaissance to baroque, in Venice, instrumental canzonas were written either for a keyboard instrument (harpsichord, spinet, organ) or for various ensembles; in this connection the multi-choral technique also came into use, as can be seen from Giovanni Gabrieli’s movements, some of which, however, already bear the title sonata. Famous is his Sonata pian e forte from 1597, written for two groups of instruments.

Like the vocal canzona, the earliest sonatas consisted of single-piece pieces with more, more or less contrasting sections. Among the composers, Tarquinio Merula and Biagio Marini are among the most prominent. During the 1600’s. the different sections gradually became longer and assumed a more independent character, so that, similar to the development within the vocal genres, sonatas appeared in several movements with varying tempo, form and musical expression.

In the last two decades of the century and in the early 1700-t. different types of sonatas were distinguished in several ways. The so-called sonata da chiesa intended for ecclesiastical use was characterized by the fact that several movements were written in a predominantly solemn style, while its secular counterpart, sonata da camera, was almost related to the suite due to its dance-like movements. In addition, the composers distinguished between trio sonatas for two solo instruments (usually violins) with continuo and solo sonatas for one instrument with continuo (of solo ‘alone’). An important prerequisite for these genres was the emergence of particularly sonorous stringed instruments, especially violins, built by the famous masters of Cremona: Amati, Guarneri, Stradivari and others.

Among the most important composers of sonatas are Arcangelo Corelli, whose opuses 1 and 3 (from 1681 and 1689, respectively) each comprise 12 trio sonatas of the church music type, while opus 2 and 4 (1685 and 1694) are collections of 12 trio sonatas of the chamber music type; in addition, opus 5 (1700) contains 12 solo sonatas, of which the first six are church sonatas, the other chamber sonatas.

Common to all types and herds is the great variation in the number and order of rates which do not follow any particular pattern. Also Albinoni and Vivaldi wrote in the first decades of the 1700’s. sonatas of the various types, but in these and other composers the boundary between ecclesiastical and secular is no longer strictly observed.

For the keyboard instruments, especially the harpsichord, Alessandro Scarlatti’s son Domenico wrote more than 550 sonatas (often referred to as esercizi ‘exercises’ or ‘etudes’), which greatly contributed to the development of the piano playing technique, thus becoming one of the prerequisites for the Viennese classical piano sonata. with Joseph Haydn, Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Although Scarlatti worked mainly on the Iberian Peninsula, his works did not remain unaffected by other Italian composers, among whom Muzio Clementi in particular contributed his piano sonatas to the genre.

The concert

The year after Corelli’s death in 1713, his opus 6 was published, which includes 12 works, eight of the church music type and four of the chamber music type. Although it is actually triosonates, it is a genre renewal, as the twelve works described as concerti grossi, according to the composer’s instructions, can be played in such a way that certain sections are performed by chorically obsessed voices (tutti ‘all’) alternately with solo sections.

Thus, Corelli applied the so-called concerting principle, which had been explored by the composers of the Venetian school, and which consists in the musical exploitation of the contrast between different sound groups. In the new genre, a distinction is made between the concertino with trio sonata ensemble and the fully occupied string orchestra, concerto grosso. As in the sonatas, the number and order of beats are independent of established patterns.

Corelli’s successors include a number of other Italians such as Francesco Geminiani, Francesco Manfredini (1684-1762), Pietro Locatelli and Giuseppe Sammartini, all of whom worked mainly north of the Alps. Händel has also written a number of concerti grossi, but otherwise this concert form became extinct with the baroque style.

In the early 1700’s. originated in Venice another type of concert, which in turn should prove to be far more durable: the solo concert or the three-act concert. This genre was based partly on sonatas for trumpet with strings and continuo, which were especially cultivated in Bologna by Giuseppe Torelli, partly in the opera prelude, sinfonia, which usually included three movements in the order fast-slow-fast. The first works of this type include concerts for cello, strings and continuo by Giuseppe Maria Jacchini (approximately 1663-1727) in Bologna and for violin, strings and continuo by Albinoni in Venice.

Above all, however, it was Vivaldi who, with his more than 400 concerts for one, two or more violins, viola d’amore, cello, recorder and recorder, oboe, bassoon, horn, trumpet and other instruments, helped to lay the genre. in a fixed framework, especially as regards the shape of the fast outer rates.

Influenced by the da capo aria’s regular alternation between orchestral and solo sections and its harmonic course through changing keys, Vivaldi contributed to the development of a movement form, the modulating rondo, the principles of which form the basis of the concert form as continued by Viennese classical composers.. The three-movement structure of the concert, which was continued by Giuseppe Tartini and Antonio Salieri, have also held up well into the 1900’s.

The symphony

The three-movement opera prelude became in the first half of the 1700’s. often performed outside the theater as independent works, and the foundation was thus laid for the genre that became one of the most important for the Viennese classical composers. In Italy, the first independent symphonies were written by Giovanni Battista Sammartini in Milan, where JS Bach’s youngest son, Johann Christian Bach, stayed for a period before he traveled to London and here composed and together with KF Abel performed numerous symphonies.

As a young man, Mozart visited the English capital and was influenced by the style of the two composers. Other significant composers of symphonies were Baldassare Galuppi and Jommelli. Since the late 1700’s. the Italians have contributed only modestly to the symphony genre, but a few composers such as Mozart’s rival in Vienna, Antonio Salieri, Clementi and later Giuseppe Martucci (1856-1909) have written symphonic works.

20th century

Several of the styles that characterize the art of music in the 1900’s have also had cultivators among Italian composers. Alfredo Casella,

Gian Francesco Malipiero and Goffredo Petrassi account for the neoclassicism of which Ottorino Respighi is one of the most significant representatives in the international context; Ildebrando Pizzetti shows in his music special interest in the masters of the Renaissance. As members of the circle around Olivier Messiaen and Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nono, Bruno Maderna and Aldo Clementi belong to the Darmstadt School, while Luciano Berio received influence mainly from American, including electronic, music during his stays in the United States. Sylvano Bussottihas especially shown a connection to the tonal language of Pierre Boulez and John Cage.

Institutions and names of music life

The first musician in history to publish polyphonic music, including masses by contemporary great composers, was Ottaviano (dei) Petrucci, who from the late 1400’s. worked in Venice; his first publication is from 1501. Since then, numerous Italian music publishers have been founded, including Ricordi in Milan, who worked closely with Verdi.

Several Italian conductors have made international careers, especially in recent times. Arturo Toscanini, Carlo Maria Giulini, Claudio Abbado and Riccardo Muti; the same goes for singers like Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, pianist Maurizio Pollini and violinist Salvatore Accardo.

Several chamber ensembles, including especially I Musici, have since the mid-1900’s. contributed to the spread of knowledge of music from the Baroque period, while the Quartetto Italiano has performed chamber music from the classical repertoire. Music education in Italy takes place above all in the country’s many conservatories, of which the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, founded in 1566 and in 1876 expanded with the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia, is the most famous.

Italy – popular music

Post-war popular music has roots in the lyrical canzonetta and was originally characterized by schooled voices and melodic songs. With the San Remo Festival, new and untested artists also got a chance to launch. The festival, which began in 1951, is an annual event that defines and partially dominates Italian popular music. It has been an important platform for new and old soloists over the decades, eg Domenico Modugno (1930-94), Mina (b. 1940), Luigi Tenco (1938-67), Gianni Morandi (b. 1944) and Eros Ramazotti, and lyricists and composers such as Mogol (b. 1937) and Bindi (b. 1936). Inspired by the American singer-songwriters, a new type of soloist appeared, in cantautori, in the 1960’s. They wrote their own material, did away with the rhyming verses and included the private sphere and social critique in the texts, eg Antonello Venditti (b. 1949), Francesco De Gregori (b. 1951), Giorgio Gaber (b. 1939), Lucio Dalla (b.. 1943) and Fabrizio De André (b. 1940).


Rock and roll became widespread in 1950’s Italy through singer and actor Adriano Celentano (b. 1938) as well as Little Tony. 1960’s beat groups, such as I Rokes, I Nomadi and singer Patti Pravo (b. 1948), often defined themselves in opposition to the San Remo Festival. As an avant-garde rock group, Premiata Forneria Marconi achieved great success both in Italy and abroad. Violinist and singer Angelo Branduardi (b. 1950) and jazz rock guitarist Pino Daniele (b. 1955) have both used folk elements in their music.

In the late 1970’s, the alternative rock scene, such as the group Litfiba, found a platform for presentation at the advent of many local radio stations. The punk group Gli Skiantos from Bologna distinguished themselves with humorous lyrics and the ironically termed rock demented ‘demented rock’. Rock singers Gianni Nannini (b. 1956), Vasco Rossi (b. 1952) and Zucchero (b. 1955) reached a large European audience in the 1980’s.


In 1989, the house group Black Box made a European breakthrough and paved the way for Italian-produced dance music such as house and eurodance. The hip-hop scene has fostered names like Articolo 31 and Sud Sound System, who mostly rap in Italian. But it is Jovanotti (b. 1966) who has introduced commercial Italian hip hop to a wide audience. In the 1990’s, electronic music as techno became popular with Robert Miles. Jungle and trip hop names include Ohm Guru and Almamegretta.

In the 1950’s, a number of Italian songs were translated into Danish, eg Volare, in Danish Vi har det åh – åh. In the 1980’s, the Danish duo Laban, consisting of Lecia Jönsson (b. 1948) and Ivan Pedersen, had success with pre-dances of a few songs by Ricchi & Poveri.

Italy – film

Italian film made a relatively late debut, and the first feature film, Filoteo Alberinis (1865-1937) La presa di Roma, was released in 1905. The following decade was marked by a violent expansion, and with film divas like the seductive Lyda Borelli (1884-1960) and so-called colossal films, ie. large-scale historical pieces of equipment such as Enrico Guazzoni’s (1876-1949) Quo Vadis? from 1912 and Giovanni Pastrones (1883-1959) Cabiria from 1914, Italian film in the 1910’s experienced its first golden age.

World War I knocked the bottom out of the national film industry, and like most other European countries, Italy was invaded after the war by American films. Mussolini’s fascist regime tried in the 1920’s and 1930’s to save Italian film out of the crisis. It happened through quota schemes, through a lively film aesthetic debate at universities and in trade journals, as well as with the establishment of the film school Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in 1935 and the film city Cinecittàin 1937. The fascist era did not produce many actual propaganda films, but is especially characterized by literary film adaptations and/or escapist melodramas. Some of these had the character of stylistic exercises, the so-called calligraphic films; others went by the term “white phone movie” because they were set in an upper-class environment where a white phone was a fixture in the heroine’s boudoir.

Immediately after World War II, Italian film with Italian neorealism experienced its second golden age. Neorealism was a broad cultural confrontation with the lies and hypocrisy of fascism, and directors such as Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti and Vittorio De Sica (the latter preferably in collaboration with screenwriter Cesare Zavattini) focused with humanistic empathy on the small and big events of contemporary everyday life. social layer. The neorealistic film used amateurs to some extent in the roles and was usually filmed on location. The main works of this direction include Rossellinis Roma città aperta (1945, Rom aaben By) ogPaisà (1946), De Sicas Ladri di biciclette (1948, The Bicycle Thief) and Umberto D (1952) as well as Viscontis La terra trema (1948, The Earthquakes).

During the 1950’s, neorealism died out as a movement, but in the years that followed, the artistic film experienced a new renaissance with a number of distinctive directors such as Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Francesco Rosi, Ermanno Olmi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ettore Scola and the brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. This “artistic film” was a highly heterogeneous size, ranging from Fellini’s fabled cornucopia of magical whims to Bertolucci’s interpretation of Freud and Marx to Antonioni’s ascetic modernist alienation. Common to these filmmakers was simply that they made highly personal and idiosyncratic films, which won numerous awards at international festivals.

During the same period, the Italian commercial film achieved some success with the international cinema audience; in the 1950’s mainly with erotic spicy comedy with busty female stars like Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale and Gina Lollobrigida. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Italian spaghetti westerns such as Sergio Leones Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo/The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966, The Good, the Bad and the Cruel) and C’era una volta il West/Once Upon a Time in the West (1968, The Hard Neck of the West)) store internationale hits. Endelig har italienske horrorfilminstruktører som Mario Bava (1914-80) og Dario Argento (f. 1943) opnået kultisk dyrkelse på internationalt plan.

The breach of the state RAI’s television monopoly in 1976 led to something close to chaos in the audiovisual field in Italy, and in particular Silvio Berlusconi’s commercial, advertising – financed television sent the national film industry into its most serious crisis to date. In the 1980’s, most of the remaining big director names sought overseas, while Italian film at home fought a desperate battle for its survival. The 1980’s and 1990’s, however, have fostered a small handful of promising Italian filmmakers such as the self-taught Nanni Moretti (b. 1953), who in 2001 won the Cannes Festival’s Palme d’Or for La stanza del figlio (Son’s Room).) and is also an important producer of independent films, as well as Giuseppe Tornatore (b. 1956) and Gianni Amelio (b. 1945). One of the greatest successes of Italian film in recent years is the comedian Roberto Benignis (b. 1952) concentration camp comedy La vita è bella (1997, Life is Beautiful).

Italy – cuisine

Italian cuisine is composed of elements from many regional cuisines, as in the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy was divided into many smaller states, each with their own cultural influences. In the Renaissance, the culinary arts were further developed in a noble kitchen and a popular kitchen, each of which has contributed to the Italian cuisine we know today.

With the unification of Italy in 1870, curiosity arose about the cuisines of the other regions. In 1891, the gastronome Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911) thus tried to assemble the regional cuisines in a work with 790 recipes, a milestone for the national Italian food culture.

Contemporary Italian cuisine returns to its regional origins after a time of trying to compare itself with the more elaborate French cuisine. Characteristic is a large variation in the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and a simple preparation. The kitchen is rich in vegetables, fruits, breads, pastas and fish. Consumption of meat is relatively low.

Italy – wine

Italy, together with France, is the most important wine-producing country in the world. Unlike most wine-growing countries, where production takes place only in a few regions, all of Italy’s 20 geographical regions have significant wine production. Up to 1.5 million ha vineyards deliver 55-60 million each year. hl vin.

From before the birth of Christ, viticulture has played a major role in the country’s history. In particular, the Roman Empire was important for the spread of viticulture, not only in present-day Italy but also in Western Europe. Through several centuries until the end of the 1800’s. individual wines in particular were a local phenomenon, with only very few Italian wines being exported. Outdated technology and lack of oenological knowledge contributed to the isolation of Italian wines.

The introduction of wine laws (DOC, DOCG, IGT) and the influence of individuals (eg Ricasoli and Antinori) have contributed to a marked improvement in quality since the 1960’s. At the same time, a much greater openness to inspiration from other wine countries, including the introduction of new grape varieties and production methods, has indisputably raised the quality of the better wines. Focusing on conditions such as grape clones, microclimate, temperature control during fermentation, storage before bottling and greater care during bottling have been important prerequisites for this improvement in quality. The prevalence of international grapes such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay as well as the extensive use of new oak barrels for the finest wines is more controversial. On the one hand, high-quality wines are created, but on the other, Italy’s own distinctiveness as a wine country is threatened by this internationalization. Still, by far the largest part of the wine production is based on traditional Italian grapes, the most important of which are the red sangiovese, nebbiolo and barbera as well as the white trebbiano.

The quality banner bearers have helped to improve the more common wines as well. However, especially in southern Italy, huge quantities of neutral wine are still produced, for which there is hardly any market. A large part of this abundant wine is distilled. The proportion of wines with a quality predicate, DOC or DOCG, is thus less than 15%, which is much less than in France and Spain, for example; non-compliance with DOC and DOCG requirements has, however, led to the paradox that the best wines from a producer often have the lowest denomination, vino da tavola. The most important qualitatively regions are Tuscany (with eg chianti and Brunello di Montalcino), Piedmont (barolo and barbaresco) andFriuli (known for its dry white wines), while large quantities of wine come from Sicily, Apulia, Emilia-Romagna (lambrusco) and Veneto (soave and valpolicella).

Italian wine production and trade is characterized by cooperatives and larger trading houses rather than by smaller, independent wine growers. This is partly due to the fact that up to half of Italy’s wine properties are less than 1 ha.

Also in recent times, wine has played a major role in Italy’s cultural history. Where a meal without wine in an Italian family would have been unthinkable in the past, however, young people in the 1980’s and 1990’s increasingly prefer soft drinks and beer, so the cultural-historical role of wine in Italy may change in the coming decades. However, interest in Italian culture and gastronomy outside Italy has created a growing international market for Italian wine. This, together with an increased interest in quality wines in Italy, will probably change the focus of Italian wine production from quantity to quality in the longer term.

Italy Education