Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cultures Of Italy

The Romans used the name

to refer to the Italian peninsula. Additionally, Italy has been invaded anda settled by many different peoples. Etruscans in Tuscany preceded the Romans and Umbria, while Greeks settled the south.

Jews entered the country during the period of the Roman republic, and Germanic tribes came after the fall of Rome. Mediterranean peoples (Greeks, North Africans, and Phoenicians) entered the south. The Byzantine Empire ruled the southern part of the peninsula for five hundred years, into the ninth century.

Sicily had many invaders, including Saracens, Normans, and Aragonese. In 1720, Austrians ruled Sicily and at about the same time controlled northern Italy. There is a continuing ethnic mixing.

Location and Geography.

Italy is in south central Europe. It consists of a peninsula shaped like a high–heeled boot and several islands, encompassing 116,300 square miles (301,200 square kilometers).

The most important of the islands are Sicily in the south and Sardinia in the northwest. The Mediterranean Sea is to the south, and the Alps to the north. A chain of mountains, the Apennines, juts down the center of the peninsula. The fertile Po valley is in the north. It accounts for 21 percent of the total area; 40 percent of Italy's area, in contrast, is hilly and 39 percent is mountainous.

The climate is generally a temperate Mediterranean one with variations caused by the mountainous and hilly areas.

Italy's hilly terrain has led to the creation of numerous independent states. Moreover, agriculture in most of the country has been of a subsistence type and has led to deforestation. Since World War II, many Italians have turned away from rural occupations to engage in the industrial economy.

Rome was a natural choice for the national capital in 1871 when the modern state was united after the annexation of the Papal States. Rome recalls Italy's former grandeur and unity under Roman rule and its position as the center of the Catholic Church.

Demography. Italy's population was approximately 57 million in 1998. The population growth rate is . 08 percent with a death rate of 10.18 per 1,000 and a birthrate of 9.13 per 1,000. Life expectancy at birth is 78.38 years. Population growth declined quickly after World War II with the industrialization of the country.

The majority of the people are ethnically Italian, but there are other ethnic groups in the population, including French–Italians and Slovene–Italians in the north and Albanian–Italian and Greek–Italians in the south. This ethnic presence is reflected in the languages spoken: German is predominant in the Trentino–Alto Adige region, French is spoken in the Valle d'Aosta region, and Slovene is spoken in the Trieste–Gorizia area.

Linguistic Affiliation. The official language is Italian. Various "dialects" are spoken, but Italian is taught in school and used in government. Sicilian is a language with Greek, Arabic, Latin, Italian, Norman French, and other influences and generally is not understood by Italian speakers. There are pockets of German, Slovene, French, and other speakers.

Symbolism. Italian patriotism is largely a matter of convenience. Old loyalties to hometown have persisted and the nation is still mainly a "geographic expression" (i.e., there is more identity with one's home region than to the country as a italy

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. It was not until the middle of the nineteenth century that Italy as we know it today came to be. Until that time, various city-states occupied the peninsula, each operating as a separate kingdom or republic.

Forces for Italian unification began to come together with the rise of Victor Emmanuel to the throne of Sardinia in 1859. That year, after the French helped defeat the Austrians, who had come to rule regions through the Habsburg Empire, Victor Emmanuel's prime minister, Count de Cavour of Sardinia, persuaded the rest of Italy except the Papal States to join a united Italy under the leadership of Victor Emmanuel in 1859. In 1870 Cavour managed to be on the right side when Prussia defeated France and Napoleon III, the Pope's protector, in the Franco-Prussian War. On 17 March 1861, Victor Emmanuel of Sardinia was crowned as king of Italy. Rome became the capital of the new nation.

Italy's history is long and great. The Etruscans were the first major power in the Italian peninsula and Italy was first united politically under the Romans in 90

B.C.E. After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the fifth century C.E.

, Italy became merely a "geographic expression" for many centuries. Chaos followed the fall of the Roman Empire. Charlemagne restored order and centralized government to northern and central Italy in the eight and ninth centuries. Charlemagne brought Frankish culture to Italy, and under the Franks, the Church of Rome gained much political influence. The popes were given a great deal of autonomy and were left with control over the legal and administrative system of Rome, including defense.

The Carolingian line became increasingly weak and civil wars broke out, weakening law and order. Arabs invaded the mainland from their strongholds in Sicily and North Africa. In the south, the Lombards claimed sovereignty, where they established a separate government, until they were replaced by the Normans in the eleventh century.

City governments, however, had profited from Carolignian rule and remained vibrant centers of culture. Local families strengthened their hold on the rural areas and replaced Carolingian rulers. Italy had become difficult to rule from a central location. It had become a collection of city–states.

Through the ensuing years, numerous rulers from beyond the Alps, with or without the consent of the papacy, failed to impose their authority. Throughout the fourteen and fifteenth centuries of

campanilismo (local patriotism), only a minority of people would have heard the word "Italia." Loyalties were predominantly provincial. However, there were elements that made a strong contrast to the world beyond the Alps: a common legal culture, high levels of lay education and urban literacy, a close relationship between town and country, and a nobility who frequently engaged in trade.

Three features in particular from this period solidified the notion of a unified culture. The first was the maturing of the economic development that had originated in the earlier centuries. Northern and central Italian trade, manufacture, and financial capitalism, together with increasing urbanization, were to continue with extraordinary vigor and to have remarkable influence throughout much of the Mediterranean world and Europe as a whole—a development that served as the necessary preliminary for the expansion of Europe beyond its ancient bounds at the end of the fifteenth century. Second came the extension of de facto independent city–states, which, whether as republics or as powers ruled by one person or family, created a powerful impression upon contemporaries and posterity. Finally, and allied to both these movements, it was from this society that was born the civilization of the "Italian Renaissance" that in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was to be exported to the rest of Europe.

Italian rivalries of status, class, family, and hometown prevented unity throughout its history. The period from the fifteenth through the mid-eighteenth centuries was no exception. Nations grew and their ambitions, as well as those of the Italian city–states, continued to plague Italy. France and Spain in particular intervened in Italian affairs. Moreover, the chaos caused by these invasions led the Italian states to seek to further their own particular goals.

Italy became part of the Spanish Habsburg inheritance in 1527 when the Spanish king Charles I (Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) sent his troops in to take over Rome. Spain established complete control over all the Italian states except Venice.

Italy was ready for the new ideas of the French Enlightenment after the economic depression, plagues, wars, famines, and invasions of the seventeenth century. Italian intellectuals resented the supranational character of the papacy, the immunities of clerics from the state's legal and fiscal apparatus, the church's intolerance and intransigence in theological and institutional matters, and its wealth and property, and demanded reforms. Some changes in administration, taxation, and the economy were made by Habsburg rulers Maria Theresa and Joseph, but these reforms did not go far enough. The French Revolution and Napoleon's army demonstrated that a united Italy was possible and that arms might be the only way to achieve it.

Under the leadership of Victor Emmanuel, Count de Cavour, and Giuseppe Garibaldi, the various city-states moved toward unity. The writings of Allessandro Manzoni in the common tongue aided the forging of an Italian identity. His I Promessi

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