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Italy is one of the most amazing countries in the world and attracts tens of millions of tourists and expats each year who want to experience the Dolce Vita for themselves. The country is famous for its incredible collections of art, it’s magnificent cuisine and the stunning natural beauty of its landscapes.
Italy was officially unified as a single country in 1861. Before that it was made up of powerful city states which ruled over their territories but would often fight small localized battles. Some of the most important city states included the Papal States, overseen by the Pope in Rome, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the southern Kingdom of Sardinia.
Following the country’s unification, it began to have more of an influence on the wider world and after World War II, in the mid 1960s, Italy rapidly became one of the world’s leading exporters of luxury goods, fashion, food, wine, literature and opera.
The contributions that Italy and its artistic masters have had on the world is hard to calculate but its impact is clearly visible; making it hugely important to the development of modern global culture.
Great Reasons Why Italy Is Important To The World.
There are seven key reasons why Italy is important to the world.
Italy Is A Major Global Economy.
The Italian economy has a GDP of almost $2 Trillion which, according to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), averages at just over $40,000 per capita. This means that Italians have a good standard of living and are able to invest in their own businesses and economic projects.
Italy has the 3rd largest economy in the European Union and the 8th largest Gross Domestic Product in the world. This positions it well to exert its influence on the global economy as well as within the European Union, of which it is a permanent member state.
The European Union has imposed various regulations on Italy which although unpopular with some parts of the population have helped to reduce the corruption and nepotism which used to be endemic. This has streamlined its economy, promoted a more meritocratic job market and improved its standing on the world stage.
Italy is a major exporter and is ranked as the 10th largest in the world; exporting $496 billion worth of products in 2020. Italy’s top exports include machinery, computers, cars, pharmaceuticals, gems and precious metals. However, Italy also exports luxury goods, fashion apparel, food and locally produced wines. Italy’s main trading partners are Germany, France and the United States with Spain and the United Kingdom close behind.
The Ancient History And Heritage Of Italy.
Italy has one of the most fascinating and impactful histories in Europe with major events such as the Renaissance changing the culture, art and scientific understandings of the world forever.
Following the defeat of the Etruscan empire, Rome, which was founded in 753 BC, went on to dominate the ancient world. The Roman Empire expanded to cover most of the Western Europe, Britain, Northern Africa and parts of the Middle East.
The expansion of the Roman Empire was achieved through conquest and war however with it came new developments and benefits in all areas of life. The Roman introduction of aqueducts, high quality roads and advanced engineering techniques allowed the conquered nations to develop and provide better standards of living for their people.
One of the most unusual things about the Roman Empire was that it was relatively meritocratic, a concept that was almost entirely alien to most ancient civilizations. This allowed people to reach their full potential which, naturally, benefited the Empire but the concept of meritocracy would end up far outliving the Empire itself. Meritocracy is now considered to be a fundamental building block of modern liberal democracies for which we, in the modern world, have the Romans to thank for!
As well as a relatively meritocratic social structure, the Romans also developed an excellent system of law and order which later formed the basis of the English Common Law. English Common Law, in turn, went on to inspire the founding fathers of America and are embedded in the US Constitution. Concepts such as ‘guilty until proven innocent’ have their roots in the Roman Empire and have made our lives much better in the modern world.
The Great Cuisine Of Italy.
If there’s one thing that most people know about Italy, it’s that the food and wine is absolutely magnificent! There’s probably no other national cuisine which is more popular around the globe than Italian food and consequently, there’s hardly a city or town in the West that doesn’t have a beloved Italian restaurant of its own!
Of course, Italy is famous for pasta and pizza but the cuisine is infinitely more diverse than that. Part of the reason why Italy has such a diverse cuisine is because each province and region of the country has such a unique cultural heritage.
The type of pasta that most people recognise are the red sauced dishes that originally come from the central regions of the country. However, if you travel north to Lombardy you’ll find risottos and polentas whereas in Tuscany you’ll find the region specializes in Chianti wines, Biscetta alla Fiorentina and Pecorino cheese.
No matter where you go in Italy you’ll be astounded by the amazing range of local specialities and a trip to the regional markets and food festivals will fill you with inspiration for your own home cooking.
Italy Is A Major Tourist Destination.
Each year more than 90 million tourists visit Italy to take in the fantastic museums, architecture, art and culture. Italy also has the most World Heritage Status locations in the world, numbering at an amazing 58!
Italy has something for all interests including great outdoor sports, warm Mediterranean beaches, skiing in the Northern Alpine provinces, hiking trails and stunning scenery wherever you go. For city breaks or cultural holidays the chic cities of Florence, Milan and Venice top the list and for ancient history and shopping Rome is hard to beat.
Despite Italy’s status as a major tourist destination, the prices are relatively competitive and you can enjoy a great meal in a local restaurant for under $30 a head! Rural parts of the country can be very cheap to stay in and even in the most remote areas there is still a wealth of incredible churches and other cultural attractions to visit!
Art, Music And Culture.
Boasting some of the world’s most famous artists, including Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, as well as the pioneers of the Renaissance, Italy has one of the most diverse artistic heritages of any individual country. As well as the astounding quality and quantities of artwork, Italy is also the home of opera!
Italy birthed a whole range of artistic styles which went on to influence every aspect of world art. Artistic styles that can be traced back to Italy include the Mannerism and Baroque styles which were hugely important to the European art of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries in France and beyond.
It’s not only opera, which has swept the globe, because Italy has also produced a great deal of classical music which informed later musical geniuses such as Mozart and Beethoven. Classical composers such as Vivaldi, Rossini and Paganini had a huge impact on classical music and are still beloved today for their soul stirring compositions.
In literature, titans such as Dante produced some of the greatest works of the middle ages, including his famous Divine Comedy, or ‘Divina Commedia’ in Italian. The Dominican monk Francis of Assisi also wrote the first literary book in the vernacular language instead of Latin, called the ‘Canticles of the Creatures’ which reached people of all social classes who could read Italian!
Italian philosophers such as Giordano Bruno, Nicollo Machiavelli and Marsilio Ficino helped to shape modern European thought in the sciences and metaphysics. This assisted in the initiation of the Reformation and the Northern Enlightenment of Germany and England that went on to transform the Western world forever.
Experimental modern theater was also hugely influenced by Italian playwrights such as Luiggi Pirandello while realistic literature owes a lot to writers such as Grazia Deledda.
For such a small country, Italy’s impact on the world of art, literature and music is as astounding as the beauty of the country from where it came!
Iconic Cars And Scooters.
No consideration of the influence that Italy has had on the modern world would be complete without mentioning the iconic cars that are amongst the most desirable of all makes and models. Among the country’s leading exports include the Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini and Ferrari; all of which embody a graceful power under the bonnet with an unbeatable style in their design.
It’s not just the cars that have made their mark on motorists because Vespa’s are a common sight in all of the cities of Europe and even, in some cases, much further afield. These highly efficient scooters are perfect for maneuvering through the narrow streets of European cities and with their clever design they are popular amongst women who can wear dresses and skirts without the usual issues associated with a standard motorbike design.
Of course, the Vespa first hit the silver screen with the performance of Audrey Hepburn in the film ‘Roman Holiday’ but their utility and smart design meant it was only a matter of time before their popularity exploded! Since the invention of the Vespa, more than 15 million have been sold in over 30 different models.
Italy And The Age Of Exploration.
Following the fall of the Roman Empire the European continent was largely disconnected from the outside world. This led to the Dark Ages during which culture, art and science stagnated while sanitation and the quality of life throughout the continent hit an all time low!
This period of poverty and suffering was only brought to an end by the Age of Discovery. This was a period in European history when explorers began to dream of far away lands and what more, they had ships which were capable of long sea voyages. Italian explorers were amongst the pioneers of the Age of Discovery and include some of the most famous adventures of all time.
Born in 1254, Marco Polo was a Venetian explorer and merchant who travelled widely throughout Asia and was able to provide Europe with the first written descriptions of the Silk Route and the Eastern cultures that lived along its length. Marco Polo also wrote travel books about his experiences which are said to have inspired Christopher Columbus to become an explorer!
Perhaps the best known Italian explorer of all, Christopher Columbus, is credited with the discovery of America. Born in 1451 in Genoa, Columbus wanted to find a direct sea route to Asia however in 1492 he discovered America instead! This discovery led to a whole era of exploration of the Americas and the founding of several major countries.
Amerigo Vespucci, born in 1454, was a Florentine merchant and explorer who took part in several major expeditions and was the first to claim that the Americas were a separate continent full of opportunities. In fact, the Americas are actually named after ‘Amerigo’ as a tribute to his contributions to the Age of Discovery.
Why Is Italy So Important To The World?
Italy has had a remarkable impact on the world and its influence on global art, culture, science and life is hard to match. From its emergence as a truly global economy during the Age of Discovery the culture of Italy went mainstream.
Each year the tourists who visit Italy return with fond memories and souvenirs and continue to spread its positive influence! From food to luxury cars, from fashion to art, Italy is head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to style, elegance and the finer things in life.