Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides)


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Chocolate is also a specialty of this region. In fact, this is where chocolate for eating as we know it today first developed. Mountain resorts west of Turin were used in the Winter Olympics and offer great skiing and winter sports. Sestriere is one of the top places to ski in Piemonte. Pinerolo is in the scenic Val Chisone, an alpine area less crowded by tourists that also offers good skiing and mountain hiking in summer. Domodossola, at the foot of the Italian Alps in the north, is on the rail line connecting Italy to Switzerland.

The smaller Lake Orta is just to the west of Lake Maggiore. Tripsavvy uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By using Tripsavvy, you accept our. The Congress of Vienna restored the situation of the late 18th century, but the ideals of the French Revolution could not be eradicated, and soon re-surfaced during the political upheavals that characterised the first part of the 19th century. The birth of the Kingdom of Italy was the result of efforts by Italian nationalists and monarchists loyal to the House of Savoy to establish a united kingdom encompassing the entire Italian Peninsula.

Following the Congress of Vienna in , the political and social Italian unification movement, or Risorgimento , emerged to unite Italy consolidating the different states of the peninsula and liberate it from foreign control. A prominent radical figure was the patriotic journalist Giuseppe Mazzini , member of the secret revolutionary society Carbonari and founder of the influential political movement Young Italy in the early s, who favoured a unitary republic and advocated a broad nationalist movement.

His prolific output of propaganda helped the unification movement stay active. The most famous member of Young Italy was the revolutionary and general Giuseppe Garibaldi , renowned for his extremely loyal followers, [94] who led the Italian republican drive for unification in Southern Italy. However, the Northern Italy monarchy of the House of Savoy in the Kingdom of Sardinia , whose government was led by Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour , also had ambitions of establishing a united Italian state.

In the context of the liberal revolutions that swept through Europe, an unsuccessful first war of independence was declared on Austria. In , the Kingdom of Sardinia became an ally of Britain and France in the Crimean War , giving Cavour's diplomacy legitimacy in the eyes of the great powers.

In —, Garibaldi led the drive for unification in Naples and Sicily the Expedition of the Thousand , [97] while the House of Savoy troops occupied the central territories of the Italian peninsula, except Rome and part of Papal States. Teano was the site of the famous meeting of 26 October between Giuseppe Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel II , last King of Sardinia, in which Garibaldi shook Victor Emanuel's hand and hailed him as King of Italy; thus, Garibaldi sacrificed republican hopes for the sake of Italian unity under a monarchy.

Cavour agreed to include Garibaldi's Southern Italy allowing it to join the union with the Kingdom of Sardinia in This allowed the Sardinian government to declare a united Italian kingdom on 17 March Finally, in , as France abandoned its garrisons in Rome during the disastrous Franco-Prussian War to keep the large Prussian Army at bay, the Italians rushed to fill the power gap by taking over the Papal States. Italian unification was completed and shortly afterward Italy's capital was moved to Rome.

The new Kingdom of Italy obtained Great Power status. The Constitutional Law of the Kingdom of Sardinia the Albertine Statute of , was extended to the whole Kingdom of Italy in , and provided for basic freedoms of the new State, but electoral laws excluded the non-propertied and uneducated classes from voting. The government of the new kingdom took place in a framework of parliamentary constitutional monarchy dominated by liberal forces. As Northern Italy quickly industrialised, the South and rural areas of the North remained underdeveloped and overpopulated, forcing millions of people to migrate abroad and fuelling a large and influential diaspora.

The Italian Socialist Party constantly increased in strength, challenging the traditional liberal and conservative establishment. In , male universal suffrage was adopted. The pre-war period dominated by Giovanni Giolitti , Prime Minister five times between and , was characterized by the economic, industrial and political-cultural modernization of Italian society. Starting from the last two decades of the 19th century, Italy developed into a colonial power by forcing Somalia , Eritrea and later Libya and the Dodecanese under its rule.

The country gave a fundamental contribution to the victory of the conflict as one of the " Big Four " top Allied powers. The war was initially inconclusive, as the Italian army got stuck in a long attrition war in the Alps, making little progress and suffering very heavy losses. However, the reorganization of the army and the conscription of the so-called ' 99 Boys Ragazzi del '99 , all males born in who were turning 18 led to more effective Italian victories in major battles, such as on Monte Grappa and in a series of battles on the Piave river.

Eventually, in October , the Italians launched a massive offensive, culminating in the victory of Vittorio Veneto. The Italian victory [] [] [] marked the end of the war on the Italian Front, secured the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was chiefly instrumental in ending the First World War less than two weeks later. During the war, more than , Italian soldiers and as many civilians died [] and the kingdom went to the brink of bankruptcy.

Under the Peace Treaties of Saint-Germain , Rapallo and Rome , Italy gained a permanent seat in the League of Nations 's executive council and obtained most of the promised territories, but not Dalmatia except Zara , allowing nationalists to define the victory as " mutilated ". Moreover, Italy annexed the Hungarian harbour of Fiume , that was not part of territories promised at London but had been occupied after the end of the war by Gabriele D'Annunzio.

The socialist agitations that followed the devastation of the Great War, inspired by the Russian Revolution , led to counter-revolution and repression throughout Italy. The liberal establishment, fearing a Soviet-style revolution, started to endorse the small National Fascist Party , led by Benito Mussolini. Over the next few years, Mussolini banned all political parties and curtailed personal liberties, thus forming a dictatorship. These actions attracted international attention and eventually inspired similar dictatorships such as Nazi Germany and Francoist Spain.

In , Mussolini invaded Ethiopia and founded the Italian East Africa , resulting in an international alienation and leading to Italy's withdrawal from the League of Nations ; Italy allied with Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan and strongly supported Francisco Franco in the Spanish civil war. In , Italy annexed Albania , a de facto protectorate for decades. During the interwar period, the fascist Italian government undertook a campaign of Italianisation in the areas it annexed, which suppressed Slavic language, schools, political parties, and cultural institutions.

During World War II, Italian war crimes included extrajudicial killings and ethnic cleansing [] by deportation of about 25, people, mainly Jews, Croats, and Slovenians, to the Italian concentration camps , such as Rab , Gonars , Monigo , Renicci di Anghiari and elsewhere. In Italy and Yugoslavia, unlike in Germany, few war crimes were prosecuted. Meanwhile, about , Italians and anti-communist Slavs fled to Italy in the Istrian exodus. An Allied invasion of Sicily began in July , leading to the collapse of the Fascist regime and the fall of Mussolini on 25 July.

Mussolini was deposed and arrested by order of King Victor Emmanuel III in co-operation with the majority of the members of the Grand Council of Fascism , which passed a motion of no confidence. The Germans helped by the Italian fascists shortly succeeded in taking control of northern and central Italy. The country remained a battlefield for the rest of the war, as the Allies were slowly moving up from the south.

Some Italian troops in the south were organized into the Italian Co-belligerent Army , which fought alongside the Allies for the rest of the war, while other Italian troops, loyal to Mussolini and his RSI, continued to fight alongside the Germans in the National Republican Army. As result, the country descended into civil war.

Also, the post-armistice period saw the rise of a large anti-fascist resistance movement, the Resistenza , which fought a guerilla war against the German and RSI forces. In late April , with total defeat looming, Mussolini attempted to escape north, [] but was captured and summarily executed near Lake Como by Italian partisans. His body was then taken to Milan , where it was hung upside down at a service station for public viewing and to provide confirmation of his demise. Nearly half a million Italians including civilians died in the conflict, [] and the Italian economy had been all but destroyed; per capita income in was at its lowest point since the beginning of the 20th century.

Italy became a republic after a referendum [] held on 2 June , a day celebrated since as Republic Day. This was also the first time that Italian women were entitled to vote. The Republican Constitution was approved on 1 January Italy also lost all of its colonial possessions, formally ending the Italian Empire. Fears of a possible Communist takeover especially in the United States proved crucial for the first universal suffrage electoral outcome on 18 April , when the Christian Democrats , under the leadership of Alcide De Gasperi , obtained a landslide victory.

The Marshall Plan helped to revive the Italian economy which, until the late s, enjoyed a period of sustained economic growth commonly called the " Economic Miracle ". From the late s until the early s, the country experienced the Years of Lead , a period characterised by economic crisis especially after the oil crisis , widespread social conflicts and terrorist massacres carried out by opposing extremist groups, with the alleged involvement of US and Soviet intelligence.

In the s, for the first time since , two governments were led by non-Christian-Democrat premiers: one republican Giovanni Spadolini and one socialist Bettino Craxi ; the Christian Democrats remained, however, the main government party. During Craxi's government, the economy recovered and Italy became the world's fifth largest industrial nation, after it gained the entry into the G7 Group in '70s.

Italy faced several terror attacks between —93 perpetrated by the Sicilian Mafia as a consequence of several life sentences pronounced during the " Maxi Trial ", and of the new anti-mafia measures launched by the government. The Catholic Church openly condemned the Mafia, and two churches were bombed and an anti-Mafia priest shot dead in Rome. The scandals involved all major parties, but especially those in the government coalition: the Christian Democrats, who ruled for almost 50 years, underwent a severe crisis and eventually disbanded, splitting up into several factions.

During the s and the s, centre-right dominated by media magnate Silvio Berlusconi and centre-left coalitions led by university professor Romano Prodi alternately governed the country. In the late s, Italy was severely hit by the Great Recession. From to , the country suffered 42 months of GDP recession. The economic crisis was one of the main problems that forced Berlusconi to resign in The government of the conservative Prime Minister was replaced by the technocratic cabinet of Mario Monti.

Following the general election , the Vice-Secretary of the Democratic Party Enrico Letta formed a new government at the head of a right-left Grand coalition. The new government started important constitutional reforms such as the abolition of the Senate and a new electoral law. On 4 December the constitutional reform was rejected in a referendum and Renzi resigned after few days on 12 December; the Foreign Affairs Minister Paolo Gentiloni was appointed new Prime Minister.

Italy was affected by the European migrant crisis in as it became the entry point and leading destination for most asylum seekers entering the EU. Since , the country took in over , migrants and refugees, [] mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, [] which caused great strain on the public purse and a surge in the support for far-right, euroskeptic or eurocritical political parties, [] [] which ended in the general election. The election was characterized by a strong showing of the Five Star Movement and the League and the university professor Giuseppe Conte became the Prime Minister at the head of a populist coalition between these two parties.

To the south, it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula and the two Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia the two biggest islands of the Mediterranean , in addition to many smaller islands. The five largest lakes are, in order of diminishing size: [] Garda Although the country includes the Italian peninsula, adjacent islands, and most of the southern Alpine basin, some of Italy's territory extends beyond the Alpine basin and some islands are located outside the Eurasian continental shelf.

These territories are the comuni of: Livigno , Sexten , Innichen , Toblach in part , Chiusaforte , Tarvisio , Graun im Vinschgau in part , which are all part of the Danube's drainage basin , while the Val di Lei constitutes part of the Rhine 's basin and the islands of Lampedusa and Lampione are on the African continental shelf. Four different seas surround the Italian Peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea from three sides: the Adriatic Sea in the east, [] the Ionian Sea in the south, [] and the Ligurian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west. Other well-known subalpine lakes are Lake Maggiore The country is situated at the meeting point of the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate, leading to considerable seismic and volcanic activity.

The last is the only active volcano in mainland Europe and is most famous for the destruction of Pompeii and Herculanum in the eruption in 79 AD. Several islands and hills have been created by volcanic activity, and there is still a large active caldera , the Campi Flegrei north-west of Naples. Italy was the first country to exploit geothermal energy to produce electricity. After its quick industrial growth, Italy took a long time to confront its environmental problems. After several improvements, it now ranks 84th in the world for ecological sustainability.

Many watercourses and coastal stretches have also been contaminated by industrial and agricultural activity, while because of rising water levels, Venice has been regularly flooded throughout recent years. Waste from industrial activity is not always disposed of by legal means and has led to permanent health effects on inhabitants of affected areas, as in the case of the Seveso disaster.

The country has also operated several nuclear reactors between and but, after the Chernobyl disaster and a referendum on the issue the nuclear programme was terminated, a decision that was overturned by the government in , planning to build up to four nuclear power plants with French technology.

This was in turn struck down by a referendum following the Fukushima nuclear accident. Deforestation, illegal building developments and poor land-management policies have led to significant erosion all over Italy's mountainous regions, leading to major ecological disasters like the Vajont Dam flood, the Sarno [] and Messina mudslides.

Italy has the highest level of faunal biodiversity in Europe, with over 57, species recorded, representing more than a third of all European fauna. Italy also receives species from the Balkans, Eurasia, the Middle East. Italy's varied geological structure, including the Alps and the Apennines, Central Italian woodlands, and Southern Italian Garigue and Maquis shrubland, also contributes to high climate and habitat diversity.

Italian fauna includes 4, endemic animal species, which include the Sardinian long-eared bat , Sardinian red deer , spectacled salamander , brown cave salamander , Italian newt , Italian frog , Apennine yellow-bellied toad , Aeolian wall lizard , Sicilian wall lizard , Italian Aesculapian snake , and Sicilian pond turtle. There are mammals species most notably the Italian wolf , Marsican brown bear , Pyrenean chamois , Alpine ibex , crested porcupine , Mediterranean monk seal , Alpine marmot , Etruscan shrew , and European snow vole , bird species and 56, invertebrate species.

The flora of Italy was traditionally estimated to comprise about 5, vascular plant species. Because of the great longitudinal extension of the peninsula and the mostly mountainous internal conformation, the climate of Italy is highly diverse. In most of the inland northern and central regions, the climate ranges from humid subtropical to humid continental and oceanic. In particular, the climate of the Po valley geographical region is mostly continental, with harsh winters and hot summers.

Conditions on peninsular coastal areas can be very different from the interior's higher ground and valleys, particularly during the winter months when the higher altitudes tend to be cold, wet, and often snowy. The coastal regions have mild winters and warm and generally dry summers, although lowland valleys can be quite hot in summer.

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Winters can vary widely across the country with lingering cold, foggy and snowy periods in the north and milder, sunnier conditions in the south. Summers can be hot and humid across the country, particularly in the south while northern and central areas can experience occasional strong thunderstorms from spring to autumn. Italy has been a unitary parliamentary republic since 2 June , when the monarchy was abolished by a constitutional referendum.

The President is elected for a single seven years mandate by the Parliament of Italy and some regional voters in joint session. Italy has a written democratic constitution , resulting from the work of a Constituent Assembly formed by the representatives of all the anti-fascist forces that contributed to the defeat of Nazi and Fascist forces during the Civil War. Italy has a parliamentary government based on a mixed proportional and majoritarian voting system. The parliament is perfectly bicameral : the two houses, the Chamber of Deputies that meets in Palazzo Montecitorio , and the Senate of the Republic that meets in Palazzo Madama , have the same powers.

The Prime Minister and the cabinet are appointed by the President of the Republic of Italy and must pass a vote of confidence in Parliament to come into office. To remain the Prime Minister has to pass also eventual further votes of confidence or no confidence in Parliament. The office is similar to those in most other parliamentary systems , but the leader of the Italian government is not authorised to request the dissolution of the Parliament of Italy.

Another difference with similar offices is that the overall political responsibility for intelligence is vested in the President of the Council of Ministers. By virtue of that, the Prime Minister has exclusive power to: co-ordinate intelligence policies, determining the financial resources and strengthening national cyber security; apply and protect State secrets; authorise agents to carry out operations, in Italy or abroad, in violation of the law. A peculiarity of the Italian Parliament is the representation given to Italian citizens permanently living abroad: 12 Deputies and 6 Senators elected in four distinct overseas constituencies.

In addition, the Italian Senate is characterised also by a small number of senators for life , appointed by the President "for outstanding patriotic merits in the social, scientific, artistic or literary field". Former Presidents of the Republic are ex officio life senators. During the general election these three parties won out of seats available in the Chamber of Deputies and out of in the Senate. The Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic code and later statutes. The Supreme Court of Cassation is the highest court in Italy for both criminal and civil appeal cases.

Since their appearance in the middle of the 19th century, Italian organised crime and criminal organisations have infiltrated the social and economic life of many regions in Southern Italy , the most notorious of which being the Sicilian Mafia , which would later expand into some foreign countries including the United States. A report identified comuni which have a strong Mafia presence, where 13 million Italians live and These ones are relatively low figures among developed countries.

Law enforcement in Italy is provided by multiple police forces, five of which are national, Italian agencies. Along with patrolling, investigative and law enforcement duties, it oversees the security of transportations. The Carabinieri is the common name for the Arma dei Carabinieri, a Gendarmerie that also serves as the military police for the Italian armed forces.

The Corps controls financial, economic, judiciary and public safety. The Polizia Penitenziaria Prison Guards, literally Penitentiary Police operate the Italian prison system and handle the transportation of inmates. Its recent or upcoming turns in the rotating presidency of international organisations include the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in , the G7 in and the EU Council from July to December Italy is also a recurrent non-permanent member of the UN Security Council , the most recently in Italy strongly supports multilateral international politics, endorsing the United Nations and its international security activities.

Italy supported international efforts to reconstruct and stabilise Iraq , but it had withdrawn its military contingent of some 3, troops by , maintaining only humanitarian operators and other civilian personnel. Since , military service is voluntary. The Italian Army is the national ground defence force, numbering , in Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle , the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank , and among its aircraft the Mangusta attack helicopter , in the last years deployed in EU, NATO and UN missions.

It also has at its disposal a large number of Leopard 1 and M armoured vehicles. The Italian Navy in had 35, active personnel with 85 commissioned ships and aircraft. The Italian Air Force in had a strength of 43, and operated aircraft, including combat jets and helicopters.

An autonomous corps of the military, the Carabinieri are the gendarmerie and military police of Italy, policing the military and civilian population alongside Italy's other police forces. While the different branches of the Carabinieri report to separate ministries for each of their individual functions, the corps reports to the Ministry of Internal Affairs when maintaining public order and security.

Italy is subdivided into 20 regions regioni , five of these regions having a special autonomous status that enables them to enact legislation on some of their local matters. Italy has a major advanced [] capitalist mixed economy , ranking as the third-largest in the Eurozone and the eighth-largest in the world.

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The country is well known for its creative and innovative business, [] a large and competitive agricultural sector [] with the world's largest wine production , [] and for its influential and high-quality automobile, machinery, food, design and fashion industry. Italy is the world's sixth largest manufacturing country, [] characterised by a smaller number of global multinational corporations than other economies of comparable size and a large number of dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises , notoriously clustered in several industrial districts , which are the backbone of the Italian industry.

This has produced a manufacturing sector often focused on the export of niche market and luxury products, that if on one side is less capable to compete on the quantity, on the other side is more capable of facing the competition from China and other emerging Asian economies based on lower labour costs, with higher quality products. Its largest EU trade partners, in order of market share, are Germany The automotive industry is a significant part of the Italian manufacturing sector, with over , firms and almost , employed people in , [] and a contribution of 8.

Italy is part of the European single market which represents more than million consumers. Several domestic commercial policies are determined by agreements among European Union EU members and by EU legislation. Italy introduced the common European currency, the Euro in Its monetary policy is set by the European Central Bank. Italy has been hit hard by the Financial crisis of —08 , that exacerbated the country's structural problems. A gaping North—South divide is a major factor of socio-economic weakness.

Italy has a strong cooperative sector, with the largest share of the population 4. According to the last national agricultural census, there were 1. The remainder is primarily dedicated to pastures Italy is the world's largest wine producer , [] and one of the leading in olive oil , fruits apples , olives , grapes , oranges , lemons , pears , apricots , hazelnuts , peaches , cherries , plums , strawberries and kiwifruits , and vegetables especially artichokes and tomatoes.

This geographical indication certificate , which is attributed by the European Union , is considered important in order to avoid confusion with low-quality mass-produced ersatz products. In the transport sector in Italy generated a turnover of about In , about 34,, passenger cars cars per 1, people and 4,, goods vehicles circulated on the national road network. In there were approximately 30 main airports, including the two hubs of Malpensa International in Milan and Leonardo da Vinci International in Rome, and 43 major seaports, including the seaport of Genoa , the country's largest and second largest in the Mediterranean Sea.

In Italy maintained a civilian air fleet of about , units and a merchant fleet of ships. Italy does not invest enough to maintain its drinking water supply. The Galli Law, passed in , aimed at raising the level of investment and to improve service quality by consolidating service providers, making them more efficient and increasing the level of cost recovery through tariff revenues.

Despite these reforms, investment levels have declined and remain far from sufficient. Through the centuries, Italy has fostered the scientific community that produced many major discoveries in physics and the other sciences. During the Renaissance Italian polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci — , Michelangelo — and Leon Battista Alberti — made important contributions to a variety of fields, including biology, architecture, and engineering. Galileo Galilei — , a physicist, mathematician and astronomer, played a major role in the Scientific Revolution.

His achievements include key improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations, and ultimately the triumph of Copernicanism over the Ptolemaic model. Other astronomers suchs as Giovanni Domenico Cassini — and Giovanni Schiaparelli — made many important discoveries about the Solar System. Fibonacci c. Luca Pacioli established accounting to the world. Physicist Enrico Fermi — , a Nobel prize laureate, led the team in Chicago that developed the first nuclear reactor and is also noted for his many other contributions to physics, including the co-development of the quantum theory and was one of the key figures in the creation of the nuclear weapon.

He, Emilio G. Other prominent physicists include: Amedeo Avogadro most noted for his contributions to molecular theory , in particular the Avogadro's law and the Avogadro constant , Evangelista Torricelli inventor of barometer , Alessandro Volta inventor of electric battery , Guglielmo Marconi inventor of radio , Galileo Ferraris and Antonio Pacinotti , pioneers of the induction motor, Alessandro Cruto , pioneer of light bulb and Innocenzo Manzetti , eclectic pioneer of auto and robotics, Ettore Majorana who discovered the Majorana fermions , Carlo Rubbia Nobel Prize in Physics for work leading to the discovery of the W and Z particles at CERN.

Antonio Meucci is known for developing a voice-communication device which is often credited as the first telephone. In biology, Francesco Redi has been the first to challenge the theory of spontaneous generation by demonstrating that maggots come from eggs of flies and he described parasites in details and Marcello Malpighi founded microscopic anatomy , Lazzaro Spallanzani conducted important research in bodily functions, animal reproduction, and cellular theory, Camillo Golgi , whose many achievements include the discovery of the Golgi complex , paved the way to the acceptance of the Neuron doctrine , Rita Levi-Montalcini discovered the nerve growth factor awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

In chemistry, Giulio Natta received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in for his work on high polymers. Giuseppe Occhialini received the Wolf Prize in Physics for the discovery of the pion or pi- meson decay in Ennio de Giorgi , a Wolf Prize in Mathematics recipient in , solved Bernstein's problem about minimal surfaces and the 19th Hilbert problem on the regularity of solutions of Elliptic partial differential equations.

Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world, with a total of At the end of , Italy had 60,, inhabitants. However, the distribution of the population is widely uneven. The most densely populated areas are the Po Valley that accounts for almost a half of the national population and the metropolitan areas of Rome and Naples, while vast regions such as the Alps and Apennines highlands, the plateaus of Basilicata and the island of Sardinia are very sparsely populated.

The population of Italy almost doubled during the 20th century, but the pattern of growth was extremely uneven because of large-scale internal migration from the rural South to the industrial cities of the North, a phenomenon which happened as a consequence of the Italian economic miracle of the —s. High fertility and birth rates persisted until the s, after which they started to decline. The population rapidly aged. At the end of the s decade , one in five Italians was over 65 years old. From the late 19th century until the s Italy was a country of mass emigration.

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Between and , the peak years of Italian diaspora , approximately , Italians emigrated each year. Source: [] []. In , Italy had about 5. Starting from the early s, until then a linguistically and culturally homogeneous society, Italy begun to attract substantial flows of foreign immigrants. An equally important source of immigration is neighbouring North Africa in particular, Morocco , Egypt and Tunisia , with soaring arrivals as a consequence of the Arab Spring. Furthermore, in recent years, growing migration fluxes from Asia-Pacific notably China [] and the Philippines and Latin America have been recorded.

The number of unregistered Romanians is difficult to estimate, but the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network suggested in that there might have been half a million or more. Italy's official language is Italian , as stated by the framework law no. There are an estimated 64 million native Italian speakers [] [] [] and another 21 million who use it as a second language. Standardisation was further expanded in the s and s due to economic growth and the rise of mass media and television the state broadcaster RAI helped set a standard Italian.

Because of recent immigration, Italy has sizeable populations whose native language is not Italian, nor a regional language. According to the Italian National Institute of Statistics , Romanian is the most common mother tongue among foreign residents in Italy: almost , people speak Romanian as their first language Other prevalent mother tongues are Arabic spoken by over , people; In , the proportion of Italians who identified themselves as Roman Catholic Christians was It is recognised by other subjects of international law as a sovereign entity, headed by the Pope , who is also the Bishop of Rome , with which diplomatic relations can be maintained.

In , minority Christian faiths in Italy included an estimated 1. One of the longest-established minority religious faiths in Italy is Judaism , Jews having been present in Ancient Rome since before the birth of Christ. Italy has for centuries welcomed Jews expelled from other countries, notably Spain. Soaring immigration in the last two decades has been accompanied by an increase in non-Christian faiths. There are more than , followers of faiths originating in the Indian subcontinent with some 70, Sikhs with 22 gurdwaras across the country, [].

The Italian state, as a measure to protect religious freedom, devolves shares of income tax to recognised religious communities, under a regime known as Eight per thousand. Donations are allowed to Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu communities; however, Islam remains excluded, since no Muslim communities have yet signed a concordat with the Italian state. Primary education lasts eight years.

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Students are given a basic education in Italian, English, mathematics, natural sciences, history, geography, social studies, physical education and visual and musical arts. Secondary education lasts for five years and includes three traditional types of schools focused on different academic levels: the liceo prepares students for university studies with a classical or scientific curriculum, while the istituto tecnico and the Istituto professionale prepare pupils for vocational education. In , the Italian secondary education was evaluated as slightly below the OECD average, with a strong and steady improvement in science and mathematics results since ; [] however, a wide gap exists between northern schools, which performed significantly better than the national average among the best in the world in some subjects , and schools in the South , that had much poorer results.

Tertiary education in Italy is divided between public universities , private universities and the prestigious and selective superior graduate schools , such as the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. The Italian state runs a universal public healthcare system since The public part is the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale , which is organised under the Ministry of Health and administered on a devolved regional basis. Healthcare spending in Italy accounted for 9. Life expectancy in Italy is 80 for males and 85 for females, placing the country 5th in the world for life expectancy.

For centuries divided by politics and geography until its eventual unification in , Italy's culture has been shaped by a multitude of regional customs and local centres of power and patronage. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, a number of magnificent courts competed for attracting the best architects, artists and scholars, thus producing a great legacy of monuments, paintings, music and literature.

Despite the political and social isolation of these courts, Italy's contribution to the cultural and historical heritage of Europe and the world remain immense. The country has had a broad cultural influence worldwide, also because numerous Italians emigrated to other places during the Italian diaspora.


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Furthermore, Italy has, overall, an estimated , monuments of any sort museums, palaces, buildings, statues, churches, art galleries, villas, fountains, historic houses and archaeological remains , [] and according to some estimates the nation is home to half the world's great art treasures. Italy is known for its considerable architectural achievements, [] such as the construction of arches, domes and similar structures during ancient Rome , the founding of the Renaissance architectural movement in the lateth to 16th centuries, and being the homeland of Palladianism , a style of construction which inspired movements such as that of Neoclassical architecture , and influenced the designs which noblemen built their country houses all over the world, notably in the UK, Australia and the US during the late 17th to early 20th centuries.

Along with pre-historic architecture, the first people in Italy to truly begin a sequence of designs were the Greeks and the Etruscans, progressing to classical Roman, [] then to the revival of the classical Roman era during the Renaissance and evolving into the Baroque era. The Christian concept of a Basilica, a style of church architecture that came to dominate the early Middle Ages, was invented in Rome. They were known for being long, rectangular buildings, which were built in an almost ancient Roman style, often rich in mosaics and decorations.

The early Christians' art and architecture was also widely inspired by that of the pagan Romans; statues, mosaics and paintings decorated all their churches. Byzantine architecture was also widely diffused in Italy. The Byzantines kept Roman principles of architecture and art alive, and the most famous structure from this period is the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice. The Romanesque movement, which went from approximately AD to AD, was one of the most fruitful and creative periods in Italian architecture, when several masterpieces, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Piazza dei Miracoli , and the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio in Milan were built.

It was known for its usage of the Roman arches, stained glass windows, and also its curved columns which commonly featured in cloisters. The main innovation of Italian Romanesque architecture was the vault, which had never been seen before in the history of Western architecture. The greatest flowering of Italian architecture took place during the Renaissance.

Filippo Brunelleschi made great contributions to architectural design with his dome for the Cathedral of Florence, a feat of engineering that had not been accomplished since antiquity. Peter's Basilica, originally designed by Donato Bramante in the early 16th century. Also, Andrea Palladio influenced architects throughout western Europe with the villas and palaces he designed in the middle and late 16th century; the city of Vicenza , with its twenty-three buildings designed by Palladio, and twenty-four Palladian Villas of the Veneto are listed by UNESCO as part of a World Heritage Site named City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto.

The Baroque period produced several outstanding Italian architects in the 17th century, especially known for their churches. The most original work of all late Baroque and Rococo architecture is the Palazzina di caccia di Stupinigi , dating back to 18th century. In this large complex, the grandiose Baroque style interiors and gardens are opposed to a more sober building envelope.

Everything from villas, palaces, gardens, interiors and art began to be based on Roman and Greek themes. During the Fascist period, the so-called " Novecento movement " flourished, based on the rediscovery of imperial Rome, with figures such as Gio Ponti and Giovanni Muzio. Marcello Piacentini , responsible for the urban transformations of several cities in Italy and remembered for the disputed Via della Conciliazione in Rome, devised a form of simplified Neoclassicism.

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The history of Italian visual art is one of the most important parts of Western painting history. Roman art was influenced by Greece and can in part be taken as a descendant of ancient Greek painting. However, Roman painting does have important unique characteristics. The only surviving Roman paintings are wall paintings, many from villas in Campania , in Southern Italy. Panel painting becomes more common during the Romanesque period, under the heavy influence of Byzantine icons. Towards the middle of the 13th century, Medieval art and Gothic painting became more realistic, with the beginnings of interest in the depiction of volume and perspective in Italy with Cimabue and then his pupil Giotto.

From Giotto on, the treatment of composition by the best painters also became much more free and innovative. They are considered to be the two great medieval masters of painting in western culture. The Italian Renaissance is said by many to be the golden age of painting; roughly spanning the 14th through the midth centuries with a significant influence also out of the borders of modern Italy. In Italy artists like Paolo Uccello , Fra Angelico , Masaccio , Piero della Francesca , Andrea Mantegna , Filippo Lippi , Giorgione , Tintoretto , Sandro Botticelli , Leonardo da Vinci , Michelangelo Buonarroti , Raphael , Giovanni Bellini , and Titian took painting to a higher level through the use of perspective , the study of human anatomy and proportion, and through their development of an unprecedented refinement in drawing and painting techniques.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, the High Renaissance gave rise to a stylised art known as Mannerism. In place of the balanced compositions and rational approach to perspective that characterised art at the dawn of the 16th century, the Mannerists sought instability, artifice, and doubt.

The unperturbed faces and gestures of Piero della Francesca and the calm Virgins of Raphael are replaced by the troubled expressions of Pontormo and the emotional intensity of El Greco. Subsequently, in the 18th century, Italian Rococo was mainly inspired by French Rococo, since France was the founding nation of that particular style, with artists such as Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Canaletto. Italian Neoclassical sculpture focused, with Antonio Canova 's nudes, on the idealist aspect of the movement.

In the 20th century, with Futurism , primarily through the works of Umberto Boccioni and Giacomo Balla , Italy rose again as a seminal country for artistic evolution in painting and sculpture. Futurism was succeeded by the metaphysical paintings of Giorgio de Chirico , who exerted a strong influence on the Surrealists and generations of artists to follow like Bruno Caruso and Renato Guttuso. Formal Latin literature began in BC, when the first stage play was performed in Rome. The Romans were also famous for their oral tradition, poetry, drama and epigrams.

Francis of Assisi was considered the first Italian poet by literary critics, with his religious song Canticle of the Sun. Another Italian voice originated in Sicily. The most important of these poets was the notary Giacomo da Lentini , inventor of the sonnet form, though the most famous early sonneteer was Petrarch. Guido Guinizelli is considered the founder of the Dolce Stil Novo , a school that added a philosophical dimension to traditional love poetry.

This new understanding of love, expressed in a smooth, pure style, influenced Guido Cavalcanti and the Florentine poet Dante Alighieri , who established the basis of the modern Italian language ; his greatest work, the Divine Comedy , is considered among the foremost literary statements produced in Europe during the Middle Ages ; furthermore, the poet invented the difficult terza rima. The two great writers of the 14th century, Petrarch and Giovanni Boccaccio , sought out and imitated the works of antiquity and cultivated their own artistic personalities.

Petrarch achieved fame through his collection of poems, Il Canzoniere. Petrarch's love poetry served as a model for centuries. Equally influential was Boccaccio's The Decameron , one of the most popular collections of short stories ever written. Italian Renaissance authors produced a number of important works. Another important work of the period, Ludovico Ariosto 's Orlando Furioso , continuation of Matteo Maria Boiardo 's unfinished romance Orlando Innamorato , is perhaps the greatest chivalry poem ever written.

Baldassare Castiglione 's dialogue The Book of the Courtier describes the ideal of the perfect court gentleman and of spiritual beauty. The lyric poet Torquato Tasso in Jerusalem Delivered wrote a Christian epic, making use of the ottava rima , with attention to the Aristotelian canons of unity. Giovanni Francesco Straparola and Giambattista Basile , which have written The Facetious Nights of Straparola — and the Pentamerone respectively, printed some of the first known versions of fairy tales in Europe.

The Baroque period also produced the clear scientific prose of Galileo as well as Tommaso Campanella 's The City of the Sun , a description of a perfect society ruled by a philosopher-priest. At the end of the 17th century, the Arcadians began a movement to restore simplicity and classical restraint to poetry, as in Metastasio 's heroic melodramas. In the 18th century, playwright Carlo Goldoni created full written plays, many portraying the middle class of his day.

The Romanticism coincided with some ideas of the Risorgimento , the patriotic movement that brought Italy political unity and freedom from foreign domination. Italian writers embraced Romanticism in the early 19th century. The works by Alessandro Manzoni , the leading Italian Romantic, are a symbol of the Italian unification for their patriotic message and because of his efforts in the development of the modern, unified Italian language; his novel The Betrothed was the first Italian historical novel to glorify Christian values of justice and Providence, and it has been called the most famous and widely read novel in the Italian language.

In the late 19th century, a realistic literary movement called Verismo played a major role in Italian literature; Giovanni Verga and Luigi Capuana were its main exponents. In the same period, Emilio Salgari , writer of action adventure swashbucklers and a pioneer of science fiction, published his Sandokan series. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti wrote Manifesto of Futurism , called for the use of language and metaphors that glorified the speed, dynamism, and violence of the machine age. Italian theatre can be traced back to the Roman tradition.

The theatre of ancient Rome was a thriving and diverse art form, ranging from festival performances of street theatre, nude dancing, and acrobatics, to the staging of Plautus 's broadly appealing situation comedies, to the high-style, verbally elaborate tragedies of Seneca. Although Rome had a native tradition of performance, the Hellenization of Roman culture in the 3rd century BCE had a profound and energising effect on Roman theatre and encouraged the development of Latin literature of the highest quality for the stage.

As with many other literary genres, Roman dramatists was heavily influenced or tended to adapt from the Greek. For example, Seneca's Phaedra was based on that of Euripides , and many of the comedies of Plautus were direct translations of works by Menander. During the 16th century and on into the 18th century, Commedia dell'arte was a form of improvisational theatre , and it is still performed today. Travelling troupes of players would set up an outdoor stage and provide amusement in the form of juggling , acrobatics and, more typically, humorous plays based on a repertoire of established characters with a rough storyline, called canovaccio.

Plays did not originate from written drama but from scenarios called lazzi , which were loose frameworks that provided the situations, complications, and outcome of the action, around which the actors would improvise. The characters of the commedia usually represent fixed social types and stock characters , each of which has a distinct costume , such as foolish old men, devious servants, or military officers full of false bravado. The main categories of these characters include servants, old men, lovers, and captains.

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Carlo Goldoni , who wrote a few scenarios starting in , supersed the comedy of masks and the comedy of intrigue by representations of actual life and manners through the characters and their behaviours. He rightly maintained that Italian life and manners were susceptible of artistic treatment such as had not been given them before. The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples is the oldest continuously active venue for public opera in the world, opening in , decades before both the Milan's La Scala and Venice's La Fenice theatres.

From folk music to classical , music has always played an important role in Italian culture. Instruments associated with classical music, including the piano and violin, were invented in Italy, [] [] and many of the prevailing classical music forms, such as the symphony , concerto, and sonata , can trace their roots back to innovations of 16th- and 17th-century Italian music.

Modern Italian composers such as Berio and Nono proved significant in the development of experimental and electronic music. While the classical music tradition still holds strong in Italy, as evidenced by the fame of its innumerable opera houses, such as La Scala of Milan and San Carlo of Naples the oldest continuously active venue for public opera in the world , [] and performers such as the pianist Maurizio Pollini and tenor Luciano Pavarotti , Italians have been no less appreciative of their thriving contemporary music scene. Italy is widely known for being the birthplace of opera.

La Scala operahouse in Milan is also renowned as one of the best in the world. Introduced in the early s, jazz took a particularly strong foothold in Italy, and remained popular despite the xenophobic cultural policies of the Fascist regime. Today, the most notable centres of jazz music in Italy include Milan, Rome, and Sicily.

In the early s, the first star to emerge from the Italian hip hop scene was singer Jovanotti. Italy was also an important country in the development of disco and electronic music , with Italo disco , known for its futuristic sound and prominent use of synthesisers and drum machines , being one of the earliest electronic dance genres, as well as European forms of disco aside from Euro disco which later went on to influence several genres such as Eurodance and Nu-disco. By the latter half of the s, a subgenre of Eurodance known as Italo dance emerged.

Taking influences from Italo disco and Italo house, Italo dance generally included synthesizer riffs, a melodic sound, and the usage of vocoders. Producers such as Giorgio Moroder , who won three Academy Awards and four Golden Globes for his music, were highly influential in the development of electronic dance music. Other companies soon followed in Milan and in Naples. In a short time these first companies reached a fair producing quality, and films were soon sold outside Italy.

After the war, Italian film was widely recognised and exported until an artistic decline around the s. The mids to the early s was the heyday of neorealist films , reflecting the poor condition of post-war Italy. As the country grew wealthier in the s, a form of neorealism known as pink neorealism succeeded, and other film genres , such as sword-and-sandal followed as spaghetti westerns , were popular in the s and s.

Actresses such as Sophia Loren , Giulietta Masina and Gina Lollobrigida achieved international stardom during this period. Erotic Italian thrillers, or giallos , produced by directors such as Mario Bava and Dario Argento in the s, also influenced the horror genre worldwide. In the s, the number of international productions being made there led to Rome's being dubbed " Hollywood on the Tiber ". More than 3, productions have been made on its lot, of which 90 received an Academy Award nomination and 47 of these won it, from some cinema classics to recent rewarded features such as Roman Holiday , Ben-Hur , Cleopatra , Romeo and Juliet , The English Patient , The Passion of the Christ , and Gangs of New York.

The most popular sport in Italy is football. Italy's top-flight club football league is named Serie A and is followed by millions of fans around the world. Other popular team sports in Italy include volleyball , basketball and rugby. Italy's male and female national volleyball teams are often featured among the world's best.


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The Italian national basketball team 's best results were gold at Eurobasket and EuroBasket , as well as silver at the Olympics in Lega Basket Serie A is widely considered one of the most competitive in Europe. Rugby union enjoys a good level of popularity, especially in the north of the country. Italy ranks as a tier-one nation by World Rugby. The men's volleyball team won three consecutive World Championships in , , and and earned the Olympic silver medal in , , and Italy has a long and successful tradition in individual sports as well.

Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides) Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides)
Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides) Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides)
Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides) Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides)
Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides) Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides)
Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides) Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides)
Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides) Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides)
Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides) Adventure Guide to Milan & Italian Lakes (Hunter Travel Guides)

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