Many scholars consider Italy to be the birthplace of human culture and the cradle of civilization as we know it. Lying under the bright hot sun of the southern part of Europe, Italy has been basking in scrutinizing public attention for as long as it has existed. It is one of the key players in the arena of world importance.
One can say without any exaggeration that, to a degree, the entire world has been affected by Italy’s cultural and belief systems. Of course, Western culture has benefited from Italian teachings the most: its art, science, education, philosophy, and religion all can be traced back to Italy.
Like any country out there, modern Italy and its population are different from those of ancient times. Today, Italian people carry a mixture of cultures and belief systems introduced by immigrants from all over the world. Economically, Italy has also had a far-reaching effect on the rest of the world.
Religion as an Element of Italian Culture
Italy is probably best known for its being the originator of Catholicism practices. That is where the Catholic Church, the largest and most famous Christian branch, started to spread its word. The majority of Italians are Roman Catholics, and the common religious beliefs in the country are based on the teachings of Catholicism. Vatican City, the world-famous “country within a country,” aka “the smallest country in the world,” is the headquarters of the Roman Catholicism.
Although the Catholic Church has mostly separated its affairs from the state, it still has a vital cultural role to play. Catholicism is a natural part of Italian life that is to be taken for granted. It’s an inevitable cultural, social, and political force that Italians take “with the whole package.”
Of course, there are other religions present too: Islam and some other Christian churches occupy around 15% of the country’s religious beliefs. Generally, Italians believe in life after death, and that there will be appropriate consequences for good and bad people, which is an eternity in Heaven or Hell, accordingly.
Italian Beliefs and Traditions
Italians are famous for having very close family ties and regarding them very highly. Italian family values and connections are a crucial part of the Italian community, with both sides of the family getting equal attention and treatment. Traditionally, marriage used to be an arranged affair in Italian culture. Of course, nowadays, customs in Italy are not strict, and marriage is an exercise of free will.
Only recently, divorce has become possible in Italy. Before that, with the cult of family values and life-long commitment, it was forbidden. Also, it’s important to point out that, although most Italians marry, it’s customary for children to do it later in life and stay unmarried to take care of the family’s older members. As for inheritance, both male and female members of the family are regarded equally.
Traditionally, there was a strict gendered role division in Italian society, which has changed in modern times. Nevertheless, the family is still the basic unit of Italian society. In most cases, husbands are viewed to be the heads of their families.
The high importance of physical appearance for Italians needs to be acknowledged. Dressing style, body stature, and personal hygiene are usually taken great care of. Italians are very fashion conscious, and to them, to produce the right first impression is crucial.
Other than the Catholic Church, Italy is probably only more famous for its arts. Italian tradition is rich in all forms of it – architecture, painting, sculpture, poetry, opera, theater, and many others. Strictly speaking, it’s the arts to be thanked for bringing all of the annual millions of tourists to Italy. It’s not surprising that the arts in Italy get all the support from both the public and private sectors. This support has ensured the world’s undying interest in Italy to this date.
From ancient times, architecture and sculpture have dominated the Italians’ art world. The preserved relics of buildings and statues remain to be the highlights of Italian tourism. Many best-known pieces of sculpture were created in the middle ages and were mostly religious.
Until the 13th century, written literature in Italy was mostly done in Latin. Italian works in poetry, theology, and philosophy continue to shape the modern intellectual world. Music writing also started in Italy, which is why the Italian language is used by music teachers to explain how music should be played to this date.
A lot of people from all over the world share the opinion that Italian is the most musical language. Although it is a very subjective matter, drawing its judgment from personal tastes, there is a common belief that the Italian language is gentle, melodic, and sounds almost like a song. There is a scientific explanation to that – the Italian language enjoys using vowels a lot. For instance, almost all Italian words end with a vowel, and frequent use of double consonants is only adding to sample the musical factor.
Already in pre-Renaissance times, Italian was considered to be the language of the European culture. During this period, the greatest humanitarians and writers of the time flourished to contribute to the scientific world, traditionally writing them in Latin.
Italian was not just the language of science – its recognition as a noble language was achieved through its outstanding works in the musical sphere. The Italian language got its first praises from writers and scholars worldwide as early as the 17th century.
Voltaire, a well known French philosopher and writer, spoke with appreciation of the “beautiful Italian language, Latin’s firstborn sibling.” For James Howell, an English historian, and writer, Italian was “the best-composed language in terms of fluency and smoothness.”
Italian is the official language of the country and is spoken by the majority of citizens. Some dialects are recognized in a few regions, which are sometimes considered to be different languages.
Italian food has also gained worldwide fame – arguably more so than any other aspect of Italian culture. Who hasn’t tried pasta in their life? And pizza’s popularity is hard to argue about – ask any kid, and they will tell you how they love eating pizza most in the world.
Of course, there are specific differences in preparing the food in various regions, but spaghetti, pizza, bread, soup, meat, and vine are common in all areas.
Politics of Italy
The current Italian constitution came into effect on 1st January 1948. That’s when the people of Italy voted to have a Republic and not a monarchy. Italian parliament consists of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The Italian government has three branches: executive, judiciary, and legislature.
The President is elected every seven years and must be less than 50 years old. The prime minister is appointed by the President, whose duty is to form a government. The President is the commander of armed forces, and it’s in their power to dissolve parliament and call for new elections. There is no Vice President in Italy, so, if the President dies, elections will have to be held.
Italy is a member of various organizations, including but not limited to North Atlantic Treaty Organization, European Union, and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Writing about Italy is relatively easy and certainly very pleasant. Whether you are writing an Italian culture research paper or a cultural analysis, there is enough material and ideas for Italian essay topics to cover almost any sphere you wish in your culture project. Italian heritage has its deep imprint on every part of the Western culture, including your essay example.