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Culture and Traditions

Italian culture has a rich history that includes art, classic architecture, popular traditions, and customs. Includes links to trends in Italy today as well as resources on folklore, history, and artistic traditions.
  1. Cinema / Film (16)
  2. Fashion (6)
  3. Festivals / Holidays (18)
  4. Food / Wine (27)
  5. Italian Americans (5)
  6. Italian Artists (11)
  7. Italian Sports (9)
  8. Organizations (28)
  9. Italian For Travelers (18)

Danielle escapes language purgatorio in Naples. She feels free to speak, make mistakes, and use the words she knows instead of suppressing all that she had been trying to hide in Florence.

Azzurro (literally, azure) is the national Italian color. It is also the color of the jerseys worn by Italian athletes in international competition.

Black Cadillacs, Big Hair, and Pinkie Rings
Not everyone who watches The Sopranos has the advantage of growing up as an Italian American in New Jersey. Here then an unauthorized, highly biased cultural explanation of Soprano concepts and terms such as bada bing, gabagool, goomba, and three–piece suits.

Calabrian Curses: Avoiding the Malocchio
After their misadventure in Calabria, Danielle and her friends continue further south and decide to cross the straits to visit Messina. But first, they encounter a gypsy and must avert the malocchio.

Calabria Stinks: Arrest on the Autostrada
Stopped by the police and cited for not having a patente internazionale, Danielle and her friends are arrested and taken to the station. But they manage to avoid time in a Calabrian jail because they stink up the joint.

Commedia dell'Arte
A brief history of Commedia dell'Arte, also known as Italian comedy, a humorous theatrical presentation performed by professional players who traveled in troupes throughout Italy in the 16th century.

Draft Dodging
On a train south to Naples, two passengers alert Danielle to the dangers of the spiffero and protect her from drafts that might cause all sorts of health troubles.

When the euro became the common currency for twelve participating countries in the European Union, Italy seemed to have the most difficulty in adopting the new currency. Many Italians waited until the last minute to switch from lire to euros.

Festa della Repubblica Italiana
Festa della Repubblica Italiana

Galilei, Galileo
Biography of the famous astronomer and mathematician who invented the telescope and was tried during the Inquisition in the 1600s for heresy.

Italiani, Italici, e Italians
Italiani, Italici, e Italians

Heritage Italian-American Style
Want to improve your Italian language skills while learning more about the significant contributions Italians and Italian Americans have made to world culture? The latest edition of Heritage Italian–American Style has the answers for you.

Home Is Where the Hearth Is
Houses in Italy run the gamut from the modest to the extravagant. There are many surviving villas and Renaissance palazzi that were originally built by popes, dukes, and wealthy traders.

Il Vittoriano
The National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II (better know as Il Vittoriano) is a monument dedicated to the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II. It is located in Piazza Venezia, in Rome.

Italian words have been migrating to English over the course of many centuries, so you'll be happy to discover that you already know quite a bit of Italian.

Italia Turrita
Italia turrita is the personification of Italy as a nation. The allegorical image, a young female figure, wears a crown in the shape of a ring wall with towers (hence the term turrita, or "towered, turreted").

Italian Baby Names
The nursery is freshly painted and has a new crib. When you last visited the baby doctor your delivery date was confirmed. The only thing you haven't decided on is an appropriate name for your new baby. What about an Italian baby name? Maybe there's a Cipriano or a Tranquilla in your future!

Italian By The Numbers
If you travel to Italy and don't speak Italian, it seems as if everyone is speaking...Italian! But in fact, there are several different languages spoken in Italy, as well as a number of dialects.

Italian Hand Gestures
Speak Italian with your hands! Illustrated hand gestures with an explanation in Italian and English.

Italian Coffee
Espresso, caffè normale, cappuccino; sometimes it seems that there are as many types of coffee in Italy as there are pastas. And just like pasta, Italian coffee is an art form with many customs and traditions.

Italian Last Names
Italian last names typically arose from geographic location, description, patronym, or trade. See a list of the top 20 Italian last names throughout Italy and an explanation of how Italian last names originated.

Meaning and Origins of Italian Last Names
The origins of Italian surnames vary. Many are derived from the names of people, places, professions, or nicknames, and most originated in the Middle Ages, when the practice largely started.

Italian Tattoos Are Forever (That's Per Sempre!)
Italian language tattoos have a certain cachet - many people don't know what they say, lending the tattoo a certain sophistication or flair. But that's the point. Many people, including the tattoo artist, don't understand what the tattoo says, and a simple slip of the needle can turn love (amare) bitter (amaro).

Italians Reject English Phrases
Members of the Italian parliament have launched a campaign against English phrases that are flooding into their culture and language.

Learn Italian: Discover Your Family Heritage
Adult language learners can uncover their family's Italian heritage by learning the language.

L’Ultimo Viaggio: Welcome to America
Back in the U.S. after traveling for a year in Italy, Danielle is awoken by the sound of church bells and has a revelation.

Mammone: Pronounced The Same in Sicilian
Danielle travels to Sicily hoping to dispel some of the negative stereotypes she grew up with. One evening she finds herself with a handsome man whispering sweet indecipherable nothings into her ear. But she soon discovers that a mammone is still a mamma's boy, even when speaking Sicilian.

Marconi: Grandfather of Wireless
What's lost in the onslaught of buzz about the wireless Internet is that an Italian inventor started it all over 100 years ago.

National Italian American Heritage Month
Every October the U.S. president signs an executive order with a proclamation in recognition of the many achievements, contributions, and successes of Americans of Italian descent as well as Italians in America.

Not Just Spaghetti
When she visits an Italian elementary school on English Day, Danielle is anticipating a discussion about Italian culture. Instead, she gets a lesson in Southern Italian stereotypes.

Pilgrimage to Capaccio: Next Stop Capaccio
Danielle discovers what a pullman is, and finally succeeds in reaching her grandmother's hometown in southern Italy.

Pilgrimage to Capaccio: Pullman vs. Autobus
In a pilgrimage to her grandmother's hometown in southern Italy, Danielle is stumped, not by an inability to communicate in Italian, but by an apparently English word.

Pompeii's Frisky Frescoes Revealed
You may have to learn a whole new set of Italian vocabulary words if you plan on traveling to southern Italy. After years of excavation and restoration, archeologists have unveiled a series of frescoes with explicit sex scenes in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

Smoke Signals: Electing a New Pope
Secret ballots. Black and white smoke. Tapping the forehead of the dead pope with a hammer. There are many elaborate rites and traditions involved when electing a new pope.

Speaking Italian With Your Hands
Italians use body language and hand gestures to punctuate an expression and give it a shading that the word or phrase itself lacks.

Starbucks Speaks Italian
Practice your Italian when ordering coffee the next time you walk into the Starbucks coffeehouse. Many of the menu items are listed in Italian, so you can improve your Italian vocabulary while enjoying an espresso, cappuccino, or latte.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Italian History and Culture
Whether you're a primadonna or a fanciulla, a mammone or a Medici, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Italian History and Culture is like a delicious hours-long Italian meal with great friends and terrific conversation that will leave you sated long after the table is cleared.

The F-Word
When she first arrived in Florence as a college student, fidanzato was the first Italian word that Danielle understood and to which she could excitedly respond.

The Italian Government Merry-Go-Round
Sometimes it seems that the Italian government strives to reach new levels of dysfunctionality. After all, there have been close to sixty governments since the country formed a democratic republic in 1946 following World War II, and political scandals seem to be the norm rather than the exception.

The Italian Presidential Banner
The stendardo presidenziale italiano (Italian presidential banner) is flown during military events and other ceremonies to signal the presence of the head of State and therefore accompanies the president of Italy in all his travels.

The Manicotti Incident
When I was in the second grade, we were given a penmanship evaluation in which we were asked to write about our favorite food. Mine was manicotti, but I had no idea how to spell it. So, I asked my teacher.

The National Symbol of Italy
The national symbol of Italy, the result of two public design competitions during the late 1940s, is characterized by three elements: a star, a gear wheel, and olive and oak branches.

The Red Balls
The Medici family emblem - its history, origin, and traditions.

Troppo Snob
Danielle thought that her Italian background would set her apart from all the other American students walking around Italy in flip-flops and complaining about a lack of peanut butter. But in Florence, her Southern Italian heritage was as foreign as her fear of trippa.

Vatican Of The 90's?
The Renaissance stops in for a drink and a show at Las Vegas.

When Speaking Italian Was A Crime
The Italian-American community boasts a rich history and unequaled vitality. The country was even named after an Italian, the explorer Amerigo Vespucci. So it may come as a huge surprise to discover that speaking Italian was once considered a crime.

Animated Italian Hand Gestures
Over 60 RealVideo clips with notes (in Italian) about regional differences, how to make the gesture, appropriate usage, and type (i.e., colloquial, vulgar, or trivial)

Catacombs of Rome
Explore the subterranean passages that served as collective burial grounds for early Christians.

CIA World Factbook: Italy
Reference source compiled by the CIA contains topics on geography, government, transportation, communications, and the economy.

Codex Arundel: Leonardo da Vinci's Manuscript
One of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks, held by the British Library. The range of subjects—from mechanics to the flight of birds—demonstrates Leonardo's almost compulsive intellectual curiosity about scientific and technical matters.

Costituzione della Repubblica Italiana
Complete text of the Constitution of the Italian Republic, first published December 7, 1947. [in Italian]

Test-drive "La passiona ci guida" at the virtual showroom, and find out about Il Cinquecento, Fiat's answer to the Volkswagen Beetle.

Offers scholars a central source for information in the field of Italian history and includes conference announcements, discussions, and book reviews.

Italian Creches
The building of "presepi" or creches, is a tradition in southern Italy with ancient roots. Discover the historical background, browse images, and review building courses and shows.

Italia Dei Cognomi
Introduction to the study of Italian surnames with a searchable map divided by region. Type in your last name, click on the arrow, and the map will show where in Italy the largest concentration of people sharing that surname live. [in English and Italian]

Italian Historical Society of America
Cultural organization preserves biographical material about Italian heritage, maintains a cultural center, administer scholarships, and develops documents on Italian culture.

Italian Tech Volcano Set to Erupt
Italy's answer to Silicon Valley has taken root and is beginning to thrive. The surprising thing is that this isn't happening in the north - Italy's traditional region for industry and commerce - but in the deep south, hard by Sicily's Mt. Etna.

Manifesto in Difesa della Lingua Italiana
Proclamation to defend against the l'inquinamento della lingua italiana and reject the threat of English syntax corrupting the Italian language. [in Italian]

Medici Archive Project
Initiative to digitize the Medici Granducal Archive, to create a sophisticated searchable database. Focus on documentary sources for the arts & humanities, the history of costumes & textiles, and Jewish history, religion, and culture.

Non Sparate sull'Italenglish
Article in La Repubblica about the growing influence of English on everyday Italian, as evidenced by the inclusion of many foreign words in the latest Italian dictionaries. [in Italian]

Roman Architecture
Illustrated Dartmouth College course syllabus that discusses the geometric forms and mathematical relationships in Roman architecture. With syllabus and bibliography for further study.

Vatican Museums
Audio, video, and descriptions of the must-see collection include the full-sized statues from Julius II which formed part of the original nucleus of the Papal Museums.

Virtual showroom and official website of the classic motorino with technical specs, images of the latest models, and news from Piaggio.

The Italian National Anthem
The Italian National Anthem

The Italian National Flag
The Italian National Flag

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