Italy is a country located partly on the European Continent and partly on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Italy shares its northern, Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula, and Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. The territory of Italy covers 355,338 km² and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. With 60.2 million inhabitants, it is the sixth most populous country in Europe, and the twenty-third most populous in the world.Italy's capital, Rome, was for centuries the political centre of Western civilisation, as the capital of the Roman Empire. After its decline, Italy would endure numerous invasions by foreign peoples, from Germanic tribes such as the Lombards and Ostrogoths, to the Normans and later, the Byzantines, among others. Centuries later, Italy would become the birthplace of the Renaissance,an immensely fruitful intellectual movement that would prove to be integral in shaping the subsequent course of European thought.Through much of its post-Roman history, Italy was fragmented into numerous kingdoms and city-states (such as the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Duchy of Milan), but was unified in 1861,following a tumultuous period in history known as the "Risorgimento". In the late 19th century, through World War I, and to World War II, Italy possessed a colonial empire, which extended its rule to Libya, Eritrea, Italian Somaliland, Ethiopia, Albania, Rhodes, the Dodecanese and a concession in Tianjin, China.Modern Italy is a democratic republic. It has been ranked the world's eighteenth most-developed countryand its Quality-of-Life Index has been ranked in the top ten in the world.Italy enjoys a very high standard of living, and has a high nominal GDP per capita.It is a founding member of what is now the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Italy is also a member of the G7, G8 and G20. It has the world's seventh-largest nominal GDP, tenth highest GDP (PPP)and the fifth highest government budget in the world.It is also a member state of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the Council of Europe, the Western European Union and the United Nations. Italy has the world's ninth-largest defence budget and shares NATO's nuclear weapons.Italy plays a prominent role in European and global military, cultural and diplomatic affairs, and it is affiliated with worldwide organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, World Food Programme, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Glocal Forum, and the NATO Defence College, which are headquartered in Rome. The country's European political, social and economic influence make it a major regional power, alongside the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Russia and Italy has been classified in a study, measuring hard power, as being the eleventh greatest worldwide national power.The country has a high public education level, high labour force,is a globalised nation,and also has 2009's sixth best international reputation.Italy also has the world's nineteenth highest life expectancy,and in 2000 its healthcare system was ranked the second best in the world by the World Health Organization Report. In 2007 it was the world's fifth most visited country, with over 44 million international arrivals,and boasts a long tradition in the arts, science and technology, including the world's highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to date (45).
The Belpaese (Beautiful Country) is one of the single greatest repositories of sensorial pleasures on earth. From art to food, from stunning and varied countryside to flamboyant fashion, Italy has it all. This is the country that brought us Slow Food, devoted to the promotion of fresh products and fine traditional, cooking. What started as a local protest against fast food has become a worldwide movement. AdvertisementWith 45 sites, Italy has more Unesco World Heritage sites than any other country on earth. Its great città d?arte (cities of art), like Rome, Venice and Florence, have been attracting visitors for centuries, and with good reason. At times, it seems like the country rests on its artistic laurels. This is not entirely true. Milan, the country?s financial hub, has created one of Europe?s biggest and most modern trade fairs and is planning a major residential development, the CityLife complex, in the heart of the city. Venice is possibly the city that has, in appearance, changed least down the decades but it has recently opened a sleek new bridge over the Grand Canal and a spectacular contemporary art space at the Punta della Dogana.Alongside Italy?s art treasures, you?ll find plenty to keep you busy in the countryside. You can ski in the Alps, hike the Dolomites or dive off Sardinia?s golden coast. Adrenalin junkies can catch fireworks on Sicily?s volatile volcanoes. But as much as all of this, a trip to Italy is about lapping up the lifestyle. It?s about idling over a coffee at a streetside cafe or lingering over a long lunch in the hot Mediterranean sun.Make it happenExperience the best of Italy with Lonely Planet's new, full colourDiscover Italy guide. Take alook inside. Visit Italy?s most magical cities: Venice, Florence and Rome
An Italophile, as stated by the complete Oxford dictionary, is a person, or group of persons who adore many aspects of Italian culture, art, culinary expertise (i.e. food), language, geography, history, religion (especially the Vatican), politics etc. This group is comprised as a forum for all things Italian, from archaeological news, to political views, as well as tales of amazing experiences in the land of pizza and pasta.
Site of painter Raphael grave. Circular temple dedicated to "All the Gods", rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian c.AD 120. Transformed into the Christian church Sta Maria ad Martyres in the Middle Ages. Tombs of Raphael and Victor Emmanuel II.
Santa Maria della Vittoria (St. Mary of the Victory) is a small baroque Basilica church in Rome, on Via XX Settembre. The masterpiece in the Cornaro Chapel, to the left of the altar, is Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Scipione's favored sculptor, Bernini.
The largest shrine on earth. St. Peter's has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, holding 60,000 people. Catholic tradition holds that Saint Peter's tomb is below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes, starting with the first ones, have been buried there. As a work of architecture, it is regarded as the greatest building of its age.
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