World Wednesday- Italy
For me, Italy encapsulates the spirit of the Mediterranean; its culture is simultaneously fresh and vibrant whilst by rooted in wholesome tradition (the legacy of the Roman Empire is evident in almost every part of the country).
Italy (known as Italia by natives) is located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea and consequently profits from the fruits of its location- the weather is temperate seasonal.
Roman Catholicism is undoubtedly the most predominately practised faith in Italy and this is reflected by the prevalence of world- renown churches; such as St. Peter's Basilica- the largest church in Christendom; in the country. Not to be underestimated is the amount of Jews living in Italy, testament to Judaism being one of the longest established minority religions in the country. Sadly, more than 20% of Italian Jews lost their lives during the Holocaust and, conflated with emigration, there are now just under 30,000 Jews living in Italy.
Italians take great pride in declaring their love of good food and this is certainly reflected in Italian cuisine- it is simply divine! Though food differs regionally it consists of many staples e.g. pasta- the most interesting being Mezzelune, which is the pasta equivalent of a calzone. Italy cuisine is rooted in ancient tradition and dates back as far as 4th Century BC!
The Italian landscape is incredibly diverse from the undulating hills of Tuscany to the snow-capped mountains of the Italian Alps. Few countries can boast such breath-taking topography and many of the country's areas e.g. Lake Como, are claimed to be the most beautiful in the world.
Five Fascinating Facts
A dog named Rocco discovered a truffle in Tuscany in 2007 that weighed 3.3 pounds. It sold at auction for a mind-boggling $333,000 (USD)- a world record.
The pre-dinner passeggiata (evening stroll) is one of Italy’s most enduring leisure activities where Italians stroll about the streets to see and be seen.
The Shroud of Turin is an ancient piece of linen cloth believed to bear the faint imprint of a male body, perhaps Jesus Christ after he was killed. It has been in the Turin’s San Giovanni Cathedral for at least 420 years. While scientists have determined the shroud was made no earlier than the 1200s, others continue to debate when and how the shroud was created.
The name Italy comes from the word Italia, meaning “calf land,” perhaps because the bull was a symbol of the Southern Italian tribes.
When McDonald's opened in 1986 in Rome, food purists outside the restaurant gave away free spaghetti to remind people of their culinary heritage.
Thank you for reading, I hope you have learnt something new! :)