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Monday, 31 August 2015

Italy

HISTORY

Since ancient times, Etruscan, Celtic, Greeks and other cultures have flourished in the territory of present-day Italy. Rome began as a small farming community in the tenth century BC, eventually emerging as the dominant power on the peninsula and conquering most of the then known world.

Construction of the campanile of the cathedral of Pisa (now known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa) begun in 1173. It would take two centuries to complete.

Italian culture thrived during the Renaissance, producing artists, architects, engineers, scientists and thinkers such as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli. Italian explorers such as Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci discovered new routes to the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery.

The first official Italian tricolour flag was adopted by the government of the Cispadane Republic in 1797.

Before 1861,  Italy was made up of smaller kingdoms and city-states. In 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi took control of Sicily, creating the Kingdom of Italy the following year. Vittorio Emanuele II was made the King.

After three years of political turmoil in Italy, Benito Mussolini took power by having his "Black Shirts," march on Rome and threaten to take over the government. King Vittorio Emanuele III gave in, asked him to form a government on and made him prime minister on October 31, 1922.

Mussolini had established a fascist dictatorship by the end of 1927. Only the King and his own Fascist party could challenge his power.

On June 10, 1940, Mussolini sent Italy into the Second World War on the side of the Axis countries. After initially advancing in British Somaliland and Egypt, the Italians were defeated in East Africa, Greece, Russia and North Africa.


Allied forces launched the first of four assaults on January 17, 1944 on Monte Cassino, a historic hilltop abbey founded in AD 529 by Benedict of Nursia. The intention was break through the Winter Line held by Axis forces and seize Rome, an effort that would ultimately take four months and cost 105,000 Allied casualties.


In a referendum, Italians voted to turn Italy from a monarchy into a Republic on June 2, 1946, when for the first time, women were able to vote. After the referendum the King of Italy, Umberto II di Savoia, was exiled.

Ballot paper used in the referendum.

The current form of the Italian flag has been in use since June 19, 1946.


In February 1947, Italy signed a peace treaty with the Allies losing all the colonies and some territorial areas (Istria and parts of Dalmatia).

FUN ITALY FACTS

In 2010, the Italian government had a fleet of 629,000 official cars: ten times as many, as the US government.

Italy is home to the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – more than 40.

The Italians speaks a national language, which was based on the Tuscan dialect, but each region still speaks its own dialect.

With almost 40 million visitors, Italy is the fourth most visited country in the world.

The Italian Wolf is considered the national animal of Italy.

87.8% of Italians said in a 2006 poll that they were Roman Catholic. Only just over a third said they were active members (36.8%).

Source Italoamericano.org

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