(Italian Republic, Repubblica Italiana)
- Location : Western Europe
- Capital: Rome
- Language: Italian
- Population: 60,642,308
- Total Area: 301,338 km2
- Currency: Euro
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 10.68 liters
- The most popular drink: Italians consider Limoncello to be their national drink.
Until its unification in the 1860s, Italy was a collection of individual states, and even today there are huge differences between the southern and northern regions of the country. The northern regions, such as the famous wine region of Tuscany, hold Italy’s biggest industries and looks generally like your typical modern western society. The south, however, feels like the ‘old country’. In Napoli, for example you will finds the country’s most famous dishes and traveling throughout the Campania region you will experience the agriculture and hilltop villages associated with traditional Italian life.
Spaghetti Bolognese, risotto, carbonara, lasagna, pizza- to write a list of all the Italian dishes I know, have eaten and have cooked would take up a whole page. It is simply the most influential and accessible cuisine in the world. Yet as any true Italian would tell you, to experience Italian food properly you must visit the country itself. But then to experience the ultimate in Italian cuisine they will tell you you must find the very root of its source- only in Napoli will they say you can eat the best Italian pizza- only in Bologna will you find the best Spaghetti Bolognese. Like anyone truly in love, Italians are willing to share their food with everyone.
While the population of Italy is 60 million, there is another 70 million people worldwide with Italian ancestry. Brazil alone has 30 million. The influence of Italian people and their culture is immense and anyone traveling to the country is likely to arrive with a clear idea of how they expect the people to live. People from Sicily, for example, will make their own wine, grow their own food and live by rules rooted in mafia lore. The more cultured people of Milan and Rome will wear elegant and designer clothes whilst racing down the road in their Ferraris. And of course, everyone, no matter where you go, will be loud, expressive and passionate. There is some truth in each of these stereotypes, but in general, Italy is as diverse as any other western society. Aside from people with Italian nationality, the country contains 1.2 million Romanians, 800,000 North Africans and 500,000 Albanians.
Why if Italians love their wine and liquors so much, do they have one of the lowest alcohol consumption rates in Europe? The answer is that when it comes to alcohol Italians see themselves as connoisseurs; they like to slowly sip and savor the taste. Rarely will an Italian drink to get drunk. In Italy, people consume alcohol with food and like Italian food; one should enjoy it for its taste and delicacy.
As a soccer-loving teenager brought in the nineties, I remember the time when Italian football was richest and best league in the world. People would occasionally accuse it of being too slow and defensive but with the likes of Ruud Gullit, Roberto Baggio and Diego Maradona you knew there was always a chance of seeing a great game. Yes, they had their huge, dominant clubs like A.C Milan and Juventus, but there were also smaller clubs such as Napoli who managed to pick up a few Serie A titles. Today, accusations of corruption have drained some of life from it, but nonetheless Italian football still has its moments. In 2004, they surprisingly won the world cup, their fourth world title. Last year Inter Milan beat the might of Barcelona and Chelsea on the way to winning the 2010 Champions league. Serie A may no longer dominate, but Italian football still has among the best stadiums, the biggest clubs and the most passionate supporters in the world.
Story By World By Shotglass
©2012 World By Shotglass. All Rights Reserved
Special thanks to our contributors:
Simon Arms (Berlin, Germany)
Daniel Krasnopolsky (Woodmere, NY, USA)