“A Pisa Italy” February 19, 2021 by Nick Witkowski
Over 60 million, and no, I am not talking about the number of slices of pizza I thought I have eaten in my life. I am referencing the number of people that live in the beautiful country that is Italy. This country holds many historical roots that emphasize the architecture, culture, and overall atmosphere of anyone who decides to visit. So grab your passport, get on the La Convivencia plane (socially-distanced of-course), and let's set out on the adventure awaiting us in Italy! For those unfamiliar with Italy, the country's beginning of modernization dates back to 1861, when the country’s unification began. Since then, it has developed into quite a breathtaking peninsula. From the stunning gondola riding in Venice, which is the capital of the country, to visits to the iconic Coliseum located in Rome, to the jaw-dropping architecture of both Florence and Milan, and even the Dolomites, which has amazing hiking trails that as you walk you see the most stunning mountains that will leave your mouths jaw-dropped. Italy is jam-packed with the best scenery both industrial and natural and is a great place to go if you have a nice camera. Diving deeper, we are going to look at one of Italy’s most prominent factors when it comes to its culture, the food. Italy is usually known as a place that utilizes a ton of cheese and pasta, and we are going to be highlighting some of the most well-known foods and delectable treats that will have your mouth watering for hours. First and foremost, one of Italy’s staple dishes, Pizza. Now unless you have been living under a rock, you should know what this food is, Pizza consists of cheese, tomato sauce, crust (made from wheat, water, and yeast), and is topped with oils. It has since revolutionized from just an Italian dish to now all around the world cuisine, with a multitude of different toppings on the dish which vary upon each country. Secondly, the different kinds of pasta that have originated from Italy, including Penne, Lasagna, Linguine and so many more. Pasta is one of the most diverse foods, and can be created into so many different tastes, and can get almost anyone to at least love one type. When you think Italy, pasta most definitely comes to your mind, and why wouldn’t it? It’s delicious and can be nutritious as well. Moving on with foods though, are Italy’s many tasty desserts and treats, to highlight a few, we have Tiramisu, which is made from mascarpone cheese, eggs, sugar, cocoa beans, and espresso for the coffee flavor it so delectably carries. It is one of the most divine high-end desserts that you can buy. Next is the gelato, which is made from cream, milk, and sugar. Gelato is easily related to ice cream, but the trick is to make this treat you use more milk and less cream, and gelatos don’t require egg yolk. I highly recommend this dessert because, in my opinion, it even tastes better than ice cream! (Crazy right)! Now, while there are plenty of other foods that Italy has to offer, the most important thing about Italian food is its importance in the culture. Italians use food to bring families, big or small, together as they share a good meal as well as share the love of togetherness and connection amongst one another. Speaking of connection and spreading togetherness in both families and communities, let's get into some of the holidays and religious practices that Italians involve themselves in. The biggest religion within the Italian culture is Roman Catholicism, which makes up about 80% of the Italian population, this is due to Italy being extremely close to Vatican City, which is the epicenter of this religion, and is where the Pope lives. With the heavy influence of Roman Catholicism in Italian culture, a lot of holidays are celebrated publicly that are related to the religions. For example, Epiphany, which is celebrated annually on January 6th (typically with a big feast), and its meaning is to mark the end of the Christmas and holiday season and commemorate the presentation of Jesus to the Magi, or three wise men. Another Italian holiday is called Ferragosto and is celebrated annually on August 15th, this is more of a vacation rather than a day-long celebration, and typically what people do when this holiday comes around is that they take two weeks off either before or after the holiday date and just enjoy life. I especially thought this holiday was amazing, since people need a break every once in a while, especially those who work hard for everything they’ve got. I wish a lot of other countries and people did this because I think that this is a fantastic holiday to have. Color and arts have become a huge part of the Italian culture, and the clothing that Italians wear only emphasizes this point. Now as I mentioned before, Italy is recognizable from its beautiful landmarks and cities, as you see buildings demonstrate vivid colors that catch your eye and the sparkling rivers that will only reflect a smile on your face. Well, the same thing applies to the clothes Italians wear! Some standard outfits are characterized by a plentiful amount of colors and numerous decorative elements, which makes sense as Italy is a place for fashion. Typically, women wear a pleated skirt, a white embroidered shirt with a colorful apron, and a corsage; sometimes they wear a headband too, usually at holidays. As for men, they wear more basic clothes, as they wear trousers and a white shirt. But, to top them off they have colorful jackets, hats, and accessories. Looking into the music and dance scene for Italian culture, they typically do things that stem from folk traditions, meaning that they focused on historical dances and music in their region and then evolved them and adapted them into their culture as time progressed. One of the most popular dances among Italians is called the tarantella. This is a dance that has a person performing light, quick steps together to music. This dance is typically connected to romance, and is usually done in a couple, and is a very lively one at that, as they are played during a lot of holidays and weddings in celebration and love. Additional dances are the ballu tandu, which is a type of round dance, and the saltarello. As for music, opera plays a huge presence in Italian culture, once again due to its historical roots as it was created in Italy. Italian pop music is also a very big genre amongst the country, but for a more of a day to day listening rather than a celebration or holiday. Their pop music incorporates a couple of genres into one, including jazz, hip hop, and rock along with the pop music that most are familiar with around the world. Their music is historic and creative, and some you should listen to sometimes. Wow, what a trip! Italy does seem like quite the experience, it makes me want to go the next (safe) chance I get! From its captivating historical roots, rich vibrant color schemes throughout the land, and vast yet scrumptious list of foods to eat, Italy has so much to offer for anyone who wants to take a trip or just simply learn more about the culture. They have a lot of things most other countries don’t and their emphasis on religion and their history since unification only beautifies the country itself. So what are you waiting for? Once this pandemic is over, take your little two-week vacation and head on over (You don’t even need to celebrate Ferragosto to do it)!
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