The cultural tradition of Italy is one of the richest in the world. In art, architecture, literature, music, and science, Italians have often stimulated cultural development far beyond Italy’s borders. Even before the great contributions of the ancient Romans, the Etruscans in Tuscany and the Greeks in the south of Italy created flourishing cultures. In the 14th century that great flowering of Italian culture known as the Renaissance began.
The Renaissance lasted for almost three centuries, and during that period Italians led all Europe in learning and the arts Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are among the most famous painters and sculptors in the history of art. Writers such as Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio developed new forms that influenced writing outside Italy for centuries. Italian culture developed in many different centers because of the country’s long history of political fragmentation. From the Renaissance to recent times every large provincial city in Italy has been a cultural capital, on however modest a scale. Each center has its own history and distinctive culture. During the 20th century, cultural regionalism gave way to the effects of political unity, modern education, and mass communications, and Italian culture gained national and international scope. From opera to popular music, from painting to design, from cinema to fiction, Italians have continued to make outstanding contributions to contemporary culture.
Many of the great Italian painters, such as Giotto, Fra Angelico, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, and Amedeo Modigliani, are covered in separate articles in the encyclopedia, as are famous Italian composers, such as Antonio Vivaldi, Gaetano Donizetti, Giacomo Puccini, Gioacchino Rossini, and Giuseppe Verdi.
Italian contributions to 20th-century culture came from motion-picture directors such as Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio de Sica, Federico Fellini, and Bernardo Bertolucci; artists such as Sandro Chia, Giorgio de Chirico, and Giacomo Manzù; writers such as Alberto Moravia, Italo Calvino, Natalia Ginzburg, Primo Levi, and Umberto Eco; and opera singers such as Enrico Caruso, Renate Tebaldi, and Luciano Pavarotti.
Italy is rich in important library collections. Among the largest and most valuable libraries are the national libraries in Florence, Naples, and Rome. Several universities also have large libraries. Smaller collections, rich in local manuscripts and incunabula (books printed before 1501), are found in most Italian cities.
World-famous art collections are housed in numerous Italian cities. Among the most important art museums are the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace in Florence, the National Museum in Naples, and, in Rome, the Capitoline Museums, the Galleria Borghese, and the Villa Giulia. Vatican City has important art collections in its museums and chapels, the most famous of which is the Sistine Chapel. An international biennial exhibition of visual arts in Venice is world renowned. "Italy" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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