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Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
Enrico Mattei
The figure of Enrico Mattei is one of the most intriguing in modern Italian history, and perhaps in the world in general, as he changed the economic balance in the Middle East, as well as relations between America, Russia and Europe.   Mattei worked in a very sensitive business: oil. He created a new world of demand and supply, affecting an established system in ways that would change it forever, but which would prove to be deadly for him. Oil is a crucial element in the global balance of power
Sunday, October 9th, 2016
  Memorial at the Vajont and dam in the background Ph. depositphoto/massimocampa   The Vajont is a stream flowing in the valley of Erto and Casso beforemerging with the Piave River in Langarone and Castellavazzo, in the Belluno province (Veneto). On October 9th, 1963, at 10.39 pm, a terrible disaster happened. A big piece of the Toc mountain fell into the artificial lake created by a dam on the Vajont river, creating a huge wave that covered the towns beneath the dam and killed probably 1,910
Wednesday, September 28th, 2016
life in italy during world war two
As many other people in Italy and around the world, I was brought up by my grandparents. They were all born between 1913 and 1918, they lived – and fought – the Second World War on their skin. Different memories of it, they had, because different for them was what fate reserved in those years. Regardless of how much – and how – the war touched their lives, it changed it forever and in such a way even I, born in 1978, bring within the emotional signs of what they experienced.    I also carry in
Thursday, July 21st, 2016
italian inventions
Think of Italy: beautiful landscapes, incredible art, delectable wines and food. Life-changing inventions are not among the first things springing to mind, right?  Yet, incredible minds were born in the country and they all contributed to the evolution of science, technology, the art: in other words, they contributed to make the way we live today... the way it is. Let us take a look.   One of Leonardo's drawings for a flying machine. He is also behind the invention of the
Monday, July 18th, 2016
Curiosities Colosseum
The Colosseum, undisputedly one of the most famous and recognizable Roman monuments on the face of Earth, has a long and interesting history.   Rome, the eternal city, and its most famous building: the Colosseum (Massimo Mastropietro/Flickr)   In 2007, it became one of the Seven Marvels of the Modern World, in spite of not making any justice to its original self: commissioned around 70-72 AD by Roman Emperor Vespasian, the majestic Roman theatre was originally three times larger than what we
Thursday, May 19th, 2016
Garibaldi and the American Civil War
Garibaldi... who does not know the man who unified Italy?    Giuseppe Garibaldi (wikimedia)   Well, in fact, the merit was not all his and the old man does have a fair share of critics, but what can we do: Garibaldi's is a case where popular belief has made a far deeper impression than history itself. Whatever he really did, whether he was a good or bad commander, Italians are not likely to give up on one of the few positive heroes of their history. There is a lot Italy does not know about
Saturday, April 30th, 2016
brief history of italy
Italian History In many ways, the history of Italy is the history of the modern world. So many pivotal moments in our collective past have taken place in Italy that it can be considered Europe’s historical keystone. In this section, learn about the great and not so great moments in Italian history, from the grandeur of Rome to the Renaissance, the Risorgimento and the  battlefields of World War II.     Brief History of Italy By 500 BC, a number of peoples of
Tuesday, April 12th, 2016
from baroque to napoleon
Milan: Triumphal Arch in Napoleon's Honor   As the Italian Renaissance spread throughout Europe, the next wave of innovation in art, culture and science was emerging. The 17th and the 18th centuries in the history of Italy are considered part of the early modern period. However this period, at least the first half, is often closely associated with the dominant artistic and architectural movement known as Baroque. This time also was marked by a long foreign domination of
Saturday, March 26th, 2016
history of food
You all know I like the past, so it should come as no surprise that, among my weekly newsagent's buys there are magazines about history, rather than the most recent issue of Cosmo. When I bought the latest number of a popular history monthly last week, I came across an article that tickled my curiosity and sent me on an online quest to learn more about it.  The topic? The strangest things ever eaten on the peninsula throughout the centuries.    Medieval people roasting meat, from an original
Friday, February 26th, 2016
italy prehistory
Grotta Guattari - Photo courtesy of Egnoka/Wikimedia   The Italy of today is vastly different from the land our early ancestors discovered, back in the early Paleolithic Age. The ice ages had left exposed vast tracts of land now submerged under the sea. The very first people to settle in what is now known as Italy arrived nearly half a million years ago and were the Neanderthals, followed later by our modern human ancestors. With the arrival of the Neolithic Age, Italy became host
Thursday, February 11th, 2016
Massacres during WWII - many corpses were thrown into the 'foibe'   February 10 is, in Italy,  the day to commemorate the victims of the 'foibe' atrocity.   Geologically,  "foibe" are narrow mountain gorges, typical of the Friuli Venezia Giulia and Istrian peninsula, today mostly located within the slovenian and croatian borders, where the landscape is characterized by karst mountains that create natural chasms.    The History Between 1943 and 1947, especially towards the end of WWII and
Tuesday, February 9th, 2016
secret societies italy
In recent years secret societies have gained cachet with the general public. From Yale's Skull and Bones to the Freemasons and the Knights Templar, movies and literature have been rife with these groups. Taking into account Italy's rich and varied history it is not a surprise that the country has been home to many secret societies, some of which are still in activity.   Carboneria: Rome, In memory or Carbonari killed by the pope in 1825   In the course of centuries political
Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
italian jewish community ww2
In occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on the 27th of January, anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz, we decided to dedicate an article to the history of the Italian Jewish community during the "Ventennio," before and after the promulgation, in 1938, of the Leggi Razziali, Mussolini's racial laws against the Italian Jews.    Even though the magnitude of this specific aspect of the Second World War was not as abominable as in other parts of Europe, the amount of Italians of
Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
rome ancient civilization
  Rome - The Pantheon was commissioned by the great Marcus Agrippa   The great, ancient civilization of Rome is without a doubt one of the mightiest and most influential of all the cultures that came before and after. There were few things the Romans did not master. Today we look back and marvel at how, in fields ranging from engineering to warfare, the mighty Romans were before their time.   Roma sprang up as a small, agricultural civilization in the
Wednesday, January 20th, 2016
italy 1800
Members of the first Italian Government in Torino   The 19th century was a time of great change for Italy, as the modern world emerged. The most prominent events of this time revolve around the rise of the Italian unification movement. Known as the Risorgimento, it was the social and political process that eventually succeeded in the unification of many different states into the modern nation of Italy. The exact dates of the beginning and end of the Risorgimento are
Friday, January 15th, 2016
life in italy 1900
March on Rome in 1922   The newly unified nation of Italy (see Life In Italy during the 19th Century) faced several serious problems. It had a very large debt, few natural resources, and almost no transportation or industries. This combined along with a high ratio of poverty, illiteracy, and an uneven tax structure, weighed heavily on the people of the country. Regionalism was still strong at the time, only a small fraction of Italians had voting rights. The Pope was also
Friday, January 8th, 2016
castles italy
  Castel del Monte, Puglia Ph. depositphotos/stefyblue   Majestic towers, crenellated battlements, stone fortresses perched upon rocky crags, romantic ruins, sumptuous palazzos and much more: these are the images that come to mind when picturing the Castles of Italy.   The political instability of Italy during the middle ages has left its countryside and cities full of testaments to this turbulent time period. Castle formations are found throughout Italy, and they
Wednesday, December 16th, 2015
women of italian risorgimento
Many women played key roles in the Italian Risorgimento: some  fought with the soldiers, others held secret meetings or helped important men raise funds. Some became nurses, or took charge of hospitals. These fiery women were mostly well-educated and somewhat liberated.  Some were even rebellious members of the aristocracy. Two women who played important roles in the unification of Italy are Margaret Fuller and Princess Cristina di Belgiojoso.   Margaret Fuller
Saturday, November 7th, 2015
Italy in the 1990s
The 1990s in Italy were very different from life in the previous decade.   Like in many other parts of the world, the 80s were a time of fun, excess and luxury in Italy. The latter part of the 1980s topped the seemingly unlimited economical growth of the country and marked the apparent transformation of Italy from an agricultural country to one based on modern industry and service. In those years, Milan affirmed itself as the social and economical capital of Italy with designers,
Wednesday, November 4th, 2015
montecassino abbey
Abbey of Montecassino. Ph. Tilly Sfortunato on flickr   It is really a delight to visit the Abbey of Montecassino to admire its beautiful architectural splendor and remember its history. The Abbey was founded by St. Benedict and built over the site of the pagan temple of Apollo, where the sculpture of Apollo was destroyed along with the altar. Due to its significant location, this place has always been a target of military attacks throughout history, the most gruesome of all
Thursday, October 22nd, 2015
places torture italy
  An article on chambers of torture in Italy... Well, you may have noticed that we at lifeinitaly have been digging Halloween. Actually, is more than that: we are really enjoying the atmosphere of the months of October and November, when mystery and spooks go hand in hand not only because of Halloween, but also because of feasts such as All Saints and All Souls, truly rooted in Italian tradition, and themselves prone to create a certain feeling of pleasurable dread, especially in children.  We
Thursday, October 15th, 2015
triora witch trials
Italy, 1898. After three centuries of silence, the witches of Triora's screams echoed once again in the quiet, crystal-clear air of the Ligurian mountains.   The Witches of Triora: one hundred years before Salem (Roland Scheerer/flickr)   Someone summoned them. Someone rose them from their sleep of shame and pain, calling them one by one. His name was Michele Rosi and he was to be the first to dedicate a book to the witches: he had decided it was time to talk, to write about them and to begin
Thursday, October 15th, 2015
cult dead and burial methods italy
  The months of October and November are peculiar: Summer is, in most of the country, a distant memory, yet, the light and brightness brought by winter snow still have to come. These are weeks characterized by the first, true cold of the season, the early setting of darkness, the scents – if you live in the countryside, that is – of damp earth and fallen leaves. Nature, in October and November, puts on her rich autumnal cloak, heavy with red, orange and golden embroideries. Sometimes, when
Thursday, September 17th, 2015
Alexander VI, the Borgia Pope   Pope Francis has called a Jubilee for year 2016.  In over seven hundred years of history, the Jubilee has changed drastically. The first 'holy years' were under two highly controversial popes known for their 'lack of spirituality': Boniface VIII, who proclaimed the first Jubilee in 1300, and Alexander VI, the Borgia pope who acknowledged fathering several children by his mistresses.   The pilgrimage began as a way to request "indulgences": those baptized
Friday, September 4th, 2015
little known Italian history
In the first part of this article, we presented five curious and little known facts about the history of Italy and its people: from ancient Rome and its soldiers, to the tragic end of Pompeii, up to the times of the unification of Italy, we've discovered a bunch of interesting things on this country we all love.  But I had so much fun preparing the first part of this article – and there's so much curious history out there! – that putting together a second became paramount. Here're, so, more
Thursday, September 3rd, 2015
little known italian history facts
I don't know about you, but I love history and I find it all interesting: from military history to biography, from ancient Rome to the Second World War, I can read up history books as easily as I eat cake (and I eat a lot of cake, believe me). I also happen to be a historian by education and I spent most of my adult life reading and researching about history (Late Antique, to be precise).  I adore history, so, but I am aware not everyone feels the same way about the past, especially if the only
Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
etruscan civilization
  Archaeological site of tombs (necropolis) near Populonia, in Tuscany   Originally settled in what is Tuscany today, the Etruscans were one of the most important civilizations in ancient Italy. The name Etrusci was given to the civilization by the Romans, and it was from this name that Tuscany's name eventually derived.   The Etruscans existed in Italy before the founding of Rome and, although the exact date of their origin is unclear, it is known that they
Monday, June 1st, 2015
italy world war one
One Hundred Years of Remembrance   An Italian Trench on the Eastern Front (Corriere della Sera, November 1915)   On May 24 2015, Italy celebrated the 100th anniversary of its entry into World War One. Many, even if aware of its bloodiness and of the tragedy it brought to the entire world, fail to understand its true magnitude: we are, often, more aware of how horrific, how unconceivably violent World War Two was, yet we seem not to perceive World War One's
Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
  The performance of the Italian armed forces during the Second World War has been the butt of jokes for over 70 years. However,  the notion that the Italian military fought poorly and surrendered readily is not exactly true as there are examples of Italian forces fighting quite successfully and bravely. But the widespread belief seemed to be that the Italians were cowards, with disasters such as the failed takeover of a much weaker Greece and ineffective fighting in North
Friday, February 6th, 2015
 The Western Roman Empire was in deep disarray by the 5th century AD. The last centuries of the Western Empire encompass what is known as Late Antiquity, but the later centuries after the fall of Rome are often known as the Dark Ages. The ways of the Roman Empire would continue in the East, but Italy would now be occupied by barbarian tribes like the Goths and the Lombards.   Theodoric's Mausoleum, in Ravenna (by Sebastià Girait at  
Friday, February 6th, 2015
  In the time following the end of the Western Roman Empire known popularly as the Dark Ages, Italy faced great hardship due to the political and military struggles among the Byzantines, the Lombards and the Franks, along with a visible collapse of the Mediterranean trade.  Towns of  early medieval Italy consisted of basic houses, in the gardens of which town dwellers would grow their own food. However, as the Dark Ages wore on, Italy emerged
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
italy renaissance
     Panoramic view of Florence and Ponte Vecchio, the cradle of the Renaissance in Italy   The Renaissance or rebirth began in Italy at the end of the fourteenth century and became an era of many cultural and architectural achievements in Europe. The Renaissance first began in Tuscany and was centered on the republics of Siena and Florence after the decimation left in the wake of the Black Death. The end of the Renaissance period marked the transition of the
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
Though the history of Rome is quite complex and sometimes bewildering, the Medieval period was a time of transition for the great city. Two major institutions called the papacy and the commune of Rome are the key players in its history and much can they say about the way the city is today.     Wars for Power and Control Continue   During the 5th century, Rome was ruled under Roman law by  Odoacer and Theodoric the Great, with Roman officials still in power. The
Saturday, January 17th, 2015
Benito Mussolini (left) and Adolf Hitler (right)   Please look at the excellent article Italians in WWII, by Justin Demetri   The years from 1940 to 1945 in Italy, as well as in many other countries of the world, were those of the Second World War. The Italian military effort in those years has been often criticized: while the army of Italy was thought to have poorly performed during the war, this was mainly because of the circumstances at the time
Thursday, November 6th, 2014
italian lira
  In 2002, all EU member states abandoned their national currencies to embrace the euro. It has been 12 years, yet, in Italy the lira is still dearly missed: if we count the nostalgic, one may believe the change happened only a few months back.  Truth is the lira had been our own currency since 1862, a symbol of the long desired and painfully achieved unity of the country that had only taken place a few months earlier, in 1861. Up to then, each state in the peninsula had its own currency, the
Thursday, July 24th, 2014
Catania Castello di Aci Castello The castle of  Aci Castello was built in dark volcanic stone and it is situated on a cliff on the sea, not far from the town. Due to its strategic position, this place was used as a fortress and it was conquered by Normans. The castle was destroyed several times and it was partly damaged by the eruption of the Etna volcano in 1169. It also witnessed the clash between Aragon family of Sicily and Anjou of Naples but later in the time it became a prison in 1787
Thursday, July 24th, 2014
castles Italy
The central section of Sicily includes a number of beautiful castles that can be visited among the provinces of Enna and Caltanissetta. In this article you will find a list of some of the best castles that you can find here, with some useful information about the past of the area and its legends:   Enna  Castello di Lombardia   This is considered the most ancient and majestic castles all over Sicily. Even if the castle of Lombardia recalls the northern region of the country and its name is
Thursday, July 24th, 2014
Sicily is the region with the highest number of castles in the country. It would be impossible to visit all the castles present on the island but here is some of the must-to-visit reduced in a short selection in the Western side of the territory:  Agrigento Castle of Racalmuto  Most of the castles in the region have Swabian origins and the Castle of Racalmuto is one of these. The monument is an example of military architecture founded under the king Ruggero d'Altavilla but later inhabited by
Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
Frederick II with Eagle Frederick of Hohenstaufen (known in Italian as Federico VII Hohenstaufen di Svevia, Federico I di Sicilia, and Federico II del Sacro Romano Impero), was the larger-than-life King of Sicily, Holy Roman Emperor and (briefly) King of Jerusalem - a true legend in his own time. Better known as Frederick II (Federico II) , he was unlike any other Medieval ruler, possessing the mind of a scientist, the soul of a poet and the iron will of an autocrat.
Friday, June 1st, 2012
The year 753 BC marked the beginning of Rome, which would soon come to dominate the western world for centuries until its collapse in 476 AD. The traditional story states that Rome was founded by the brothers Romulus and Remus, who were the sons of Rhea Silvia and Mars, the god of war. The two children were sentenced to death, but were instead snuck away by a servant whereupon after being nursed by a wolf, they were taken in by a shepherd. Eventually they found a city on the Palatine Hill, a
Friday, June 1st, 2012
    Historic Connection Between North East England And Monte Amiata, Tuscany A most intriguing fact has been brought to my attention, and one that I feel slightly ashamed, maybe, for not having known before.  Can you name the important historic connection between Anglo-Saxon North East England and Monte Amiata in Tuscany?  It's known as The Codex Amiatinus and actually happens to be one of the most treasured pieces of historic work in existence. It is the oldest manuscript copy of
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Please look at the excellent article Italy WWII myth and reality by Justin I found the two comments below while browsing news groups - They have quite an interesting point of view and I share their opinion. Mussolini at his peak still did not reach the support of half the population and he knew that entering world war 2 could threaten his grip on power. He entered the conflict after a year, only when he thought Hitler had already won it. I think all the Italians wanted to
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Pagan history is everywhere and is easily found by researching the history of our modern customs and practices. Some of the days of the week and even some months of the year are named after Pagan gods. This week we are going to take a look at the month of January and find out what part Paganism plays in the first month of our current calendar year. The birth of the month of January is credited to Numa Pompilius. Numa was the second of seven kings that ruled Rome before it became a republic.
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Milan April 29 1945: Mussolini e Claretta Petracci hanging   After the Second World War and the defeat of Musssolini's fascist government, Italy's history was in the hands of the Christian Democratic system for almost 40 years with the Italian Communist Party acting as the main opposition. This condition continued until the crisis of the Soviet Union, theTangentopoli scandal and mission Mani pulite. This helped improve electoral system with major reformation in the Italian political
Friday, June 1st, 2012
The history of Rome is closely tied to its military history. As a fledgling nation, Rome's military was disorganized and sporadic, only being brought together as it became necessary. With time, however, the military would become a professional war machine, with its members fighting for the glory of the state, rather than for personal acclaim. The expansion and fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of Imperial Rome can all be attributed in part to shifts in military structure, loyalty, and
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Italy in the 1970s The 1970s in Italy are years of social and political commitment throughout the country. The decade opens with the proclamation on the law on divorce, in 1970, and ends with the law on abortion, in 1978. Both laws at the time are hot topics of debate, followed by referendum votes that split the population of Italy. Worker’s strikes and terrorist activities dot the 70s and everybody has a political point of view on almost any subject.   Italian