As with many European countries, football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Italy. Other sports such as rugby and volleyball are also enjoyed. In areas of Italy, where the Americans stayed during the Second World War, there is a strong, although small, following of the sport of baseball.
Music and Dance
In Italy, traditional music differs from region to region and is heavily influenced by its historical past. In the northern region of Italy, for example, music has strong Celtic influences, while the southern half of the country has hints of Greek and Arabic influences. Most traditional music is rich in religious meaning.
Sardinia is known for its distinctive polyphonic style of chanting. Similarly, the Sardinian ‘launeddas’ or triple pipe, a triple clarinet like woodwind instrument dating at least as far back as the 8th century, has a polyphonic sound and is played using circular breathing.
Sicily has a variety of associated styles of music with strong Christian influences. Traditionally, the music of Sicily is recognized for its devotional choir songs. The traditional instrument of Sicily is the flute.
Opera is a well-known form of music to come out of Italy beginning as early as the 16th century in Venice.
Tarantella dance is commonly practiced in most parts of Italy with regional differences. Tarantella is the name given to a group of folk dances characterized by quick music and movements. The dance is believed to have origins as a cure for spider venom. Tarantella can also be a courtship dance and it is considered unlucky to dance tarantella alone.
Italy’s state holidays include New Years Day, Easter Monday, Labour Day (May 1) and Christmas Day and a list of others.
- Epiphany—January 6
- Liberation Day—April 25
- Anniversary of the Founding of the Republic—June 2
- Feast of the Assumption or Ferragosto—August 15
- All Saints—November 1
- Feast of the Immaculate Conception—December 8
- St. Stephens Day—December 26
It is also important to note that all towns, cities and villages in Italy celebrate the day of their patron saint. These dates vary from location to location. For example, Rome celebrates the Feast of St. Paul and St. Peter on June 29.
Each of the different geographical regions within Italy has a different style of cuisine, based on what is readily available in that area. For example, coastal regions are often known for their seafood dishes.
Central Italy favours olive oils and cheese. Beef and wild boar are readily available and used frequently, along with cured meats. Stuffed pasta, such as Tortellini of Emilia is famous in this region.
Southern Italian cuisine frequently involves tomato sauces and olive oil. Citrus fruit is also a popular ingredient in the south. Southern Italy is famous for the world’s first opened pizzeria in Naples.
Northern Italian cuisine does not include olive oil as frequently as southern Italian cuisine, and rice is generally preferred to pasta for the starch in dishes. Risotto and polenta dishes are most popular. Rather than using tomato sauce, cream based sauces are used more often. Northern Italian cuisine also includes more rabbit and quail.