Italy is a nation in southern Europe that has the shape of what the Kids World Travel Guide describes as a high-heeled boot. It is home to 61,482,297 people, as of 2013. The country is the birthplace of two famous explorers, Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci, and artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci and the tenor Enrico Caruso.
The nation of Italy, which is today a democracy and republic, has a long, rich history that dates back to 753 B.C., with the founding of Rome, which is the country's capital, and home to the Vatican, where the pope sits as head of the Roman Catholic Church. After the Roman Empire ended in 476 AD, the states that comprised it split into several self-ruling bodies, called city-states. Italy became a unified nation March 17, 1861; it was a kingdom, and briefly in the World War II era -- a dictatorship, under Benito Mussolini. In 1946, it became a democracy, with a president and prime minister at its helm. Italy is a founding member of the European Union and NATO.
According to the Kids World Travel Guide, the extended family is an important part of Italian culture. Unlike most United States families, it is not uncommon in Italy to see households with three generations -- grandparents, parents and children -- under one roof. Although the wife and mother still does the cooking, in recent times men have begun to prepare the meals while their female counterparts have accepted the role of breadwinner.
Educational Attractions for Children
Italy has many attractions, including the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the city of Rome, whose ruins tell the story of a once-powerful ancient government and Venice, a city on water where people don't drive, but use boats to travel. Winter sports are popular in Italy, including skiing and mountain climbing in the Alps Mountains. While there, stop at Bolzano's Natural History Museum, where you'll see the famous Ice Age mummy.
Food and meals are an essential part of Italian culture. According to the Country Reports website, Italians don't rush their meals. A dinner can last up to four hours. If you visit an Italian household, eat everything on your plate, and tell the person who cooked it that you thoroughly enjoyed the meal. While you're enjoying that pizza, remember that Italy is the country of origin for this popular dish, which originated in Naples in about 1860. The calzone, which is a folded version of the pizza, is also Italian. Italians also invented ice cream, or gelato, as well as lasagna, which is a layered dish with tomato, mozzarella cheese and meat, which is usually hamburger or turkey burger.
The principal language of Italy is Italian, although French, German and Slovene are spoken by a minority of the people who live there. Many students learn English. The native tongue of Italy is popular among opera composers and singers because of its soft, melodic nature. Like English, Italian has many dialects, which vary according to region.