Destinations » Europe
» Mediterranean »
one knows with absolute certainty what the origin of the name Italy is. Most people
believe the name Italia, as the country is called in Italian, comes from the Latin
word, which is identical. This word may have been borrowed from the Greek phrase
oscan viteliu, which means "land of young cattle." Another theory
states that the peninsula is named after Italus, who was the mythical king of the
Oenotrians, a pre-historic group of people living in the region.
Italy today is rooted in a number of great civilizations, including the Roman Empire
as well as being a focal point of the Renaissance. However, some aspects of
their culture date to much earlier times, such as foods based in Etruscan society,
while other aspects of their culture are much more recent, particularly due to technological
advancements, making Italy a country with one foot in the past, but a more noticeable
foot firmly planted in the present.
Prior to the Roman Empire, the people of Italy were divided ethnically, linguistically,
and culturally. Each group of people seemed to have their own cultures and lifestyles,
with some people living off the lands and others more dependent on the seas. Today
few of these original attributes can be found other than in foods. Most of these
past cultures were lost due to the emergence of the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire introduced new ideas from far reaches, while extending their own
ideas to other parts of Europe and the Mediterranean. This empire unified the people
and culture in many ways as clothing, foods, religion, and language were all shared.
While the tunic is no longer popular, the Latin language evolved into the modern
Italian language and the empire's later adoption of Christianity changed the
culture to a vast degree, a religion that is still popular today.
Despite the fall of the Roman Empire, the Italian Peninsula remained tied to and
influenced by much of Europe. The culture of the region spread to Europe, particularly
in the form of religion, while aspects of Europe made their way to the Italian Peninsula.
However, sub-cultures emerged and the people grew apart in many ways as local cities
trumped the region in importance to many people as family and community remained
at the center of the culture.
Even with the Renaissance, little changed in the way of community leadership,
however the country advanced quickly in terms of technology and communication, hence
rapidly changing the culture. There was a relative excess of money, partially due
to advanced technology that allowed less work to be done with the same or greater
results. This turned people's attention to the arts, entertainment, and social
life when and where it was possible. This ultimately changed culture and the lifestyle
in a way that remains common today in Italy and throughout the world.
Despite the advancements, Italy didn't unify for a couple more centuries. With
unification the culture and lifestyle continued to change, but the people also became
more uniform in many ways. This has continued to change even today as communication
and transportation have brought the people closer together. These things have also
given Italy a modern society where a walk with cigarette in hand is a nightly ritual
and the only gladiators to be found are on their cell phones hawking tourists to
get their picture taken with them.
Learn More About Italy:
Map of Italy: