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International Coffeehouses: Italy

This guide will provide links to resources related to the countries featured in the International Coffeehouses.

Panoramic photo of Florence Italy

Ghost of Kuji. (Photographer). (2017). Florence panorama [digital image]. Retrieved from flickr website: Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

Map of Italy

Country map

Citation: Terrain Map of Italy. Retrieved Feb 9, 2018 from 

Italian Music

Image: Italian Music Album Art


Image: Il Ballo Del Bacino Album Art

    Mandolins From Italy: 24 Most Popular Melodies

Books on Italian Popular Music

More Italian Books in our Collection

Learn Italian!

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Facts in Brief

Country flag with three horizontal stripes, green, white and red (left to right)

The Italian Republic mainly comprises a peninsula, extending from southern Europe into the Mediterranean Sea. The Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in 1861 and the country was unified in 1870. In 1946 Italy became a republic. Until 1963 the Partito della Democrazia Cristiana (DC) held power unchallenged. The remainder of the century was marked by the rapid succession of mainly coalition governments. At an early general election held in February 2013, the centre-left coalition narrowly won the largest share of votes in the Chamber of Deputies. However, there was no overall winning coalition in the Senate, which allocates seats on a regional basis rather than on overall share of the vote. Following lengthy negotiations, a ‘grand coalition’ was finally formed in May, with Enrico Letta as Prime Minister. Following Letta’s resignation in February 2014, a new coalition was formed under Matteo Renzi. Renzi resigned in December 2016 and was replaced by Paolo Gentiloni Silveri. Rome is the capital. Italian is the principal language.

The Italian Republic is situated in southern Europe. Mainland Italy comprises a long peninsula, which stretches from the Alps, along the borders with France to the north-west, Switzerland and Austria to the north and Slovenia to the north-east, south into the Mediterranean Sea. Several adjacent islands form part of the Republic, the largest of which are Sardinia (Sardegna) to the west and Sicily (Sicilia) to the south-west. Within its territory two small city-states remain independent—San Marino, near Emilia-Romagna and the Marche in central Italy, and the Vatican City in Rome. Italy covers an area of 301,336 sq km (116,346 sq miles).


Snapshots of Italy

Aerial Image of Turin Italy

Turin, Italy

The Po Valley is the richest and most modern agricultural region in Italy, and its land is almost totally cultivated. It is also Italy's most densely populated region, with many cities and a growing number of industrial suburban towns. Milan and Turin, in the western part of the valley, are at the center of the most heavily industrialized part of Italy.

Image of the apline slopes

Village in the Dolomites

The Alpine Slope runs across the northernmost part of Italy. Its landscape includes huge mountains and deep valleys. Forests of beech, oak, and chestnut trees grow at the lower levels of the mountains. Higher levels feature grasslands and conifer forests...The people of the Alpine region live in small, scattered communities, and make their living by farming and herding. Many tourists visit the Alps to ski.

Aerial image of Genoa Italy

Genoa, Italy

Life in northern Italy differs in many ways from that in southern Italy. The north is richer, more urbanized, and more industrial than the south. Service industries and manufacturing and construction employ the most people in both areas. But the percentage of people who work in agriculture is much higher in the south than in the north.

Aerial image of Rome


The country boasts several world-famous cities. Rome, the capital and largest city of Italy, was the center of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago. Florence was the home of many artists of the Renaissance, a period of great achievements in the arts. Venice, with its intricate canal system, attracts tourists from all over the world.

Photo inside the Roman Colosseum

Roman Colosseum

For nearly 1,500 years, starting about 1000 B.C., the history of Italy was largely the history of the Etruscans and of ancient Rome. The last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was defeated in Italy in A.D. 476 by a Germanic leader, Odoacer. His defeat marked the end of the western part of the Roman Empire. During most of the period from the fall of Rome until the Kingdom of Italy was established in 1861, the peninsula was divided into several smaller states.

Image inside St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

Perhaps the greatest achievement of Italian Renaissance architecture was St. Peter's Basilica, originally designed by Donato Bramante in the early 1500's. 

Image of workers at an Italian Vineyard

Italian Vineyard

Grapes are one of Italy's most valuable crops. Most of the grapes are used to make wine. Italy is a leading wine-producing country, and its wines are exported throughout the world. Italy is one of the world’s leading producers of olives. Most are used to make olive oil, another valuable export. Italy is also one of the world's leading producers of apricots, artichokes, cauliflower, cherries, kiwi fruit, lettuce, peaches, and pears. Other fruit and vegetable crops include apples, oranges, potatoes, and tomatoes.

Franco Battiato

(1945-2021) Franco Battiato was one of the most popular Italian singer-songwriter, composer, filmmaker whose songs contain esoteric, philosophical, and religious themes, and have spanned genres such as experimental pop, electronic music, progressive rock, and new wave. His unique sound, song-crafting, and especially his lyrics, offered him a spot in Italy’s music scene with the nickname of “Il Maestro”.

His album L’Egitto Prima delle sabbie won the Stockhausen award for contemporary music in 1978. A single, brief ascending arpeggio is repeated over and over again at different time intervals. While the right hand plays the arpeggio, the left hand keeps a few keys silently pressed, each time a different set of keys. Every time the arpeggio is repeated the harmonics will vary.

Single “I treni di Tozeur” was the Italian entry in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1984 performed by Alice, a famous Italian singer, and Battiato. 

“Niente e come sembra” is a simple, intimate song about the relief of understanding that “nothing is as it seems” because, like in Lennon-McCartney’s “Strawberry Fields”, “nothing is real.” Spare electronic drums give way to a sweeping orchestral sound in the chorus.

More information:

"Mystical Arrogance: Franco Battiato's Esoteric Pop" by Alessandro Carrera -

"Franco Battiato, Pop Singer and Versatile Composer, Dies at 76" by Gaia Pianigiani - 


Foods of Italy

Ennio Morricone

(1928-2020) Ennio Morricone was an Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor, and trumpet player most known for his film music. Morricone was most recently inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for being one of the most prolific and greatest film composers of all time. His score to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) is regarded as one of the most recognizable soundtracks in history. He has received several Oscar nominations for his music in The Untouchables (1987), The Hateful Eight (2016), and has written the scores for several Quentin Tarantino films such as Kill Bill, Inglorious Bastards, and Django Unchained.

Italian Canzone and The Festival della Canzone italiana di Sanremo

The Italian Canzone is an Italian or Provencal song or ballad that resembles a madrigal. The very lyrical and original Italian canzone consists of 5-7 stanzas typically set to music, each stanza resounding the first in rhyme scheme and in number of lines (7-20 lines). The canzone is typically 11 syllables. 

Beginning in 1951 with only three participants, The Festival della canzone italiana di Sanremo or the Italian Song Festival of Sanremo is the most popular Italian song contest and awards ceremony and is held at the Ariston Theater every year. 

"La Canzone Mononota" by Malika Ayane won in 2013

"Canzone per Federica” by Maldestro won in 2017

Book Gallery

Zeno's Conscience Cover Art

Zeno's Conscience

Italo Svevo's masterpiece tells the story of a hapless, doubting, guilt-ridden man paralyzed by fits of ecstasy and despair and tickled by his own cleverness. His doctor advises him, as a form of therapy, to write his memoirs; in doing so, Zeno reconstructs and ultimately reshapes the events of his life into a palatable reality for himself-a reality, however, founded on compromise, delusion, and rationalization...Zeno's Conscience is at once a comedy of errors, a sly testimonial to the joys of procrastination, and a surpassingly lucid vision of human nature by one of the most important Italian literary figures of the twentieth century.  

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay Cover Art

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay

Soon to be an HBO series, book three in the New York Times bestselling Neapolitan quartet about two friends in post-war Italy is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted epic by one of today's most beloved and acclaimed writers, Elena Ferrante, "one of the great novelists of our time." (Roxana Robinson, The New York Times) In the third book in the Neapolitan quartet, Elena and Lila, the two girls whom readers first met in My Brilliant Friend, have become women...They are afloat on the great sea of opportunities that opened up during the nineteen-seventies. Yet they are still very much bound to each other by a strong, unbreakable bond. 

The Name of the Rose Cover Art

The Name of the Rose

It is the year 1327. Franciscans in an Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, but Brother William of Baskerville’s investigation is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths. Translated by William Weaver. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

The Prince Cover Art

The Prince

Described both as a practical rule-book containing timeless precepts for the diplomat and as a handbook of evil, this work of great originality--based on first-hand experience--provides a remarkably uncompromising picture of the true nature of power.

Decameron Cover Art


In the summer of 1348, with the plague ravaging Florence, ten young men and women take refuge in the countryside, where they entertain themselves with tales of love, death, and corruption, featuring a host of characters, from lascivious clergymen and mad kings to devious lovers and false miracle-makers. Named after the Greek for "ten days," Boccaccio's book of stories draws on ancient mythology, contemporary history, and everyday life, and has influenced the work of myriad writers who came after him. 

The Divine Comedy Cover Art

The Divine Comedy

The Divine Comedy, translated by Allen Mandelbaum, begins in a shadowed forest on Good Friday in the year 1300. It proceeds on a journey that, in its intense recreation of the depths and the heights of human experience, has become the key with which Western civilization has sought to unlock the mystery of its own identity. Mandelbaum's astonishingly Dantean translation, which captures so much of the life of the original, renders whole for us the masterpiece of that genius whom our greatest poets have recognized as a central model for all poets. 

Art & Architecture

Photo of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1475-1564. (1508-12). Rome: Sistine Chapel: Lunette - Joatham and Achaz. Retrieved from

Photo of Da Vinci's Last Supper

The Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci, Florentine, 1452-1519. (1495-1498). The Last Supper, fresco for the Refectory, Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. Retrieved from

Photo of the sculpture the Statue of David


Michelangelo Buonarroti. (1501-1504). David. [Sculpture: sculpture (visual work), sculpture (visual work)]. Retrieved from

Photo of the abbey of Fossanova

Abbey of Fossanova

Abbey of Fossanova. [Architecture]. Retrieved from

Photo of a hangar

A Hangar

Nervi, Pier Luigi. (1935). A Hangar. Retrieved from

Image: Interior of the Roman Colosseum

Interior of the Colosseum

70-82 CE. Colosseum, Interior. architecture.

Image: Exterior of the Roman Colosseum

Exterior of the Colosseum

70-82 CE. Colosseum, Exterior with view of Arch of Constantine in background, detail. architecture.

Image: First Reading Lesson by Plinio Nomellini

First Reading Lesson

Nomellini, Plinio, 1866-?. 1905. First Reading Lesson.

Image: Metaphysical Interior with Skyscraper by Giorgio De Chirico

Metaphysical Interior with Skyscraper

De Chirico, Giorgio, 1888-. 1968. Metaphysical Interior with Skyscraper.

Image: Adam and Eve by Enrico Baj

Adam and Eve

Baj, Enrico, 1924-. 1964. Adam and Eve.

Image: Fortune by Francesco Clemente


Clemente, Francesco, 1952-. 1982. Fortune.

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