The still-standing aqueducts, bathhouses, and other public works of both ancient republic and empire testify to the engineering and architectural skills of the Romans. The rebirth of science during the Renaissance brought the daring speculations of Leonardo da Vinci including discoveries in anatomy, meteorology, geology and hydrology advances in physics and astronomy by Galileo Galilei , and the development of the barometer by Evangelista Torricelli. At the start of the 20th century, Guglielmo Marconi carried out experiments in electricity and developed the wireless, but he was preceded by Count Alessandro Volta , one of the pioneers of electricity, over years earlier.
By the end of the Second World War, Enrico Fermi 's work in nuclear physics led to the development of both the atomic bomb and peaceful atomic applications. On 25 September , US Congress passed a resolution that officially recognized the Florentine immigrant to the United States, Antonio Meucci , as the inventor of the telephone.
A brief overview of some other notable figures includes the astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini , who made many important discoveries about the Solar System ; the mathematicians Lagrangia , Fibonacci , and Gerolamo Cardano , whose Ars Magna is generally recognized as the first modern treatment on mathematics, made fundamental advances to the field; Marcello Malpighi , a doctor and founder of microscopic anatomy ; the biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani , who conducted important research in bodily functions, animal reproduction, and cellular theory; the physician, pathologist, scientist, and Nobel laureate Camillo Golgi , whose many achievements include the discovery of the Golgi complex , and his role in paving the way to the acceptance of the Neuron doctrine.
The Italians love of automobiles and speed has made Italy famous for its production of many of the world's most famous sports cars and the industry that flourishes there. Some of the world's most elite vehicles were developed in Italy: Lamborghini , Ferrari , Alfa Romeo , and Maserati are but a few of the well-known luxury cars that originated in Italy. The country and especially the Italian Institute of Technology have produced some ingenious humanoid robots like iCub. The art of sculpture in the Italian peninsula has its roots in ancient times.
In the archaic period, when Etruscan cities dominated central Italy and the adjacent sea, Etruscan sculpture flourished. The name of an individual artist, Vulca , who worked at Veii, has been identified. He has left a terracotta Apollo and other figures, and can perhaps claim the distinction of being the most ancient master in the long history of Italian art.
A significant development of this art occurred between the 6th century BC and 5th century AD during the growth of the Roman Empire. The earliest Roman sculpture was influenced by the Etruscans to the north of Rome and by Greek colonists to the south.
During the Empire period, the pure realism of the Republican period portrait busts was joined to Greek idealism. The result, evident in Augustus of Primaporta , was often a curious juxtaposition of individualized heads with idealized, anatomically perfect bodies in Classical poses. During the Middle Ages , large sculpture was largely religious.
Carolingian artists named after Charlemagne's family in northern Italy created sculpture for covers of Bibles, as decoration for parts of church altars, and for crucifixes and giant candlesticks placed on altars. In the late 13th century, Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni began the revolutionary changes that led up to the Renaissance in Italian sculpture, drawing influences from Roman sarcophagi and other remains.
Both are noted for their reliefs and ornamentation on pulpits. The Massacre of the Innocents by Giovanni Pisano is an example. The greatest sculptor of the early Renaissance was Donatello. Conceived fully in the round and independent of any architectural surroundings, it was the first major work of Renaissance sculpture. Michelangelo 's great brooding sculptures, such as the figures of Night and Day in the Medici Chapel in Florence, dominated High Renaissance Italian sculpture. His David, is perhaps, the most famous sculpture in the world. Instead of being shown victorious over a foe much larger than he, David looks tense and ready for combat.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini was the most important sculptor of the Baroque period. Bernini's saints and other figures seem to sit, stand, and move as living people — and the viewer becomes part of the scene. This involvement of the spectator is a basic characteristic of Baroque sculpture. One of his most famous works is Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. The Neoclassical movement arose in the late 18th century. The members of this very international school restored what they regarded as classical principles of art.
They were direct imitators of ancient Greek sculptors, and emphasized classical drapery and the nude. The leading Neoclassical artist in Italy, was Antonio Canova , who like many other foreign neoclassical sculptors including Bertel Thorvaldsen was based in Rome. His ability to carve pure white Italian marble has seldom been equaled. In the 20th century, many Italians played leading roles in the development of modern art. Futurist sculptors tried to show how space, movement, and time affected form.
These artists portrayed objects in motion, rather than their appearance at any particular moment. Italian theatre can be traced back into the Roman which was heavily influenced by the Greek tradition, and, as with many other literary genres, Roman dramatists tended to adapt and translate from the Greek.
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For example, Seneca's Phaedra was based on that of Euripides , and many of the comedies of Plautus were direct translations of works by Menander. Opposition from the early church was one of the reasons for the decline of the Roman theater that began in the 4th century AD.
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Early Christians saw a connection between theatre and pagan religions, and the church fathers argued that the evil characters portrayed onstage taught immorality. For this reason, large theatrical performances disappeared after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Ironically, the earliest recorded drama in all parts of Western Europe was the Liturgical drama of the Church. In fact, during the medieval period, the Church began to act out particular Bible passages. These dramatizations grew into staged Christmas and Easter stories. Regions in France, Germany, and England showed the most activity of Liturgical drama.
The Catholic Church thus made a more concerted effort to utilize drama and theatre in the propagation of the gospel. During the 16th century and on into the 18th century Commedia dell'arte was a form of improvisational theatre, although it is still performed today. Travelling teams of players would set up an outdoor stage and provide amusement in the form of juggling, acrobatics, and, more typically, humorous plays based on a repertoire of established characters with a rough storyline, called canovaccio. Italian theatre has been active in producing outstanding contemporary European work and in staging important revivals, although no native playwright has produced works that can rival those of Luigi Pirandello from the early 20th century.
In the late 20th century Dario Fo received international acclaim for his highly improvisational style. The history and development of art in Western culture is grounded in hundreds of years of Italian history. In Ancient Rome , Italy was the centre for art and architecture. There were many Italian artists during the Gothic and Medieval periods, and the arts flourished during the Italian Renaissance.
Later styles in Italy included Mannerism , Baroque , and Macchiaioli. Futurism developed in Italy in the 20th century. Florence, Venice and Rome, in particular, are brimming with art treasures in museums, churches, and public buildings. The Italian Renaissance produced many of the greatest painters in art history.
They were all influenced by the work of Giotto di Bondone in the late 13th century. One of the most influential artists who ever lived,  Giotto changed the course of Western art by painting in a new realistic style. Florence became the center of early Renaissance art. The greatest artist of the 15th century was probably Leonardo da Vinci.
The later Renaissance was dominated by Raphael and Michelangelo. Raphael painted balanced, harmonious pictures that expressed a calm, noble way of life. Michelangelo achieved greatness both as a painter and sculptor. In Venice, a number of artists were painting richly colored works during the 16th century. The most famous Venetian masters included Giorgione , Titian , and Tintoretto.
Italian painters dominated the Baroque period. Annibale Caracci and Caravaggio were the most important early Baroque painters. Caracci is also credited with the invention of caricature , a visual version of parody. Giorgio de Chirico gained fame for his haunting paintings of empty city squares. Amedeo Modigliani won renown with a series of portraits. Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, it has its roots in ancient Rome. For feasts Roman cooks used many spices, developed recipes for cheesecake and omelets , and roasted all types of meat. Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World and the introduction of potatoes , tomatoes , bell peppers and maize , now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century.
Italian cuisine, like other facets of the culture, speaks with highly inflected regional accents. There are certain self-consciously national constants: you can find spaghetti with tomato sauce and pizza pretty much everywhere, but this nationalisation of culinary identity didn't really take hold until after the Second World War, when southern immigrants flooded to the north in search of work, and even those classics vary from place to place; small enclaves still hold fast to their unique local forms of pasta and particular preparations.
Classics such as Pasta e fagioli , while found everywhere, are prepared differently according to local traditions. Gastronomic explorations of Italy are best undertaken by knowing the local traditions and savouring the local foods on the spot. Northern Italy, mountainous in many parts, is notable for the alpine cheeses of the Valle d'Aosta, the pesto of Liguria, and, in Piedmonte, the Alba truffle.
In the Alto Adige, the influence of neighboring Austria may be found in a regional repertoire that includes speck and dumplings. In the north, risotto and polenta have tended to serve the staple function taken by pasta across the rest of the country. Southern Italy includes the hearty food of Lazio in which meat and offal frequently figure, but also the vegetable-focused fare of Basilicata, historically one of Italy's poorest regions.
The islands of Sicily and Sardinia have distinctively different foodways. The former is notable for its many sweet dishes, seafood, and citrus fruit, while Sardinian cuisine has traditionally looked to its hilly interior with a cuisine centered on lamb, sucking pig, breads, and pecorino sardo. It is in the food of Naples and Campania, however, that many visitors would recognize the foods that have come to be regarded as quintessentially Italian: pizza , spaghetti with tomato sauce , aubergine parmigiana but the origins of the two last dishes are claimed by Sicily. Also, Italy exports and produces the highest level of wine,   exporting over 2.
As of [update] , Italy was responsible for producing approximately one-fifth of the world's wine. Etruscans and Greek settlers produced wine in the country long before the Romans started developing their own vineyards in the 2nd century BC. Roman grape-growing and winemaking was prolific and well-organized, pioneering large-scale production and storage techniques like barrel -making and bottling.
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The country is also famous for its gelato , or traditional ice-cream often known as Italian ice cream abroad. There are gelateria s or ice-cream vendors and shops all around Italian cities, and it is a very popular dessert or snack, especially during the summer.
Sicilian granitas , or a frozen dessert of flavored crushed ice, more or less similar to a sorbet or a snow cone , are popular desserts not only in Sicily or their native towns of Messina and Catania, but all over Italy even though the Northern and Central Italian equivalent, the gratta checca , commonly found in Rome or Milan is slightly different from the traditional granita siciliana. Italy also boasts an assortment of desserts.
The Christmas cakes pandoro and panettone are popular in the North pandoro is from Verona, whilst panettone is milanese , however, they have also become popular desserts in other parts of Italy and abroad. The Colomba Pasquale is eaten all over the country on Easter day, and is a more traditional alternative to chocolate easter eggs. Tiramisu is a very popular and iconic Italian dessert from Veneto which has become famous worldwide.