Italian is the fourth most studied language in the world according to a recent study which took place in universities all over the world.
The unexpected victory of Italian over growing economic nations like China and Russia is sure to give a boost to public and private efforts to promote the study of the language, which has become a main goal of the Italian government.
The increasing interest in Italian was recently provided with a new resource, the Quality Italian Language Certification. The program, created by universities in Siena, Perugia and Rome, allows lovers of Italian to be officially certified in the language.
The Italian language is very complex, with an ambitious syntax, a wide vocabulary and nuances linked to the ancient history of the country. Language tells of a population more than anything else, and Italian tells us that the people have a complex and fascinating culture.
Of all the languages in the world, Italian the one which is most studied for culture and pleasure. This is linked to a passion for Italian culture, which possesses extraordinary strength.
Italy’s contributions to the western world are endless, as the country has been the home to some of the greatest civilizations in history.
Italian artistic traditions are well known; according to UNESCO, over 60 percent of the world’s art treasures are found in Italy. Italian is an important language for research in art history, philosophy, literary studies, archaeology and music.
The Rinascimento or Renaissance is generally considered to have begun in Florence in the 1400s, and it was here that conventions for notating music were slowly developed. The local Tuscan dialect was used to write down musical directions such as crescendo or diminuendo, and the Italian language is still used as a kind of musical lingua franca today for musicians all over the world. Opera, meanwhile, is entirely an Italian creation, with its heady mix of high drama, high notes, and high ceilings. The language is considered ideal for singing, with its gently rhythmical intonation and clear-cut vowels. A large majority of Italian words end with vowels.
A growing obsession with food is also linked to the Italian language’s increasing popularity, as Italy is the culinary leader of the world. The name of restaurants, dishes and products find their roots in Italian, from pizza and polpette, to latte macchiato and tiramisu.
The status and current state of the Italian language on a global scale will be discussed in an official meeting organized by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Education and Cultural Heritage, taking place in Florence this fall. It will focus on new challenges and means to promote the language and culture within modern society. The consortium will also look at how Italian can play larger role in universities and academic institutions, taking into consideration the differences between geographic areas. The main goal will be to celebrate and reaffirm the Italian language worldwide, while also finding a shared and updated agenda aimed at strengthening it further.
The new study is evidence that learning Italian is a passport to one of the world’s richest cultural traditions, and to one of Europe’s most dynamic contemporary societies.
Florence at Christmas
In Florence, as in most Italian cities, Christmas lighting begins already in November. Shops, restaurants, bars, big shopping centers prepare windows and locations inspired by the Christmas atmosphere. The atmosphere is particularly magical and intimate, you breathe Christmas air everywhere and all the Florentines are in the center to buy last gifts, greeting cards, panettone, pandoro and sweets. Bags, ribbons, bows and Christmas boxes are mixed with the sound of Christmas songs that can be heard in the central squares performed by folklore groups. While choosing gifts, there is also the time to stop for a coffee or a hot chocolate and, why not, with some ricciarelli or cavallucci (typical Tuscan Christmas cookies) in order to have enough energy to continue the day dedicated to the preparations.
Tourists arriving in Florence in December will find a city with a warm, luminous, intimate atmosphere with lots to see and do.
December 8th is the date when the holidays begin. In Florentine houses everything is ready, the Christmas tree is lighted up and the Nativity Scene is set, and also in the center of Florence in Piazza Duomo the big Christmas Tree is lighted in the afternoon, with many people watching and shouting the countdown.
During of the ceremony of the lighting, the Procession of the Florentine Republic will walk through the historic center until it reaches Piazza del Duomo.
The Cathedral porch is set up with a real-size Nativity scene of terracotta statues, depicting the Holy Family. The statues of the Virgin Mary, Saint Jospeh and Baby Jesus are unique pieces, handmade by the artisan Luigi Mariani. The Nativity is placed on the opposite side of the Campanile di Giotto, next to the big Christmas Tree, where it will stay until Epiphany, when, during the traditional Ride of the Magi, the terracotta statues are replaced by real and living people and animals, making the setting even more suggestive.
In the early days of December, Florence is getting ready to light up with "F-Light": the Florence Light Festival, for one month from December 8th to January 6th, it will shed new light on the monuments and squares of the city. The event will offer video-mapping, projections, light games, artistic installations, educational activities, special visits to museums, shows and cultural meetings.
Also on December 8th, for the eighth consecutive year, Babbo Running will return, the official walk with Santa Claus' beard and costume, a whole day dedicated to the joy and fun of Christmas. A ludic-motor event full of joy in which you participate dressed in a Santa Claus costume to bring a breath of joy.
Christmas, however, is also synonymous with typical markets full of gastronomic and artisanal products.
This Christmas as well there will be the usual appointment with the Weihnachtsmarkt, the German market in Piazza Santa Croce from November 28th to December 20th. The more than fifty installations hosted in the characteristic wooden houses will bring the aromas and flavors typical of Christmas with products of artistic craftsmanship and traditional foods from all over Europe to Florence.
An opportunity to taste tempting gastronomic specialties, warm up with delicious hot drinks and look around the stands in search of original gift ideas and handmade Christmas decorations.
So, you will only be spoiled for choice, you just need to organize and pack a suitcase to spend a few days in a beautiful, welcoming, warm city that will welcome you with open arms among its narrow and illuminated streets, with the smell of roasted chestnuts and, why not, even a glass of good Chianti.
December 31st is a special occasion. There are concerts in many squares, each one of a different kind of music: classical, jazz, rock. In Piazzale Michelangelo there is always a special concert with famous artists and singers every year.
At midnight the fireworks begin with the collective toast on the banks of the Arno.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
If you’ve never been to Florence, December is the right month to do so. During Christmas period the atmosphere is magic lights and colors decorate the city and create a surreal feeling, almost fictional. During Christmas time, Florence is very beautiful and elegant. The huge Christmas tree lights up on December 8th, lighting up Piazza del Duomo, and with the big Nativity scene, they are the meeting place for Florentines. You can smell the scent of roast chestnuts and people walk quickly to buy the last Christmas gifts. It’s nice to share this intimate atmosphere that recalls past times, and the traces that Renaissance left are even more highlighted.
The churches of Florence celebrate one of the most heartfelt and ancient moment of religion; the solemn masses, the concerts, and the beautiful Nativities (both static and moving) celebrate the birth of Christ. Maybe Christmas is one of the best times to try the real taste of an art city full of history.
Christmas in Florence also means markets, and the city offers many, selling typical products. Gift ideas, and sometimes even products connected to cultures and traditions that are not necessarily Italian, like the market in Piazza Santa Croce that is surely a must-see.
Art and architecture of the city merge with Christmas lights and that is a reason why you can’t miss the “Florence Light Festival”, which takes place from December 8th for a month, and will cover monuments and squares in lights , offering video-mapping, projections, light games, artistic equipments, activities, visits to museums, shows ad cultural events.
This festival, promoted by the Comune di Firenze, is meant to highlight the brilliance of Leonardo da Vinci; in 2019 it will be 500 years since his death.
From December 8th to January 6th many places of the city will be involved: above all Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Piazza Santa Maria Novella and Oltrarno, with a special attention to the Towers and Doors of the city and the neighborhoods outside the historical center.
The title given to the festival evokes the lighting up of minds, and its symbols will be then the flame that lights up a candle in the dark of night, and the fiber that warms up.
During your visit in Florence you can also improve your Italian, taking a short course here at school. During the mornings you can improve your conversational skills in class, get to know other students and meet them in the afternoon to attend the Christmas themed school activities.
The Palio is not a manifestation exhumed and organized for tourism purposes: it is the life of the Sienese people and in its various aspects and feelings. It has remote origins, with some regulations still valid since 1644, the year in which the first prize was held with horses, as it still happens.
The territory of the City is divided into seventeen Contrade with borders established in 1729 by the Violante Notice of Bavaria, Governor of the City. Each Contrada is like a small state, supported by a Seggio led by the Prior and guided in a "carousel" by a Captain, assisted by two or three contradaioli called "mangini" or "lieutenants".
Each contains a Church, called "Oratorio", with the official headquarters attached, equipped with a Museum, where all its heritage is kept: relics, banners of victories, costumes of the Apparition - those in use and many of ancient date - flags, archives and everything else concerning the life of the Contrada itself.
The complex mechanism of the celebration reaches its fulfilment with the burst of the firecracker announcing the exit of the horses from the Entrone. Each rider is given a bullock with which he can incite the horse or hinder opponents during the race. Then we proceed to the approach to the "move", that is the point where two ropes are thrown, and the horses and the jockeys will be called to line up. The order of entry is established by fate, in fact the Contradas are called according to the order of extraction, decided secretly and declaimed aloud. Absolute silence reigns in the Piazza. If the start is not valid, a burst of the firecracker will stop the horses. They’ll have to complete three laps of the track for about 1000 meters and only the first one will be crowned victor. The winner is the horse and not the jockey, in fact the former can also cross the line without a jockey and still win.
The celebrations begin immediately: the Contradas receive the Palio and go to the Basilica of the Madonna di Provenzano (for the Palio of July) or to the Duomo (in August) to sing Maria Mater Gratiae to thank the Madonna for the victory. From this moment on, everyone is reminded of the victory won by the Contrada, until autumn, when, between the month of September and October, the victorious district is decorated, and the victory feast is attended by thousands of contradaioli and, residing in place of honour, the victorious horse, is admired as a hero.
On June 24th, Florence celebrates its patron saint, St. John the Baptist which is considered the symbol of moral rectitude and political correctness and this is a day of celebration for whole city.
Every year for San Giovanni different cultural and folk events take place (which culminate with the evocative fireworks or the “fochi” of San Giovanni, as the Florentines call them).
The festivity of San Giovanni has ancient origins: once, nobles and lords donated candles to celebrate the patron saint of Florence. With the growth of the power of the city and its lords, the candles became more and more beautiful and rich and some were destined for the Baptistery, while the others were sold, and the proceeds went to the Church.
Even today, during the morning of the 24th of June, a small city procession starts from Palazzo Vecchio and symbolically bears a gift to the patron of the candles in the Baptistery, even the mayor of Florence and other authorities take part in it. Here the Archbishop of Florence receives the offer, and everyone then goes to the Cathedral for the celebration of a solemn mass at 10:30.
During the festivity of San Giovanni boat visits are usually organized, both during the day and during the fireworks. The Renaioli host visitors on board their special boat.
June 24th is the day of the reopening of the Tower of San Niccolò, one of the towers of the ancient circle of the walls of Florence that, after being restored, was opened to the public, but only in the summer. The Tower will be open until September 30th, every day from 5 to 8 pm. The tower can be accessed in small guided (in Italian, English, French and Spanish) groups.
Rediscover the magical atmosphere of the historic centre of Florence with one of the most ancient road races in Italy. With a racing course of 10Km that winds among the most beautiful places around the city. The race takes place during the night starting at 9 pm and finishing in Piazza S. Giovanni in front of the Sagrato del Duomo. For those who do not want to run there is also the 4 km non-competitive Family Walk.
On the 16 and 17 of June 2018 the San Ranieri di Pisa festival is organized to celebrate the Patron Saint, the Tuscan city will host a truly unique and spectacular event: the Luminara 2018. The romantic lights of thousands of lanterns lit around bridges and buildings, together with those resting on the waters of the Arno, will create an extraordinary effect that will take you back in time!
The 'Giugno Pisano' program is particularly rich in events, street parties, cultural initiatives but above all historical re-enactments to remember the most ancient traditions of the city of Pisa. The most appreciated, from Tuscans and others, are certainly the Luminaria di San Ranieri, the Pisa Historical Regatta, the Gioco del Ponte and the Historical Regatta of the Maritime Republics, which takes place every four years. To frame these evocative events, other initiatives take plase such as street performances, concerts, festivals and much more.
On June 16th the most evocative of the events organized for the feast of San Ranieri 2018 will take place: the Luminara of Pisa. The profiles of churches, palaces, towers and bridges of the Lungarni will be illuminated by more than 700,000 candles placed in special glasses and set in the so-called 'biancherie', wooden frames painted in white. Many floating lights will also be placed directly on the Arno, which will offer a enchanting show of lights and reflections on the water. A special treatment will be reserved for Piazza dei Miracoli: the Leaning Tower, the Duomo and the Baptistery will be especially illuminated, taking on an even more ancient and fascinating aspect.
The festivity of the Luminaria 2018 will continue until late at night with a wonderful firework display that will start at around 23.00. From the Cittadella Vecchia, a fortress dating back to the 1400 partially rebuilt and by some barges on the Arno, spectacular fireworks will be launched: streamers, colored waterfalls and a suggestive red smoke shot by the Guelfa Tower will offer the most exciting show of the summer of Pisa 2018.
During the afternoon of the 17th of June, the festivity di San Ranieri will resume with the historical parade of Pisa, a lively and colorful parade that evokes the ancient splendor of the Maritime Republics. At dusk you can attend an exciting race between districts: the Historic Regatta of Pisa 2018, followed by the traditional Palio di San Ranieri!
On the quiet waters of the river Arno four boats will battle to represent the 4 neighborhoods, two of Tramontana and two of Mezzogiorno. The district of San Martino will be marked by the color red, that of St. Anthony in green, that of Santa Maria in light-blue and that of St. Francis in yellow. The boats, clearly inspired by the ancient ‘fregate stefaniane’ of the Medici order of the Knights of Santo Stefano, will have to travel 1,500 meters by rowing against the current, from the Railway Bridge to the Palazzo Mediceo, near the Ponte della Fortezza. The crew must be composed of eight rowers, a helmsman and a fitter, a figure of fundamental importance to win the competition. It is up to him, in fact, climbing on one of the four ropes (called canapi), the arduous task of reaching the top of a 10-meter tall mast, mounted on an unstable floating barge, and grabbing the blue palio, symbol of victory of the Regatta di San Ranieri. Two other flags, one white and one red, will instead be reserved for the second and third classified, while the team that will arrive last will win ... two geese!
This is a bronze fountain which is located in Florence, Italy. Porcellino is a nickname which was given to this boar fountain by the locals from Florence. Ironically, the nickname when translated stands for the word ‘piglet' whereas the fountain is a boar. This boar which is considered as a piglet attracts a huge number of tourists. So, what's the story behind this fountain which is highly regarded in Florence? What makes it so attractive?
Everything has a creator and this bronze fountain dates to the 15th century. Well, it is that old, making it Italian art. The artist who was behind this bronze boar fountain was Pietro Tacca. Inspired by a Hellenistic marble, the sculptor, Pietro Tacca, was able to observe and incorporate a new design which would later become an antique. Initially, the Porcellino was supposed to be placed in the Boboli garden, but it was moved to Mercato Nuovo. Whilst still there, it was moved a couple of times, and one of the leading reason why it was repositioned is due to the enormous traffic which was in the market, Mercato Nuovo.
This market which lies in the present Piazza Rella Repubblica has many Italian arts which are based on the Italian traditions. Luckily, the Porcellino is amongst the antiques that have outshone others, and the attention it brings is quite enticing. Art is an act that can be passed on to the next generation through a simple action such as making a copy of the original. Shockingly, the Porcelain which is located in Mercato Nuovo is a copy of the original; if you are not keen enough, you'll think it is the original bronze fountain.
However, the copied piece of the bronze fountain was put there to preserve the original Porcellino. The real and authentic Porcellino is currently in the Museo Bardini in Palazzo Mozzi. Even though the Porcelliono in the Italian market is not the original piece, it still attracts enormous crowds of tourists. Once you visit the pig in the presence of some locals, you'll learn that they believe that it is considered good luck would be bestowed upon you, when you touch the pig's snout.
That acts of rubbing the pig's snout date back to the time that the Porcellino was placed in the Florence market known as Mercato Nuovo. It is believed that once you rub the pig's snout, you are destined to go back to Florence for another visit. Well, Florence is such an attractive city. Who wouldn't want to go back to Florence for the second time? Porcellino's snout has been rubbed countlessly to the point where the snout has begun to shine. Even if you do not believe in such occurrences which are linked to fate, touching such an antique is just amazing in itself. Feeling the bronze in your hands makes you just feel satisfied.
If you visit a fantastic city such as Florence, this is the kind of artifacts that you should not miss out on. Visit the market and analyze what makes the Porcellino that unique.
The first week of May is usually a busy week in Italy, as it happens to be occupied with this event which is famously known as Calendimaggio. Basically, this is an event to celebrate the good being and the arrival of spring. Furthermore, Signoria square is an excellent location to hold such a celebration. It attracts the locals in Florence, and it is also valued internationally because tourists visit it regularly.
Before going to the Signoria square, some pre-events are held, since there are meanings behind those events. One of the celebrations that happen before marching to the Signoria square may involve the raising of flags outside the residential houses in Florence. A religious ceremony is also held in the Basilica of Saint Francis for the purposes of blessing those, who will participate in the main event. Yes, the main event happens in the Signoria square.
It is important to note that ceremony which takes about four days to reach the climax, and it involves a different kind of competitions. These competitions are the main reason why the town of Florence is flooded with tourists during Calendimaggio. Political support is seen when the mayor of the city gives some keys which symbolize a kind of rivalry, which should last four days.
Competitions such as a tug completion, racing, crossbow shooting, and elections are held. Well, there is always an election to choose the queen of spring wherein five maidens participate. To instill a feeling of excitement amongst the visitors and the viewers a parade is organized. The parade is flexible since it has women, children and different families, all of them are dressed in different matching costumes. Women who are dressed in pastel costumes often dance to entertain the crowd whereas there is a little bit of art exhibition by the men.
The last day is the climax of the festival. People from different districts in Florence gather up in the Signoria square; animals are also a part of the enormous crowd. Additionally, flags are waved by the young because of their energetic nature. Young boys run waving flags in joy. The excitement which is filled in people's hearts is expressed by screams of pleasure, claps and some also follow the trend and wave their own handkerchief flags. Just as the festive season began with religious activity, the end of the Calendimaggio is done in front of a church.
People sing praise choruses and dance with joy to celebrate the beginning of a new season. The fascinating event that takes place in the church that evening is the lighting of an angel. An angel is put under the spotlight, and this is a fantastic sight.
This festival is just amazing; it brings the people of Florence together on different occasions during the four days of celebrations. A lively spirit usually fills the air making it very easy to laugh and appreciate life for what it is. This is a festival which is out of this world.
Italian food is known for its simple and tasty recipes, which mainly revolve around ingredients such as cheeses, pasta, olive oil and wine. Italian cuisine has gained popularity around the world because a gourmet spread can be whipped up using few ingredients, which are not just tasty, they are also readily available. Every place or rather every region in Italy has its unique food, recipes, and flavor, some of which are exclusive to it.
The typical Florentine cuisine is simple, with the richness of local produce and meats accompanied by soft cheeses. Tuscans are known for their liking for beans which is a staple food for them. Beef is a favorite with Tuscans and is cooked in various ways. Beef Steak Florentine originates from this region is a well-loved dish. Chianti Wine also finds its home in Florence. Florence dishes include four basic foods- Bread, the best quality olive oil, Florentine beef steaks and the wine braised or roasted game such as deer, rabbit or boar, and Wine.
When we think Italy, the first thing that pops into the mind is Pizza. Tuscans prefer their pizza to have a very thin crust, though some restaurants advertise ‘Pizza Napolitano’ which is a thick crust pizza.
Pinzimonio- Is a salad which is made with fresh seasonal vegetables. It's an excellent appetizer which comes tossed in olive oil which is local to Florence.
Crostini di fegato- Is a toasted bread which is topped with chicken liver paste. This dish is quite popular all in Tuscany.
Tonno e Fagioli- Is a bean and a tuna salad, which is a very filling dish. It is usually followed by a pasta dish, though it can be a complete meal by itself if served with some bread.
Affettati Misti – A very traditional antipasti and can be found in the menus of most restaurants in Florence. This dish has an assortment of cold sliced meats served with bread and accompanied with a young Chianti.
Fettunta- Is toasted bread with freshly pressed olive oil. This dish though available the year around is preferred during the month of November when newly pressed olive oil is available.
Pasta is served as the first course in Italy. Italians never eat pasta along with the main course. The plate is then changed to serve the main course.
Crespelle alla Fiorentina- are crepes stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach topped with béchamel sauce.
Trippa all Fiorentina- is tripe cooked and topped with cheese, it also goes well with pureed potatoes or cannellini beans in oil.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina- is a thick piece of steak, usually grilled and served. Florentine Beefsteak is not just a favorite with the locals but also with tourists alike.
Baccalà alla Fiorentina- Is a salted and dried cod, is served as a savory dish cooked with onions, tomatoes, and rosemary.
Piselli “alla Fiorentina”- Florentines love beans and is a staple diet and Piselli “alla Fiorentina” is one such dish. It is boiled green peas served with cured bacon and olive oil.
Zuppa Inglese- Simply put its cookies topped with liquid custard cream.
Schiacciata Fiorentina- is a Florentine sweet cake topped with powdered sugar. It has whipped cream or vanilla pudding in the center which makes a simple cake genuinely decadent.
Zuccotto- Very typical to Florentine, also known as the ‘helmet of Catherine’ It is a cake filled with ricotta and topped with candied fruit and frozen till set and served inverted. This is how the dish gets its name as it looks like a helmet.
Gelato originates in Florentine, and the tastes and flavors are innumerable. Gelatos are ice-creams which are flavored with fruit and nut purees and is richer than regular ice-creams.
The three cities of Siena, Arezzo and Florence contain a wealth of classical architecture so typical of the times past. Every top artist and sculptor of Italy sprung from these three cities. They have captured the imagination of the connoisseurs of art from all over the world. The beauty of their architecture is there for all to see and feel – very real and ethereal.
Siena Cathedral in Siena represents the very best of Italian architecture. Comprising the seminal works of Donatello, Bernini and Michelangelo and the funeral monument for Petroni by sculptor Camaino, the art is an exemplary depiction of Italian Gothic, Romanesque and Classical architecture. Siena is also home to Museo Civico with its superb collection of art, artifacts, frescoes and paintings from the Renaissance and Medieval periods.
Among the many works of art such as stained glass windows, sculptures, paintings and frescoes that dot the landscape of Arezzo, the Piazza Grande is a unique piazza in the whole of Italy serving as a center for visiting the many monuments, museums and churches around the piazza.
Arezzo is also famous for the fact that Michelangelo was born here. Arezzo is among the 12 Etruscan cities that thrived 700 years before Christ.
Florence is the cradle of art and architecture in Italy. The magnificence of the Florence Cathedral (Duomo of Florence), the largest in Italy, is a sight to behold.
The sheer size of the Duomo makes one realize the reason why it took 140 years to finish what started in 1294.
Florence is where the likes of renowned artists – Vasari, Buontalenti, Brunelleschi and Giotto blossomed. Of course, who can forget Michelangelo who came into his own in Florence?
Florence is home to such masterpieces as the
The classic art and architecture of Italy are spread all across the country and those depicted in Siena, Arezzo and Florence are the best.