Of all the countries
in Europe, Italy is perhaps the hardest to classify. It is a modern,
industrialized nation; it is the harbinger of style, its designers
leading the way with each season's fashions. But it is also a Mediterranean
country, with all that it implies.
land covers much of the country, a lot of it, especially in the
south, still owned under almost feudal conditions. In towns and
villages all over the country, life stops during the middle of
the day for a siesta. It is also strongly family-oriented, with
an emphasis on the traditions and rituals of the Catholic Church.
is a single national characteristic, it's to embrace life to the
full, manifest in the hundreds of local festivals taking place
on any given day; in the importance placed on good food; and above
all in the daily domestic ritual of the collective evening stroll
or passeggiata. There is also, of course, the country's enormous
cultural legacy: Tuscany alone has more classified historical
monuments than any country in the world and every region retains
its own relics of an artistic tradition generally acknowledged
to be the world's richest.