Many people associate Italy with opera. Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) was the greatest Italian operatic composer, followed by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924). La Scala Opera House in Milan is one of the world's finest.

 Music has always been a part of Italian life. Vivaldi (1678-1741), was one of the most influential European composers of his day. Italy was also home to Antonio Stradivarius and Niccolo Amati, 17th century violin makers, who created instruments that are still played and admired today.

For more than 2,000 years the people of Italy have beautified their surroundings. There are paintings and sculpture in churches, squares, streets, alleys, palaces and villas. Italians are justifiably proud of their artistic heritage and ensure that the sites are restored and maintained.
Did you know? 

According to the United Nations, Italy has almost 80% of all the European architecture and visual art worth preserving. 

Italy has produced too many artists to list here. Two of the most famous artists of the Renaissance are Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Leonardo was not only an artist but a scientist and inventor. He kept detailed notebooks of his ideas, which he wrote in backward handwriting that must be held up to a mirror to be read. Michelangelo was a painter, sculptor and architect, who painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, sculpted the statue of David in Florence, and designed the great dome of St. Peter's in Rome.

 One of the greatest periods in Italian literature was the 14th century. Dante Alighieri helped make his native Tuscan dialect the literary language of Italy with the publication of The Divine Comedy. He influenced other Florentine writers such as Boccaccio and Petrarch to write in their native tongue.

Six 20th-century Italians have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature: Giosue Carducci in 1906; Grazia Deledda in 1926; Luigi Pirandello in 1934; Salvatore Quasimodo in 1959; Eugenio Montale in 1975; and Dario Fo in 1997. Another important writer is Umberto Eco, who wrote The Name of the Rose, and enjoys major international success.
Did you know? 

The Adventures of Pinocchio was written by Carlo Collodi in 1883. This classic book sold millions of copies in Italy alone when it was first published. 

Italy is internationally recognized as a leader in fashion, industrial design and decor. Milan is the fashion capital of Italy. The Italian film industry flourished in the 1950s. The studio complex outside Rome, called Cinecitta, was known as the Hollywood of Europe. Film directors Federico Fellini, Franco Zeffirelli, and Michelangelo Antonioni have enjoyed success in Italy and abroad.