The Italians have had an enviable culture for many centuries. All across Italia, from Piedmont in Northern Italy to Sicily in Southern Italy, every square inch seems to be drenched cultural riches. Even today, people are still talking about Italian artists and their work.
Whether it’s literature, painting, or cinema, Italian culture has gifted us with so much culture worth learning about. If you're considering learning the Italian language, you have to learn about Italy and the influential Italians who led the Renaissance and turned the Italian peninsula into one of the world's most culturally-rich nations.
Feel like learning more about Italian culture? You’re in luck. That’s exactly what we’re going to do over the course of this article.
Italian Artists You Should Know About
Throughout Italy’s history, there have been many famous artists that made their mark on the country’s artistic landscape. While we won't be able to name them all in this article, we'll look at a few of the most important ones.
The Tuscan poet and writer Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 and died in Ravenna in 1321.
Dante, along with Petrarch and Boccaccio, was a humanist figurehead who helped Tuscan replace Latin as the country’s official language. He managed this by writing his masterpiece, Divine Comedy, in Florentine, a subdialect of Tuscan.
He borrowed a number of words from different dialects in order to ensure that his work could be understood by everyone. In fact, he wanted everyone to be able to understand his work, not just the educated elite.
He wanted his language to be recognised by the nobility and show that it was just as beautiful as Latin.
The gamble paid off. Thanks to Divine Comedy being read all over the country, the Florentine dialect became the official language and would eventually become Italian as we know it today. Dante is arguably one of the main reasons so many people speak Italian instead of Latin.
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Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci is another Italian who’s known all over the world. Born in Tuscany in 1456 and died in Amboise, France, 1515, Leonardo de Vinci was a man of many talents.
He was fascinated by civil engineering, invention, and mathematics as well as being a painter and sculptor. You’ve probably heard of the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. These are arguably the artist’s most famous works.
The Mona Lisa can be found in the Louvre, Paris. If you want to see it, it's recommended that you give yourself a lot of time because the queues to see it are absolutely massive.
However, he also designed machines that resemble aeroplanes, helicopters, submarines, and cars.
Michelangelo is another famous Italian painter.
He was born in the Republic of Florence in 1475 and died in Rome in 1564. During his life, he was famous for his immense talent during the Renaissance.
Due to his fame, a number of big names commissioned works from him. Some of his famous customers included Popes Clement VII, Paul III, and Julius II.
His most famous works include the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling and David. The Sistine Chapel can be found in the Vatican City and is the official residence of the Pope. Just like the Mona Lisa, if you want to see this piece, expect to wait a while.
Italian Cinema: A Great Way to Improve Your Italian
Did you know you could improve your Italian by watching these 5 films?
There are plenty of cinephiles who are learning Italian online and looking for new ways to learn!
This is how you should do it:
Choose films you like or would like to see
Watch the Italian version with English subtitles
Watch the film again in Italian with Italian subtitles
Finally, watch the film again without any subtitles.
By following these steps, you can improve your listening and reading. Furthermore, you can also practise pronouncing the new words you hear. You can also learn at your own pace.
Not sure which film to pick?
Here are a few of the best Italian films according to critics and audiences:
We All Loved Each Other So Much (Comedy-Drama 1974)
The Easy Life (Comedy-Drama, 1962)
8½ (Comedy-drama, 1963)
The Best of Youth (Romance and drama, 2003)
Ludwig (Historical drama and biopic, 1973)
The Pigeon (Crime, 1958)
The Scientific Cardplayer (Comedy-drama, 1972)
Vincere (Historical drama, 2009)
La Bella Gente (Drama, 2011)
Once Upon A Time in the West (Western, 1968)
Life is Beautiful (Historical comedy-drama, 1997)
However, these are just a taster when it comes to Italian cinema. There are so many gems, both old and new, that are worth a watch.
It’s a great way to learn Italian while enjoying yourself. However, you need to make sure you're actively watching the films and not just putting them on in the background. If you don't understand or hear something, don't be afraid to rewind and watch the scene again and again until you get it.
In-home Academic Support: An Opportunity to Learn More about Italian Culture
Getting Italian tutorials is a great idea.
Make the most of them by learning more about Italian culture as well as the language.
Don’t forget that language and culture go hand in hand. A good tutor will help you to learn more about grammar, conjugations, vocabulary, and Italian expressions while putting them in the culture context of the country where the language is used.
In other words, studying a language is studying culture. We can’t forget about Italian food, philosophy, and operas that came about thanks to Italian culture. In fact, if you like cooking, why not combine Italian cuisine and your language lessons?
If you love history, you should look for a tutor who knows a thing or two about Italian history from the Roman Empire to the modern day. Search for Italian classes London or see what your own city has to offer!
You can also learn more by travelling to somewhere in Italy like Venice, Turin, Sicily, for example.
There’s nothing better than learning Italian whilst visiting the country. Learning languages are, after all, a great way to learn more about different cultures and peoples.
Focus on Important Italian Historic Figures
In addition to artists, you should check out these 16 well-known Italians.
Benito Mussolini: Italian Politician
Mussolini is one of Italy’s most well-known leaders. In fact, he was even known as Il Duce (The Leader).
As the head of the National Fascist Party, he brought Italy into the Second World War as Hiter’s ally.
Why did we decide to talk about this person? Because it’s important to remember that every country has their dark days as well as their golden ages. Also because Mussolini had a significant impact on modern Italian.
In fact, when he was head of the government, he banned minority languages and removed foreign words from the Italian lexicon. Fortunately, after the end of fascism in Italy, the minority languages of the country have been able to recover.
Christopher Columbus: Italian Explorer
Just like Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus was a famous Italian explorer. He is considered the first European to have sailed to the Americas although the Norse explorer Leif Erikson beat him by about 500 years.
However, it was Christopher Columbus who seemingly started the trend of settling in the Americas. According to historians, this might be the most significant event of modern human history.
Antonio Vivaldi: Italian Musician
You can’t mention Italian music and not mention Vivaldi.
Vivaldi, who gave us masterpieces such as The Four Seasons, L'estro armonico, and The Stabat Mater, died in 1741.
He was a accomplished violinist and influenced a number of composers including Johann Sebastian Bach.
Galileo Galilei: Italian Scientist
When it comes to scientists, we have to mention Galileo.
Galileo, who died in 1642, is considered the father of physics. Furthermore, he established the foundations of modern mechanics.
Galileo’s work helped make huge advances in the fields of geometry, maths, astronomy, and physics. He is, without a doubt, one of the greatest European scientists of all time. Sadly, he suffered significantly for his beliefs and his work in science.
Francesco Totti: Italian Sports Person
Sport is also a large part of culture. When it comes to sport, Francesco Totti is an absolute legend.
He started his career at Roma in 1993 and stayed there (despite many other offers) for his entire career.
In addition to winning the World Cup with Italy in 2006, he’s also considered one of the 100 greatest footballers alive today.
We hope this article has made you want to learn a bit more about Italian culture. For centuries, Italian culture has been famous around the world.
This is thanks to the many famous Italians who have helped mankind advance in their respective fields. If you have a passion or a subject you like, you should ask your private tutor if they can focus your Italian classes on it.
You’ll learn more with seemingly less effort.