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Italy has produced some monumental and spectacular forms of art, which has nearly always been closely associated with the intellectual and religious currents of its day. At the same time it has managed to retain its own remarkable past as a continual source of inspiration.

Italy has given the world opera, the musical scale, the piano, the accordion and the fabulous Stradivarius violins. Farinelli (1705 – 1782) was once the most famous castrato. His singing and stage presence caused women to faint from excitement, much like the Beetles did to women in the 1960's. Without Italy we would never have been seduced by Vivaldi or by Verdi. Italy is still rightly known as the home to music, especially with Milan's image inextricably bound up with La Scala (which opened in 1778 with a performance by Mozart's greatest rival, Antonio Salieri). Northern Italy has some of the best musical festivals in Europe when renowned international singers rise to the challenge of performing in the open air.

The film industry is a large section of the Arts in Italy today. With three major cities, amongst so many to choose from, to use as backdrops to any film, it is becoming increasingly popular. Florence, in the north-west, often called the cradle of the Renaissance, is a small city full of history and culture, largely pedestrianised and remarkable beautiful. The narrow streets and piazzas are full of ideal locations for film shoots. Rome, is a vast film set unlike any other in all the world, with its glorious cobbled streets, Colosseum, the Arches of Septimus Severis and Titus (to name but a few) was the cinematic playground of Federico Fellini. And finally, Venice, whose canals have inspired music, literature, poetry and art throughout the centuries of time. The blockbuster film of The Passion of Christ was made in Italy. (Cinecitta is the official web site of the Italian Hollywood).

Design is still treated as an artistic impulse, with practitioners possessing a background in art or architecture. Architects have often designed Italian desks, chairs and lamps, which explains the rationality and rigour of the final product. Italy is a country that worships visual display, where competitiveness and creativity are common. Style is also an emblem of high seriousness. This creativity spills out into the fashion world, and none more so than in Milan where the designers create a timeless classicism, not a cultural fusion but a clear statement of identity.

Italy's theatre can be traced back to the Romans who were heavily influenced by the Greeks. Between the 16th and 18th centuries Commedia dell'arte was a form of improvised theatre where travelling 'players' would provide amusement in the form of juggling, acrobats and humorous plays. Still today theatre plays an important role in Italian arts.

Architecture is rife throughout Italy having been afforded a wonderful foundation to build upon, namely Roman and Palladian architecture. Italian cuisine must not be omitted from this page of Arts in that it reflects the rural culture and history of the many people of Italy. It is an important element of the Italian lifestyle, and is characterised by its flexibility, its range of ingredients and its many regional variations.

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