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Italy

Italy ), officially the Italian Republic , is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and surrounded by several islands. Italy is located in south-central Europe, and is considered part of western Europe. A unitary parliamentary republic with Rome as its capital, the country covers a total area of 301,340 km2 and shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial enclave in Switzerland and a maritime exclave in Tunisian waters . With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the third-most populous member state of the European Union. Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has historically been home to myriad peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient peoples dispersed throughout what is now modern-day Italy, the most predominant being the Indo-European Italic peoples who gave the peninsula its name, beginning from the classical era, Phoenicians and Carthaginians founded colonies mostly in insular Italy, Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Graecia of Southern Italy, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively. An Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which eventually became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People. The Roman Republic initially conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the Italian peninsula, eventually expanding and conquering parts of Europe, North Africa and Asia. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became a leading cultural, political and religious centre, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's law, technology, economy, art, and literature developed. Italy remained the homeland of the Romans and the metropole of the empire, whose legacy can also be observed in the global distribution of culture, governments, Christianity and the Latin script. During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured the fall of the Western Roman Empire and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century numerous rival city-states and maritime republics, mainly in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through trade, commerce and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism. These mostly independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East, often enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe; however, part of central Italy was under the control of the theocratic Papal States, while Southern Italy remained largely feudal until the 19th century, partially as a result of a succession of Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Angevin, Aragonese and other foreign conquests of the region. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science, exploration and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars, artists and polymaths. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Nevertheless, Italy's commercial and political power significantly waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of foreign meddling and conquest and the rivalry and infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left Italy politically fragmented, and it was further conquered and divided among multiple foreign European powers over the centuries. By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was almost entirely unified in 1861, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy rapidly industrialised, mainly in the north, and acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained largely impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite being one of the four main allied powers in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading to the rise of the Italian fascist dictatorship in 1922. Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the Italian Resistance, the country abolished their monarchy, established a democratic Republic, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom, and became a highly developed country.Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically advanced countries, with the world's eighth-largest economy by nominal GDP , sixth-largest national wealth and third-largest central bank gold reserve. It ranks very highly in life expectancy, quality of life, healthcare, and education. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military, cultural and diplomatic affairs; it is both a regional power and a great power, and is ranked the world's eighth most-powerful military. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Trade Organization, the Group of Seven, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more. The country has long been a global centre of art, music, literature, philosophy, science and technology, and fashion, and has greatly influenced and contributed to diverse fields including cinema, cuisine, sports, jurisprudence, banking and business. As a reflection of its cultural wealth, Italy is home to the world's largest number of World Heritage Sites , and is the fifth-most visited country.

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica

Lazio

The Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica , or National Gallery of Ancient Art, is an art gallery in Rome, Italy, the main national collection of older paintings in Rome. It has two sites: the Palazzo Barberini and the Palazzo Corsini.The Palazzo Barberini was designed for Pope Urban VIII, a member of the Barberini family, by 16th century Italian architect Carlo Maderno on the old location of Villa Sforza. Its central salon ceiling was decorated by Pietro da Cortona with the visual panegyric of the Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power to glorify the papal Barberini family. The Palazzo Corsini, formerly known as Palazzo Riario, is a 15th-century palace that was rebuilt in the 18th century by architect Ferdinando Fuga for Cardinal Neri Maria Corsini. For a partial list of artworks, see Palazzo Corsini entry.

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (Siena)

Siena

Siena Cathedral is a medieval church in Siena, Italy, dedicated from its earliest days as a Roman Catholic Marian church, and now dedicated to the Assumption of Mary. It was the episcopal seat of the Diocese of Siena, and from the 15th century that of the Archdiocese of Siena. It is now the seat of the Archdiocese of Siena-Colle di Val d'Elsa-Montalcino. The cathedral was designed and completed between 1215 and 1263 on the site of an earlier structure. It has the form of a Latin cross with a slightly projecting transept, a dome and a bell tower. The dome rises from a hexagonal base with supporting columns. The dome was completed in 1264. The lantern atop the dome was added by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The bell tower has six bells, where the oldest one was cast in 1149. The nave is separated from the two aisles by semicircular arches. The exterior and interior are constructed of white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, with the addition of red marble on the façade. Black and white are the symbolic colors of Siena, etiologically linked to black and white horses of the legendary city's founders, Senius and Aschius. There are thirty-five statues of prophets and patriarchs grouped around the virgin. The finest Italian artists of that era completed works in the cathedral. These artists were Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Donatello, Pinturicchio, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Bernini.

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (Florence)

Florence

The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence, Italy is a museum containing many of the original works of art created for the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral of Florence. As of August 2013, the director of the museum is Fr. Timothy Verdon, an American.The museum is located just east of the Duomo, near its apse. It opened in 1891, and now houses what has been called "one of the world's most important collections of sculpture."

Scrovegni Chapel

Padua

The Scrovegni Chapel , also known as the Arena Chapel, is a small church, adjacent to the Augustinian monastery, the Monastero degli Eremitani in Padua, region of Veneto, Italy. The chapel and monastery are now part of the complex of the Museo Civico of Padua. The chapel contains a fresco cycle by Giotto, completed about 1305 and considered to be an important masterpiece of Western art.

Pinacoteca Nazionale (Siena)

Siena

The Pinacoteca Nazionale is a national museum in Siena, Tuscany, Italy. Inaugurated in 1932, it houses especially late medieval and Renaissance paintings from Italian artists. It is housed in the Brigidi and Buonsignori palaces in the city's center: the former, built in the 14th century, it is traditionally identified as the Pannocchieschi family's residence. The Palazzo Bichi-Buonsignori, although built in the 15th century, has a 19th-century neo-medieval façade based on the city's Palazzo Pubblico. The gallery has one of the largest collections of Sienese paintings with gold backgrounds from the 14th and 15th centuries.Works in the gallery include: Duccio di Buoninsegna's Polyptych N. 28 and Madonna of the Franciscans Guido da Siena's St. Peter Enthroned Simone Martini's Blessed Agostino Novello and His Miracles Ambrogio Lorenzetti's Annunciation Bartolo di Fredi's Adoration of the Magi Michelino da Besozzo's Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine Il Sodoma's Christ at the Column and Deposition Domenico Beccafumi's Birth of the Virgin, St. Michael Expelling the Rebel Angels, Coronation of the Virgin, Trinity Triptych, Marriage of St Catherine, Stigmatization of St. Catherine of Siena, St Lucy and Christ in LimboOther artists represented include Ugolino di Nerio, Pietro Lorenzetti, Sassetta, Domenico di Bartolo, Taddeo di Bartolo, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Matteo di Giovanni, Neroccio di Bartolomeo

Museo Nazionale di San Marco

Florence

Museo Nazionale di San Marco is an art museum housed in the monumental section of the medieval Dominican friary dedicated to St Mark, situated on the present-day Piazza San Marco, in Florence, region of Tuscany, Italy. The museum, a masterpiece in its own right by the fifteenth-century architect Michelozzo, is a building of very first historical importance for the city and contains the most extensive collection in the world of the works of Fra Angelico, who spent several years of his life there as a member of the Dominican community. The works are both paintings on wood and frescoes. The museum also contains other works by artists such as Fra Bartolomeo, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Alesso Baldovinetti, Jacopo Vignali, Bernardino Poccetti and Giovanni Antonio Sogliani. San Marco is known as the seat of Girolamo Savonarola's discourses during his short spiritual rule in Florence in the late 15th century.

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

Venice

The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, usually just called the Frari, is a church located in the Campo dei Frari at the heart of the San Polo district of Venice, Italy. One of the most prominent churches in the city, it has the status of a minor basilica. The church is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary. The imposing edifice is built of brick, and is one of the city's three notable churches still mostly retaining their Venetian Gothic appearance. In common with many Franciscan churches, the exterior is rather plain, even on the front facade. The interior is notable for many very grand wall monuments to distinguished Venetians buried in the church, including a number of Doges and the painter Titian. Many of these are important works in the history of Venetian sculpture, and the many paintings include two large and important altarpieces by Titian, the Assumption of the Virgin on the high altar and the Pesaro Madonna. It also contains the only rood screen still in place in Venice.

Museo di Capodimonte

Campania

Museo di Capodimonte is an art museum located in the Palace of Capodimonte, a grand Bourbon palazzo in Naples, Italy. The museum is the prime repository of Neapolitan painting and decorative art, with several important works from other Italian schools of painting, and some important ancient Roman sculptures. It is one of the largest museums in Italy.

Diocesan Museum (Cortona)

Cortona

The Diocesan Museum in Cortona is an art museum in Cortona, Tuscany, Italy. Located on the former site of the local Church of Gesù, it houses works of art by artists such as Fra Angelico, Pietro Lorenzetti, Bartolomeo della Gatta, Luca Signorelli and Sassetta. The oldest item in the museum is a marble Roman sarcophagus , depicting depicts the battle of Dionysus. A room in the museum is specifically dedicated to the works of Luca Signorelli and his workshop, and emphasizes the bond between Signorelli and his hometown, and correspond to the artist's last years of work, from 1512 to 1523, the year of his death. Ten of the works bear the personal signature of Signorelli, the others are assumed to be from his workshop.The large tempera on panel depiction of the Lamentation of Christ, which used to be in the church of S. Margaret of Cortona, was called "a rare form of art" by Giorgio Vasari. The predella, on which Girolamo Genga may have also worked displays scenes of the Passion such as of the Last Supper, Agony in the Garden, and the Flagellation of Christ. The Communion of the Apostles, by Signorelli, was painted for the high altar of the Church of Gesù, and has an unusual iconography in which the apostles are gathered around a table at the Last Supper, in a semicircle, standing or kneeling and around the figure of Christ. Only Judas, concealing his 30 pieces of silver faces the viewer, his glance revealing the inner struggle of betrayal. Another work attributed to Signorelli, or his workshop, is the 1519–1520 Assumption of the Virgin from the Cathedral of Cortona.Other major art in the museum include: The Cortona Triptych by Fra Angelico Madonna and Child by Niccolò di Segna A large cross painted by Pietro Lorenzetti Maestà by Pietro Lorenzetti Triptych of the Madonna of Humility with Saints by Sassetta Assumption by Bartolomeo della Gatta Ecstasy of St. Margaret of Cortona by Giuseppe Maria Crespi