Like the Roman god Janus,
Italy wears two faces. One,
soft with the patina of age, looks back on a glorious history - the awesome
monuments of Imperial Rome, the ruins of Pompeii, the magnificence of
canal-fretted Venice or the artistic masterpieces of Florence, cradle of the
The other face, shiny and new, reflects the modernity of a
nation surging with superhighways, busy factories, and skyscrapers.
Italy has one of the world's strongest and most vibrant popular cultures,
and plays a large role in shaping worldwide trends in fashion, film,
cuisine, industrial and interior design, advertising, and popular music.
After World War II, Italian neo-realism became an important force in motion
pictures, and by the 1960s, Italy had established itself as one of a handful
of great film cultures. Italian design shaped the look of the post-war
world, and today Italy is arguably the international leader in fashion and