Over the centuries, Italy has produced some of the most remarkable cultural works in the western canon, from the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri to Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, from The Prince of Niccolò Machiavelli to the neo-realist films of Vittorio De Sica, and from Baldassarre Castiglione's The Book of the Courtier to the post-modernist novels of Italo Calvino.
Historically, too, Italy has always been of great importance. In the Middle Ages, cities such as Florence and Venice were among the richest and most powerful of Europe; it was Italy that produced the Renaissance, the culture and values of which have provided the foundations of much of western life in the last five hundred years. In the nineteenth century, it provided one of the most exciting and inspiring examples of movement of national unification, while in the twentieth century, it gave rise to the political system known as fascism. Knowledge of the Italian language affords access to one of the West's richest cultural traditions as well as to one of Europe's most vital contemporary societies.
- Italy is one of the top five economies in the world, and many employers are seeking people who speak both Italian and English. An estimated 7,500 American companies do business with Italy and more than 1,000 U.S. firms have offices in Italy, including IBM, General Electric, Motorola, Citibank, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Many Italian firms have offices in the U.S., especially in the Detroit metropolitan area.
- Knowing Italian is greatly beneficial in several career fields. Italy is a world leader in the culinary arts, interior design, fashion, graphic design, furniture design, machine tool manufacturing, robotics, electromechanical machinery, shipbuilding, space engineering, construction machinery, and transportation equipment.
- According to UNESCO, over 60% of the world's art treasures are found in Italy. Some of the most famous Western artists, from Giotto to Michelangelo, were Italian. Knowledge of Italian is vital to understand the contexts of this art.
- Italian literature boasts some of the world's most famous writers and thinkers, from Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch and Machiavelli, to Verga, Svevo, Pirandello, and Gramsci, to name a few.
- Since Roman times, Italy has exported its literature and culture to other parts of Europe and beyond, in the areas of Latin literature, Romanitas, humanism, opera, film, science, political thought, fashion, design, and cuisine. Knowing Italian allows you to understand, appreciate, and analyze this treasury of human expression.
- Italy has the cultures, landscapes, and histories to fill a lifetime of investigation. Knowing Italian places you in a position to explore Italy's past and present from the most fulfilling vantage point.
Doing Business in Italy
Italy is ranked sixth among OECD countries, and fourth among European countries for Gross Domestic Product. Italian production constitutes more than 13% of the European Union's GDP.
- As a result of the nature of its productive system, Italy's division into sectors of economic activity is similar to that of the principle European countries, with 27.7% devoted to manufacturing and construction and almost 70% to services. Of this latter sector, trade, transport and communications absorb an above average portion of GDP as compared with other European countries.
- Located in the heart of the Mediterranean, Italy is a crucial crossroads for land, sea and air routes linking the North and South of Europe.
- The Italian market offers countless opportunities to businesses in expansion, with almost 60 million consumers and a GDP ranked fourth in the European Union.
- Thanks to its strategic placement, Italy makes it easy to reach the 396 million consumers of the other Union member countries and the 240 million of North Africa and the Middle East. It has also taken a leading position on the European market (11%), with an annual turnover of approximately 65 billion euro.
- Of all European countries, Italy has the lowest start-up costs for the biotechnology sector, and takes second place for product testing in research and development, chemicals and electronics.