Ahh…Italy. Who could refuse a vacation here? Even if it would cost you an arm and leg to spend a few days’ worth of stay here, you’d be out of your door in a jiffy. All those visions of al fresco dining, laid-back strolling and awe-inspiring sights and sounds – it feels so invigorating already.
It is said that 75% of Italy’s cuisine and wine is good while the remaining is amazing. It still holds true; in fact, the 75% that was considered good has improved much more.
The ingredients that were only available to the wealthy in the past can now be easily obtained from the most distant parts of the country at affordable rates. Italian cuisine is famous and popular the world over; and its delicious recipes of pasta and pizza are favourites of children and adults alike. Most Italian cuisine makes use of 4-8 ingredients and is known for its simplicity. Coffee is a major part of Italian cuisine. Pasta made with a tomato sauce is popular all over the country.
Although popular and well-known for its taste, there is increasing evidence which shows that Italian food is becoming worse and losing its quality. There is conception of fast food and the increasing number of tourists pouring into the country has led restaurants to raise their prices but not their standards. This holds true for Rome as well as other centres of tourism.
Because of modernism and economic development which has brought women to the workforce, people no more go home for lunch that is prepared with Mamma’s loving hands. Everyone is on the go and too busy to sit down and enjoy a fresh, delicious meal made with love. Italy’s youth has been exposed to changed standards that are not as good.
However, there is some good news. Italy still enjoys the reputation of having one of the greatest cuisines in the world. The country’s favourites still make people smile. Small restaurants run by families, with tables decorated with checkered cloth, traditional foods, and casual atmosphere are common but decreasing in number. Every town is developing new eateries where everything is formal, from the glassware to the wine list.
Same goes for Italian wine. Sometime ago, the wine was bland and watery. But now, the winemakers have figured out ways to make the most of their splendid vineyards by experimentation and investment. More than any other country in the world, Italy produces the largest amount of grape wine.
With a national team that is considered to be among the best teams of the world, Italy became the proud owner of the FIFA World Cup in 2006 for the fourth time. Locally known as calico, soccer is the country’s unrivalled national sport. However, recent years have brought some changes.
Calico lovers have needed to accept certain developments, such as violent acts around the stadium because of which children cannot visit it, favouritism by referees, and match-fixing at every level. As more and more games are fixed, lesser people are present at the stadium. However, despite these changes, the Italians have been unable to keep themselves from watching their favourite sports on the TV.
Italy is home to Europe’s oldest population. This is due to the country’s low birth rate, highest rate of life expectancy, and comparatively strict rules for immigration. The median Italian is aged 43.8 years. And the number continues to rise.
Italy has an exceptionally stable population. Because of the low birth rate, low death rate, and restriction on immigrants, the number of its residents hardly rises. According to recent estimates, the population of the country is expected to start decreasing by the year 2020. In a country that does not have many retirement homes, the situation is a strain on families as the elderly members stay with their children.
The aged population has an effect on various areas of politics and culture, etc. Politicians are keen on promoting policies that appeal to the tastes of older voters, the producers take into consideration the demands of the older people when designing fashion products or television shows.
Italy is home to twenty-five national parks that covers around one and a half million hectares of the country’s area. Every few months, a new park is developed or expansion is done in an existing park.
The environmental movement happening in the country is the reason for the development and expansion of parks and open spaces. The environmental movement is aimed at protecting land from commercial development. This has become a new attraction for tourists as nature lovers visit Italy to enjoy the vast green lands.
Italy used to be Europe’s best example of August exodus where the people would spend most of their time in the mountains or by the seaside, leaving their cities almost deserted. Because of economic pressures and tourists, companies have to keep their operations up and running even throughout August and this has led to a decrease in spending time in the mountains or at seaside.
Summers in the country bring with it plenty of outdoor activities, such as plays and concerts. Summer also brings with it longer hours at the restaurants and museums; and culture fairs, wine, and food. Although the natives have had a loss of vacation time, it has led to a boon in tourism as now there are more places in the mountains and the seaside for vacationers.
Black market economy
Italy is believed to have a massive black-market economy. It is estimated to constitute 1/4th to ½ of the official economy.
If the estimates are correct, it can rightfully be said that its black market is equal to Indonesia’s or Switzerland’s entire economy. Italy would become the 5th largest economy of the world, if the estimated figures of its black market were included in the official gross domestic product.
The existence of black market cannot be seen by a casual observer. Shopping without getting a printed receipt in restaurants and stores, tobacco bought from a seller in the street, products exchanged for products rather than money, are all different forms of transactions that are not reported, taxed, or recorded. However, that is petty stuff if compared to the amounts that professionals evade when concealing all their earning.