Many of the universally admired forms of architecture came from Italy, and many of the most beautiful buildings in the world can be found there.
Italy was home to many of the world's most famous and best loved painters, sculptors and composers, and the great minds of Galileo Galilei and Leonardo da Vinci helped to shape the world in which we live.
The Renaissance movement, which has come to symbolise art and culture, originated in Florence, and spread thoughout Europe, its influence affecting literature, philosophy, art, politics, science, religion, and almost all other aspects of cultural life.
But Italy's contribution to European culture is not all in the past. Italian cinema is famous worldwide and many of Italy's architects, fashion designers and engineers are world leaders in their fields.