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Location of Italy within Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern and Western Europe. It is located on a peninsula that extends into the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, with the Alps on its northern land border, as well as several islands, notably Sicily and Sardinia. Italy shares its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and two enclaves: Vatican City and San Marino. Its territory also includes Campione (an exclave surrounded by Switzerland) and the Pelagie Islands (an archipelago in the African Plate). It is the tenth-largest country by land area in the European continent, covering an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi), and the third-most populous member state of the European Union, with a population of nearly 60 million. Its capital and largest city is Rome.

In antiquity, the Italian peninsula was home to numerous peoples; the Latin city of Rome in central Italy, founded as a Kingdom, became a Republic that conquered the Mediterranean world and ruled it for centuries as an Empire. With the spread of Christianity, Rome became the seat of the Catholic Church and of the Papacy. During the Early Middle Ages, Italy experienced the fall of the Western Roman Empire and inward migration from Germanic tribes. By the 11th century, Italian city-states and maritime republics expanded, bringing renewed prosperity through commerce and laying the groundwork for modern capitalism. The Italian Renaissance flourished in Florence during the 15th and 16th centuries and spread to the rest of Europe. Italian explorers also discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, leading the European Age of Discovery. However, centuries of rivalry and infighting between the Italian city-states among other factors left the peninsula divided into numerous states until the late modern period. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Italian economic and commercial importance waned significantly. (Full article...)

Second page of O dolcezz'amarissime d'amore, written for the concerto by Luzzasco Luzzaschi. The excerpt displays the fast-moving virtuosic passages in which the group specialized.

The concerto delle donne (lit.'consort of ladies') was an ensemble of professional female singers of late Renaissance music in Italy. The term usually refers to the first and most influential group in Ferrara, which existed between 1580 and 1597. Renowned for their technical and artistic virtuosity, the Ferrarese group's core members were the sopranos Laura Peverara, Livia d'Arco and Anna Guarini.

The Duke of Ferrara Alfonso II d'Este founded a group of mostly female singers for his exclusive chamber music series, musica secreta (lit.'secret music'). These singers were exclusively noble women, such as Lucrezia and Isabella Bendidio. In 1580, Alfonso formally established the concerto delle donne for both his wife Margherita Gonzaga d'Este and reasons of prestige. The new group included professional singers of upper-class, but not noble, backgrounds, under the direction of the composers Luzzasco Luzzaschi and Ippolito Fiorini. Their signature style of florid, highly ornamented singing brought prestige to Ferrara and inspired composers of the time such as Lodovico Agostini, Carlo Gesualdo and Claudio Monteverdi. (Full article...)
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Spaghetti alla carbonara

Carbonara (Italian: [karboˈnaːra]) is a pasta dish made with eggs, hard cheese, fatty cured pork, and black pepper. The dish took its modern form and name in the middle of the 20th century.

The cheese is usually pecorino romano. Some variations use Parmesan, Grana Padano, or a combination of cheeses. Spaghetti is the most common pasta, but rigatoni or bucatini are also used. While guanciale, a cured pork jowl, is traditional, some variations use pancetta, and lardons of smoked bacon are a common substitute outside Italy. (Full article...)


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