Monday, October 09, 2006

Discover Atlas - Italy

Last night since tak pergi Terawikh ( a special prayer performed in the month of Ramadhan), I had the chance of viewing Discover Channel channel 50, The Discovery Atlas. A good programme. Travel through Italy last nite. Yang interesting about Italy is the pizza making.

"Pizza perfectionThe 'pizzaiolo' (male pizza chef ) knows the way to produce excellent pizzas is by cooking them in a brick, wood-fired oven. These ovens, reaching temperatures of up to 500C/ 900F, are heated by burning wood or coal in a chamber. After three minutes the pizza is cooked – with the delicate airy crust and light toppings for which Neopolitan pizzas are famous. The Italian government is pushing for strict regulations on the making of Neopolitan pizzas to ensure the tradition is preserved."

Italy, officially the Italian Republic is a Southern European country. It comprises the Po River valley, the Italian Peninsular and the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. It is shaped like a boot and for this reason Italians commonly call it "lo stivale" ("the boot").

Italy was home to many well-known and influential European civilizations, including the Etruscans, Greeks and the Romans. For more than 3,000 years Italy experienced migrations and invasions from Gemanic, Celtic, Frankish, Lombard, Byzantine Greek, Saracen, Norman and Angevian peoples, and was divided into many independent states until 1861 when Italy became a nation-state.

Roman Catholic is by far the largest religion in the country. However I've found some facts about Islam in Italy. According to latest Italian official statistics, Muslims make up about 34% of the 2,400,000 foreign residents living in Italy as of January, 1, 2005.

Sicily, Sardinia and some regions in Peninsular Italy have been part of the Muslim 'Ummah' between 828 and 1300 (destruction of the last Islamic stronghold of Lucera in Puglia).

Islam was almost entirely absent in Italy from the time of the country's unification in 1861 until the 1970s, when the first trickle of North African immigrants began arriving. These North Africans, mostly of Berber of Arab origin, came mainly from Morocco, though they have been followed in more recent years by Tunisians, Albanians and to a lesser extent, Libyans, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Middle Eastern Arabs and Kurds.

The number of Muslims in Italy today probably surpasses the one-million mark, though only 30,000 or so Italian citizens are Muslim. They consist mostly of foreigners who have received Italian citizenship and native Italians who have converted to Islam; a famous Italian convert to Islam is Italy's former ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

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