The world owes a debt to Italy for a great many things.
The peninsula is responsible for so many of the things that make this life worth living: pizza, prosecco, Nutella, jeans, fast cars, and pasta, among many other things. What else would you expect from the land of la dolce vita?
Italy’s vast contributions to the world are well documented, but fewer people are aware of how the country has contributed to our conception of a good night out. Italians are the original party animals, knowing how to let loose after a long day and doing it with utmost flair since the Roman times. Here’s how Italy has shaped modern nightlife around the world.
Party Like a Roman
The Roman period and its dramatic decline are nowadays synonymous with decadence and hedonism, a powerful symbol of what can happen when a people’s become preoccupied with personal pleasure above all else. While these associations are largely inaccurate, having first surfaced in the stuffy Victorian period, it’s certainly true that the Romans knew how to have a good time.
The very concept of a dinner party was first trialed out in villas across the empire, as newly wealthy merchants realized they could share their surplus food and wine with their nearest and dearest. Before long, the elite was throwing banquets and house parties that make Project X look tame -think three-day benders, racy dance competitions, and enough wine to fill the Mediterranean.
The Romans may have first introduced the modern ways of letting loose, it was during the Renaissance that this was taken up a notch. The cities of 16th-century Italy became a testing ground for a new kind of revelry – one in which urban centers became party landscapes themselves. This was best exemplified by the wild glory days of Venice.
The Doge and the Venetian government were perfectly happy to cement the city-state as a global Mecca for partying. The world’s very first casino, the Ridotto, first opened up in the Palazzo Dandolo as a government-owned gambling house. The legacy today hardly requires explaining, given the global popularity of casinos as a place to have fun, with modern day gamblers even flocking to the casino online to get their adrenaline fix from the roulette wheel, blackjack table, and the modern 21st-century addition of the slot machines.
Alongside a kaleidoscope of open-all-hours venues, Venice also hosted the world’s greatest street party – the carnival, which was the first of its kind and continues to this day.
Living ‘La Dolce Vita‘
Italian’s penchant for partying didn’t stop there. In the post-war years of the 20th century, they once again showed the world how it’s done during the “economic miracle” era of the 60s and 70s. Rome and Milan became global centers of nightlife, with some of the most famous nightclubs and exclusive parties on Earth clustering around these cities. The musical legacy lives on in nightclubs today through Italian house, Italo-disco, and Italian Beat.
Nightlife’s center of gravity these days may belong to cities like Berlin, London, and New York, but Italy paved the way. While people may head elsewhere for a party, Italy is still an unbeatable place to let loose.