I see that Mediterranean basil is also called Italian or sweet basil so perhaps it is the Italians above all who prize the herb in the kitchen.
A tomato salad in summer is incomplete without basil. Add fresh mozzarella and you have a 'caprese'. Locally here in Tuscany (and central Italy in general), the summer dish 'panzanella', based on stale bread, tomatoes, sweet onions and basil in olive oil and vinegar dressing, (but there are contemporary variations involving olives, capers and anchovies) is a famed favourite.
However basil is not just popular with human Italians, it is also a favourite of a basil-green, non-human Italian grasshopper which frequents our garden. I am rather indulgent with this grasshopper: I look on it as sharing the basil with us.