85 Interesting Facts About Italy

Last updated on December 26th, 2017

#46. Italy along with Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States is a member of G8, which is a governmental political forum.

#47. The Italian town of Acciaroli has a disproportionately high number of centenarians in its population of about 2,000 and scientists what to know why! The town is famous for its low rates of heart disease and Alzheimer’s. The residents of the town eat diet heavy in fish and olive oil, which could be one of the reasons for their good health in the old age. However, the research is ongoing to collect some concrete evidence.

#48. Italy has two independent states entirely contained within its boundaries – San Marino and the Vatican City.

#49. Number 17 is considered unlucky in Italy, which is also why some of the hotels in the country do not have a 17th floor.

#50. As there were 13 people at “the Last Supper” — the famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, it is considered unlucky to seat together 13 people at the dinner table.

Leonarda_da_vinci_last_supper
The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci. Image credit – Wikimedia Commons.

About Italian food

#51. Traditionally Italians don’t put their meatballs in their pasta. In most Italian meals, the first course (Primo piatto) is pasta followed by the main course of meat or fish (the secondo piatto).

#52. While the ‘mad cow’ disease had made an Italian delicacy called Pajata illegal for 14 years, it is now back on the menus. Pajata is made from the intestines of calves which have been milk-fed, and the result of cooking this in tomato sauce or grilling is a creamy intestine dish.

#53. If you thought any pasta shape could go with any sauce, you’d be wrong. The Italians are very precise about sauce and pasta pairings. You’ll rarely find thick ragu with thin linguini served in Italy; shells go best with thick meat or cream sauces.

#54. The Alfredo that you’ve found at nearly every Italian restaurant in different versions is not “authentic” Italian at all but a pasta sauce that only Americans think is Italian!

#55. If you look for Pepperoni Pizza in Italy, you may find a vegetarian pizza being served to you. “Pepperoni” is not salami in Italy, but peppers!

#56. If you’re looking for your favorite “latte” in Italy, you’ll probably be served a glass of milk. Instead, ask for “latte macchiato” which is milk with espresso.

#57. Breakfast in Italy is a simple affair. If you want to eat like the locals, you’ll have to be satisfied with just a cappuccino and a croissant (such as brioche).

#58. You won’t find Spaghetti Bolognese on the Italian menu either. Italians eat the bolognese sauce with tagliatelle, which is a traditional flat ribbon pasta thicker than spaghetti.

#59. Italians love their organ meats and pig’s blood. In Southern Italy, people eat a sweet pig blood pudding mixed with chocolate and cream usually just before Ash Wednesday. The locals call it Sanguinaccio dolce.

#60. Another really bizarre Italian food that is not for everyone is the Casu marzu – rotten cheese. This cheese is truly rotten, made from sheep’s milk and containing real live maggot larvae. If you’re brave enough to try, head to Sardinia.

#61. Around Christmas, the Italians make something called the zampone – which literally comes from the word for “trotter”. The zampone is an old, traditional sausage of herbed and spiced meat, stuffed in a casing made from the skin of the trotter!

#62. While chicken on pasta is not heard of in Italy, fish in pasta is not unheard of. Italian seafood pasta is particularly delicious in Sicily, where they can put everything from swordfish (pesce spada) to sardines (sarde) and more in your pasta.

#63. When McDonald’s first opened in Italy, the Romans protested by giving out free spaghetti to the supporters of the protest!

#64. In the rustic resort town of Montecatini Terme you can enjoy the Vesuvio Molten Cake, a richly decadent chiffon cake lit up with a sparkling candle when served, to symbolize the active volcano that Italians are always in fear of.

St Peter's Square, Vatican City
St Peter’s Square, Vatican City. Image credit – Diego Cambiaso

Facts about Italy for kids

#65. When the Roman Empire was most powerful in 117 AD, it stretched all the way from modern Spain to the west to present-day Iraq in the west, and from Great Britain in the north to Egypt across the Mediterranean in North Africa!

#66. The Romans added boarding ramps called corvus to their ships during the Punic Wars, so their ships could pull alongside the ships of their enemy, Carthage, and let their soldiers board the ships as if it was a land battle and not a sea battle.

#67. Italians are highly educated. Over 99% can read and write.

#68. The Italian brown bear, known as the Marsican brown bear, is endangered and rare, but can be still seen in the Abruzzo National Park.

#69. The biggest holiday in Italy is Christmas. People take a lot of care in building the nativity crib scene.

#70. Italians brought the world ice-cream as we know it today, but it may be that China made the first.

#71. Pizza as we know it in America is nothing like the original Italian pizza. In Italy, they don’t top pizzas with seasonings and tomato sauce, but use fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce, vegetables and herbs, and sometimes mozzarella cheese.

#72. Fewer children are born in Italy each year than in most other places in the world!

#73. In Turin there is a piece of linen cloth called the Shroud of Turin that is said to contain the real imprint of Jesus Christ’s face!

#74. Italy is slightly larger than Arizona but it is the world’s eighth largest economy!

#75. Rome has been called the Eternal City for centuries because the Romans believed that the city would go on forever.

#76. The island of Sicily is famous for the Mafia criminal organization.

#77. Italy is also home to Europe’s highest peak, Monte Bianco (White Mountain), which is 15,771 feet high and is part of the Alps.

#78. “Russo” is the most common Italian surname.

#79. Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Christopher Columbus, Leonardo Fibonacci, Enzo Ferrari and Guglielmo Marconi are some of the famous people born in Italy.

#80. The Leaning Tower of Pisa built in 1173 is a famous Italian monument. The tower probably because of its weak foundation started leaning soon after its construction. Reconstruction work was carried out in 2008 and the engineers declared it safe for another 200 years.

Map of Italy

Some weird Italian laws

#81. For those who live In Turin and own a dog, it is compulsory for them to walk their pet at least three times a day else they may be fined.

#82. As per a court order, Italian men are not allowed to touch their own genitals in public.

#83. In Milan it is an old law to smile constantly when one is at a public place. The only exceptions to this law are those who are attending funerals and those who work in hospitals. If you don’t follow the law, you will be fined.

#84. It is not permissible to eat outdoors in Rome’s historic center.

#85. Italy does not permit men to wear a skirt in public. The consequence of doing so may land you behind the bars in jail.

Italy – country at a glance

Independence17 March 1861 (Kingdom of Italy proclaimed; Italy was not finally unified until 1871)
Capital CityRome
(41°54′N 12°29′E)
Largest CityRome
(41°54′N 12°29′E)
Total area301,340 sq km
Population62,137,802 (July 2017 est.)
Official LanguageItalian
BordersAustria 430 km
France 488 km
Holy See (Vatican City) 3.2 km
San Marino 39 km
Slovenia 199 km
Switzerland 740 km
CurrencyEuro
Literacy rate99.2%
ReligionChristianity
Life expectancy82.3 Years (2017)
Suffrage18 years of age; universal except in senatorial elections, where minimum age is 25
Climatepredominantly Mediterranean; alpine in far north; hot, dry in south
Terrainmostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands
Natural resourcescoal, mercury, zinc, potash, marble, barite, asbestos, pumice, fluorspar, feldspar, pyrite (sulfur), natural gas and crude oil reserves, fish, arable land
Agricultural land47.1%
Birth rate8.6 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
Death rate10.4 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
Sex ratio0.93 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
DemonymItalian
Government typeparliamentary republic
PresidentSergio Mattarella
Prime MinisterGiuseppe Conte
National anthem"Il Canto degli Italiani" (The Song of the Italians)
National holidayRepublic Day, 2 June (1946)
National symbolwhite, five-pointed star (Stella d'Italia)
National colorsred, white, green
Industriestourism, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear, ceramics
Exports$499.1 billion (2017 est.)
engineering products, textiles and clothing, production machinery, motor vehicles, transport equipment, chemicals; foodstuffs, beverages, and tobacco; minerals, nonferrous metals
Imports$426.7 billion (2017 est.)
engineering products, chemicals, transport equipment, energy products, minerals and nonferrous metals, textiles and clothing; food, beverages, tobacco
GDP - per capita (PPP)$38,000 (2017 est.)
Internet country code.it
Time ZoneCET (UTC+1)
Calling Code+39
Drives on theRight
Data sourcesCIA, Wikipedia
Table last updatedJuly 13, 2018