15 Italian Facts You Need To Know Before Visiting
Italy is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe, and it’s easy to see why with its incredible historical sites, great weather, beautiful landscapes, cuisine and more. If you are visiting the country, find out some facts right here!
1. UNESCO Sites
Italy is home to the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites that any single country can boast. This European nation contains and astounding 50, the majority of which can be largely attributed to the Roman Empire. The best known of these is probably the incredible Colosseum.
Considering that the city state of the Vatican City is located within Italy, it is hardly surprising that Italy has the highest percentage of its population as Catholics than any other country in Europe. In fact 85% of the population are followers of the Catholic faith.
3. University of Bologna
This university located in the city of Bologna in the central north of the country, is another of Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, and is the first and oldest university in the entire world. Founded in 1088, the university is still in operation even today!
The incredible city of Venice in the northeast of the country is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. This city on the water is built on 117 interconnected islands and is famed for its waterways, architecture and history. But did you know that all of their iconic gondolas are required by law to be painted black?!
Located nearby to Venice is the tiny island of Povlegia, which has a bit of a reputation. The island is believed to be so badly haunted that public access is actually prohibited (until it gets a new owner that is). Used as a quarantine station for plague, tuberculosis and then Spanish flu, in 1922 an asylum was built there which operated until 1968. Mysterious happenings and mysterious apparitions have been reported there, and locals avoid the place.
6. San Marino
San Marino is a microstate completely surrounded by Italy and measures just over 60 sq.km. With a population of only 32,000, the main language is still Italian, and it actually claims to be the oldest continuous sovereign state and republic in the world having been founded in AD301!
7. The Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain can be found in the Trevi district of the capital city Rome. This huge fountain from the Baroque period stands over 25 m high and is reputed to be a wishing well. In fact, around 3000€ are thrown into this popular tourist attraction every single day.
Italian classical music is famed and enjoyed worldwide, and in particular its operas. The art-form itself hails from Italy where it was created around 1600, and in fact many of the world’s favourite operas are Italian. Notable Italian composers include Rossini, Puccini and Verdi.
9. The Cars
Italians love their cars and motor sports, and you can’t blame them really when you consider that 2 of the world’s most coveted sports cars hail from the country, Lamborghinis and Ferraris. Aside from these beauties, Italy also boasts other popular car manufacturers including Fiat, Alpha Romeo and Maserati.
Italy can boast the dubitable claim of having the most amount of volcanoes of any European nation. This is due to the fact that the Italian Peninsula lies along a fault line. While most of them are now extinct, some are still rumbling along including the infamous Mount Vesuvius. In fact Italy is home to mainland Europe’s only 3 active volcanoes; Etna, Vesuvius and Stromboli.
11. Monte Bianco
Part of Europe’s most major mountain range, the Alps, runs through northern Italy. Aside from visiting there to enjoy mountaineering, snow sports and more, you can also see Europe’s tallest mountain, Mount Bianco. Shared with France, from where it gets its more common name of Mont Blanc, it is truly a site to behold.
12. Colletto Fava
Rather incredibly, and bizarrely, on top of a high hill in northern Italy, there is a giant 60m long pink stuffed rabbit. Made of straw stuffed fabric, it has been there since 2005 having been created by a Viennese art group and is a popular hiking spot.
13. The Wine
While it may be France that automatically think of when you are considering wine, but Italy produces more, and is actually the largest producer of the alcoholic tipple in the world, representing over 30% of the world’s supply. Not surprising really when vineyards can be found the length and breadth of the country!
Although Italy may not be one of the top coffee drinking nations, they certainly are well known for their delicious coffee-based creations, in particular espressos! Did you know that every year 14billion espressos are consumed in Italy! So make sure to try one there if you are visiting
15. The Food
It would be impossible to write about Italy and not mention its cuisine, which is one of if not the, most popular in the world. The country can claim pizza, ice-cream and pasta as its own, which are a major reason for the cuisine’s major popularity. With new variations of old classic being invented all the time, it is unlikely that Italian food will slip from its plinth any time soon!