¨How beautiful is sunset, when the glow of Heaven descends upon a land like thee, Thou Paradise of exiles, Italy!¨
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Fun Facts About Italy for Travelers
- Are little-known
- Add a new or interesting perspective to a discussion about a place or issue.
- Make me laugh, cry, or smile.
I also frequently post fun facts on my Facebook group page: Long Term Traveling and Living Abroad Over the Age of 50.
In addition, I have added several fun facts I discovered while putting together this page.
I hope you enjoy these fun facts as much as I enjoyed putting them together.
Let me know if you have any fun facts to add to this page.
50 Fun Facts About Italy
Facts About Italy’s Economy
- The average Italian makes close to $30,000 a year; however, the average Italian in the North makes over $40,000 annually.
- Italy’s unemployment rate is around 9.2%, but it is up to 20% in parts of Southern Italy.
- The fifth most visited country in the world is Italy.
- Italy has the most hotel rooms in Europe.
- Italy is the world’s fifth-largest industrial economy. Italy’s major industries include tourism, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear, and ceramics.
- Over 40% of Italy’s labor force is unionized. If you travel to Italy, expect to find tourist attractions and public transportation closed on occasion by strikes.
- Italy has one of the world’s most vibrant collections of small private family enterprises.
- Italian families save three times more than Americans.
- 70% of the Italian economy comes from the service sector.
- Though Italy is one of Europe’s major food producers, agriculture constitutes less than three percent of the Italian economy. Grains, soybeans, meat, and dairy products come from the North. , The South produces fruits, vegetables, olive oil, wine, and durum wheat.
Facts About Italy’s Culture
- The famous children’s story, Pinocchio, was written by an Italian, Carlo Collodi.
- Multiple Shakespeare plays are set at least partially in Italy, including Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Winter’s Tale.
- “Ars longa, vita brevis,” which means “art is long, life is short,” is a common Italian proverb.
- Italy has had a worldwide reputation for excellent, well-crafted tailoring and fashion design since the 11th-century. Today., 580,000 people work in the fashion industry, which contributes more than 88 billion dollars annually to the Italian economy.
- A Vespa is an Italian-made motor scooter seen all over Italy.
- Italy has the most UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world (58).
- There are over 4,500 Italian museums, and nearly half of all visitors are from outside Italy.
Facts About Italy’s History
- Famous Italian explorers include Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, John Cabot, and Amerigo Vespucci.
- Traditionally, Modern-Day Northern Italy was a successful collection of city-states (also known as communes). Some like Genoa and Pisa became powerful enough to establish embassies in Acre (modern-day Israel) and fight during the Crusades.
- Southern Italy, particularly Sicily, has a long history of invasions, including the Normans, House of Bourbons (Spanish kings who ruled most of Southern Italy in the 18th and 19th centuries), and North Africa.
- The symbol SPQR — “the senate and people of Rome” — is widely seen on ancient Roman buildings and is used even today.
- Rome was founded in 753 BC by Romulus, the first Roman king. At its peak in 100 AD, the Roman Empire stretched from modern-day Britain to Iraq in the West and Morocco in the South. I have visited spectacular Roman ruins in Volubilis Morocco, Merida, Spain; throughout Southern France; and Ephesus, Turkey.
- Politicians in ancient Rome were famed for placating the populace with bread and circuses.
- Italy did not become a united country until 1861.
- The Roman Empire fell in 476 AD after the invasion of the Vandals, and the Empire was also suffering from many internal economic issues.
- Napoleon was exiled to the Italian island of Elba, which he escaped and returned to France.
Facts About Italy’s Innovations
- The Basilica di San Petronio in Bologna was important in the establishment of the meridian line, which played a significant role in modern astronomy. The basilica also contains a controversial mural depicting Mohammed being eaten by demons which provoked a terrorist attack in 2002
- The Italians were an integral part of the development of many innovations that we use daily, including the telephone, eyeglasses, double-entry bookkeeping, the ice cream cone, the scientific method, piano, espresso machines, banks, jeans, radio, cologne,
Facts About Italy’s Languages
- Today’s modern Italian language originated in Tuscany.
- Standard Italian has not changed as much as most other languages over time. It is not difficult for most Italians to read texts written by Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo (both Tuscans).
- There are numerous local languages in Italy (often mistakenly called dialects). Some of these languages do not have Latin roots making it difficult for Italians to understand these languages. There are parts of Italy where French, German, and Slovenian are widely spoken.
Facts About Italy’s Geography
- There are two microstates, San Marino and Vatican City, within Italy. Vatican City is the smallest country on Earth. It is only around one-eighth the size of New York’s Central Park.
- Over 75% of Italy is mountainous or hilly.
- Italy’s North and South have different climates. The North can get very cold in the winter, while Sicily is mostly pleasant in the winter.
- The Seven Hills of Rome are Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, Palatine, Quirinal, and Viminal.
- The Alps are part of Italy’s northern border and historically protected the peninsula from invasion.
- Italy has all three of Europe’s active volcanoes: Vesuvius, Etna, and Stromboli. Pompeii and Herculaneum (my favorite) were ruined by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. In 1944, several villages near Naples were buried under Vesuvius’s ash.
- There are over 1,500 lakes in Italy, including my favorite Lago Maggiore, home to one of my favorite places in Italy, Isola Bella.
Facts About Italians Abroad
- The majority of Italian Americans immigrated from Southern Italy. It is estimated that there are somewhere around 18 million Italian Americans. (A bit more than 5% of the population of the US).
- 62% of Argentinians have some Italian heritage.
- Between 1880 and 1980, over 29 million Italians immigrated mostly to the Americas, making up one of the largest migrations in history.
Facts About Italian LIfe Today
- Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. The average family has only 1.27 children. (The average US family has 1.93 children). As a result, the average Italian is 41 years old. (The median age in the US is 38.2 years old).
- Since the end of WWII, Italy has had 60 governments Silvio Berlusconi, the longest-running Italian Prime Minister, served for eight years in 4 different governments.
- Italy has 5 million foreigners (about 8% of the total population).
- 79% of Italians are Roman Catholic, and 58% of all Italiansconsider to be important in their lives.
- Tourists throw €3,000 into the Trevi fountain in Rome every day.
Facts About Italy’s Food
- The average Italian consumes 26 gallons of wine a year, 25 kilograms of pasta a year, and half a pound of bread a day..
- Italy has a free wine fountain in Caldari di Ortona.
- Italy has 400+ varieties of cheeses, including parmesan, mozzarella, ricotta, provolone, and gorgonzola.
- Pasta has been part of the Italian diet since the 4th century BC.
- Italians consume 14 billion espressos each year. There are ten varieties of espresso. My favorite is coreto (proper) which comes with a shot of grappa (grape liqueur) or sambuca.
- Italy is the world’s largest wine producer.
- Gelato means frozen in Italian. It is considered a frozen dessert rather than ice cream. Gelato has fewer calories and significantly less fat than ice cream. I encourage you to try some of the bitter flavors of gelato like grapefruit, lemon, and green apples.
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