From it’s charming countryside to its rich heritage, Italy is a wonderfully unique place to visit. In fact, the country is the fifth most visited place in the world!
There are so many fun, interesting facts about Italy that it’s hard to compile just one short list. So we’ve compiled the 50 most interesting facts about Italy that we think you’ll enjoy.
Whether you’re planning your next vacation to Italy or you’re permanently relocating , learning everything you can about the country–from its history to its native language–will make your stay that much more enjoyable.
- Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world, welcoming some 46 million foreign visitors annually. It’s also the fifth most populous country in Europe.
- Vatican City in Rome is the smallest country in the world and is led by the Pope himself.
- Another interesting fact about Italy, the capital of Italy, Rome, is almost 3,000 years old.
- The colors of the Italian flag–green, white, and red–have special meaning. Green represents hope, white represents faith, and red signals charity.
- Italy boasts the eighth largest economy in the world.
- Many musical terms are written in Italian because early composers from the Renaissance era were Italian.
- In the Italian language, Lei (she) and Loro (they) have a special meaning. These terms are used in formal settings to address people in which you have a professional relationship, such as a colleague or professor.
- Of all the Romance languages, Italian is the closest to Latin.
- From Venetian to Sicilian, there are dozens of Italian dialects used throughout the country.
- There are only 21 letters in the standard Italian alphabet. The Italian alphabet doesn’t have the have the letters J, K, W, X or Y.
- Don’t be surprised if your hotel in Italy doesn’t have a 17th floor. Italians believe that this number is unlucky because when the Roman numeral for 17 (XVII) is rearranged is looks like VIXI, which means “I have lived,” a symbol that’s associated with death.
- Italians believe that the corincello charm, which resembles a chili pepper or a small horn, will protect them from the evil eye.
- According to Italians, placing a hat on a bed is bad luck. Traditionally, when priests visited the dying to give them their last rights, they would remove their hat and put it on the bed.
- If a cat is crossing the street, don’t be the first one to cross it’s path. It’s believed that black cats are a symbol of witchcraft and the devil.
- Don’t give someone your best wishes. Instead, say “In bocca al lupo” or “into the wolf’s mouth,” as this means “good luck.”
- Italians believe that if someone brushes over a single person’s feet with a broom that he or she will never get married.
- Unsurprisingly, Italy is the world’s largest exporter of wine. However, it’s the second largest producer of wine after France.
- On average, Italians eat half a pound of bread a day. What’s more, estimated pasta consumption is 70 pounds per person annually.
- Bread is not meant to be an appetizer. Rather, Italians use it to wipe the remaining sauce off their plate.
- When dining in Italy, don’t ask for salad dressing or other condiments. Olive oil is the only acceptable “condiment” in Italy.
- From Cappelletti to Cavatelli, there are over 140 types of pastas. Some of these pastas are only native to specific regions.
- Check out this interesting fact about Italy: Italians consume over 45 bottles of wine per year, per capita.
- Europe’s three active volcanoes, Etna, Stromboli, and Vesuvius are all located in Italy.
- Italy has more earthquakes than any other European country.
- There is bronze statue of Jesus Christ submerged in the Mediterranean Sea off San Fruttuoso.
- The island of Poveglia is said to be so haunted that public access is prohibited.
- Almost four-fifths of Italy is either mountainous or hilly.
- La famiglia is very much a part of the Italian culture. In fact, it’s common for single children to live at home until their 30s.
- According to Italian culture, you must respect your elders. Always stand when an elder person enters the room.
- Fashion is also important in Italy. After all, some of the world’s most sought after designers, such as Armani, Versace, and Prada, hail from Italy. If visiting, be sure to dress to impress—no flip flops!
- Italians are known for communicating with hand gestures and facial expressions. They’re also known for being late!
- First impressions are important to Italians, so be sure to demonstrate respect and politeness toward others–especially in a business setting.
- Italy is home to the world’s oldest university, the University of Bologna founded in 1088.
- Some of the most well-known artists and authors–including Dante, Da Vinci, and Michelangelo–are from Italy.
- Italy has more masterpieces per square mile than any other country in the world.
- Ballet originated in Italy during the 15th century and it was Catherine de Medici who introduced it to France later on.
- Many of the most influential scientists and mathematicians were born Italy, including Galileo Galilei and Alessandro Volta.
- In the city of Turin, dog owners must walk their pooch at least three times a day or risk being fined. Woof.
- Unless you want to pay a hefty fine, don’t eat or drink while sitting on church steps or within a church courtyard.
- You better turn that frown upside down when you’re in Milan. According to ancient law, citizens are required to smile at all times, unless they’re attending a funeral or visiting a hospital.
- In 2012, the town of Falciano del Massico in Campania made it illegal for residents to die because the town’s cemetery is full.
- On the beaches of Eraclea on the Venetian Lido, it’s illegal to make sandcastles or any other kind of sand structure.
- In 1948, Roy Jacuzzi invented the Jacuzzi using specialized water pumps to help his son who was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
- You can thank Bartolomeo Cristofori for developing the very first piano in 1698. Other musical instruments invented in Italy include the violin, the guitar, and the organ.
- In 1896, the first ice cream cone was created by an Italian immigrant who settled in New York City.
- No wonder why Italians love caffeine, the espresso machine is an Italian invention built by Angelo Moriondo in 1884.
- Pretzels were actually first made in Italian in 610 by an Italian monk who gave them to children who learned their prayers.
- Italy has hosted the Olympics three times in 1956, 1960, and 2006.
- Italy has won the World Cup four times, the most Word Cup wins second to Brazil.
- Believe it or not, volleyball is a very popular sport in Italy. In fact, the Italian Volleyball League is one of the most well-respected and talented leagues in the world.
- Italy is host to one of the three most famous bike rides in Europe, “Giro d’Italia” (Tour of Italy).
Hopefully, these fun and interesting facts about Italy have inspired you to finally take that trip to Italy you’ve always dreamed of. Before you jet off to Italy, make sure you take some Italian lessons so you can speak to natives and learn even more interesting facts about Italy.