50 Fascinating Facts about Italy

Italy is located in Southern Europe between France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The country is located in the Mediterranean Sea and also governs numerous islands throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Italy and all of its islands are home to 59 million people. Its capital city, Rome, is home to 2.7 million people. Italy’s official language is Italian, and it does not have an official religion. However, Christianity is practiced by 91.6% of Italy’s people and Catholicism is the primary religion of the country. Italy’s flag is a horizontal flag that is comprised of three vertical colored stripes, green, white and red. The country uses the Euro as their form of currency, along with many other countries in the European Union.

Italy Facts

1
Italy’s total nominal GDP is $2.014 trillion, which is the ninth highest in the world; its per capita nominal GDP is $33,115 which is the 25th highest in the world.
2
Their government is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic, which means that they have a President, Prime Minister, President of the Senate and President of the Chamber of Deputies.
3
Due to their high per capita GDP, Italians have a very high standard of living. This includes a high standard for public education.
4
Italy runs under a market economy that focuses on international imports and exports to keep their GDP raising. Before World War II they primarily had an agriculture based economy, but after the War Italy transformed into and industrious nation.
5
Today, Italy’s main exports include machinery, metals, vehicles, pharmaceuticals, wine and other food products.
6
Italy is shaped like a high heeled boot, making it incredibly easy to pick out on a map.
7
The Alps Mountains create Italy’s northern border between France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.
8
There are three active volcanoes in Italy, Vesuvius, Etna and Stromboli. All three volcanoes are open to the public and visitors can take guided hikes throughout the week.
9
Italian is spoken throughout the country, but many of the smaller towns and communities speak their own dialect of Italian. Some of the citizens of Northern Italy even speak German instead of Italian. School children often learn a second language while in school, which could be English, French or German.
10
Italians are known for their rich and delicious food. They love dishes with pasta, bread and Italian cheeses.
11
Italy received its name from the Italian word ‘italia’ which translates into calf land.
12
The city of Rome was founded in 753 BC and the Roman Empire was established. After numerous rulers, the empire collapsed in 395 AD into multiple states. The Italy that we know of today wasn’t formed until 1861.
13
Italians have many traditions when it comes to naming their newborns. First names originate from family names, while last names often come from geographical areas, descriptions or family trades.
14
Weddings and Christenings are both important dates in a person’s life. Both are celebrated grandly, and involve large receptions with numerous family members, music and great food.
15
Throughout much of Italy people still live in small villages with their close friends and family members. Each village has its own traditions, but many of them involve dance. Folk dances are popular throughout the country, and can often be seen in the middle of the streets when walking in Italy.
16
Wine is a huge export of the country; however many Italians create their own wine. It’s a tradition for families to create a family wine together and drink it at all of the family celebrations.
17
During Christmas each town will set up a Nativity scene known as Il Presepe. Each scene is intricate and celebrates the birth of Christ.
18
Italy is one of the founding members of NATO and the European Union.
19
Italy is highly populated, and is considered one of the most crowded countries in Europe.
20
Four-fifths of Italy’s land is occupied by mountains and hills.
21
The University of Rome was founded in 1303, and is one of the oldest universities in the world.
22
Both the Republic of San Marino and the Vatican City are independent states that lie within Italy.
23
Over 50 million people travel to Italy each year, boosting the Italian economy and providing them with approximately 63% of their yearly income.
24
Italians have a tradition of taking a small walk before each night. The walk is known as a passeggiata, and allows Italians to socialize with their neighbors and exercise.
25
The Lotschberg Base Tunnel is the longest land tunnel in the world, and connects Switzerland and Italy with a 22 mile rail system.
26
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a prime spot for tourists. It has been said that it leans due to poor foundation, and in 2008 engineers studied the building and discovered that it would stay standing for another 200 years before needing to be reinforced.
27
Italy has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world with a total of 51.
28
All gondolas in Italy are painted black because of a law that dates back to the 17th Century.
29
Poveglia is an island in northern Italy that is supposedly so haunted, no one visits it and fishermen won't even fish in the waters surrounding it for fear of catching human bones.
30
Ferrari isn't just a car -- it's a common surname in Italy. The name is the equivalent of the English "Smith."
31
Pepperoni isn't purely Italian. It's an Italian-American creation. A pepperoni in Italy is actually a pepper.
32
The University of Bologna was founded in 1088 and is the oldest continuous-running university in Europe.
33
Italy was the first European country to have the fork. It was used to eat pasta.
34
Italy is made up of over 70 islands.
35
In terms of area, Italy is just a bit larger than the state of Arizona.
36
About 80% of Italians identify as being Christian, with the vast majority following Roman Catholicism.
37
People throw approximately 3,000 Euros per day into the Trevi Fountain in Italy.
38
About 46 million visitors come to Italy every year.
39
Italy has one of the lowest birthrates and fertility rates in the world.
40
The standard Italian alphabet has 21 letters.
41
The longest tunnel in the world stretches from Switzerland to Italy. The tunnel runs under the Alps and took 17 years to construct.
42
Rome's Vatican City is the smallest city in the world.
43
The first pizzeria was located in Naples, Italy. It was called Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba and it opened in 1830.
44
There are over 140 different types of pasta. There are even more names for pastas, as some regions in Italy have their own names for certain types.
45
The Italians invented many things, including the thermometer, piano, violin, telephone, and mechanical clock.
46
The Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world.
47
More fashion designers came from Italy than any other country in the world. This includes Gucci, Prada, Armani, Fendi, and Dolce & Gabbana, just to name a few.
48
Italy manufactures some of the most luxurious sports cars in the world. The Ferrari, Bugatti, and Maserati are just a few of Italy's luxury cars.
49
17 is considered an unlucky number in Italy. Many hotels and buildings don't have a 17th floor, much like the number 13 in the United States.
50
Italy has been the host of the Olympics three times, in 1956, 1960, and 2006.

Italy is an interesting and mysterious country. Having become an independent and unified state in 1861, the country has seen turmoil, violence and happiness. Tourists flock to the country each year in order to see the magnificent works of art and architecture that have made Italy a beautiful country. Today, tourism accounts for much of Italy’s nominal GDP. The country doesn’t make all of its money from tourism though, and due to its largely industrious nature it has become an emerging force in the international economic world. Even though, Italians still enjoy a very relaxed lifestyle that revolves around family, friends and happiness.

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