Here’s some curious facts about Italy. Let’s discover how many of these do you already know to find out if you are a really “Italian-Lover”.
1. The name Italy comes from the word italia, meaning “calf land,” perhaps because the bull was a symbol of the Southern Italian tribes.
2. The capital of Italy is Rome (also known as the Eternal City) and is almost 3,000 years old. It has been the capital since 1871 and is home to the Dome of St. Peter’s, the Sistine Chapel, the Coliseum, and the famous Trevi Fountain.
3. Italy is said to have more masterpieces per square mile than any other country in the world.
4. There are two independent states within Italy: the Republic of San Marino (25 square miles) and the Vatican City (just 108.7 acres).
5. No other country in Europe has as many volcanoes as Italy. This is because the Italian peninsula stands on a fault line. Three major volcanoes (Etna, Stromboli, and Vesuvius) have erupted in the last hundred years.
6. The highest peak in Europe is in Italy. Monte Bianco (White Mountain) is 15,771 feet high and is part of the Alps.
7. In the 1930s and 40s, Italian fascist Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) tried to eliminate foreign words from Italian. In soccer, “goal” became “meta” and Donald Duck became “Paperino.” Mickey Mouse became “Topolino” and Goofy became “Pippo.” While the ban was not permanent, the Italian names remain common.
8. Over 50 million tourists a year visit Italy. Tourism is vital to Italy’s economy and provides nearly 63% of Italy’s national income.
9. Italian Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simon (1475-1564) was once thought to have painted in somber shades, but after his frescos on the Sistine Chapel were cleaned, it was discovered that he actually painted in bright colors, such as purples, greens, and pinks. Centuries of dirt and smoke from candles had toned down the bright colors. Some art historians argued that the restorers went too far in their cleaning efforts and removed the dark shadows Michelangelo intended.
10. The world’s first operas were composed in Italy at the end of the sixteenth century. Opera reached the height of popularity in the nineteenth century, when the works of Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868), Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), and Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) became hugely popular.
11 In 1454, a real human chess game took place in Marostica, Italy. Rather than fight a bloody duel, the winner of the chess game would win the hand of a beautiful girl. To commemorate the event, each September in even-numbered years, the town’s mainpiazza becomes a life-sized chess board.
12. Italy is among the world’s leaders of the fashion industry. In the 1950s, Italian designers such as Nino Cerruti and Valentino led the world in creating stylish fashions. Additionally, Armani, Versace, Gucci, and Prada have become internationally recognized. Italy is also known for fine sports cars, such as the Ferrari and Lamborghini.
13. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was built in 1173 and began to lean soon after, probably due to a poorly laid foundation. During WWII, the Nazi’s used it as a watch tower. After reconstruction efforts in 2008, engineers declared the tower would be stable for at least another 200 years.
14. The Arabs brought dried pasta to Italy in the thirteenth century (though fresh pasta was made before then). It was commonly eaten with honey and sugar; tomato sauce was not added until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The old-fashioned way of eating pasta was with the fingers, arm held high and head tilted back. Pasta traditionally was made by the mother of the household, who passed the precious technique to her daughters. There are currently more than 500 different types of pasta eaten in Italy today.
Read more facts at Random histories.