FACTS ABOUT ITALY
>Italy is said to have more masterpieces per square mile than any other country in the world.
>Almost four-fifths of Italy is either mountainous or hilly.
>The Italian wolf is Italy’s unofficial national animal and plays a large role in the legend of the founding of Rome.
>The author of “Pinocchio” (“pine nut”), Carlo Collodi (1826-1890), was Italian
>The University of Rome is one of the world’s oldest universities and was founded by the Catholic Church in A.D. 1303.
>There are two independent states within Italy: the Republic of San Marino (25 square miles) and the Vatican City (just 108.7 acres)."
>Italy’s San Marino is the world’s oldest republic (A.D. 301) and Vatican City is the only nation in the world that can lock its own gates at night. It has its own phone company, radio, T.V. stations, money, and stamps. It even has its own army, the historic Swiss Guard.
>Italians suffer more earthquakes than any other Europeans.
>No other country in Europe has as many volcanoes as Italy.
>The highest peak in Europe is in Italy. Monte Bianco (White Mountain) is 15,771 feet high and is part of the Alps.
>Over 50 million tourists a year visit Italy.
>Known as the “Three Fountains,” Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374), and Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) are arguably the three most famous Italian authors of all time. Dante’s Divine Comedy (Divina Commedia) had tremendous influence on Italian literature, and he is considered the father of the Italian language.
>The pre-dinner passeggiata (evening stroll) is one of Italy’s most enduring leisure activities where Italians stroll about the streets to see and be seen.
>Soccer is Italy’s most popular sport, and the famous San Siro Stadium in Milan holds 85,000 people. Italy has won the World Cup four times (1934, 1938, 1982, and 2006), making the country’s team second only to Brazil's in number of wins.Soccer fans in Italy are called tifosi, meaning “carriers of typhus.” Italian soccer fans are known for their rowdy behavior and lack of inhibition.
>Italy has hosted the Olympic Games three times.
>Italy’s birthrate is the second lowest in the Western world.
>The biggest holiday in Italy is Christmas. Many people celebrate Christmas Eve with a huge feast, often featuring seafood. The Christmas season lasts until Epiphany, January 6, the date when the Three Wise Men are said to have reached Jesus’ manger.
>Italy is among the world’s leaders of the fashion industry (Nino Cerruti, Valentino, Armani, Versace, Gucci, and Prada).
> Italy is also known for fine sports cars, such as the Ferrari and Lamborghini.
>The first violin appeared in Italy in the 1500s, probably from the workshop of Andrea Amati (1505-1578) in Cremona. The city later became the home of Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737), the most famous of violin-makers
>Italy was one of the founders of the EU and is a member of the Group of Eight (G8), a forum for eight of the world’s most powerful nations.
>Venice, Italy, is one of the world's most beautiful and unusual cities
>Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was an Italian-born scientist. When he argued that the Earth revolved around the Sun, the Catholic Church imprisoned Galileo in his own house. The Church issued a formal apology in 1992.
>Many single Italian children live at home until their 30s, even if they have a job. The Italian family stands at the heart of Italian society.
>The world’s first operas were composed in Italy at the end of the sixteenth century.
>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.
>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.
>The language of music is Italian. The word “scale” comes from scala, meaning “step.” And andante , allegro, presto, and vivace are just a few of the many Italian musical notations.