1. Italy is one of the youngest countries in Western Europe.
Italy is a country with a long history, but it has only been inhabited since 1861. Italy was one entity in Roman times. It was then split into several sovereign states and remained this way until 1861.
Because of this long history of individuality, the country has so many cultural variants today.
2. Rome dates back over 2000 years
Rome was established in 753 BC, and the Roman Empire in 27 BC. The Empire ruled Europe, North Africa, and North Africa until 395 AD. Italy was divided after the fall of the Empire and became independent in 1861.
It’s called Festa Della Repubblica, and it’s celebrated every year on the 2nd of June.
Are you planning a vacation in the Eternal City Find the best places to stay in Rome?
3. For 20 years, the country was subject to a dictatorship
Benito Mussolini created a dictatorship in Italy in 1925 and ruled it until 1945.
Mussolini was known as Il Duce during the peak of his power, but he wasn’t always a fascist. Mussolini was a radical socialist from the beginning of his political career and was elected to the office of Italian PM in 1922.
During WWII, he aligned Italy and Germany and was then executed in 1945 by partisan troops.
4. Italy’s last king ruled only 36 days
Italy was a dictatorship from 1945 to 1945. However, it had a royal family up until 1946.
The country became a republic after WWII. King Umberto II ruled only from 9 May to 12 June 1946.
He spent his last days in exile in Portugal. He is known in Italy as “the May King”, a reference to his short reign.
5. Its flag is red, green, and white.
Its flag symbolizes hope, faith, and charity. The flag of Italy represents hope, faith, and charity. It is often called Il Tricolore, after the French flag.
Tricolore Day is celebrated in Italy on 7 January. It’s held in Reggio Emilia at the exact spot where the flag was adopted for the first time in 1797.
Some interesting facts about Italy and its culture
6. Each year, tourists throw EUR1,000,000 into the Trevi Fountain
You’ll be able to return to Rome by putting a coin in the Trevi. This is the legend.
Tourists pay around EUR3,000 per day for the fountain. The sum is approximately EUR1,000,000 annually, all of which is donated to charity.
Trevi is a must-see in Rome. However, you can also take an underground tour to see Trevi from a new perspective. It is possible to discover the best places off the tourist path in Rome.
7. 13 of Shakespeare’s 38 plays were set in Italy.
Romeo and Juliet are set in Verona. You can visit Juliet’s balcony in the city.
Julius Caesar takes place in Rome. Othello, as well as The Merchant of Venice, were both set in Venice. Messina is also the location of Much Ado About Nothing.
Shakespeare’s amazingly accurate descriptions of Italy are not supported by any evidence. Do not be like Shakespeare and miss out on the best places to stay in Venice.
8. Pinocchio appeared for the first time in an Italian newspaper
In 1880, Carlo Collodi created the legend Pinocchio. It was first published in Gioniale per i Bambini, a children’s newspaper.
9. Italy is home to more World Heritage sites per capita than any other country
Italy is home to 55 of the world’s most important heritage sites. This is more than any other country on Earth. They span the whole country and include everything from Mount Etna to Colosseum.
Do you want to travel to Italy’s World Heritage Sites but don’t want to plan and book? Take a look at these sample itineraries. You can find inspiration in both Italy Itineraries and Complete Italy. You can modify any Tailor Made Trips with your local expert and then book for a stress-free holiday.
10. Every day, more than 20,000 people visit the Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Ceiling was completed by Michelangelo in 1512. Today, the Sistine Chapel remains one of the most popular monuments in the world.
It is also the official residence of the pope and the location of the Papal Conclave, the process of selecting new popes.
Avoid the Vatican lines. Book a tour of the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums.
Here are some fun facts about Italy and its geography
11. Italy is home to Europe’s three only active volcanoes
It’s no surprise that Italy is included in our list of the top 20 volcanic sites worldwide.
Mount Etna, Sicily’s 50th eruption, last erupted in 2021. The volcano’s steam plumes can be seen best from Catania. You can trek to Etna’s summit, despite its lively nature.
Another active volcano in Italy is Mount Stromboli. It is located on a small island in the vicinity of Sicily. You should check the current activity before you go.
Since 1944, Vesuvius has been dormant in Naples. However, a visit to Pompeii nearby will allow you to see the devastating effects of its 76AD eruption.
Are you planning to visit this vibrant city in the south? Find out about the many things you can do in Naples. Book a private tour with archaeologists in a small group to Pompeii when you are visiting the region.
12. The Vatican City is the smallest country in the world
Only 1000 acres make up the Vatican City of Rome. It became a sovereign country in 1929 and the Pope is its official head of state.
Donations are the main source of income for the Vatican. Although it is only 1/8 the size of Central Park’s, it is packed with monuments. Here you’ll find St Peter’s Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel.
13. Italy is fifth in terms of most visited countries.
Each year, Italy is visited by nearly 65 million people. It’s possible to still find uncrowded spots despite the fact that most people visit Rome, Florence, and Pisa. Try Castelmezzano in Basilicata or head to Camogli in Liguria.
Although Puglia is gaining popularity, it is also a stunning and less crowded destination. It also happens to be one our top places to visit with children and features in our roundup of the best beaches in Italy.
14. Italy boasts more than 1500 lakes
Italy is covered with lakes, and not only iconic icons like Lake Garda and Lake Como. You’ll also find many lesser-known beauties. You’ll also find lakes that you can hike around, lakes that you can take on a boat trip and a few wild swimming spots.
For a day in Milan, you can take a tour to Lake Como or Bellagio. You will want to explore the most beautiful beaches in Italy if you are a water-lover.
15. Mont Blanc is Italy’s highest mountain.
It shares Mont Blanc with France. However, it is called Monte Bianco in Italian. It is Italy’s highest peak and the highest mountain in Alps, rising to 4,808m above sea level.
Into adventures? Learn about outdoor and sports activities in Italy. Book a Mont Blanc or Courmayeur day trip to test your heights.
Some interesting facts about Italy from the science front
16. Italy is home to the oldest European population
Italy’s average age is 45.7 years. It has the oldest population in Europe. Only Japan is older in world terms. According to estimates, the average age of Italians will reach 54 years in 2050.
Sardinia is actually one of five Blue Zones around the globe, which are places where people live longest. Italy’s ageing population is mainly due to its low birthrate and exceptional longevity. Find out where to eat in Sardinia.
17. Santorio Santorio created the first thermometer in the world.
The thermometer was invented in 1612 by Italian Santorio Santorio. It was the first instrument that could accurately display temperature against a scale.
Galileo had worked previously on a thermoscope. His invention showed temperature changes but didn’t measure degrees of change.
18. In Italy, batteries were invented.
Alessandro Volta, the man who gave the name ‘volts’ to batteries, invented the first battery in Italy in 1800.
19. Christopher Columbus was Italian
Although Columbus may have been sailing under the Spanish flag he was actually an Italian citizen who was born in Genoa, in 1451.
Genoa is Europe’s most important medieval city. Learn more about a full-day tour of Genoa or Portofino with a local guide.
20. In Italy, the first bank was established.
Another Italian first, the Bank of San Giorgia opened in Genoa in 1149.
21. Italians invented eyeglasses
Corrective eyeglasses were also invented by Italians. They were made first in the 13th century and were mainly used by monks. While magnifying glasses were used by Ancient Romans, the first eyeglasses to be worn were made in medieval Italy.
Italian food facts and fun facts
20. Naples was the first to create pizza.
Pizza is mentioned as far back as 10AD. Modern pizza is a product of Naples, which was created in the 1700s.
In Naples, learn how to make authentic pizza in a pizza-making class. Rome has plenty of options. Find the best pizzas in Rome.
21. Pasta was eaten by Italians as far back 4BC
Pasta dates back to 4BC in Italy. Pre-Roman wall paintings show what is believed to have been early pasta-making equipment.
It’s not just about pasta and pizza in Italy. Learn more about Italy’s food and drink.
22. Each year, Italy consumes 14 billion espressos
More than 20,000 Italians are baristas. The average domestic coffee consumption in the country is 37kg per year.
Espresso can be drunk in Italy at any hour. It is a rule that Cappuccino should be ordered no later than 11 o’clock in the morning.
23. Italy is the largest wine producer in the world.
Italy produces 54,800 hectolitres per year of wine, compared to the 49,000 hectolitres that France produces. Italy is also the largest exporter of wine in the world, with the majority of its exports to the US, UK, and Germany.
Take a tour through the Chianti vineyards in Tuscany with local experts and discover 15 amazing things to do while you’re there.
24. It is bad luck to place bread upside-down on the table
It’s considered bad luck by Italians to put bread upside-down on the table. Historians believe this superstition originated because the bread that was given to town executioners during the Middle Ages was always placed upside-down.
25. Italians love salad as a dessert
It is customary to eat salad after the main meal in Italy because the fiber aids digestion. It’s not considered a dessert. Italian meals include two additional courses. You can still enjoy fruit and dessert after you have finished your salad.
Are you ready to travel to Italy Discover the best things to do and learn when and where you should go in Italy?
You can also visit our Italy travel guides or contact local travel agents in Italy for more inspiration.
Are you looking for practical advice? Find out how to get there, where to stay, and how you can get around. Don’t forget to get travel insurance before you leave.