100 Interesting Fun Facts about Italy

50 Interesting Facts & Fun Facts about Italy

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Interesting Fun Facts about Italy!


Why Italians speak with their hands? Why they touch their testicles at the sound of an ambulance? Do they really drink more than 40L of wine a year? And do they really speak 35 different dialects?

In this article you will find 100 Fun Facts about Italy and the answers to all those questions!

Benvenuto in Italia, and Enjoy! 🙂


Content Summary

Let’s Dive Right In!

100 Interesting Fun Facts about Italy

Interesting Facts about Italy’s Geography

Geography - Interesting Fun Facts about Italy's Geography


1) 76% of the Italian territory is either mountainous (34%) or hilly (42%).

2) The two most active Vulcanoes of Europe are both located in Italy and are extremely scenographic to see: mount Etna (near Catania) and Mount Stromboli (a volcano-island within the Eolie Archipelago).

3) Italy is the only country in the world possessing two microstates enclaves: Vatican City and the Republic of San Marino.

4) Just 2km South of Venice, there is an Island called “Poveglia” which is forbidden to visit because Italians think it’s haunted. Historically, until 1968 the island was used to isolate people suffering plagues and mental disorders.

5) Two of twenty Italian regions are islands: Sicily and Sardinia. In addition to those, Italy has over 80 inhabited islands with the most popular being Capri, Elba, and Ischia.

6) Italy has over 1500 lakes and most are concentrated in the Northern regions between the Alps.

7) Italy has more than 7,600 km of coastline and is famous for its picturesque sandy beaches facing the Tirrenean, the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, and the Ionian Sea.

8) The tallest mountain in the European Union is the Mont Blanc and its summit’s ownership, reaching an elevation of  4808m above sea level) is shared by Italy and France, marking the frontier between the two countries.

9) In addition to the Alps in the north, Italy is crossed by another mountain range called “Appennino” which runs through the country North-to-South dividing the East-Coast from the West-Coast.

10) Off the Coast from the tiny village of S.Fruttuoso in Liguria, there is a submerged bronze statue of Jesus Christ also called the “Christ of the Abyss”. A spectacular attraction for scuba-divers, the statue is sunken 17m deep.

Curiosities about Italian History

History - Interesting Facts about Italy's History


11) Italy is one of the youngest countries in Europe, formed only in 1861.

12) Until 1946, after the end of WWII, Italy was a kingdom.

13) From 1925 to 1943, Italy was a fascist dictatorship under the guide of Benito Mussolini.

14) The Western Roman Empire lasted for more than a thousand years: from 753BC to 476AD (for a total of 1229 years).

15) As the legend goes, Rome was founded by two twin brothers (Romolo and Remo) that were adopted by a female wolf.

16) In its moment of greater division between the 15th and 18th century, Italy was divided into over 30 micro-states, city-states, duchies, reigns, and micro-republics.

17) During both World Wars Italy was initially allied with Germany but both times it switched sides mid-way.

18) The Italian peninsula was inhabited since the Upper Paleolithic.

19) In Italy, when digging the foundation for a new building it is pretty common to encounter archeological findings. Many Italians keep it a secret though, to avoid delaying the building process (often by years) until archeologists will have cleaned up the area.

20) The ancient Roman town of Pompei was destroyed by the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano. Today its ruins are one of Italy’s main tourist attractions.

Fun Facts about Italian Food Culture

Curiousities and Interesting Facts About Italy - Food CultureCuriousities and Interesting Facts About Italy - Food Culture


21) A complete Italian meal must follow 7 steps: Aperitivo (aperitif), Antipasti (Starters), Primo (soup or pasta), Secondo (meat or fish dish), Contorno (side-dish served together with Secondo), Fruit, Dessert, Coffee and Ammazzacaffè (spirit shot to help to digest everything)

22) A complete Italian meal can take up to 4 hours on special occasions such as Easter or Christmas.

23) Italians eat Spaghetti ONLY with a fork. Spoons are not used as an aid, and knives don’t belong anywhere near the sacred Spaghetti and never will.

24) In Italy exist over 200 different typologies of pasta shapes and over 400 recipes for the sauce: this means you could potentially eat a different pasta every day for more than a year!

25) As of 2019, Italy is the n.1 country in the world for wine productions (over 4.3 Billion Liters per year) and exportation (2.2 Billion Liters)

26) On average, each Italian drinks around 40L of wine each year.

27) On average, each Italian eats about 35KG (70 pounds) of Pasta every year.

28) In Italy, coffee is a religion, and there are more than 20 ways you can order your coffee (here is an infographic to all types of Italian Coffee)

29) No matter what Michelin Stars might say, for Italians, the best Chef remains always the “mamma” (mother) and the ultimate authority in the kitchen is the “nonna” (grandmother)

30) As the legend goes, the first pizza was created by a pizzaiolo named Raffaele Esposito in the year 1889 in Naples. He created a pizza with mozzarella, basil, and tomato to honor the Queen of Italy Margherita of Savoy with the colors of Italy. Queen Margherita loved the pizza and since that day, it got her name.

Interesting Facts about Italy’s Economy

fun facts about Italy - curiosities


31) Italy has the 8th largest economy in the world (by GDP) and tourism consists of 10,2%. Rome, with its historical beauties and cool Rome City Tours, attracts every year over 10million tourists, makind the Italian Capital the 2nd most visited city in Europe after just Paris.

32) Italy has one of the oldest populations in the world, with an average age of 46 and a fertility rate (number of children per woman) of only 1.31.

33) Southern Italy has an employment rate twice as high as Northern Italy.

34) The average income in the richest Italian region (South-Tyrol) is double that in the poorest (Calabria).

35) Despite the difference in income, differences in lifestyle are not as evident as the cost of living in Southern Italy is much lower than in the North.

36) The richest billionaire in Italy is Giuseppe Ferrero (part of the Ferrero group), followed by Leonardo Del Vecchio (president of Luxottica).

37) Italy, along with other 12 European countries, employed the Euro since it was created in January 2002. The Euro substituted the historical Italian Lira.

38) Italy’s top trading partners are Germany (16% of exports), France (8%), and China (7%).

39) It is estimated that Italy has a submerged economy worth 11% of its entire GDP.

40) The revenues for Mafia and organized crime are estimated to be more than 130 Billion/year, making it worth around 7% of the national economy.

Fun Facts about Italian Culture 

Interesting Facts about Italy - Italian Culture Curiosities


41) Italy is one of the most popular countries in the world: each year over 65 million foreign tourists come to visit it booking over 420 Million hotel nights each year.

42) Family is a fundamental part of Italian Culture and it is relatively common for children not to move out of the home before being in their 30’s.

43) Adding to that, 70% of young Italians (aged between 18-34) still live with their parents.

44) Being late is part of Italian culture. The Southern you go in the peninsula, the greater the lateness will be.

45) Italy is a former member of both the European Union and NATO.

46) The balcony of Juliet truly exists and it is located in the town of Verona. It is a tradition when visiting Verona, to touch the breast of Juliet’s statue to have a life full of love.

47) The languages of the hands was born as a necessity. Indeed, for centuries Italy was conquered over and over by dozens of barbaric tribes and invaders that divided it into a myriad of tiny City-states, Republics, and Reigns. Hand language was the only way for common people to understand each other, as languages were changing rapidly and learning them was hard.

48) Italians commonly use hand gestures also when speaking on the phone.

49) In Italy there are 35 different dialects officially recognized as native living spoken languages.

50) Italians tend to express their emotions freely and loudly, and it is extremely hard for them to hide feelings behind their faces.

Interesting Facts about Italian Superstitions

Interesting Facts about ItalIan Superstitions - Curiosities about Italy

51) Passing under ladders or staircases is taboo in Italy as it is believed to bring bad luck.

52) For important days Italians don’t normally wish good luck (“Buona Fortuna”). Instead, they say “In bocca al Lupo” (which means “in the wolf’s mouth”) or “in culo alla Balena” (that means “in the whale’s ass”).

53) Black cats crossing the street are believed to bring bad luck in Italy. Many Italians would stop walking and waiting for someone else to pass, before crossing the cat’s path.

54) 17 is considered the number of misfortune: many hotels don’t even have a room 17. Fridays 17th are considered to be bad days for making anything important as, if something can go wrong, on Fridays 17 it will.

55) When hearing an ambulance siren or when somebody portrays a deeply unpleasant scenario, Italians make the superstitious ritual of touching an iron object to dispel the bad omen. Men also can touch their testicles.

56) Another way to dispel misfortune and bad omens is to raise the “sign of the horns” to the sky. Important is not pointing it at any person in particular, as the same sign can also be a strong insult meaning “cuckold” if pointed toward someone.

57) Italians believe that wearing something red on New Year’s Eve will make the following year more prosperous and the vast majority choose to wear red underwear.

58) Spilling salt on the table, laying a hat on a bed, and breaking a mirror are all considered extremely bad omens in Italy.

59) Saying a word at the same time, wearing a t-shirt on the wrong side, stepping on poo, and having a bird pooing on you are instead all considered signs of good luck in Italy.

60) Italians believe that accidentally brooming on someone’s shoes means that that person won’t get married anytime soon.

Interesting Curiosities about Italian Cities

Interesting Facts about Italy and Curiousities of Italy - Cities

61) The Capital City of Italy, Rome, is over 2000 years old: it was founded in 753 BC. This longevity earned it the nickname of “Eternal City”. Today, Rome is visited by over 10Million visitors every year! 

62) The University of Bologna (the ‘Nourishing Mother of the Studies’ according to its Latin motto) holds the title for the Oldest University in the World as it opened its doors in 1088 and has never ceased operations ever since.

63) Matera also called the “City of Stone”, is the second oldest human settlement on Earth (after Petra, Jordan) as people continuously inhabited the city since the Paleolithic Era.

64) Venice has two famous nicknames: the “Lagoon City” because of being build on 120 islands in the Venetian lagoon, and the “City of Masks” because of its world-famous colorful carnival celebrations that take place in February every year.

65) Inside the Coliseum Arena in Rome there is no floor. In Verona instead, there is still a well-preserved arena that is being used to this day for concerts and opera.

66) Siena hosts one of the oldest horse competitions in the world, named the “Palio di Siena”, which is held twice a year in the town’s main square.

67) Four out of ten of the world’s largest churches are within Italian Borders: S. Peters Basilica in Rome, the Duomo of Milan, the Duomo of Florence, and the S. Giustina Basilica in Padua.

68) The twin-city of Rome is Paris and the residents of both capitals can get in most of their counterparts’ top museums for free.

69) Every February is held in Milan the Milan fashion week, one of the big four fashion weeks in the world (the others being in Paris, London, and New York).

70) The Southernmost part of Italy is the tiny island of Lampedusa. Here you can find a small village of 6000 people and Tripadvisor’s n.1 beach in Europe (and 3rd in the world): the Spiaggia dei Conigli.

Fun Facts about Italy: Arts and Sciences

Interesting Facts about Italy - Art and Sciences

71) Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country in the world, together with China: indeed, both countries count a total of 55 UNESCO Sites each. If you’re interested to know them, here is a full list: http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/IT

72) Counting only Cultural UNESCO Sites, Italy is the only country in the world to reach the mark of 50.

73) Ballet originated in Italy in the15th Century as a form of court entertainment during the Italian Renaissance. The epicenter of the art moved to France afterward, following the marriage of the Italian-born aristocrat Catherine de Médicis to Henry II of France.

74) Leonardo da Vinci was both an artist and a scientist. He was the first person to prove the world was round and not flat.

75) The Jacuzzi was invented in Italy in 1956 by the Jacuzzi brothers to treat a nephew that was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

76) A vast majority of the most important early composers, from the Renaissance to the Baroque period, were Italian. Because of that, many Italian words are still used today to describe different musical arrangements, rhythms, voices, instruments, patterns, and moods.

77) In 1996 Italy decided to repopulate its Alps with brown bears that went extinct at the end of the last century. Italians (with the project LIFE Ursus) brought in the country 6 bears from the Balkans which gave birth to the over 100  specimens that are freely roaming the Alps today.

78) The Ninja Turtles take their names by four of the most important Italian artists: Leonardo (Da Vinci), Michelangelo (Buonarrotti), Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio) and Donatello (di Niccolò di Betto Bardi).

79) Italy gave birth to iconic explorers such as Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci (which discovered the Americas) and Marco Polo (who explored the East).

80) The Italian anthem was written in 1847, 14 years before Italy became a unified country (in 1861).

Fun Facts about Italy: Celebrations

Curiousities and Interesting Fun Facts About Italy - General Culture and Traditions

81) Carnival in Italy lasts about two weeks, is held in February and every city celebrates it differently. The two most famous are the Venice Carnival (characterized by its elegant masks) and the Carnevale di Viareggio (famous for its enormous floats of paper-maché). 

82) Over 90% of Italians have been baptized and are formally considered Catholic Christians.

83) Nevertheless, following the general secularization trend that is spreading throughout all of Europe, only less than 15% of young Italians (35 years or less) are praying and practicing religion. 

84) Christmas in Italy is always spent with the family. There is an Italian saying that goes “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi” that says “Christmas with your family, Eastern with whoever you want”.

85) During the December holidays is the when Italians receive more gifts: on 13 December for S.Lucia (toys for children), on 25th of December by Santa Klaus, and on the 6th of January by the witch (“Befana”).

86) It is a Christmas tradition for Italians to decorate their houses with a Christmas Tree and a Nativity Scene.

87) The 15th of August in Italy is the day of “Ferragosto” (from Latin: Feriae Augusti), a day of public holiday that was initially established by the Roman Emperor Augustus in 18 BCE.

88) Alessandro Volta was one of the pioneer scientists involved in the discovery of electricity and to him, the is dedicated the electricity measure unit “Volt”.

89) The Italian Enrico Fermi was the creator of the world’s first Nuclear Reactor which has earned him the titles of “architect of the nuclear age” and “father of the atomic bomb”.

90) The Italian flag was designed taking inspiration from the French flag. The three colors stay for the grassland and hope (green), the snowy mountains and wisdom (white) and, the blood of the patriots and love (red).

Interesting Facts about Italy: Sport

Interesting Facts about Italy - Facts of Italy Sport

91) The Giro d’Italia is one of the three most prestigious European cycling competitions, along with the Tour de France and the Vuelta de Espana.

92) Italy has hosted the Olympic games on three occasions: 1956, 1960, and 2006.

93) The main sports practice by the Italian elder population is bocce (a variant of French Bowls).

94) The most popular sport in Italy is football. Italy won the Football World Cup four times, being second only to Brazil (that won 5 times). 

95) Italians love volleyball too: it is the n.1 sport that children are thought to play in school and the national team won the World Championship three times.

96) The Italian National Fencing Team is the most victorious in the world, having won 48 Olympic and 97 World Championships gold medals. Better never challenge an Italian with a sword 😉

97) Italy is part of the prestigious 6 Nations Rugby League (along with England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and France), but never performed so well: winning the not-so-glorious “wooden spoon” (prize for the last place) 15 times out of 21 times taking part in the competition.

98) If for Italian men the most practiced sport is football, the most practiced sport by Italian women is instead gymnastic (yoga, pilates, Zumba, and variations).

99) 40% of Italians live a sedentary life and don’t practice any physical activity at all.

100) The most sporty Italian region is Trentino-Alto Adige where over 50% of the population practices sport. On the opposite, the least sporty is Campania, where less than 20% of people practices at least one sport.

Conclusion – 100 Interesting Fun Facts about Italy

fun facts about italy - curiosities interesting facts Italy

These were 100 curiosities and fun facts I gathered to help you to better discover and understand my dear home country.

Of course, Italy is a constant journey of discovery and you never truly know it until you see it for yourself: interesting facts are everywhere, you just need to give yourself the time to discover them!

If you’re planning a trip anytime soon, I would recommend you also having a look at the Guide:

40 Essential Italy Travel Tips (from an Italian!)

As always, thanks for reading, and see you in the next article! 🙂


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