55+ Interesting Facts About Italy

  1. Italy is a country in south-central Europe. It is composed of the Italian peninsular and several adjacent islands. The meaning of the word Italy is “land of bulls.”
  2. Vatican City (0.49 sq. km) and San Marino (61 sq. km) are the smallest and the 5th smallest countries. Both these countries are surrounded by Italy.
  3. Italy also has an area surrounded by another country. The Italian town of Campione d’Italia is encircled by Switzerland.
  4. There is a secret passage from the Vatican City to Rome. This 2,600 feet long passage is an escape route for the pope in case of any emergency. (Source)
  5. Italy is the 4th most populous among countries entirely in Europe. Its population is more than 60 million.
  6. Italian is the national and official language of the country, with more than 90% of speakers. Few other languages also have official status.
  7. Nearly 85% of Italians follow Roman Catholic Christianity. Italy is the largest Roman Catholic country in Europe and the 4th largest in the world.
  8. Florence in Italy is known as the birthplace of the Renaissance. This era started during the 15th Century. (Source)
  9. National Fascist Party ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943. This totalitarian dictatorship under Benito Mussolini is known for its fascist ideology (far-right ultra-nationalism) and alliance with Nazi Germany during WW2.
  10. Italy has the third highest gold reserves in the world after the USA and Germany. These reserves are 2,452 tons. (Source)
  11. Italians are behind several inventions that changed the world. These include telephone, radio, piano, fax machine, electrical battery (volt), pasta, pizza, ballet dance (the most famous concert dance), and several others.
  12. Italy became a unified country in 1861 as the Kingdom of Italy. The unification was completed in 1871 when Italy annexed the Papal States.
  13. The tension between far-right and far-left groups in Italy gave rise to terrorist activities in the country from the late 1960s for over a decade. More than 400 people died during this period, known as “Years of Lead.” (Source)
  14. Italy has the highest number of UNESCO world heritage sites in the world. The country has 58 such sites, two more than China.
  15. Italy is the 5th most visited country in the world. It is the 3rd most visited European country after France and Spain. (Source)
  16. Italian Women have the highest average age for their first child in Europe. Their average age for bearing the first child is 31.2 years. (Source)
  17. Italy has the second oldest population in the world after Japan. More than 22% of the Italian population is over 65 years. (Source)
  18. Italy has the highest number of cars per capita in Europe and the third highest in the world. There are 645 cars for every 1,000 persons in Italy. (Source)
  19. Italy is infamous for the presence of several mafias. The most notorious is the Sicilian Mafia (Cosa Nostra). It established in the 1800s, and still operates in Sicily (Italy) and the USA. Cosa Nostra and three other Italian mafias (Naples mafia, Calabrian mafia, and Puglia mafia) have around 25,000 members and 250,000 partners around the globe. They earn money from drugs, smuggling, extortion, and other criminal activities. (Source)  
  20. Sicily (9,927 sq. miles) and Sardinia (9,300 sq. miles) in Italy are the two biggest islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Both these islands are nearly three times bigger than any other Mediterranean island. (Source)
  21. Italy has the highest number and density of animal and plant species in the European Union. There are 58,000 animals and 6,700 vascular plants in this southern European country. Around 30% of animal species and 15% of plant species are endemic. (Source)
  22. Mont Blanc is at the border of Italy and France. It is the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe.
  23. Marsili, an undersea volcano south of Naples, is the largest active volcano in Europe. This volcano was discovered a century ago and can cause tsunamis in the future with its eruptions. (Source)
  24. Mount Etna in Sicily is the most active and one of the largest volcanoes in Europe. Stromboli in Italy is also one of the most active volcanoes in the world. (Source)
    Eruption of Mount Etna, Italy
    Mt. Etna is the most active volcano in Europe

  25. All the active volcanoes in mainland Europe are present in Italy. Three of these volcanoes (Mt. Etna, Stromboli, and Mt. Vesuvius) have erupted in the last 100 years. (Source)
  26. The most famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in southern Italy occurred in 79 AD. This eruption destroyed the affluent Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum with thousands of deaths. These cities were rediscovered during the 18th Century. (Source)
  27. Three lakes in Italy (Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Garda) are among the ten deepest lakes in Europe.
  28. A chemical plant exploded near Seveso (Italy) in 1976. It caused the highest known TCDD exposure to residential populations. (Source)
  29. Italy is the world’s biggest exporter of pasta, processed tomatoes and potatoes, and tanned equine and bovine hides. This European country is the world’s biggest importer of electricity, antibiotics, rolled tobacco, pure olive oil, and hot-rolled iron. (Source)
  30. Italy is the world’s largest wine-producing country. It produces more than 4 million liters of wine per year. (Source)
  31. There is a wine fountain in the Italian region of Abruzzo. This wine is available free of cost for locals and foreigners at any time daily.
  32. Italy is the 2nd largest manufacturing country in the European Union. It is producing 18% of total EU products. (Source)
  33. The Monte dei Paschi di Siena in Italy is the world’s oldest continuously operating bank. It was founded in 1472 when Siena was a republic. (Source)
  34. Italian company Eni is one of the largest oil companies, known as Big Oil. This multinational company operates in several countries.
  35. Florence, an Italian city, paved all its streets in 1339. Consequently, it became the first city in Europe achieving this milestone.
  36. Umberto II was the last king of Italy. His rule lasted only 36 days (May 9 to June 12, 1946) and ended after a referendum.
  37.  “The Adventures of Pinocchio” is the 3rd most translated book in the world. It was written in Italian in 1883. Since then, it has been translated into 260 languages.
  38. Italy produces the world’s finest marble. The most famous and luxurious Italian marbles include Carrara Marble, Calacatta Marble, and Statuario Marble. (Source)
  39. The Carnival of Venice is the world’s oldest carnival, started in 1268 or earlier. It is known for the large-scale use of masks. (Source)
  40. Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world. It was founded in 1932 and screens more than 150 films each year. (Source)
  41. Matera is one of the oldest cities in the world. People have been inhabiting this mountainous city of southern Italy for the past 10,000 years. It was named the European capital of culture in 2019. (Source)
  42. Italy has won 4 FIFA world cup titles. After five titles by Brazil, it is the second-most successes along with Germany.
  43. Italy has won the most MotoGP/500 World Titles. Italian drivers succeeded in 20 titles in the 72-year history of MotoGP.
  44. Italy is the 5th most successful country in Summer Olympics, with 742 medals. The country also hosted three Olympic Games: the 1960 Summer Olympics, the 1956 Winter Olympics, and the 2006 Winter Olympics.
  45. There is a superstition in Italy that a person who throws a coin into Trevi Fountain with the right hand over the left shoulder will return to Rome. Every year, tourists throw coins worth 1 million Euros into this fountain, and the money goes to a charity. (Source)
  46. William Shakespeare set 13 of his 38 plays in Italy. He chose several Italian cities (Venice, Padua, Rome, Verona, Messina, and Sicilia) for these plays. (Source)
  47. Around 67% of people in Argentine and 50% in Uruguay have Italian ancestry. The highest numbers of Italian citizens outside Italy are also residing in Argentina. (Source)
    Sketch of Marco Polo
    Italy is famous for explorers like Marco Polo and Columbus

  48. Italy is the birthplace of several renowned explorers. Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, and Amerigo Vespucci were the most prominent Italian explorers.
  49. The University of Bologna in Italy is the world’s oldest university, which started operations in 1088. Three other Italian universities (the University of Padua, the University of Naples Federico II, and the University of Siena) are the 6th, 7th, and 8th oldest universities. (Source)
  50. Italy has the highest number of bedrooms in hotels in Europe. There are about 1.1 million hotel rooms in this country. (Source)
  51. Italy has the world’s highest percentage of young adults living with their parents. More than 80% of Italian adults live with their parents. (Source
  52. Many Italians believe in superstitions. These include superstitions related to the unlucky number, black cats, the evil eye, and many others. (Source)
  53. Italy is the 2nd largest CO2-emitting country in the EU after Germany. It has maintained this position since 2000. (Source)
  54. Italy is surrounded by several large and small seas. These include the Adriatic Sea, the Ionian Sea, the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Sardinian Sea, the Sicilian Sea, and the Ligurian Sea.
  55. Milan Cathedral in Italy is the 2nd largest church in Europe. There are 4 Italian churches on the list of the ten largest European churches. (Source)
  56. Sardinia is one of the few blue zones in the world. People in this area live healthily and longer than many other places due to their diet, physical activities, and other good habits.

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