15 Interesting Facts About Italy

Home to countless beautiful cities and landscapes. Drenched in history. Bursting at the seams with culture.

You guessed it: we’re talking about Italy.

This stunning country is one of the world’s most popular destinations. But we’re not looking at what brings people to Italy in this article.

Instead, we’re revealing 15 interesting facts about Italy that most people don’t already know. These fascinating factoids are often discovered by travellers as they explore this enchanting country.

1. Hope, Faith, Charity

We can all easily recognise the green, white and red Italian flag. But did you know the colours represent hope, faith and charity respectively?

2. Volcanic Activity

On top of Mount Etna, courtesy of Albatross traveller P. Thornton

Italy is home to 3 active volcanoes: Vesuvius, Stromboli, and Etna. Our favourite has to be Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano. Guests on our Italy, the Deep South & Sicily Tour love journeying up to the caldera via 4WD bus and enjoying stunning views of the shimmering Sicilian coast.

3. World Heritage Record Holder

Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country in the world. There are currently 51 sites, including:

  • Venice
  • Verona
  • Mount Etna
  • The Sassi of Matera
  • The Trulli of Alberobello
  • The historic centres of Rome, Florence and Siena.

Interested in Europe’s UNESCO sites? Learn more about them here or test your knowledge by taking our quiz here.

4. Fountain City

Trevi Fountain, image courtesy of Albatross traveller R. Turner

Rome has more than 50 notable fountains. The Trevi Fountain is the most well-known and also the oldest, dating back to the 1600s. (By the way, all those coins do get collected regularly – your lucky loose change will go towards fountain maintenance or be donated to the Red Cross).

5. Old Country

Around 27% of Italian residents are 60+ years old, making it the second-oldest country by population after Japan (32%). Maybe a pasta and pizza diet isn’t so bad for you after all!

6. Black Gondolas

Gondola ride, Venice - courtesy of Albatross traveller R. Morgan

If you’ve been to Venice, you may have noticed all the gondolas are painted black. This isn’t a stylish coincidence. It was actually required by law in the 17th century – and it stuck.

7. Dizzying Heights

Italy’s Monte Bianco is the highest peak in the Alps. It looms over 3 small towns (1 in Italy, 2 in France), standing at over 4,800 metres tall.  

8. A Blasta from the Pasta

Real Italian Pasta in Lucca, Tuscany - courtesy of Albatross traveller S. Blee

Cooking pasta in Italy dates back to the 4th century BC – possibly even earlier. Eating it with tomato sauce only gained popularity in the 1600s though. Prior to then, sugar and honey were most commonly used for flavouring.

Love your pasta as much as we do? Challenge yourself with our Pasta Master Quiz.

9. Wine Lovers

Italy produces more wine than any other country in the world, with France and Spain close behind. The regions of Veneto, Tuscany and Piedmont are the top contributors to Italy’s wine industry.

10. Pre-Tea Walking

Matera at sunset

Taking an evening stroll (or passeggiata) before dinner is a common activity for Italians. If we lived in a quaint neighbourhood with lovely cobblestone streets, we might do the same!

11. Language of Music

Musical notation is internationally written with Italian terms (like crescendo, piano forte, and staccato). Italy is also the birthplace of opera.

12. Well Read

Italy’s literacy rate for adults is about 98%. That’s higher than Australia’s rate of 96%.

13. Christmas Time

Bolzano, Italy

Christmas is a big deal in Italy (as well as in the Vatican City, obviously!). It’s easily the biggest holiday in the calendar for Italians, with the season extending from Christmas Eve through to the 6th of January. It’s no wonder Italy features in so many of our festive tours.

Want to see how Christmas in Europe compares to Christmas at home? You’ll enjoy this article.

14. Feline Fortune

One lucky cat in Italy inherited $13M (US) when its wealthy owner, an heiress named Maria, died in 2012. The cat is called Tommaso and his bank account is ridicolo.

15. Fast Cars

There is a Ferrari Museum in the northern town of Maranello – perfect for driving enthusiasts and people who are simply interested in this iconic Italian company’s history. We include a visit to this fascinating place on our Italian Lakes & Tuscany Tour.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these interesting facts about Italy! If you have a relative or friend who loves this country too, be sure to share this article with them.

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Julia Austin

Julia Austin is the Marketing Executive at Albatross Tours