Italy is the land that gave the world the Roman Empire, an entity that moulded Western civilization for centuries and is home to some of the most beautiful cities and artworks on the planet. Here are some fun facts about Italy.
1. Italy did not become a united country until 1861.
2. Italy has over 3,000 museums.
3. Sixty percent of the world’s art treasures are in Italy
4. Everyday €3,000 gets tossed into the Trevi Fountain
5. Many of Shakespeare’s plays were set in Italy, including Romeo and Juliet from Verona.
6. When McDonald’s opened in 1986 in Rome, food purists outside the restaurant gave away free spaghetti to remind people of their culinary heritage.
7. 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 Swiss Guard.
8. Soccer was introduced to Italians in the late 1800s by the British
9. In 1454, a real human chess game took place in Marostica, Italy. Rather than fight a bloody duel, the winner of the chess game would win the hand of a beautiful girl.
10. Italy’s birth-rate is the second lowest in the Western world. Both political and church leaders have expressed concern and have offered rewards to couples who have more than one child
11. The Arabs brought dried pasta to Italy in the thirteenth century
12. Many single Italian children live at home until their 30s, even if they have a job.
13. Soccer fans in Italy are called tifosi, meaning “carriers of typhus.” Italian soccer fans are known for their rowdy behaviour and lack of inhibition.
14. Over 50 million tourists a year visit Italy
15. In Ivrea they celebrate Lent by throwing oranges at each other
16. There is a legend that the brothers Romulus and Remus founders of Rome were raised in a cave by a she-wolf
17. Canned herring are called sardines because they came from Sardinia.
18. Ciao for “hello” or “goodbye” come from schiavo meaning “at your service”.
19. Florence Nightingale was named for the city of her birth.
20. Italy has the Guinness Record for the country that has the most lifts.