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51 fascinating facts about Italy

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There are so many fascinating facts about Italy, from Italy’s incredible landmarks to the history to the culture, there is plenty to learn about this wonderful country.

Italy tops the list of many tourists with the world’s most spectacular cities, soaring mountains, and picturesque natural scenery. It is among Europe’s most beautiful countries and is famous for its impressive architecture, culture, food, and fashion. However, the list doesn’t end here; there are numerous interesting facts about Italy that many of you may not know.

From its wine fountain to its delicious pizza, Italy is full of surprises. So, if you plan a vacation to Italy, add these 51 amazing facts to your bucket before you head over to explore this majestic country. Let’s delve into them!

facts about Italy

Interesting Facts About Italy

I have done the research so you don’t have to- here are my favourite facts about Italy…

1. Italy Is World’s 5th Most Visited Country

This is one of the biggest facts about Italy- Approximately 65 million tourists visit Italy annually – making it among the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Some of the most awe-inspiring places to visit are Florence, Pisa, Rome, Milan, Sorrento, Assisi, Lake Como, and the Isle of Capri.

2. Mont Blanc – Italy’s Highest Mountain

Mont Blanc is the tallest mountain in Western Europe and the Alps that rises 4,808 m above sea level. Italy shares this mountain with France. Also, it is known as “Monte Bianco” in Italian, meaning “White Mountain.”

3. Italy Has 58 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

One of the most interesting facts about Italy is that it is the only country with the most significant number of World Heritage Sites, i.e. 58. The recently added places in the list are Porticoes of Bologna, The Great Spa Towns of Europe, and Montecatini Terme of Tuscany.

4. Most Of Italy’s Land Is Mountainous

If you climb to the top of Italy, you will realise that mountains and hills cover approximately 40% of the country. The two main mountain ranges are the Apennines and the Alps.

5. The Colours In Italy’s Flags Have Meaning

The colours in Italy’s flag carry actual meaning behind them. The red colour represents charity, the white colour represents faith, and the green colour represents hope. I think this is one of the most interesting facts about Italy!

6. Rome – Italy’s Capital Is Over 2000 Years Old

Rome is an ancient city – founded back in 753 BC. The city is named after the Roman Empire, which began in 27 BC and ruled some parts of North Africa & Europe until 395 AD.

7. Sistine Chapel – 4 Million Visitors Annually

With over 20,000 visitors a day, the Sistine Chapel is the world’s most visited monument. It is the official residence of the Pope and the place for Papal Conclaves.

8. Italy Is Home To Europe’s 3 Active Volcanoes

We all know Italy is a super hot country due to its location, but have you ever heard about its active volcanoes? Europe’s only active volcanoes, Vesuvius, Etna, and Stromboli, are present in Italy.

facts about Italy

9. The Vatican City – World’s Smallest Country

One of the most surprising facts about Italy is that there exists a whole other country inside Italy. Vatican City is in Rome with a span of 49 hectares and a population of about 453. It is the world’s smallest state both by population and area.

10. Italy Contains Over 1500 Lakes

Italy is not only famous for its mountain ranges but also stunning lakes. There are more than 1500 lakes scattered throughout the country. Beautiful beaches and the snowy Alps surround these lakes so you can enjoy the view for hours without getting bored.

11. Rome Has More Than 900 Churches

Do you know why there are so many churches in Rome? The Catholic faith is highly dominant in Rome, and the worship places are in continuous demand. Therefore, Rome has over 1500 churches, which is the center of Catholic churches.

12. Italy Is The Biggest Wine Exporter

As a keen wine drinker, this is one of my favourite facts about Italy! As of 2018, Italy produced a huge 54,800 hectolitres of wine, leaving behind France at 49,000 hectolitres. Italy is the world’s largest wine exporter, with most of its exports to the UK, US, and Germany.

13. Santorio Santorio Invented The First Thermometer

Santorio Santorio was an Italian professor who invented the thermometer to measure body temperature in 1612. The world’s first mouth thermometer measured the correct temperature against a scale.

14. Italy Invented The First Battery

The credit for developing the batteries goes to Italian physicist Alessandro Volta. After a series of experiments, he built a battery named “voltaic pile“. Also, the word “Volts” came from his name.

15. Fontana del Vino – Free Wine Fountain

Yes, a free wine fountain may sound like a dream, but it exists in Italy. A small town called “Caldari di Ortona” in the Abruzzo district has a locally grown red wine fountain that remains functional 24/7. This is another of my favourite facts about Italy!

16. Italians Are Obsessed With Football

The people of Italy are extremely passionate about football. They consider it a tradition that will always have a special place in their hearts. It is the most favoured sport in Italy.

17. Pinocchio Was First Published In Italy

The famous story of children “Pinocchio” was written by Italian author Carlo Collodi in 1880. Also, it was first serialized in an Italian children’s newspaper, “Gioniale per i Bambini”.

18. Tourists Throw Money In Trevi Fountain Daily

Legend has it that you throw a coin into the Trevi, and you will return to Rome. Tourists throw €3,000 daily into this fountain. It becomes a whopping amount of €1,000,000 each year, which is all donated to charity.

facts about Italy

19. Christopher Columbus Was Born In Italy

The majority of people believe Christopher Columbus was Spanish because he sailed under the flag of Spain. But this is not the truth; he belonged to Italy and was born in the city of Genoa in 1451.

20. Bank of San Giorgia – World’s Oldest Bank

The world’s and Europe’s first-ever chartered bank was “San Giorgia”. It was built in the 13th century after the orders of Guglielmo Boccanegra to assist the management of San Giorgio.

21. Glasses Were Invented In Italy

This is another one of the most interesting facts about Italy- Salvino D’Armati invented the world’s first wearable eyeglasses in Italy around the 13th century. The inventor built these glasses to aid far-sighted people in reading.

22. Italians Consume a Large Number Of Espressos Each Year

A well-known fact about Italians is they adore coffee, and about 20,000 of them work as baristas. But you will be amazed that they drink approximately 14 billion espressos annually. Also, Italy’s average household coffee consumption is 3.7 kg per capita.

23. Italy is the 3rd Largest Cheese Producing Country

Italians are lucky to have around 2500 various traditional cheeses. After France and Germany, Italy is the third largest cheese manufacturing country. If you are a cheese lover, you must visit Lombardy, where you can get 77 various types of cheese. I love cheese, so naturally this is another one of my favourite facts about Italy!

24. Italians Have Been Eating Pasta Since 4 BC

Pasta is an essential part of Italian cuisine, and the world’s many delicious pasta dishes are made in Italy. According to evidence, it dates back to the 4rth century BC. Even the pre-Roman paintings show pasta-making equipment.

25. Pizza Was Invented In Italy

Naples, a city in Italy, gave birth to modern pizza in 1860. Since then, it has been one of the most beloved foods worldwide. Naples is a city to visit if you want to taste the world’s most delicious pizza.

26. Placing Bread Upside Down Is A Bad Luck

Every country has its superstitious beliefs, and so does Italy. According to Italy’s religion, bread is a symbol of life; therefore, placing it upside down on the table can bring misfortune to the people around.

27. Italy Has A Low Birth Rate

Among the western countries, Italy has the lowest birth rate. The majority of the couple have few or no children at all. However, the country is now introducing incentives to stabilise its birth rate.

28. Public Drinking Fountains Still Contains Potable Water

You will see many public drinking fountains in Italy, especially in Rome and Venice. Even though these fountains are years old, their water is still potable. Tourists fill their water bottles with these fountains.

29. Italy Is Also Famous For Chocolates

Besides pizzas and pasta, Italy is also good at producing some incredible chocolates. Modica city and the Piedmont region are especially popular for their chocolates. So, you can easily satisfy your sweet tooth while on an Italy trip.

facts about Italy

30. San Marino – World’s Oldest Republic

Most of you have heard about the tiniest Vatican City but do you know Italy surrounds another microstate, “San Marino”? The country is mostly mountainous, with an area of over 61 km2. Also, it is rich in historic architecture.

31. Secret Passage Connects The Rome & Vatican

The “Passetto di Borgo” is a 800 meter long passage between Vatican city and Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome. It was built in the 13th century and was used twice to shift the popes who were in danger.

32. Venice Contains Many Canals

Over 150 canals in Venice run criss-cross across the entire island. It includes small, calm “side canals” and busy canals like the Grand Canal and Giudecca.

33. Christmas Celebrations Are Huge In Italy

Italy would be the best pick if you want to visit a country where Christmas festivities are huge. The Christmas season in Italy is longer than in any other country; it begins on December 8 and lasts until January 6.

34. Shakespeare’s 13 Plays Were Set In Italy

Shakespeare wrote 38 plays in total, and 13 of them took place in Italy. Some famous ones are Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Julius Caesar, The Winter’s Tale, etc. Who knew?

35. You Can See Mummies In Palermo, Italy

One of the interesting facts about Italy is that you can visit mummies in Palermo at the Capuchin Catacombs museum. The museum is a tourist attraction and contains almost eight thousand corpses. This is one of the most interesting facts about Italy!

36. Sardinian Residents Have Longer Life Expectancy

Sardinia is one of the world’s Blue Zones as the people there have exceptionally long lives. Europe’s oldest population lives in Italy. According to 2019 statistics, 22.8% of the country’s population is over 65 years old.

facts about Italy

37. Leaning Tower Of Pisa – World’s Popular Site

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the most striking landmark in Italy, with approximately 5 million visitors each year. The tower leans about 5.5 degrees and is known as ‘Bell Tower”.

38. Sonnet Was First Invented In Italy

Another fun fact about Italy is that the sonnet (14 lines poem) was first formed in Palermo, Sicily, in the 13th century by an Italian poet Palermo, Sicily. However, many people associate the sonnet invention with Shakespeare which is not true.

39. There Is Europe’s Oldest University In Italy

The University of Bologna was built in 1088 and had been continuously functional since then, making it the world’s oldest university. Also, it is counted among the best universities in the world.

40. Italy’s National Pastime – Evening Stroll

The majority of us like to have a walk after an evening meal but do we have a specific name for it? Well, no. However, Italians have a particular name, “passeggiata”. They love strolling around their cities in the evenings.

41. San Gimignano In Siena Once Had 72 Towers

You’ll be amazed that San Gimignano was once a town of 72 towers. The wealthiest families of Tuscany built these towers to show off their wealth. Although now there are only 14 towers left.

42. Sardinia Has Local Witches

Sardinia is the Mediterranean Sea’s 2nd largest island with a long history of witchcraft. It contains a town called Bessùde that still has a witch community. The local witches there treat different illnesses with potions, charms, and spells.

facts about Italy

43. Milan Has Most Skyscrapers

When we talk about Italy’s cities with the tallest buildings, Milan tops the list with 25 skyscrapers, leaving behind Naples with only 8.

44. In Matera, People Still Live In Cave Dwellings

Matera is a hub of cave dwellings and also one of the World Heritage Sites. The people there still reside in those old cave dwellings where their ancestors used to live 9000 years ago.

45. Florence – Europe’s First City With Paved Roads

The Roman Empire had abandoned paved roads to avoid easy invasion of the state. However, in 1339 Florence bravely took the step to pave its streets and became Europe’s first-ever city to do that.

46. In Marostica, Locals Play Human Chess

Marostica organises a human chess festival every two years in September. Locals wear traditional costumes, and the game takes place at time square with live people and horses as chess pawns.

47. Venice Is About To Sink

A study has predicted that Venice will sink by 2100 if global warming is not controlled. The city floods every year in winter, especially in November.

48. Cats Have Their Rights In Italy

If you are a cat lover, you will be happy to visit Rome, which is home to about 300,000 cats. Romans love their feline creatures. Anyone who kills a cat there has to face a heavy fine of €10,000 or 3 years of prison. This is one of the most interesting facts about Italy!

49. Italy’s Police Use Lamborghinis

Italian Police Force uses the world’s high-speed supercar “Lamborghinis” in urgent situations. Nowhere in the world can you see Lambo police cars.

50. Tiramisú – Italy’s Famous Dessert

Tiramisú was first introduced in an Italian restaurant La Beccherie in 1971. The place’s delicious taste appeals to many tourists. While most of you are familiar with this famous desert, do you know what it means? Its meaning is “pick me up”.

51. Italians Consume A Large Amount Of Pasta Every Year

Here is the last of my facts about Italy- It is no surprise that Italians are the biggest consumers of pasta. A single person in Italy eats up to 60 lbs of pasta annually. The country has approximately 140 different types of pasta, from Cavatelli to Cappelletti.

Facts bout Italy- further reading

Italy has so much to offer, from beautiful scenery and impressive architecture to tempting food. Above I have mentioned 51 amazing facts about Italy that you probably didn’t know. If you want to discover what else this country conceals, book your ticket to Italy asap!

And if you know some more wonderful facts about Italy, share them in the comment section below.

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