Italy with a population of more than 60 million, is located in the west of Europe. This country is home to stunning beaches, breathtaking landscapes and many ancient ruins.

In this post, I am sharing some interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Itay.

1. Pizza was originally for poor people

Different types of Italian Pizza 

Pizza is one of the most famous and delicious foods in the world. We all love Pizza. But did you know that Pizza was originally a cheap meal for poor people in Naples, a city in the south of Italy?

This is because Pizza was only flatbreads with different toppings, like tomatoes, cheese and olive oil. If you want a good pizza, you should go to its birthplace: Naples.

2. Italy has two small countries within its land

When you are in Italy, you can visit two other countries too. One is Vatican City, the smallest country in the world which is located within Rome.

San Marino, the fifth smallest country in Europe

The other one is San Marino, the fifth smallest country. San Marino is in the northern region of Emilia Romagna.

3. Italy has over 2500 traditional variety of cheeses

Italians have the highest variety of cheeses in the world with over 2500 traditional cheeses and 500 Italian cheeses which are commercially recognised.

Italy is the third largest cheese producer after France and Germany. The most popular Italian cheeses are parmesan, mozzarella, ricotta, and gorgonzola.

4. Italy has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Cinque Terre in Italy

Italy is home to 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means that Italy, alongside China, has the largest number of UNESCO sites. This is one of the many reasons that make Italy one of the most visited countries in the world.

5. The Italian flag has been inspired by the French flag

The design of the Italian flag has been changed many times throughout Italy’s history. But the current Italian tricolour flag was inspired by the French flag in the 18th century.

There are different theories about the colours of the flag. One theory is that green represents hope, white faith and red charity. While others state that green represents the landscape, white the snow-capped mountains, and red the bloodshed that brought Italy’s independence. 

6. Italy has more than 1500 lakes

Lake Como in Italy

Italy is home to some of the most beautiful lakes in Europe. There are more than 1500 lakes in this country, but the most famous and largest ones are mostly in the north. The three biggest lakes are Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore and Lake Como.

You can also check out: The most beautiful lakes in northern Italy

7. Italy is the world’s largest wine producer

Italian wine in a jar

Without any doubt, Italy produces some of the best wines in the world, but not only that. This country, together with France and Spain, is the leading producer of wine in the world and has the highest wine export volume.

8. 17 is an unlucky number in Italy

While in many cultures, the number 13 is considered an unlucky number, Italians instead love this number when it comes to gambling.

On the other hand, it’s the number 17 that is considered as a symbol of bad luck in Italy. Because of how it is written in Roman numerals, like this: XVII. If you rearrange the spelling it will say “vixi”, which means “I have lived”. For this reason, many hotels in Italy don’t have a 17th floor.

9. Italy is home to the world’s oldest university

Bologna in Emilia Romagna - Italy

The University of Bologna in the city of Bologna is the world’s oldest university in continuous operation. It was founded in 1088 by students. Three Popes, numerous businessmen and several Italian politicians graduated from this university.

10. Italy has the oldest population in Europe

Italy has a low birth rate and after Japan, has the oldest population in the world. 23% of the Italian population is over 65 years old. In 2020, the Italian birth rate reached its lowest level since unification. Right now, In Italy, there is one child for every five people over the age of 65.

11. You can get coffees for free in Italy

Italians love coffee, especially espresso. They consume 14 billion espressos each year. But they are generous people and love to share this experience with others. So they invented “Caffe Sospeso” which means “pending coffee”. It is basically a cup of coffee paid for in advance as an anonymous act of kindness.

12. The first bank in the world was invented in Italy

Italians invented the first bank and the worlds’ oldest bank is still in operation today, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena. This bank was funded in 1472. The English word for “bank” is coming from the Italian words: banco or banca.

13. Italians talk with their hands

Italians are famous for expressing themselves with hand gestures. So even if you don’t speak Italian, but you know the meaning of some of the hand gestures, you might still be able to communicate with them.

14. Over 75% of Italy is mountainous or hilly

Italian Alps in the north

Italy is heaven for adventure and mountain lovers since most of the country is mountainous or hilly. There are also 24 national parks throughout the country.

If I want to summarise in one sentence, I would say: “you never get bored in Italy”. This beautiful country has a lot to offer.