So You Think You Know Italy

More than 50 million people visit Italy each year, making it one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, so you may think you know all about it. But did you know these interesting facts?


It is believed that Italy has more masterpieces per square mile than any other country.

There’s more to pasta than spaghetti and penne – in Italy today there are more than 500 different types to choose from.

A local winery in the commune of Caldari di Ortona in the Abruzzo region has set up a fountain that dispenses red wine 24/7. What’s more, it’s free!

The first violins were made in Italy in the 1500s, possibly in Cremona. This was to become the home of Antonio Stradivari, the world’s most famous violin-maker.

Italy plays host to two independent states – San Marino and the Vatican City, which is the world’s smallest country, measuring just 0.2 square miles. The official language there is still Latin.

Without Italy there would be no Parmesan, or quite a few other cheeses actually. Gorgonzola, mozzarella, provolone, ricotta – all were first created here.

In 2008 experts proposed insulating Michelangelo’s iconic statue of David, which was thought to be at risk of cracking due to vibrations from traffic and tourist footfall.

There are more volcanoes in Italy than any other European country, with Sicily’s Mount Etna the largest. Europe’s highest mountain is also in Italy, Mont Blanc, in the Alps.

Although it began to lean shortly after construction in 1173, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has been declared stable for at least another 200 years.

Opera was born in Italy, with the first, ‘Daphne’, performed at the end of the 16th century.

The depth of Lake Como – it is more than 425 metres deep – is the reason for its remarkably blue water, making it one of Italy’s most picturesque destinations.

Fabriano’s paper mill began making fine arts paper back in the 12th century and legend has it that Michelangelo himself praised its products!


A man who has not been to Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.

Samuel Johnson