I was recently researching things to see in Italy and was quite surprised with the amount of fun facts I found. And I guess you’ll be surprised, too…

Italy-Pinterest

There is no doubt that Italy is a very popular tourist destination, one that intrigues travellers with beautiful artistic towns, delicious cuisine and magnificent landscapes. However, there are some pretty curious things you might not know about my country. 

Here’s a list of 25 fun and interesting facts that will make you want to travel to Italy right now!

1. Ice-cream masters

GelatoIce cream is a serious business in Italy and you can become a gelato master by taking courses at the Gelato University in Bologna (source: Insider).

2. Unesco sites

PompeiThere are over 50 Unesco World Heritage sites, more than any other country in the world, with the highest number of sites being concentrated in Lombardy (source: Unesco). 

3. The submerged Christ

San FruttuosoThere is a 2.5 mt tall statue of Jesus Christ submerged in the Mediterranean sea off the coast of San Fruttuoso, in the Italian Riviera (source: Liguria Guide).

4. A piece of Easter Island near Rome

Ever wanted to see the mysterious Moai statues but cannot go all the way to Easter Island? Come to Italy! There’s one in Vitorchiano, a picturesque village about 90 km from Rome (source: Welcome to Tuscia).

5. A truly tiny river

The most unusual attractions in Lake Garda is Aril, one of the world’s shortest river, just 175 mt. long (source: World Atlas).

6. A wine lover’s dream

Villa Caldari-wine-fountain

Photo: zingarate.com

Wine lovers can make all of their wildest fantasies come true in Italy, where a winery in Villa Caldari, a village in the Abruzzo region, has opened a free 24-hour red wine fountain (source: Business Insider).

7. Checkmate

Marostica

Photo: marosticascacchi.it

Each September, in even-numbered years, the main piazza of Marostica, in the Veneto region, turns into a giant chessboard for a live human chess game (source: Marostica Scacchi).

8. A village in the dark

 There’s a mountain hamlet in Piemonte, called Viganella, where the only source of light during the winter months comes from some giant mirrors reflecting the sun onto the valley (source: The Atlantic).

9. Airport liquid ban waived for food

Pesto

Photo: Caroline Attwood

Genoa airport has made a special exception to liquid limit in hand luggage for pesto sauce (source: Conde Nast Traveller).

10. Old school

Bologna-university

Photo: travelemiliaromagna.it

Bologna is home to the oldest and continuously operating university in Europe, founded in 1088 (source: Guinness World Record).

11. The mistery of the Shroud 

In Turin there is a centuries old linen cloth that is believed to contain the real imprint of Jesus’ face (source: Santa Sindone).

12. A submerged village

Lake ResiaIn Lake Resia you can see the peak of a bell tower raising from the wateras the only visible remnant of a village that disappeared underwater more than 60 years ago (source: HuffPost).

13. High peaks 

Italy is home to the highest mountain in Europe, Mont Blanc, located along the French-Italian border (source: Britannica). And now you can now explore this marvel with the new Mont Blanc Skyway cable car.

14. Stylish colors

Did you know that trendy magenta colour takes its name from the Battle of Magenta, a town in northwestern Italy? More specifically, it seems to derive from the uniforms worn by the French troops that fought the Austrians on that occasion (source: Sensational Color).

15. Table for two?

How about a super romantic dinner in a restaurant with only one table? You can do it at Solo Per Duethe world’s smallest restaurant, located in a cute village near Rome (source: Huffington Post).

16. Land of volcanoes

VesuviusItaly is a volcanically active country, home to the only active volcanoes in mainland Europe: mt. Vesuvius in Naples and mt. Etna and Stromboli in Sicily (source: World Atlas).

17. Independent people 

 There are two independent states within Italy: the Republic of San Marino and the Vatican City (source: Nations Online)… or shall I say three?

18. The world’s oldest republic

San Marino-castleSan Marino is the world’s oldest republic (301 A.D.) with the world’s oldest continuous constitution (source: Visit Rimini).

19. Sense of direction

You can test your sense of direction inside the world’s largest maze, the Masone Labyrinth,  a 20-acre, star-shaped bamboo labyrinth located just outside Parma (source: Smithsonian Mag).

20. Organic architecture

An impressive example of organic architecture can be admired on the outskirts of Bergamo; it’s the tree cathedral realized by the Italian artist Giuliano Mauri (source: Atlas Obscura).

21. A rich legacy in motion pictures 

Cinecittà

Photo: cinecittastudios.it

Rome’s Cinecittà is the largest film production facility in Europe, used for major Hollywood blockbusters like Ben-Hur and Cleopatra, as well as more recent movies like Gangs of New York (source: Italy Magazine). 

22. Underwater farms

On the seabed off the coast of Noli, in Liguria, there’s a futuristic underwater farm called Nemo’s Garden, where plants like basil, beans and strawberries are grown (source: The Guardian).

23. How to live to 100 

Uncover the secrets of healthy aging in Acciaroli, a village in Campania, where more than one in 10 of the population of 700 is over 100 years old. This was the first site to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage list back in 1979 (source: Independent).

24. Rock art 

Valle Camonica

Photo: turismovallecamonica.it

An area in northern Italy called Valle Camonica is home to one of the world’s greatest collections of prehistoric petroglyphs, consisting of over 140,000 symbols carved in the rock, depicting scenes from agriculture, navigation, war and magic (source: Valle Camonica Tourism).  

25. The “Great Wall” of Italy 

Piemonte is home to the largest mountain fortification in Europe, called Fenestrelle Fortress, which  covers a surface of 1,350,000 sqm (source: All Trails).

 

Until next time,

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38 Comments

Iuliana Marchian 5 March 2018 at 18:42

I lived in Italy for nearly six month 20 years ago. Italy is a lovely country but I’m not sure if there were so many Unesco sites when I was there. However, 50 unesco world heritage sites it’s a lot. They are all so beautiful

    admin 5 March 2018 at 18:45

    I think new sites are added to the list almost every year, hence the growing numbers 😉

Stacy Karyn 5 March 2018 at 22:17

You had me at ice cream! But seriously, great list. I’ve seen a good amount of Italy, but I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface. Thanks for the inspiration!

    admin 6 March 2018 at 09:54

    Ahahah, I had no clue we have a gelato university here in Italy, so cool isn’t it? 😀

Christie Sultemeier 6 March 2018 at 17:59

So many of these facts are the reason I love Italy so much! I didn’t know the magenta story – that’s very interesting! I wouldn’t expect magenta to be from Italy for some reason. Also wasn’t aware that they have the world’s largest maze. Crazy!

    admin 6 March 2018 at 20:21

    So many interesting facts, isn’t it? 😀

Cristiane 7 March 2018 at 02:17

You’re absolutely right! This post made me want to go to Italy right now 🤣 Seriously, probably the first thing I would try would be the gelato 🍨

    admin 7 March 2018 at 09:37

    Ahaha, that’s really tempting, isn’t it? 😀

Adventuregirleliana 7 March 2018 at 03:27

Have been to Italy even without that impressive lists! You don’t need all that lists to convince! Italy is just uhhhh magic!!!

    admin 7 March 2018 at 09:46

    I know, I know, these are just some fun and perhaps lesser known things… I mean, I’m Italian and had no idea we have a 24-hour free wine fountain here! Ahahaha

Lois Alter Mark 7 March 2018 at 03:55

I loved Italy before I even read this, and now you’ve given me 25 more reasons to want to go back! I was in with number one – how fun would it be to take a gelato-making class?!

    admin 7 March 2018 at 09:54

    I know! I actually need to find out more… 😉

Travel Optician 7 March 2018 at 16:36

I always say to my friends – ok, it’s enough of Italy let’s explore something new, they all agree – and few days later we book our tickets to Italy again. It happened few time – it’s just amazing country to explore!

    admin 7 March 2018 at 21:00

    That’s fantastic, so glad to hear this! 🙂

Neha 7 March 2018 at 23:18

Sounds amazing. I really want to explore Italy more; there is so much more than the tourist locations

    admin 11 March 2018 at 16:23

    That’s exactly right Neha, there’s so much to see and explore beyond the usual tourist routes!

Stella Jane 8 March 2018 at 00:21

I never need a reason to want to visit Italy. I have only been to Rome and Tuscany but I want to see more. I think that the rock art sounds incredible. And I love that Genoa made a liquid exception for pesto. Wise people!

    admin 11 March 2018 at 16:25

    Wise indeed, ahaha! 😉

Followingtherivera 8 March 2018 at 15:43

Solo per due sounds so romantic and somewhere I’d love to visit! I never knew about the submerged statue of Christ, but it would be wonderful to see it one day, if possible of course! I love Italy, and am there a lot!

    admin 11 March 2018 at 16:25

    There’s always some new and incredible to see and do here 🙂

Alexander Popkov 8 March 2018 at 20:06

#26 Less chain shops, more authentic ones. Loves the small streets with cafeterias and pizzerias!

    admin 11 March 2018 at 16:26

    Great point, although unfortunately they are disappearing 🙁

Jas 9 March 2018 at 01:13

As if I wasn’t already dying to visit Italy! Definitely didn’t know they had over 50 Unesco World Heritage sites though! Seems like I really need to book a flight there.

    admin 11 March 2018 at 16:28

    Yay, come to visit soon!! 😀

Denny George 10 March 2018 at 04:05

I’ve been to Italy twice and was proud of having experienced a lot of what it has to offer. Then I read your list. I now have a reason to go back to Italy since I haven’t experienced most of the unique experiences you have listed.

    admin 11 March 2018 at 16:28

    Time to come back Denny! 😀

Rashmi and Chalukya 10 March 2018 at 04:37

On a trip to Rome and Vatican City, we remember trying so many flavors of gelatos that we lost the count. Italy definitely has the most gelatos we ever tasted. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the other major reason why we would love to return to Italy.

    admin 11 March 2018 at 16:30

    There are so many incredible places to visit! I’m Italian and am learning something new about my country every day 🙂

Jackie 10 March 2018 at 19:32

Oh, my! I was just in Italy last year and thought I covered some good ground. I wish I knew about these before going. You’ve given me quite a few fascinating reasons to return, including the Easter Island statue, the tree cathedral, and the petroglyphs. (The shroud of Turin was on my list but couldn’t fit it in.) My next trip to Italy just got more interesting, thanks to you — as if I wasn’t already looking forward to it enough. Many thanks!

    admin 11 March 2018 at 16:32

    So glad to read this Jackie, my goal is exactly this – to show you all the beauty of this country beyond the usual tourist spots! 🙂

Becca Talbot 11 March 2018 at 21:38

I would LOVE to take a gelato making course next time I visit Italy! I have been to Italy once before, but it was at the end of November, so no gelato was consumed lol x

    admin 12 March 2018 at 08:13

    Aaah, that’s a shame, gelato is a must! A good reason to come back 🙂

Suma 12 March 2018 at 05:29

Wow, Underwater Garden is something I am reading about for the first time. I would definitely check it out when in Italy. And yes, Italy is on the top of my travel list just for the icecream and the delicious Italian food.

    admin 12 March 2018 at 08:21

    A foodie’s heaven, isn’t it? 😀

Karo 13 March 2018 at 16:03

Wow, there are so many interesting aspects mentioned in this article! I would love to see Aril, the tiny river next to Lake Garda as we will probably go there this year. Thanks for sharing!

    admin 14 March 2018 at 08:58

    Sounds fantastic, hope you have a great time in Lake Garda! 🙂

Katie 14 March 2018 at 11:30

You had me at ice cream masters!! Yes please! I have wanted to visit Italy FOREVER and I am finally going on a month trip for my 30th! Ahh thanks for the inspiration!

    admin 14 March 2018 at 16:22

    A month trip?! That’s fantastic Katie! Do you already have an itinerary planned?

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Ciao! I’m Val

Ciao! I’m Val

Ciao! I'm Valentina, an Italian blogger with a huge passion for my country, its culture and traditions. My Italian Diaries is the online space where I share my expert knowledge of itineraries, activities and off-the-beaten path places to help you experience the best of Italy like a local.

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