I was recently researching stuff to see in Italy and was surprised by the interesting things I’ve found. And I guess you’ll be surprised, too…
There is no doubt that Italy is a very popular tourist destination, one that intrigues travellers with beautiful artistic towns, delicious cuisine.
Here’s a list of 25 interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Italy.
1. Gelato masters
Gelato is a serious business in Italy and you can become a gelato master by taking courses at the Gelato University in Bologna.
2. The submerged Christ
There 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.
3. 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.
4. UNESCO sites
There 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.
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
6. A wine lover’s dream
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.
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.
8. Airport liquid ban waived for food
Genoa airport has made a special exception to the liquid limit in hand luggage for pesto sauce
9. 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
10. Old school
Bologna is home to the oldest and continuously operating university in Europe, founded in 1088
11. The mystery of the Shroud
In Turin, there is a centuries-old linen cloth that is believed to contain the real imprint of Jesus’ face
12. A submerged village
In Lake Resia, you can see the peak of a bell tower rising from the water, as the only visible remnant of a village that disappeared underwater more than 60 years ago.
13. Hugh peaks
Italy is home to the highest mountain in Europe, Mont Blanc, located along the French-Italian border. 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 color 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.
15. The mystery of the Shroud
How about a super romantic dinner in a restaurant with only one table? You can do it at Solo Per Due, the world’s smallest restaurant, located in a cute village near Rome.
16. Land of volcanos
Italy 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.
17. Independent people
There are two independent states within Italy: the Republic of San Marino and the Vatican City… or shall I say three?
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. The world’s oldest republic
San Marino is the world’s oldest republic (301 A.D.) with the world’s oldest continuous constitution.
21. Underwater farms
22. How to live to 100 years old
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
23. Rock art
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.
24. 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.
25. A rich legacy in motion pictures
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.