I was recently researching things to see in Italy and was quite surprised by the number of fun facts I found. And I guess you’ll be surprised, too…
There is no doubt that Italy is a very popular tourist destination, one that intrigues travelers 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
Ice 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
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 (source: Unesco).
3. 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 (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
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).
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
Genoa airport has made a special exception to the liquid limit in hand luggage for pesto sauce (source: Conde Nast Traveller).
10. Old school
Bologna is home to the oldest and continuously operating university in Europe, founded in 1088 (source: Guinness World Record).
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 (source: Santa Sindone).
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 (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 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 (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 Due, the world’s smallest restaurant, located in a cute village near Rome (source: Huffington Post).
16. Land of volcanoes
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 (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 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
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
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,
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
I think new sites are added to the list almost every year, hence the growing numbers 😉