Italy is a fascinating place; a vacation in Italy can be packed with interesting things to do and see without every running out of activities or amazing sights. Keep the following interesting facts in mind if you visit the boot-shaped country.
1. Nobody really knows where Italy got its name.
Italy comes from a root word that means “land of young cattle”. Historians speculate that it might be named this because a bull was the symbol of early Southern Italian tribes but some believe that it comes from the name Italus, an early king of the region.
2. Italy is the fourth most populated place in Europe, mostly because of high birth rates and low death rates.
Italy is about the size of Arizona, but the population of Italy is about ten times the population of the state, with approximately 60 million people living in Italy as opposed to 6 million in Arizona. Approximately 320 people live in every square mile in Italy (about 200 per kilometer).
3. Rome, Italy is home to hundreds of fountains, with the oldest being the Trevi Fountain.
Rome has 50 large fountains and a great many small ones, not including the ‘nasoni’, which are small waterspouts used by pedestrians. The Trevi Fountain is more than eighty-six feet high, and comes from an aqueduct originally built in 19 B.C. The fountain was built by Pope Urban VIII in the mid 1600’s. A popular legend states that visitors who throw a coin into the Trevi fountain are assured of a return visit to Rome. The coins are collected weekly; Italian coins go to help pay for upkeep of the fountain, and foreign coins are donated to the Red Cross.
4. Italy stands on a fault line.
Italy is plagued by earthquakes because of this; also, three volcanoes have erupted there in the last one hundred years – Etna, Stromboli, and Vesuvius.
5. Italy is home to the highest mountain in Europe.
It is called Mont Blanc (or White Mountain in English) and it is part of the Alps mountain range. It is in Italy, on the border of France.
6. More than 50 million tourists visit Italy each year.
Tourism is an important part of Italy’s gross national product; more than 60% of the country’s income comes from tourist dollars spent there.
7. Soccer is the most popular organized sport in Italy.
Italians are rabid soccer fans; they are known as tifosi, which means typhus carriers. It’s a national pastime, and Italians are highly passionate about the game.
8. Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year in Italy.
Christmas season is much longer, too: Christmas dinner is usually on Christmas Eve, and the season lasts until January 6th (until the Epiphany, or the date generally believed to have been when the three Wise Men found the manger of Jesus).
9. Pasta wasn’t eaten with tomato sauce until the 1600’s in Italy.
Until then, it was generally eaten with honey and sugar. Today, there are more than 500 varieties of pasta eaten in Italy.
10. Musical notations are always in Italian.
Allegro, Adagio…these are Italian words to indicate tempo, and came about because an Italian named Guido d’Arezzo came up with a system for modern-day musical notation.