A fountain of red wine, the best cheeses in the world, fashion capital, Galileo’s big toe in a museum, the greatest number of world heritages…
Are you considering traveling to Italy? From cuisine to history, from customs to culture, the country has a lot to offer international travelers that will certainly enrich their experience.
Below, we’ll break down some of the endless reasons why Italy is both an amazing and a peculiar place.
- Italy is the second largest wine producer in the world, only behind France. The history of wine production in the country is over 4,000 years old and is also one of the most diverse in the entire planet. Currently, all 20 regions of Italy produce wine, the best known being Tuscany, Veneto, Apulia and Piedmont.
- In 2008, due to a technical error at a grape festival in Marino, Italy, wine came out of some taps in the houses of the city’s inhabitants – at the time, they started saying it was a miracle until they discovered the flaw. But this “miracle” actually exists in a red wine fountain in Italy that runs 24 hours a day on the Caminho de São Tomé in Abruzzo. And everyone can drink from it!
- Italy is responsible for introducing ice cream to the world – in addition to coffee and pilfer pie! Historians believe that Marco Polo returned to Eastern Italy with a recipe that closely resembled what is now called ice cream ( sherbet ) and that later evolved into the sweet we know today. However, the origin of ice cream can date back to before Christ, without knowledge of the date or specific inventor. Alexander the Great, for example, liked to mix snow with honey and nectar; and Caesar, during the Roman Empire used to ask his servants to fetch snow from the mountains and mix it with fruits and juices.
- When the first McDonald’s was founded in Rome in 1986, some Protestants distributed free spaghetti in front of the cafeteria to remind people of the country’s “culinary heritage”. Even with the initial reluctance, the millionaire network prospered in Italy and today there are more than 500 stores across the country.
- The Italians were the creators of different types of cheese, such as parmesan, gorgonzola, mozzarella, provolone and ricotta.
- No one knows exactly when pizza was invented, but it was in Naples, Italy, that it was popularized. Already, the tomatoes for the so famous and used sauce in the country’s pasta came from America and were only introduced in Italy in 1540.
- Marguerita pizza emerged as a representation of the Italian flag: basil (green), tomato (red) and mozzarella (white).
- Italy was the first country in Europe to use a fork for the noodles.
History of Italy
- In a museum in Florence, you can visit Galileo Galilei’s middle finger, thumb and tooth. The Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher lived between 1564 and 1642 and graduated from the University of Pisa. His remains were accidentally found by an art collector in 2010 and taken to his hometown of Florence, where they were displayed in the Galileo Museum.
- Poveglia, an island in Venice, is believed to be so haunted that it is not open to visitation. Despite being beautiful, the place was once the scene of disputes between Venetians and Genoese, and later served as a quarantine center for ships disembarking in Venice and hosted people with infectious diseases. Their last service was a hospital for the elderly that closed its doors in 1968. There are rumors that they were carrying out experiments on the mentally ill on the island, including lobotomy, and several stories of former patients haunted by ghosts.
- Ferrari is the most common surname in Italy. The word is the plural of “ferraro” which in Italian means “blacksmith”, derived from the Latin “ferrum”, or iron. Despite being mostly found in Italy, the Ferrari surname is found more in (amazing!) Brazil!
- The oldest university in Italy is the University of Bologna, founded in 1088, also considered to be the oldest in the western world. It currently has five campuses and comprises 11 schools, 32 departments and 12 research and training centers. In addition, the University offers 71 international academic programs, 47 taught in English.
- The University of Rome, known as “La Sapienza”, is the largest in Europe, with 150,000 students, and also one of the oldest, founded in 1303.
- The first woman in the world to receive an academic degree and also the first to become a doctor with a PhD was Italian, in Padua, in 1678.