Much of Italy used to be part of ancient Greece
Italy is one of the countries with the longest history on our planet. It is also a very popular place among tourists from all over the world, either because of its incredible beaches, its gastronomy or its many places of interest. Italy is one of the best known and most visited European countries, as well as one of the nations in the world with the longest history, with the greatest importance. Visiting it is wonderful because you can discover unique places throughout its geography, and if you like it, you will surely love to discover some curiosities about Italy that you probably don’t know. There is no doubt that Italian gastronomy is world famous, with pizza and pasta as its star dishes, but there is much more that is also worth it. The city of Syracuse, in Sicily, was the largest city of ancient Greece and even equaled Athens in size. In fact, the Romans used to call all of Sicily and at the foot of the boot of Italy – “Great Greece”, and many Greeks resided there for a long time. There are many places in Italy that are similar in Greece due to the fact that they share the same history and culture. Italy has more monuments related to the Roman Period, which is the greatest part of their history. Click the next ARROW to see the next photo!
In Italy exists the oldest university in Europe
The University of Bologna, founded in 1088, is the oldest university in Europe and one of the 10 oldest universities in the world, 4 of them are based in Italy (University of Padua, Naples and Siena); more than any other country in the ranking. Italy, in Rennaisance Period, was one of the biggest cultural and metropolitan centres. Many artists and scientists are originated from Italy, and that explains why it has the oldest universities in the world. The University of Bologna, founded in 1088, is the oldest in all of Europe. The country has an important history in this regard, since of the 10 oldest universities in the world, 4 of them are in Italy. On whether or not it is the oldest university in the world there is a whole discussion. What is certain is that it is the oldest university in the “western world” and the one that has been active for the most years. It was founded in 1088, apenitas before Oxford (1096) and long before other ancient European universities such as that of Salamanca (1218) or the Sorbonne (1257). The oldest universities are of Islamic origin, but there are many doubts about whether or not they should be considered “universities” because they differ somewhat from the concept we have today. The one UNESCO recognizes as the first institution of its kind and still in operation is the al-Qarawiyyin University in Morocco, founded by two women. Click the next ARROW to see the next photo!
The descendants of the Italians outnumber the Italians
With 61 million inhabitants, Italy is the fifth most populous country in Europe. However, the number of Italian descendants living abroad is much higher, after the millions who emigrated, especially to the Americas. Since then many more millions have emigrated. To get an idea, it is estimated that up to 25 million Argentines and 31 million Brazilians have some degree of Italian descent – around 62.5% and 11% of the total population respectively – while up to 17 million US citizens claim to have Italian ancestry. Italy is one of the most populous countries in Europe with more than 60 million inhabitants, and the descendants of Italians living abroad is higher than that of Italians who at some point in their lives moved to another country. During the colonial period and the beginnings of the United States as an independent country, several thousand Italian immigrants had formed a small but entrenched community. They came preceded by their fame as good artisans and helped build the institutions of the young nation by working as sculptors, carpenters, or glassmakers. Between 1820 and 1870 Italian emigration reached practically every corner of the world, although the bulk went to Argentina and Brazil and only about 25,000 settled in the United States, most of them from the north of their country. Suddenly, in the 1870s and 1880s, 300,000 arrived. In the next, 600,000. And in the first of the new century, more than two million. Click the next ARROW to see the next photo!
Italy has 3 active volcanoes
Etna, Stromboli, and Vesuvius are the only active volcanoes in Europe and all three have erupted at least once in the last 100 years. Precisely, Etna was active in December 2015. Italy is also on an important fault (fracture of the earth’s crust where the rocky blocks that are separated by it move), giving rise to great earthquakes throughout its history. 3,322 meters high that have become a symbol of the region. Etna is located on the Sicilian east coast, between Messina and Catania, and today is the highest active volcano in Europe. It is almost constantly erupting so visiting it is quite a spectacle not for the fearful, eh? It is a World Heritage Site by Unesco since 2013. The other “must” on this visit to the most impressive volcanoes in Sicily is Stromboli, which is named after the island on which it is located. The image of this could not be other than the profile of the same, which rises majestic – and threatening, why not say it – about 2,000 meters above sea level. It is also active, as it has been for more than 2,000 years, and like Etna it has been a World Heritage Site since 2000. Excursions are organized to climb to the top and it is famous for its nighttime explosions. It was called the ‘Mediterranean Lighthouse’. Click the next ARROW to see the next photo!
There are 12 officially recognized languages in Italy
These include Albanian, Catalan, French, German, Greek, Slovenian, and Sardinian. Other languages are recognized regionally, but not by the State, and many others are spoken in very small communities and are vulnerable to extinction. Several minority languages are also spoken in Italy. Many of them have been classified as historical linguistic minorities by the Italian government, including French, Greek, German, Sardinian, Albanian, Occitan, Croatian, Slovenian, Ladino, Friulian, Catalan and Franco-Provencal. Of these languages, Sardinia belongs to its own group within the Romance languages. Around 1 million people speak Sardinian, most of whom live on the island of Sardinia. It is considered an indigenous language and has been influenced by Catalan, Byzantine Greek, Spanish, Italian, and pre-Latin languages. Like Italian, it is closely related to Latin. Sardinia is divided into two main varieties: Logudorese and Campidanese. According to UNESCO, both varieties are in danger, since the Italian is increasingly prominent. About 68.4% of the Sardinian population can speak this language, while only 13% of children consider themselves fluent. Click the next ARROW to see the next photo!
Gelato is healthier than common ice cream
Yes, it’s true, believe it or not. Gelato is healthier than the ice cream we buy in the supermarket. For those who do not know, Gelato is a typical and traditional Italian ice cream. Gelato is made daily with fresh and all-natural ingredients and contains 70% less fat (and therefore much fewer calories) than the traditional ice cream that we know. So, when in Italy you can have as much ice-cream as you desire without any second thoughts. One of the great peculiarities of gelato is that it is a product that unlike ice cream contains a lower fat content, the most common is that 4 to 8% of skimmed milk is added as a solid. It stands out for its wonderful artisan technique in which its freezing process is recognized, which is done in a continuously operating refrigerator and stands out for incorporating air into the mix. Due to this process it is important to freeze in small portions, it freezes quite quickly, that is why the end result is a denser product and full of flavors. It is a product that is only prepared with 100% natural ingredients, no additional aromas or flavors are added. The amount of sugar in a good gelato is considerably less compared to other products made from frozen dairy products, normally it is added between 16 and 22%. In Italy, gelato recipes are secret and part of a family tradition that is passed down from generation to generation. Click the next ARROW to see the next photo!
In Italy cats have rights
Anyone can be convicted of killing a cat – within the property or in the street – and could face a fine of 10,000 euros and up to 3 years in prison. It is estimated that only around 300,000 cats live in Rome, the only residents who can explore the ruins when they want. As a curiosity, in 2011, an Italian cat inherited more than 10 million euros after the death of its owner of 94 years, becoming the third richest animal in the world. The owner of the cat, Maria Assunta, left all her fortune to the cat under the care of a trusted nurse (Italian laws do not allow animals to inherit money directly). In the 20th century, the cats of Rome were fed by the City Council with rations of tripe, but due to the shortage of food it was a cut in supply, and this is where the saying “Nun c’è trippa pé gatti!” Comes from. (There are no calluses for cats). Today in Rome cats are loved and cared for in feline colonies called “gattare”, where every day they spend time and passion in caring for these animals. However one of the problems is the uncontrolled reproduction of cats. They often live in poor hygienic and sanitary conditions that result in a high death rate. Among the remains of Largo Argentina we can see this curious habitat of cats wandering among the Roman remains, as if they were the guardians of the history of the city. Click the next ARROW to see the next photo!
The Vatican City, in Rome, is the smallest country in the world
Many confuse the Vatican City for part of Italy, but technically it is an independent but tiny country! You can’t recognize that it is a different part of the country because it is connected with the other part of Italy, but it has its own regulations. Although, there are not any borders or you need different access from the rest of Italy, so you can visit it at any time. When we speak of the Vatican City State we are referring to an area of just 44 hectares where the smallest independent State in the world is located. The term Holy See refers to the supreme authority of the Church, that is, to the Pope as Bishop of Rome and head of the College of Cardinals. It indicates, therefore, the central Government of the Catholic Church. According to international practice, the Holy See has legal personality that allows it to sign treaties and send and receive diplomatic representatives, among other rights. This means that it is the Holy See and not the Vatican State that maintains diplomatic relations with the other countries of the world. And, on the other hand, the Vatican is the one who gives the temporary support for the activity of the Holy See. The Vatican City State and the Holy See are inextricably linked in the person of the Pope, who is the head of the State, and therefore enjoys the full powers of the legislative, judicial and executive powers.Click the next ARROW to see the next photo!
The first thermometer was made in Italy, in the year 1612 by Santorio Santorio
Santorio Santorio baptized this instrument with the name of pulsilogium and it was the first thermometer ever. Italians were really keen on science and research, so their contribution to science and arts is magnificent. Graduated seven years later, he was recommended to Maximilian, King of Poland. In 1611 he obtained the chair of medicine at the University of Padua, where he remained until 1624, the year he resigned due to criticism due to excessive absenteeism. The athenaeum kept him for life the title of professor and salary. In Venice he was president of the College of Physicists. He studied the visual function, the metabolism of water and salt in the body, the clinical methodology and also excelled in the development of medical instruments. In the study of the so-called perspiratio insensibilis he used a scale of his invention. For years he recorded the weight of the body at different times of the day, to measure the water balance. Among the instruments of his invention -in addition to the first clinical thermometer in 1602- it is worth mentioning the pulsilogio, useful for recording the frequency and rhythm of the pulse, a special bed to improve patient care, a special clamp to extract the stones from the urinary gallbladder, a lithotripter, a device for crushing stones. Click the next ARROW to see the next photo!
Italy has more than 50 World Heritage Sites of UNESCO
Italy is the country with the most World Heritage Sites in the world with 53, ahead of China with 52 and Spain with 46. If you are likely to spend most of your time on vacation by visiting museums and historical monuments, Italy is definitely the place for you. The buildings and the architecture are stunning and you really going to love it. It could be said that Italy is the first cultural power in the world if we consider that it is the country with the most places inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List: fifty in total, forty-six cultural and four natural sites. Several Italian cities are distinguished by having a historic center with this award, such as Rome, Florence, Naples, Siena, San Gimignano, Pienza, Urbino, Verona, Vicenza or Venice and its lagoon. Among the archaeological sites we find must-see places such as the cities buried by Vesuvius of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata; the archaeological areas of Agrigento, Paestum and Velia; from Aquileia; the Etruscan necropolis of Cerveteri and Tarquinia; the early Christian monuments of Ravenna; Syracuse and the necropolis of Pantalica; Villa Adriana; and the Roman Villa del Casale. From the time after the fall of the Roman Empire, the nomination of the Longobard sites is remarkable, including fortresses, monasteries and churches erected by this Germanic people throughout the Italian peninsula between 568 and 774 AD. The medieval one is magnificently represented by the city of Assisi, with the Basilica of San Francisco together with other Franciscan sites and exemplified in the paintings of Cimabué, Giotto or Simone Martini; or the architectural ensemble of the Piazza del Duomo in Pisa. With the Renaissance, Italy elevates art to a higher level, certified in places such as the Church and the Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, where the enigmatic “Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci is found; or the Medici gardens and villas in Tuscany; Among the sites chosen for their “natural wealth” are the Aeolian Islands, located on the northern coast of Sicily; Monte San Giorgio, near Lake Lugano, in northern Italy; the Etna volcano in Sicily; or the mountain range of the Dolomites, in the northern Alps. The last two Italian places inscribed on the World Heritage list are the Medici villas and gardens in Tuscany (2013) and the wine areas of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato in the Piedmont region (2014). Italy is the country with the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. In the last few weeks, 2 more sites have been added, so today there are 47 Italian sites. This high number is another testament to the many beauties of Italy and the important places that deserve to be visited here! Let’s see what they are, dividing them by the various regions.