Facts about Italy

Want to explore the lesser known facts about Italy? Here we share with you some "Did you knows" about Italy's lifestyle, culture, history and cuisine!


1) Italy's nickname is "Bel Paese", which means "Beautiful Country".

2) The colours of the Italian flag represent hope (green), faith (white), and charity (red).

3) The south of Italy is home to three active volcanoes: Vesuvius near Naples, Etna on Sicily and Stromboli off the Coast of Italy.

4) Italy is subdivided into 20 regions, including Tuscany, Veneto (around Venice) and Lazio (around Rome).

5) Italy surrounds two of the world’s smallest countries: San Marino in northern Italy, and Vatican City in Rome.

6) Did you know that the gala uniform of the Swiss Guards was designed by Jules Repond and not Michelangelo? It is thought that Repond was inspired in his design by the frescoes of Raphael, indicated by the blue, red and orange colours of the uniform, which are distinct traits of the Renaissance era.

The widespread opinion that the uniform was designed by Michelangelo stems from the fact that the artist was in Rome when the first contingent of Swiss soldiers arrived. However, this is a myth and the current uniform, in fact, was conceived by Repond in the early twentieth century.

You may also not know that the Swiss Guards have another uniform, which is more comfortable than the official one. It consists of blue trousers, a blue shirt and a black beret.

1) Romans have their cars annually blessed on March 9th. It is the day of Saint Francesca Romana, the patron saint of car drivers.

2) Friars in Rome's city center cultivate their own organic vegetables, which are available to buy. It's called the Cistercian Friars’ Vegetable Garden, and can be found hidden inside the walls of the convent adjacent to the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.

3) If you walk down Via Niccolò Piccolomini in Rome, Saint Peter's Dome appears to get smaller the closer you get to it. It's an optical illusion, which is even more evident if your travel by car.

4) Rome's oldest chemist – which is still open to the public – is on Piazza Fontana di Trevi and was founded in the mid-16th century.

5) Until 1842 buffalos drew the boats used for the transportation of goods along the River Tiber. They were replaced by steamboats.

1) This city is affectionately known as "La Grassa" or "The Fat One" thanks to the locals' love affair with food!

2) Bologna is home to the oldest university in the world, University of Bologna, which was founded in 1088.

3) Most of the city is built under porticoes, which are covered walkways - great for when it's raining!

4) Motorsports is big in Bologna, with Ferrari S.P.A., Lamborghini and Ducati motorcycles all being from this area. The city hosts one of Europe's most important annual motor exhibitions, the Motor Show.

5) The market in the city center is one of the largest in Europe. We told you they like their food!

1) Tuscany is the largest region is Italy, covering nearly 9,000 square miles.

2) Tuscany was the birthplace of the Renaissance.

3) Although Italian is spoken in Italy, Tuscan's have their own "language", known simply as the "Tuscan dialect".

4) Pecorino cheese, which is made from sheep's milk, and Chianti wines are native to Tuscany.

5) Donatello, Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci all once lived in Tuscany.