Let's dive head first into Italian culture, we begin with short fun facts about Italy.
Short fun facts about Italy
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- At 300 000 sq km (116 000 sq miles) Italy is only marginally bigger than New Zealand.
- There are many dialects of the Italian language spoken throughout Italy. The official Italian language spoken today originates from the Tuscan dialect (of Latin).
- Italian is a Romance language and is related to the other Latin languages: Spanish, French, Portuguese and Romanian.
- Italy manufacture most of the world's top sports cars, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Maserati and Alfa Romeo being some of the most popular.
- Don't try to outrun the police in Lazio (Rome's province) some of the officers drive a Lamborghini.
- The upbeat Italian National Anthem (often played at the Formula 1 and Moto GP due to the past victories of Michael Schumacher, Ferrari and Valentino Rossi) is called "Inno di Mameli" or "Canto degli Italiani" and was written by Goffredo Mameli.
- The "Promessi Sposi" is Italy's literature equivalent of Rome and Juliet.
- Many of Shakespeare's plays were set in Italy, including Romeo and Juliet from Verona.
- Opera is an Italian creation.
- Around 85% of Italians are registered Catholics however less than a third of that are practicing members.
- There are many "Mafia" organizations in Italy. The Mafia (known as "Cosa Nostra") is only one of them and is based in Sicily. Camorra and 'Ndrangheta are the other bigger organizations.
- Democratic Italy is governed by a President who appoints the Prime Minister (largely a figure-head).
- SPQR stands for "Senatus Populusque Romanus" and means "The senate and the people of Rome". You still see the symbol all over Rome today (especially on drain covers) as it's used by the Rome Municipality.
- The Romans mastered plumbing. They used copper piping and valves - the patents of some are still in use today.
- Rome is known as the "Eternal city" and also "Caput Mundi", coming from Latin and meaning capital of the world.
- Rome is the Capital, the largest city and has a population of roughly 3 million.
- According to legend the brothers Romulus and Remus (the founders of Rome) were raised by a she-wolf in a cave on Palatine Hill.
- Rome's emblem is the she-wolf suckling the two brothers Romulus and Remus.
- Pompeii is the city that was buried after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Many parts of ancient life were eerily preserved. By pouring wax into the cavities in the ash (which once held various furniture and artifacts) scientists have been able to get perfect replicas of ancient Roman furniture.
- Italy has the Guinness record for the country with the most lifts.
- Italy has the lowest birthrate in Europe - a contradiction to the large Italian family culture.
- Italians live very long, the percentage of the retired population is 20% which is a cause for concern as there aren't enough young people to work and contribute to the state pension.
- Italians on average eat around 30 kg (66 pounds) of pasta and drink 60 liters of wine per year .
More fun facts about Italy:
Italian TV channels (fun facts about Italy in your ear)
Most TV channels (and media) are owned by the prime minister of the Republic of Italy. The main ones that aren't owned by "Psico Nano - the Psycho dwarf", as he's known by his rivals, are state controlled - and therefore fall under "Al Tappone".
Here are some other fun facts about Italy's leader:
- "Al Tappone", a word play on Al Capone. Tappo in Italian means cork.
- "Bandanano", a word play on Bandana and Nano (dwarf), coined after he received Tony Blair and his wife in Sardinia wearing a white bandana on his head.
- "Testa d'Asfalto" - asphalt head. A ridicule of Berlusconi's dyed hair implant.
- "Sua Emittenza" - his emittance (instead of eminence), because he owns most of the TV channels.
Fun facts about Italy: Italian stripping housewives
Italian stripping housewives was a quiz show broadcast on Italian TV channel Mediaset 1 in the late 1980s. In Italian it was known as "Colpo Grosso", 'or "The Big Coup''.
The Italian stripping housewives game show (of which there have been many variants) had 2 teams of husband/wife contestants, the husband would answer questions and if he got them correct the wife would then have to remove an article of clothing (don't you love Italian sexism.) The first team whose wife would remove a bra would win a prize!
If you want to find out more you can search for "Italian TV stripping game" , "Colpo Grosso" or "Italian stripping housewives" on Youtube, enjoy!
Fun facts about Italy: The Italy people finder
What is the Italy people finder? The Italy people finder is a great tool for locating yours or others Italian heritage.
Try this Italy people finder web site, it has a map of Italy on which it traces the greatest density for a particular Italian surname.
In the top left of the page where it says "Cognomi" (meaning surname) insert the surname you wish to explore. You can also do the search for Italians living in the USA, just below "Cognome" click on "Cerca anche in USA."
Of course you can always use the Italian phone directory (the Italy whites pages) for a modern day search.
Did you meet somebody interesting in your voyages through Rome or Italy and lost contact? Try this Italy people finder by posting a name in the forum. It's also global so you can use it to find people anywhere in the world.
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Fun facts about Italy: The Italian chandelier position
(I wasn't sure whether to put this before or after the Italy food culture section? But then I guess I can't cater for all fetishes! ;-)
There are two definitions of this Italian sexual position.
- The first Italian chandelier position is with the woman at the bottom. She pushes her back and backside off the ground using her arms and legs (like a crab-walking). The man, who is on top and facing her (as in a normal missionary position) does the same thing.
- The second (and more interesting) Italian chandelier position has the man at the bottom lying on his back with knees bent and the balls of his feet flat against the bed, beach sand or what ever surface you find yourself on. The woman lies on top facing up (her back against his chest) her legs are outside his and her arms are on either side of him. She pushes her torso up with the help of her legs and elbows and he gets leverage using his legs.
Apparently (ahem) the Italians love the Italian chandelier position as it is a great calorie burning "exercise"! Feel free to enhance and tweak the position until
you are feeling quite patriotic and once you know the words you can also hum along with the Italian national anthem.
Fun facts about Italy: Superstitions
Ask an Italian if he's superstitious and he'll say no but superstition is so ingrained that they don't realize themselves touching their earlobes with spilt champagne for good luck.
Here are some
other fun facts about Italy:
- "Viola a teatro" - purple at the theatre. The catholic church back in medieval times banned theatre for 40 days prior to Easter (priests wore/wear purple during this period). Out of respect for the then starving actors you don't wear purple to the theatre in Italy.
- "Cappello sul letto" - hat on the bed. Priests visiting the dying would rest their hat at the feet of the bead. Don't put your hat at the foot of the bead in an Italian home!
- Number 17. Seventeen written in Roman numerals XVII and anagrammed is VIXI, which in Latin means I lived, and therefore am dead!
- "13 a Tavola" - 13 at the table. The number at the last supper! Not a good number of guests to have at a table in a restaurant in Italy.
- "Rovesciare il sale" - to drop salt. Bad luck. Back in the days when there were no fridges salt was a precious commodity and used to preserve food.
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