49 things you might not know about Italy.

Every country has its own history, culture and stories that make it unique. And because of each country’s uniqueness, there are a lot of interesting facts you might not expect. We think you might agree that it’s hard to beat Italy. Italy has some really interesting fun facts about their culture and history. But we’ll let you be the judge of that. Please enjoy this list of 49 things you might not know about Italy.

  1. Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world, with 46 million tourists every year.
  2. The island of Poveglia is said to be so haunted that public access is prohibited.
  3. Europe’s three active volcanoes, Etna, Stromboli, and Vesuvius are all located in Italy.
  4. In the city of Turin, dog owners must walk their dog at least three times a day or they could be fined.
  5. Italy’s last king ruled for only 36 days.
  6. The University of Bologna is the oldest university in the world, founded in 1088.
  7. Your hotel in Italy may not have a 17th floor. Italians believe that this number is unlucky because when the Roman numeral for 17 (XVII) is rearranged it looks like VIXI, which means “I have lived,” a symbol associated with death.
  8. In 1948, Roy Jacuzzi invented the jacuzzi using specialized water pumps to help his son who was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
  9. Vatican City in Rome is the smallest country in the world and is led by the Pope himself.
  10. There are only 21 letters in the standard Italian alphabet. The Italian alphabet doesn’t have the letters J, K, W, X or Y.
  11. Italy has more earthquakes than any other European country.
  12. Almost four-fifths of Italy is either mountainous or hilly.
  13. The capital city of Rome is almost 3,000 years old.
  14. Italy has more masterpieces per square mile than any other country in the world.
  15. Ballet originated in Italy during the 15th century, and it was Catherine de Medici who introduced it to France later.
  16. Unless you want to pay a hefty fine, don’t eat or drink while sitting on church steps or within a church courtyard.
  17. In 2012, the town of Falciano del Massico in Campania made it illegal for residents to die because the town’s cemetery is full.
  18. On the beaches of Venice, it’s illegal to make sandcastles or any other kind of sand structure.
  19. La Famiglia is very much a part of the Italian culture. In fact, it’s common for single children to live at home until their 30s.
  20. Fashion is also important in Italy. After all, some of the world’s most sought after designers, such as Armani, Versace, and Prada, are all from Italy.
  21. Italians are known for communicating with hand gestures and facial expressions. They’re also known for being late.
  22. The country was under dictatorship for 20 years.
  23. Tourists throw €1,000,000 into the Trevi Fountain every year.
  24. Pinocchio was first published in an Italian newspaper.
  25. Italy has more World Heritage sites than any other country in the world.
  26. Italy has over 1,500 lakes.
  27. Batteries were invented in Italy.
  28. Christopher Columbus was actually Italian, born in Genoa in 1451.
  29. The first-ever bank was started in Italy.
  30. Italians invented eyeglasses.
  31. Anyone convicted of killing a cat (owned or a stray) could face a €10,000 fine and up to 3 years in prison.
  32. In 2011 an Italian cat inherited over €10 million after its 94-year old owner passed away, making it the third richest animal in the world.
  33. More than half of Italy’s male population between the ages of 24 and 35 still live with their parents.
  34. Italy is the only European country where the average salary went down in the last 20 years.
  35. Benito Mussolini, the notorious fascist dictator, was expelled at 10 years old from a religious boarding school in Italy for stabbing another pupil in the hand with a pencil. There continued to be another stabbing incident in the following school and also admitted to knifing a girlfriend in the arm.
  36. The average Italian consumes 25kg of pasta per year.
  37. Gelato is healthier than regular ice cream with 70% less fat and far fewer calories than factory-made ice cream.
  38. Italy has a free wine fountain in Caldari di Ortona at Dora Sarchese vineyard, which sits on the Italian pilgrimage route of Cammino di San Tommaso.
  39. Italians invented pizza in Naples.
  40. Italians have eaten pasta since the 4th century B.C.
  41. Italians consume 14 billion espressos each year.
  42. Italians believe that if a broom is swept across a single person’s feet, they won’t get married. Beware of the broom!
  43. Italy is the world’s largest wine producer.
  44. The Italians have over 2,500 types of cheese, the most variety of cheese in the world.
  45. The Roman Empire covered about 2.3 million miles.
  46. The fascist leader Benito Mussolini changed all non-Italian names for things – everything from Disney characters to soccer terms was banned and given an Italian name during the 1930s and 1940s.
  47. During WWII, The Nazis Used the Leaning Tower of Pisa as a Watchtower.
  48. In Matera, people live in the same cave dwellings as their ancestors from 9,000 years ago.
  49. Florence was Europe’s first city to have paved streets.

Yes, we’re aware we (perhaps annoyingly) stopped at only 49. But we’d love to hear what interesting facts you know about Italy. Help us come up with item number 50 in the comments below!