Although it’s not necessary to know much about the place you are travelling to on holiday before you go; it is nice to have some knowledge about the region. Italy is a vastly diverse place that is steeped in history and so it is no surprise that there is so much to learn about this beautiful country. So before you jet off on your Mediterranean break, during which you will surely be staying in one of our highly luxurious Tuscan villas, here are a few fun facts to get you in the mood for your vacation.
1. Every town and village in Italy has its own kind of pasta; meaning that there are over 500 different varieties produced throughout the whole country. Most are named after the way that they look (e.g. penne means pens) and there is strict etiquette as to which kind of pasta is served with which style of sauce.
2. Italy’s tri-coloured flag is influenced by the very similar looking French banner. The colours are thought to represent the blood-shed during Italy’s fight for independence, the snow on top of the famous Alps mountain range and the green of Italy’s iconic and picturesque landscape.
3. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, was originally thought to be dull in colour. This led some historians to believe that this was a trademark of Michelangelo. However, it was soon found to be a mistake when restorers cleaned off years of dust and dirt to reveal bright and vibrant colours.
4. Italian has only been used as a spoken language since the country unified in 1861. Before this it was predominantly written down and was heavily based on the dialect spoken in Tuscany. Many dialects are still spoken in Italy today as well as French, German and Slovene in some parts.
5. Tourism makes up a whopping 63% of the Italian national income and so it is no surprise that they rely on this year in and year out, whilst priding themselves on having some of the best sights to see around the world.
6. A world record truffle was once discovered in Tuscany by a dog named Rocco. The truffle sold for over £200,000.
7. The chocolate spread which is today known as Nutella was created by an Italian during the First World War. When chocolate became hard to come by, a pastry maker by the name of Pietro Ferrero started adding hazelnuts to make his supplies go further. The product was a big hit and is now sold in many different countries around the world.
8. Although Italy is considered a crowded nation with a population of around 60,000,000; the birth rate is one of the lowest in the western world. This has been a worry in the past and the government have even offered rewards to families who have more than one child.
9. The Italian word ‘Pinocchio’ translates as ‘pine nut’ which is thought to be a reference to the type of wood this puppet boy was made from.
10. Italy has a great sporting history having hosted the Olympic Games three times (summer once and winter twice) and won the football World Cup on four occasions. Their football fans are amongst the most passionate in the world with many teams having their own set of die-hard fans known as ‘ultras’.