10 interesting facts about Italy

Here are 10 interesting facts about Italy that you probably did not know.

  1. The name Italy comes from the word italia, meaning “calf land,” perhaps because the bull was a symbol of the Southern Italian tribes.
  2. The official name of Italy is the Italian Republic (Repubblica Italiana).
  3. Italy has more masterpieces per square mile than any other country in the world.
  4. Almost four-fifths of Italy is either mountainous or hilly.
  5. When McDonald’s opened in 1986 in Rome, food purists outside the restaurant gave away free spaghetti to remind people of their culinary heritage.
  6. The University of Rome is one of the world’s oldest universities and was founded by the Catholic Church in A.D. 1303. Often called La Sapienza (“knowledge”), the University of Rome is also Europe’s largest university with 150,000 students.
  7. There are two independent states within Italy: the Republic of San Marino (25 square miles) and the Vatican City (just 108.7 acres).
  8. Italy’s San Marino is the world’s oldest republic (A.D. 301), has fewer than 30,000 citizens, and holds the world’s oldest continuous constitution.
  9. Vatican City is the only nation in the world that can lock its own gates at night. It has its own phone company, radio, T.V. stations, money, and stamps. It even has its own army, the historic Swiss Guard.
  10. Italians suffer more earthquakes than any other Europeans. In 1693, an estimated 100,000 people died in an earthquake in Sicily. The most deadly recent quake in Italy occurred in Naples in 1980, killing 3,000 people.