10 Things You Didn’t Know About Italy

The list of things that encompasses Italy is beyond the scope of books. Everyone knows things like pasta and pizza. There are many interesting and fascinating aspects of Italy and Italian history that are largely unknown. Italy’s cultural legacy might be the most important one in Europe. So, without further ado, we bring you the 10 things you didn’t know about Italy.

10: Naples Trash

You’ve ever been to Naples? One thing that immediately strikes the eye is the amount of uncollected trash there is lying about. The main problem is the dumping of municipal solid waste into overfilled landfills. Beginning in late 2007, municipal workers refused to pick up any more trash. This has led to possible public health risks. Local mafia began dumping trash alongside the roads leading to soil and air pollution. Naples may have a rich history but these days that history is overshadowed by the threat of trash mounds.

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9: Food of Italy

Every Tom, Dick, and Harry might claim to know Italian food and most people do indeed know the basics. Italy offers a host of culinary delights that go well beyond the standard fare out there. One Sardinian pleasure is called casu marzu, or rotten cheese. It is a regional cheese specialty that is creamy and filling and colonized by fly larvae. Interestingly, the EUS placed restrictions on the mass production of this cheese. But it remains an important part of the Sardinian heritage. Cosce di Rana is frog legs and is surprisingly popular in the north of Italy. Lampredotto is a dish that originates from Florence. It consists of a cow stomach which is mashed up and served with onions parsley tomatoes and olive oil thrown into a bun. It is not your everyday snack if you’re not Florentine, but it is tasty.

8: Language of Italy

Speaking of Sardinia, the island is home to one of the most interesting languages in Europe. Although many people think that Sardinian is merely a dialect of Italian, they would be wrong. Sardinian is a unique romance language that maintains many arcade features that help us better understand how Latin was pronounced. And how it evolved over time. For example, the Italian word for 100 is cento but the Sardinian word is kentu. Both of which have been derived from the Latin centum. But only Sardinian maintains the heart K pronunciation. The similarities and differences between Sardinian and Italian as well as other romance languages allow linguists to piece together important clues about the development of these languages.

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7: Culture of Italy

The next thing about Italy contains within its past one of the greatest mysteries of European culture and civilization, the Etruscans, possibly a remnant of pre-Indo-European culture. What we do know about the Etruscans is based on heavily biased Roman accounts that are steeped in prejudice. Present in Italy from 750 BCE to the second century CE when their civilization and language effectively went extinct. It is thought that Etruscans culture and political institutions might have an influence on Roman society at least initially. But given that so much vital information about these people cannot be deciphered. It is impossible to confirm this with any degree of certainty.

6: The Three Crowns of Italy

The Three Crowns of Italy

Le Tre Corone, or the three crowns, refers to three late medieval Italian authors that revolutionized the Italian language. More generally literary pop throughout Europe. The three crowns who were active in the 13th and 14th century CE were Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch. These men, who respectively wrote the divine comedy, the Decameron. Also, an incalculable number of works in the case of Petrarch. He’s known as the father of humanism and remains the literary giants of Italy.

They created a standard of Italian based on the Tuscan dialect that would later become the national language standard of the modern Italian state. But their impact stretches beyond the confines of Italy. Dante in his essay De Vulgari Eloquentia lays out the case why the vernacular, or the common tongue of the people can be just as suitable as Latin for composition. An idea that rapidly spread throughout Europe. It was formative in the development of national writing systems.

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5: Gelato


Gelato is often just translated as ice cream into English and is probably the thing you didn’t know about Italy. But the truth is gelato is a lot more than just that. It tends to have less fat but more sugar than American-style ice cream. Its consistency tends to be creamier than American ice cream as well. In Italy, it is required by law to have at least 3.5% of butterfat. Gelato is such a popular type of ice cream. Every year people leave their home countries to study the elaborate techniques of gelato making by attending the Carpiiani Gelato University. Whereupon, they subsequently return to apply their gelato trade in their home countries.

4: Trade in Italy

In the wake of the fall of Rome, Italy developed a political structure that is referred to as the city-state. They are largely autonomous regional areas that had their own culture, language, traditions, as well as legal and economic systems. The oldest and most prominent of the city-states was the Republic of Venice. Which is traditionally known as the Serenissima Republica di Venezia or the most serene republic of Venice. It lasted from its founding year in 697 to 1797. It encompassed large parts of the northeastern areas in Italy as well as areas of what would later become Croatia.

One of the hallmarks of the Republic of Venice was its mastery of the trade. During the high Middle Ages, it controlled virtually all the relevant trade routes from Europe to the Levant leading to the accumulation of great wealth. However, Venice was not a great military power. They suffered continuous military and naval defeats throughout the centuries.

In the 13th century, the Florentine Republic was the banking center of Europe. It was in this context that literary greats such as the three crowns were able to thrive. Later, still, the Medici dynasty would rise to power and come to dominate not only in the affairs of the Florentine Republic but through political alliances and intermarriage in other places in Europe as well. Such as France where Catherine de Medici was queen in the 16th century, the Medici rule the Republic until 1737.

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3: Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi was the 50th prime minister and served for a total of 9 years. He was a leader of the center-right party, Forza Italia from 1994 to 2009. He became known for his venality and corruption. A multi-billionaire with a net worth of $7.1 billion and during his stay in office, he was much of a playboy as he was a prime minister. At one point he even appointed a pornographic actress, Fiorella Ceccacci Rubino, as a party member. He was known for throwing lavish parties that had nothing to do with his office. Eventually, he was convicted of tax fraud in 2013. Due to his age of being over 70, he received a lesser penalty in the form of community service rather than imprisonment.

2: Maria Gaetana Agnesi

Maria Gaetana Agnesi

Maria Gaetana Agnesi was an Italian prodigy who was a mathematician and philosopher. She was born in the 18th century. She was the first woman to write a mathematics textbook. The first woman appointed as a mathematics professor at the university. It was recognized early on that Maria was a prodigy. At the age of 5, she could speak both French and Italian fluently. By the age of 11, she had mastered Spanish German, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew and was referred to as the 7-tongued orator. At the age of 14, she was working on geometry in ballistics. Her first written treatise was an analysis of finite qualities. The second one was a work on the analysis of infinitesimals. Her work was widely translated. She received gifts and accolades from such luminaries of her day as Empress Maria Teresa and Pope Benedict the fourteenth.

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1: Italian Dialects

Throughout most of its history, there was no unified Italian state. Italian dialects vary from each other to the point of being virtually different languages. Each region has different individual histories and customs. The idea of the single Italian state was late for arrival. The Revival or the Risorgimento, as it’s referred to in Italian was an effort in the 19th century. It began in 1815 with the Congress of Vienna and ended in 1871 when the Kingdom of Italy was consolidated as a single state with its capital being in Rome. This desire for unification and emulation of a great fallen Rome was embodied in the rise to power of Ill Duce or Benito Mussolini. Who in the early 20th century promises the Italian people a return to Italy’s former Roman glory? Unfortunately, he was never able to make good on that promise.

So, that’s a wrap on our list of 10 things you didn’t know about Italy. Don’t forget to check out our other top lists. Thank you very much for reading and thanks for learning.

Written by Jack Sparrow

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