Italy has a fascinating past. It was a part of the Roman Empire, which was founded in around 753 BC and subsequently became the largest empire in the ancient world. After more than 1,000 years, the empire was formally dissolved in 476 AD.
With the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Italy came under the control of the Ostrogoths.
In the 6th century, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian briefly reigned over Italy.
Known as the Athens of the Middle Ages, Florence spawned Renaissance and opera music. The city is also birthplace of Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci.
The 19th century witnessed the unification of Italy. Different states of the Italian peninsula were consolidated into the Kingdom of Italy.
In 1915, Italy joined the Allies in the World War I and in 1922, Fascist leader Mussolini formed the government
In 1946, a referendum was held which saw the end of the Monarchy and Italy became a Republic.
Italy lies on a peninsula in southern Europe, jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea, along with its two large islands, Sicily and Sardinia.
The boot-shaped nation borders France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia across its northern boundaries.
The rest of Italy borders only the Mediterranean Sea, though it is at a short distance from Croatia, Greece, and parts of northern Africa.
The independent States - San Marino and Vatican City - are located within Italy.
Major mountain ranges, the Alps and the Apennines, span the country.
Major rivers in Italy are the Po, the Arno, and the Tiber.
Italy is also home to 14 volcanoes, though only three are active: Etna, Pompeii, and Herculaneum.
People and Culture
Italy is perhaps best known for its cheese and wine, with many culinary specialties like pasta, pizza, and panini, and other regional specialties that can be sampled around the country. Vineyards are all over Tuscany.
The world is dotted with Italian restaurants providing a taste of the mouth-watering cuisine of the country. Italian cuisine is much loved in the United States.
Here are some of the best Italian restaurants in the United States.
- People and culture Comprising exquisite interiors, Acquerello is a popular Italian restaurant located in San Francisco, California.
- Trattoria Lucca is a popular restaurant, which is situated in Charleston, South Carolina.
- With its headquarters in Dallas, Texas, Maggiano's Little Italy specializes in Italian-American cuisine.
- Buca di Beppo was founded in 1993 and has its headquarters at Orlando in Florida.
- Del Posto is located in New York City and is spread over an area of 24,000-square-foot.
- Located in Chicago, Spiaggia is a perfect place to have diner or lunch. The restaurant overlooks Oak Street beach and provides majestic views of Lake Michigan.
- Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix is a great place for pizza lovers.
- Tulio in Seattle provides its customers with a wide array of mouth-watering Italian cuisine.
- Get a taste of scrumptious pastas and wood-fired pizzas at Palena Caf´e in Washington, D.C.
- Bar La Grassa at Minneapolis is a great place for those looking for authentic Italian cuisine.
The official language of the country is Italian, which is spoken by about 93 per cent of the population. There are a number of dialects spoken in the country, including Sardinian, Friulian, Neapolitan, Sicilian, Ligurian, Piedmontese, Venetian, and Calabrian.
Italians have also left a lasting impression on Hollywood. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Sylvester Stallone, Susan Sarandon are some of the Hollywood actors with Italian roots.
In case you are craving for more tidbits on the arts, attire, food and other aspects of Italy, check out this page on culture and traditions in Italy
Italy Travel Facts
Rome, the capital city, has a famous historical site around every corner, from the Colosseum to the Pantheon and the Vatican.
Florence has famous landmarks and works of art housed in its museums and galleries.
The city of Venice, located in the northeastern part of Italy, is listed as a World Heritage Site.
Italy has 7,400 kilometers (4,600 miles) of coastline which is one of the longest in Europe.
Italy is one of the most cave-pocked countries in the world. It has more than 35,000 cavities above the ground and there are thousands of them underwater.
You have to believe us when we say that there's no end to interesting facts on Italy
Top Tourist Attractions in Italy
- Leaning Tower of Pisa : The tower was built over a period of 177 years. Its construction started in 1173 and soon it began to tilt due to a poorly laid foundation. The tower was completed in the late 14th century.
- Pompeii : A thriving city some 2,000 years ago, Pompeii was destroyed and buried when the Vesuvius volcano erupted in 79 AD. The town was covered by ash and soil, and was preserved in its state from that day.
- The Colosseum : Situated in Rome, the Colosseum is one of the largest and most famous amphitheaters that remind the world of the Roman Empire.
- The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore : A crown jewel of Florence, the construction of this beautiful cathedral began in 1296 and completed in 1436.
- Positano : It is a small town located on the Amalfi Coast. The coast is known around the world for its scenic landscape, rugged terrain, and picturesque towns.
Things To Do in Italy
Italy is truly a traveler's delight. The nation is home to a hospitable people and has a history spanning many millennia. Comprising a scrumptious cuisine, and amazing scenic beauty, there is so much to see and do in Italy that you would require more than a lifetime to seriously explore it.
One of the most fascinating cities in the world, Rome is an amalgamation of the ancient and the modern. Here you would find modern architecture rubbing shoulders with ancient structures such as the Colosseum, where bloody gladiatorial battles were held during the Roman times. Other places to visit here are the Roman Forum and the Pantheon, the two great icons of the Roman times.
A wonder of the world, Venice is one of the most visited cities in the world. So, if you are in Venice, take a Gondola ride. On the way you would get a glimpse of amazing Baroque buildings as well as majestic bridges.
Here you would come across amazing ancient Roman and Greek Ruins. A visit to the Valley of Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, would surely round off your trip.
Uffizi Gallery in Florence
Uffizi Gallery in Florence is a must visit. Called the 'heart of the Renaissance', the gallery comprises amazing masterpieces that would leave you bewildered. On display are works by Titian, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio.
Exploring the ruins is a must for every traveler to Italy. Here you would also come across some well preserved ruins.
Take a trip to Vatican and take a look at some eye-catching monuments such as the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
One of the most famous monuments, visitors from around the world visit Italy just to have a look at the amazing Leaning Tower of Pisa.
A major tourist attraction, the construction of the cathedral began in 1296 and was completed in 1436. The cathedral complex, which is located in Piazza del Duomo, comprises Giotto's Campanile and the Baptistery.
Catacombs of Rome
The Catacombs of Rome are underground burial places. There are at least 40 of these catacombs in Rome and these are some of the oldest as well as the longest underground tunnels in the world.
Take a trip to Mt Etna and explore the largest active volcano in Europe. From here you would also get majestic views of Sicily.
Mount Etna in Sicily is the world's most active volcano.
The Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican is the largest Christian church in the world.
Regions in Italy have their own dialects, which are quite different from standard Italian. The contemporary Italian, which the people speak, is based on the Florentine dialect.
Milan, the second largest city in Italy, is one of the big four fashion capitals in the world. Major Italian fashion houses include Gucci, Armani, Versace, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, and Valentino.
National parks in Italy include Alta Murgia National Park, the Gargano National Park, and the Abruzzo National Park.
Mont Blanc de Courmayeur, at 15771 feet, is the highest peak in the country. Other important peaks are Mt. Etna, Punta La Marmora, Ortles, Gran Paradiso, and Matterhorn.
The oldest university in the Western world, dating back to 1088, is the University of Bologna.
Italy is divided into 20 regions, and further divided into 110 provinces and 8,100 municipalities.
Grotta Gigante holds the Guinness World Record for largest accessible cave on Earth. It is 850 meters (2,788 feet) wide, with 500 steps that descend 100 meters (328 feet) into the earth.
If you thought you have known Italy inside out, this exciting quiz on Italy
might prove you wrong.
Last Updated on: July 21, 2017