Every year Italy attracts millions of tourists. And that is not surprising. Italy is known for its beautiful landscapes and magnificent cities. This boot-shaped peninsula is so varied that every type of traveler will find something to their liking. Are you adventurous? Go hiking or practice winter sports in the Dolomites. For culture lovers there are the beautiful historic cities such as Florence and Rome. You can experience a romantic getaway in Venice, or in Verona better known as the city of Romeo and Julliet and don’t forget the beautiful picturesque villages of Cinque Terre. For the foodies, there is something new to taste in every region. Before you know it, you’ll have a never ending Italy bucket list.
But Italy is not only known for its beauty. Due to its important role throughout history, this country has an enormous influence on cultural development worldwide. And this is not all. Due to its wealth of natural raw materials, Italy is also world famous for the production of some high quality products. “Made in Italy” has become a well-known expression. In fact, it’s an authentic brand that symbolizes the excellence of Italian craftsmanship and production. Italian products with the prestigious title “Made in Italy” are coveted around the world for their integrity and durability, originality and creativity of the design, and for their different tastes and flavors. Many tourists visit the peninsula exclusively to experience the world of “Made in Italy”.
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10 things Italy is known for
It’s nearly impossible to write down all the fantastic things about a country so rich in history and culture, but I tried to compile a list of 10 things that make Italy so great. And that you should definitely experience on a trip to Italy.
1. The Italian cuisine
Several books can be written about Italian cuisine. There is so much variety of pure Italian ingredients that endless combinations can be made. The typical dishes are mainly regional and the result of centuries-old traditions. Just think of the handmade orecchiette in Bari in Puglia and the delicious South Tyrolean pasta carbonara. That’s why Italy is a real paradise for foodies and Burgundians. Wherever you travel in Italy, you will be able to eat delicious food as much as you can.
Some of these regional Italian dishes are even known worldwide. Italy is the inventor of the pizza. Because the pizza is served all over the world, it has so many variations. If you would like to taste a real authentic pizza, then you have to visit Naples. That’s where the pizza originated.
Pasta is also a dish that is world famous and is originated in Italy. On the peninsula itself, there are already so many variations in pasta based on shape, preparation and sauce. This usually depends on the region and which ingredients are specifically available there. Products that are used to prepare pasta such as Olive oil and Parmesan cheese, are sold all over the world.
Another specialty from Italy is the Italian Gelato! To be honest, I’m not a huge ice cream fan, but a nice, light Italian Gelato with lemon flavor always tastes amazing!
Last but not least, we must not forget that the famous Italian cuisine is accompanied by delicious Italian drinks. Just think of prosecco, a wide range of wines and those little colored digestifes called grappa. And I haven’t even mentioned those delicious espresso cups.
When I think of “Made in Italy”, I immediately think of fashion. And fashion is synonymous with Milan. The capital of the Lombardy region is one of the worldwide hubs for stylists, models and artists. Every year Fashion week takes place in Milan with names such as Dolce & Gabbana, Alberta Ferretti, Etro, Fendi, Max Mara, Salvatore Ferragamo e Versace and a little bit of Belgium as well: Raf Simons for Prada.
You can find fashion museums all over the peninsula. From Florence to Palermo there are no fewer than 17. Many other international fashion events such as Pitti Immagine, are also held In Italy. This is one of the most important fashion events in the world. Then Florence welcomes sellers and buyers from all over the world.
And don’t forget the luxury fashion streets. The most famous? Via Monte Napoleone and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. There prestigious shops can be found next to the historic shops. But also Via de ‘Tornabuoni in Florence, Via Condotti in Rome, next to Piazza di Spagna, and via Chiaia in Naples, where you can take a break from your shopping session by tasting an original pizza or the best espresso coffee in the world.
If you adore ‘made in Italy’ products, then you should definitely check out this Italian gift guide for Italy lovers.
Another showpiece for which Italy is known, are the stylish cars that are made there. Just think of Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati. These sportive cars come with a serious price tag. But also the more common brands such as Alpha Romeo, Lancia and Fiat sound familiar to us. The common denominator of all these brands is the unique, elegant Italian design with a sporty touch.
Some of these car brands have also succeeded in creating real classics. Just think of the Fiat 500. Even though it has a new design, it is still very popular. My mom also bought such a small, but feisty fiat. And I just love it.
By the way, one of my wildest dreams, that I have not mentioned on my bucket list yet, is to make a road trip through Italy with a real authentic Fiat 500. How amazing would that be?
Although Italy is a producer of elegant, sporty cars, the most common means of transport on the peninsula is the Vespa. Like the fiat 500, it has become a real classic. It also offers many advantages such as easy navigation through a busy Italian city and finding parking.
The Vespa was actually created in 1946 when Italy was still recovering from the 2nd world war. This small means of transport immediately became extremely popular in Italy. It was not long before the Vespa was also produced outside of Italy. In no time the term Vespa became synonymous with scooter. Of course the Vespa is more than a normal scooter. It is an icon of Italian style and elegance and symbolizes freedom.
The talent of Vespa lies in adapting itself very subtly to a new period. Now there are already many different models. So when you decide to go on a Vespa trip in Italy, you can choose between more authentic or modern models. Can you already guess which Vespa I would go for?
Check out the most fun Vespa tours with Getyourguide below.
Italy is by far the place-to-be for art lovers. Nowhere in the world can you find as much art as in Italy. Besides a lot of museums, you can find artworks on every street corner in almost every Italian metropolis.
Italian art is the result of a centuries-long tradition that goes back to Classical Antiquity with an absolute peak in the Renaissance. Most famous artists such as Bernini, Michelangelo and Leonardo Da vinci appeared here. And this is just a small number of the talented renaissance artists. During the Renaissance these art forms spread further across Europe and played an important role in the cultural development in these countries.
The most famous Renaissance city in Italy is Florence. This is also one of my favorite Italian cities. If you want to be immersed in Italian art, then be sure to visit the Uffizi Gallery where you can admire the birth of Venus by Botticelli amongst other famous painters. Besides Florence, you can see examples of beautiful Italian Renaissance art in even more cities and museums, such as the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice and Michelangelo’s famous masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.
During the Renaissance, architectural art flourished as well. It was inspired by classical antiquity, much of which is still preserved in Italy. Just think of the historical sites in Rome such as the Coloseum, the Pantheon and Forum Romanum. Not to forget, the remains of the historic city of Pompeii near Naples.
Partly thanks to the amazing architecture through the centuries, Italy now has more than 50 places on the Unesco World Heritage List. With this number, Italy ranks first among all countries in the world. These are also the main sights for which Italy is known, and draw many tourists from all over the world.
Italy played a prominent role several times throughout history. At the time of classical antiquity, the Roman Empire was one of the greatest rulers of the Mediterranean Sea and far beyond.
You already learned above that Italy played an influential role in the Renaissance in the field of art and architecture. But that it’s partly thanks to Italy that we know the world as it is now, you might not know yet?
The most famous explorers such as Marco Polo, Amerigo Vespucci, Giovanni Caboto better known as John Cabot and yes, even Christopher Columbus are from Italy. During the era of the great discoveries, they went out in search of new trade routes. Besides new trading partners, they also found many unknown areas.
8. The Roman Catholic Faith
Italy, or rather Rome and to be more specific Vatican City, is the epicenter of the Roman Catholic Church. Vatican City is actually an independent state in the middle of Rome, known worldwide as the Pope’s main residence.
Since Vatican City is located in the middle of Italy, it is naturally that it has a great influence on the country. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the majority of the Italian population is still Catholic.
The Roman Catholic faith in Italy goes back to the beginning of our era. It entered the Roman Empire and became the dominant religion. The Roman Empire also played a major role in the spread of Catholicism through its many conquests. Until 1984 the Roman Catholic faith was the state religion in Italy.
You can say that the Roman Catholic faith still occupies an important place in Italian culture. The best times to experience this, is during religious festivals such as Christmas and Easter. Italy is known for its beautiful Easter processions in different cities.
9. Family and traditions
In ancient times people already spoke of a pater familias. The father was in charge of the family and the mother took care of the household. These classic relationships may have been somewhat watered down, but family still remains an important value in the Italian household. This is expressed in traditional, extended family meals where a richly filled table with all sorts of food, plays the leading role.
Besides that, family traditions often continue to be associated with the Catholic faith. The celebration of the sacraments and the Catholic holidays are the absolute highlight for many families. Here, too, there is an exuberant celebration with great food and drinks. Visiting Italy during the holidays is therefore an absolute must.
10. Language and hand gestures
The Italian language is like music to my ears. This language is considered to be the most beautiful language in the world by many people. One of my favorite things to do is observing a real Italian conversation on a random terrace in Italy. Not because I’m eavesdropping, but it just sounds so beautiful. And best of all are those accompanying hand gestures.
But where do those expressive hand gestures come from? Many say this is simply part of the Italian national nature. But there is also a historical explanation. Until the late 19th century, Italy was divided into different duchies, each of which spoke its own dialect. They needed hand gestures to communicate with each other. The different dialects disappeared, but the hand gestures remained. We don’t know exactly how old these are. However, frescoes in Pompei already contain hand gestures that are still used today.
This was my list of 10 things Italy is known for. Which of these 10 things Italy is known for would you like to experience on your next Italy trip? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.
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