Italian history is one of the longest, most documented national histories in the world. From the days of the Caesars and the Roman Empire, to the disappearance of Pompeii and Herculaneum beneath the eruptive Mt. Vesuvius’ molten lava and ash, to Napoleon’s reign and Mussolini’s dictatorship, to finally conceding to the allies in WWII, and becoming a republic, there is almost nothing Italy hasn’t seen and survived. Only slightly larger than the state of Arizona, Italy is home to over 61 million inhabitants, is one of the top 5 most visited countries on Earth, and has an enclave reserved in the middle of capital city, Rome, for the world’s smallest country, Holy See/Vatican City, which spans .25 mi². With its well-maintained architecture, colorful buildings, celebrated cuisine and conversational gesticulations, Italy is as much a historical center as it is a cultural hub.
Zeppole are deep-fried dough balls that are usually topped with powdered sugar, and may be filled with custard, jelly, cannoli-style pastry cream or butter-and-honey. Zeppole are traditionally consumed on La Festa di San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph's Day on March 19th). In Rome, Naples and Sicily, these little pastries are sold on many streets and are often presented as gifts.
Italy is a very academic nation and sports are practiced outside the school setting. Soccer is extremely popular, as are basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, skiing, spinning, horse-riding and sailing. Girls like dancing, including wester favorites such as hip-hop and funk styles. On Saturday nights, the disco is very popular with Italy's young people. There is no lower limit to the drinking age in Italy, although you must be 16 to purchase alcohol.
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- The word "Ciao," which is used for “hello” or “goodbye,” comes from schiavo meaning “at your service.”
- Every day, approximately 3,000 Euro ($2,362) is thrown into the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
- Italy has the lowest birthrate in Europe, which is surprising due to the large Italian family culture.
- The Italian pizza originated in Naples during the 18th century and was initially just a dry, flat bread for poor people until Queen Margherita of Italy tried some and loved it.
- "Liceo" is a specific class of Italian secondary schools that are oriented towards the study of the arts and sciences.