Italy Facts

Interesting Facts for Kids

Italy facts: Leaning Tower of Pisa, Venice carnival, Rome colosseum

Here are some interesting Italy Facts which were chosen and researched by kids especially for kids.

  • Population: About 60 million people live in Italy (2020)
  • Capital: Roma (Rome) with 4 million inhabitants
  • Name: Repubblica Italiana (Italian Republic) or simply: Italia, Nickname: 'Bel Paese' which means beautiful country
  • Government: Democracy, Republic
  • Language: Italian. Official minority languages are German, French and Ladin in some regions in Northern Italy
  • Literacy: More than 98% can read and write
  • Religion: mainly Christians (80%, of theses most are Roman Catholics)
  • Currency: 1 Euro = 100 cents, before 2001: Italian Lira
  • History: Rome was founded in 753 BC by the twins Romulus and Remus. The Roman Empire was founded in 27 BC and Augustus Caesar proclaimed himself emperor of Rome in 31 BC. After the Roman Empire broke down in 395 AD, there were many separate kingdoms and city states. Italy became one nation only in 1861. Since then the country also includes the islands of Sicily and Sardegna. The 'Kingdom of Italy' lasted from 1861 until 1946. During the Second World War, Italy's Prime Minister Benito Mussolini sided with the German Nazi regime. The Italian Republic was formed in 1946. 
  • National Day: 2 June (Festa della Repubblica)
  • Flag: 'Tricolore' with green, white and red coloured vertical bands. The flag colours are said to represent these virtues: hope (green), faith (white), and charity (red)
  • National Symbols: Italian grey wolf (national animal), red rose or white lily (national flowers) and the white five-pointed star with a thin red border line

Italy Facts
Where is Italy?

Italy is a country in Southern Europe. The country is located on a peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea.

Italy borders six countries: France, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Vatican City and San Marino.

A flight to Italy's capital city Rome takes roughly 2.5 hours from London/England and 8 hours from New York/USA.

Italy Map

Italy is easy to recognize on any world map, as the country is shaped like a high-heeled boot, as you can see on the map above. It looks like the boot is kicking a ball, which is the island of Sicily, don’t you think?

The country is slightly larger in size than the three countries of the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium combined or about as big as the state of Arizona/USA.

Italy Facts | Italy Geography

Italian Beach resort on the Amalfi coastBeach resort on the Amalfi coast

Italy has more than 7,600 km/ 4,722 miles of coastline as the peninsula is located for a large part in the Mediterranean sea.

Italy is popular for its many picturesque ports and sandy beaches.

Italy has two bigger islands Sicily and Sardegna and many smaller islands such as Capri, Ischia and Elba.

Isola Elba in ItalyBeautiful Cavoli on the island of Elba

The Alps and the Apennines are the two main mountain ranges in Italy.

In the North, the mountain range of the Alps separates Italy from the other European countries France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.

The highest mountains of Italy can be found in the Alps. The Dolomites are a part of the Alps mountain range in Italy's north and many of the peaks are above 3,000 m/ 9,843 ft high!

Cortina d'Ampezzo in the Italian Alps

There are many lakes in northern Italy, in the centre of the country, the landscape flattens, this flat area is called the Po Valley. 

The Apennines mountain range run all the way down the boot and separate the eastern and the western regions of Italy.

And did you know that in Italy, there are still active volcanos?

Etna volcanic eruptionEruption of Etna - See the lava flowing down the slopes

In the South of Italy you will find Italy’s three active volcanoes: Vesuvius near Naples, Etna on Sicily and Stromboli off the Coast of Italy.

Italy Facts | Italy Geography Superlatives

Here are some fascinating Italy facts that are always good to know:

  • Italy's largest island is Sicily. This island is also the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The biggest city of the country is Rome with 2.9 million people.
  • The highest mountain peak in Italy is Monte Bianco, better known as Mont Blanc, which is 4 807 m or 15 776 ft. high.
  • The longest river in Italy is the Po River in Northern Italy with a length of 652 km/ 405 miles.
  • Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. It is located in northern Italy and famous for its mild climate and winds that attract many surfers to its shores.
  • The longest border to any neighbouring country is shared with Switzerland. This border is 698 km/ 434 miles long.
  • The Etna is the most active volcano in Europe. It is located on the island of Sicily.

Did you know that Italy surrounds two of the world’s smallest countries? These are San Marino in Northern Italy, which is also the oldest republic in the world, and Vatican City in Rome, the smallest country in the world. 

Italy Facts 
Italy Attractions for Kids

Colosseum in RomeColosseum in Rome
  • Rome: Italy's capital city is a wonderful place to learn about the Romans and ancient history. There are so many historic sites in the city that is nicknamed 'Eternal City' and you must visit historic monuments as as the Foro Romano with its ancient Roman ruins or the Colosseo.
  • Venice: This Northern Italian city is often referred to as 'Lagoon City' or 'The City of Masks'. Venice is famous for its canals, bridges and gondolas. The city is built on 120 islands and is known for its colourful carnival celebrations that take place in February every year.
Rialto Bridge in Venice ItalyRialto Bridge in Venice
  • Florence: This city in Tuscany is known for its arts museums and historic churches. Many of the great Italian artists such as Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci once lived in this city.
  • Pisa: One just must experience the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This is really quite a sight!
  • Ravenna: Famous for the ancient mosaics in the churches. The extensive mosaic decorations of the many churches date back to the 5th century!
Mosaic in Ravenna/ItalyMosaics in Ravenna
  • Tuscan villages and cities: The Tuscany is a popular tourist region with scenic countryside. There are lovely medieval towns such as San Gimignano, Lucca or Montepulciano
  • Alps: Great for skiing, hiking and mountainside holidays. Plan to visit Bolzano’s Natural History Museum where you can marvel at Oetzi, the mummy from the Ice-age.
Trulli in Alberobello/Apulia in Italy - image by Berthold Werner/ wikimediaTrulli in Alberobello
  • Alberobello: This small town in Apulia in southern Italy is known for its historic stone huts with cone hat-roofs. These houses are called trulli.

Italy Facts: Did you know that Matera in Southern Italy was the European Capital of Culture in 2019?

Read here about the most famous Italian landmarks and attractions here.

Italy Facts | Italian People

Italy is quite densely populated, with most people living in the country's northern regions. The Po Valley, also referred to as Padan Plain, is an area with many industrial centres. Almost half of Italy's population live in the Po Valley. The Po Valley's biggest cities include Milan, Modena, Turin and Verona.

Milan is the main industrial centre of Italy and also known to be one of the world's fashion capitals.

cityscape of Milan with new skyscrapersCityscape of Milan

Italians lead a modern lifestyle especially in the urban centres but they also celebrate century-old cultural traditions. Famous festivals that are celebrated annually are the carnival celebrations before Lent. In Venice, these are said to originate in the 12th century.

Traditional Carnival costumes in Venice

The Palio in Siena is dating back to 1644 when the first horse race in the city's main square was held.

And of course, Italians love soccer! The admittedly quite brutal Calcio storico match is still played and celebrated in Florence once a year. Calcio means soccer in Italian.

The Italian soccer league is followed by many Italians abroad too: Inter Milan, Lazio Roma and Juventus Turin are just some of the Italian soccer teams which are favoured by Italians.

Soccer youth team

Soccer, skiing, cycling, surfing or motor racing are just some of the sports Italians have very strong interest in.

The family is very important for Italians, where there are still many big families including grandparents, parents and children in the household.

Italians love their food, which is usually prepared freshly by 'la mama', the mother, or the nonna, the grandmother. 

Piazza in San Gimignano in Italy - image by Nataliya NazarovaPiazza in San Gimignano - image by Nataliya Nazarova

In the afternoon or evening it is common to meet up with family and friends on the piazza. The piazza is the main square of the village or town. 

Italy Facts | Famous Italians

Christopher ColumbusChristopher Columbus

Italians are famous for their inventions and discoveries. The Italian explorers Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci discovered the Americas while Marco Polo explored the East.

Leonardo da Vinci was a scientist and artist who was the first to prove the world is round and not flat.

Alessandro Volta, was the prioneer who did studies in electricity, hence the name 'Volt' describing a unit of electricity.

Did you know that Italians also invented the piano and the thermometer?

More Italy Facts about Famous Italians for Kids: Explorers, Inventors and more

Italy Facts | Italian Language

Italian is a Romance language and the language roots are in the Latin language. Italian is very close to French, as 89% of the vocabulary are shared, and 82% is shared with the Spanish vocabulary.

Italian is an official language not only in Italy but also in Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican city.

The Italian alphabet consists of 21 letters only. The letters j, k, w, x and y do not exist, except for lean words, that means words that originate in another language. 

10 useful Italian words and terms

  • ciao -  hello
  • grazie - thank you
  • prego - please, you are welcome
  • bene - good
  • come stai? - how are you? (informal, with family and friends)
  •  - yes
  • no - no
  • scusami - excuse me
  • ho fame - I am hungry
  • ho sete - I am thirsty

The pronunciation is soft and very melodic and so the language is used in opera and also popular by young pop music artists. 

Try to say football (soccer) in Italian? - Calcio

Most young people in Italy learn to speak English, French or German in school.

Some of the older people, however, do only speak a little Italian, but mainly use a regional language such as German in the Alto Adige or French in the Valle d’Aosta or the unique Ladino (Ladin) language in the Trentino.

Italy Economy

Italy is one of the six founding countries of the European Union.

Italy's extreme north and the major parts in Southern Italy are used for agriculture. In the North the main produce are dairy products and grains, while in the south mainly fruits and olives are harvested.

The main trading partners of Italy are Germany, France and China.

Italy Facts | Italian Food

The Italian main dishes often contain pork and beef, seafood as well as potatoes, rice and pasta (wheat and egg noodles) products and of course, tomatoes.

Pizza is surely one of the most famous exports and in Italy it is usually baked in a wood-fired oven. Italian pizza is very thin, but loaded with fresh vegetables or thinly sliced ham, salami, artichokes or olives.

The Italian pasta (variety of noodles) is renowned worldwide and there are more than 200 different shapes.

Italians love their food and many dishes are based on fresh vegetables and seafood too. There are delicious sweet cakes in Italy, such as panettone (a yeast cake with raisins), panforte (a hard and flat fruit cake) and almond pastries such as amaretti.

Here is some typical Italian food:

  • Pizza: probably the most famous Italian dish, it was invented in Napoli/Naples around 1860
  • Calzone: folded up pizza bread filled with tomatoes, ham, cheese and all kinds of filling
  • Pesto: thick green sauce with olives, basil or other herbs and olive oil, pine kernels and parmiggiano cheese. Healthy and so mmmmh!
  • Gelato: ice-cream is an Italian invention
  • Lasagna: layered pasta dish with tomato, mozzarella cheese and mince meat filling.
  • Mozzarella: Italian cheese balls, originally made from buffalo milk

Did you know that Italians eat spaghetti only with a fork and don't use a spoon?

Read more about Italian Food here.

Italy Facts | Animals in Italy

One third of all European animal species can be found in Italy and half of the plant species that grow in Europe.

There are over 4,770 endemic species in Italy, that means animal species that only exist in Italy. There are about 100 mammal species and over 500 bird species among them the unique Sardinian deer and the Corsican hare.

There are 20 national parks in Italy and 16 Marine Reserves to ensure the protection of threatened species such as the Italian shark or the Italian wolf, the national animal.

italian wolf - wikicommonsItalian wolf

Sheep are held mainly in Southern Italy and donkeys still help farmers in remote villages as they are trained to carry heavy loads over steep terrain.

Brown bears are protected in Italy, as there are only few bears left in the wild now.

In the Alps you will very likely see the marmots, which make a very high pitched calling sound. And if you are very lucky you might even spot a lynx, a wild cat with little hair tuffs on the ears!

Eurasian Lynx

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