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They exist.

25 Interesting Facts about Italy

Those stripy-shirted Venetian gondoliers singing love songs to the besotted couples in their care? All those centuries-old Roman ruins, those stone villas, those olive groves, those vineyards, those pavement restaurants with the chequered tablecloths and the beautiful food, those gelaterias, those cathedrals filled with worshippers, those piazzas filled with regulars?

They all exist. And they're all amazing. See also: A lake so beautiful its supernatural. Known for its rich history, Florence is a destination for those seeking vibrant culinary, artistic and musical experiences. Video: New York Times. Not even in the home of Bolognese-style sauce — Bologna — will you find spaghetti Bolognese.

In fact especially not in Bologna. There it's called "tagliatelle al ragu": a flatter, wider style of pasta served with a sauce that's as creamy as it is tomato-based. If you ever find yourself in a restaurant with "spaghetti Bolognese" on the menu, then it's time to high-tail it out of there. You're in a tourist trap. Your guidebook probably doesn't mention it, but you'll be sharing your Italian touristic experience with what can sometimes feel like pretty much every other person in the entire world.

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Particularly in summer, Italy is insanely popular, to the point where queues for attractions like the Vatican, the Colosseum and the Uffizi Gallery snake so far down the road that they actually connect up with other queues for other attractions. By submitting your email you are agreeing to Fairfax Media's terms and conditions and privacy policy. Most first-time visitors plan their Italian holiday around three major cities: Rome, Florence and Venice. And there's no doubt that that triumvirate of historic centres has an amazing amount to offer travellers.

However, there's more to Italy than that. This is a small nation that you could spend a lifetime exploring. See also: Ten reasons to visit south Italy. There are certain stereotypes about Italy and Italians that you quickly realise are spot on.

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For starters, yes, the traffic is insane, and if you want to hire a car and join in then you'd better be ready to drive quickly and skilfully and watch out for anyone who can only do one of those things at a time and it's always the former. Also, no one drinks cappuccinos after about This is another one of those stereotypes that rings true.

Yes, Italian men are, shall we say, "appreciative" of the female form. Depending on your point of view this can either result in an ego-boosting, flirtatious way to get through the day, or it will be a source of constant and unwanted harassment. It's a fine line that Italians will stomp all over with a Gucci loafer.

Speaking of Gucci loafers, here's a funny thing: some Italians really are the epitome of style and panache. It cities such as Milan and Florence and Rome you'll see some almost impossibly chic locals, those who've clearly spent a lot of time and money on putting together an amazing outfit.

And then there's everyone else in Italy. Because there are plenty of Italians out there who are not stylish in the slightest. Show me one guy in an Armani suit, and I'll show you 20 blokes in tracky-dacks and football jerseys. Same goes for women. Not everyone is a fashion icon. See also: The best way to travel in Italy, Italian-style. Put down the guidebook. Ditch the map. Spend a day wandering around the historic centre of Rome and you will inevitably stumble upon the Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, Campo dei Fiori, the Spanish Steps, and plenty of other sights you didn't know existed without even trying.

This is a classic complaint from first-time visitors to Italy: the pizza sucks. And the truth is that in some places, yes, the pizza does suck. But that's because pizza isn't a dish that's eaten across the entire country. It's produced for tourists across the entire country, but it's not actually a part of the local cuisine.

14 Things You Should Know Before You Travel to Italy | Yoga, Wine & Travel

For truly great Italian pizza you need to go to either Naples, the home of pizza, or Rome, a close neighbour that's developed its own style. Everywhere else?

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Forget it. See also: Where to find the best pizza in Naples.

14 Things You Should Know Before You Travel to Italy

It can be disappointing to find that not everywhere in Italy matches your "la dolce vita" expectations of what this country will be. Venice, for example, is beautiful, but the water in the canals stink. Rome oozes charm, but it's also covered in graffiti, and if you book a hotel around the Termini train station you'll be questioning your own sanity. As with anywhere else in Europe, plenty of Italian cities have their no-go zones.

There really isn't. From the dodgiest roadside service stop to the most high-end hotel restaurant, the coffee in Italy is uniformly spectacular. That's because Italians take this stuff seriously. The best and most authentically local way to get your caffeine hit is to walk into any old bar, order an espresso from the cashier, take your ticket over to the barista, wait for your order, and then stand up at the bar to drink it.

Yelling in Italian and waving your arms around will also help with the authenticity. The longer you spend travelling around Italy the more you realise that it could almost be two separate countries: northern Italy, and the south. Northerners — those from Milan, Turin, Florence, Verona — tend to think of themselves as the industrious ones, the hard workers with money and fashion sense who are forced to prop up the more "laidback" citizens of the south.

Those southerners — from Calabria, Siciliy, Puglia — care little for rules, and even less for what the north thinks of them. This is the country that invented roads, sanitation systems, the aqueduct, arches, and the modern calendar. Hint: the post office doesn't sell envelopes. You'll have to buy them from somewhere else. This might seem like a laidback, anything-goes sort of country, but any brush with officialdom — public transport, government offices, virtually any state-run business — will leave you pondering how anything gets achieved.

This is a lesson most people learn the hard way when they order spaghetti carbonara in Florence because, hey, it's Italian. But that's not how Italy works. Pretty much all of the dishes the country is famous for are only specialties of certain regions, which is why you need to do your homework and know what to order. Go for bistecca in Florence, salumi and Parmiggiano in Bologna, carbonara in Rome, risotto in Milan, pizza in Naples, arancini in Sicily, seafood in Calabria, and orecchiette in Puglia. Even certain words differ between regions — while most of Italy orders a "cappuccino e cornetto" for breakfast, around Milan it's a "cappuccio e brioche".

You could be forgiven for rolling up at the Spanish Steps in Rome and assuming you were in the wrong spot. What's so great about these things? Why are they so famous? It's just a staircase. Some people are even disappointed by the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Leonardo da Vinci was a scientist and artist who was the first to prove the world is round and not flat. The Italian soccer league is followed by many Italians abroad too: Inter, Milan, Roma, Napoli and Juventus are just some of the Italian soccer teams which are favored by Italians. Italians love sports. Cycling, Skiing, Soccer and Motor Racing are just some of the sports Italians have very strong interest in and good teams of sportsmen and women.

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

Italy Facts

The pronunciation is soft and very melodic and so is still used in opera and is popular by young musicians. Even German composers used the language in opera as it sounds much softer than German. Not all people in Italy speak proper Italian, but one of its many Italian dialects. In the Alps you will very likely see the marmots, which make a very high pitched calling sound.

Brown bears are a protected species in Italy, as there are only a few bears left in the wild now. Sheep are held mainly in Southern Italy and the donkeys still help farmers in remote villages to carry heavy loads over steep terrain. The Apennines are another big mountain range which go all along the boot and separate the East and the West of the country. The highest mountain of Italy can be found in the Alps. It is the Monte Bianco, better known as Mont Blanc, which is 4,m. Italy is easy to recognise on any world map, as the country is shaped like a high-heeled boot.

Italy lies in Southern Europe, a flight to Rome take roughly 2. Italy was unified as a nation by Garibaldi in and since then includes the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. You might also be interested in….