To help you get excited about an upcoming Italian vacation, explore some fun facts about Italy from our Travel Directors…
You know your tour of Italy will be filled with historical monuments, beautiful landscapes, regional delicacies, and really great wine.
4 fun facts about Italy
Italy is “Calf Land”
While the official name of Italy is the Italian Republic (Repubblica Italiana), it’s often called “the boot” because of its unique shape. But here’s the real story. The name Italy comes from the word italia meaning “calf land”, possibly because the symbol of the Southern Italian Tribes was a bull.
No matter where you travel in Italy, you’ll be greeted with a warm, friendly “ciao”. It’s come to mean hello, goodbye, and everything in between. But, as our Travel Directors will tell you, you may want to think twice about it. The historical meaning of the word comes from the Venetian phrase “s-ciao vostro”, which literally meant “I am your slave”. Over the centuries, the phrase was shortened to “s-ciào” in Venetian and “ciào” in Italian. Ciào was adopted in Northern Italy during the late 19th and early 20th century and the more simplified “ciao” has since spread to many countries in Europe and South America and even Australia.
Hold the olive oil
Dreaming of all the delicious delicacies you’ll discover in Italy? Silky, homemade pasta. Decadent gelato. Fragrant bread dipped in earthy olive oil before dinner. If you want to eat like a local, our Travel Directors will tell you to forget that last one. Whether you’re dining at an elegant ristorante or a trattoria on the piazza, bread is never served before the main course. And, while Italy produces some of the world’s most exquisite olive oils, they are used to dress your salad or prepare your food, never for dipping. If you do want olive oil with your bread, treat yourself to fettunta, also known as an “oily slide”. A slice of bread is toasted, rubbed while still warm with a halved clove of fresh garlic, and placed on a plate. Fresh extra virgin olive oil is poured over the slice of bread and salt is added to taste. Molto delizioso!
When in Rome …
When touring Italy, you may think you know what to call the people you meet — Italiani or Italians. Your Travel Director will tell you it’s a bit more complicated. Italy has only been a unified country since 1861, so most people think of themselves first as being of the region from which their family comes, and then second as Italians. In some parts of the country, being Italian is actually the third identification after one’s region and the entire European Union. When you ask someone where he or she is from, you’re going to get a more local answer, with some people telling you the town or city their family comes from.
Here’s what residents of some of the regions you may visit will call themselves:
• Florence – Fiorentino
• Milan – Milanese
• Naples – Napoletano
• Pisa – Pisano
• Rome – Romano
• Venice – Veneziano