Our Italian Kitchen Table

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Fascinating facts that you never knew about Italy

Think you know everything about Italia? Think again! We’ve pulled together some of the most obscure facts that you never knew about the country.

  • The origin of the name Italy comes from the Greek ‘Italos’, meaning calf – Although the word ‘calf’ in this instance refers to a young cow or bull, we like to think of it as a subtle nod towards Italy’s boot-like shape!

  • Italy is country which holds the most volcanoes in Europe… at least three of which are active! – Mount Etna and Mount Stromboli have been erupting frequently over the years, Mount Vesuvius last erupted in 1944 and is the only volcano which sits on mainland Europe. Vulcano in the Aeolian Islands is also a sight to behold with a visibly smoking crater and a number of mud baths and black beaches attracting tourists in the masses.

  • Pinocchio stems from an Italian tale – And was first published in an Italian newspaper as a weekly column!

  • Living games of chess are played every other year at the piazza of Marostica – Instead of dueling to win the love of a beautiful woman, two gentlemen in 1454 were commanded by the Lord of the Marostica's castle to battle for the heart of his daughter Leonora by game of chess. The town now hosts large, living games of the classic board game played out in the centre of the town, now commonly known as città degli scacchi, or ‘the town of chess’.

  • The Vatican City is in fact a country itself – And is the smallest in the world! Standing in at just 109 acres, the Vatican City has its own monarchy with the Pope overruling. They even have their own flag and national anthem!

  • The oldest olive tree thrives in northern Sardinia – The tree, known by the locals as S'Ozzastru meaning ‘the olive tree’, is estimated to be around 3,000-4,000 years old.

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