Italy is a uniquely charming and historic country to visit. Even though Italy is mostly known for its heritage, art masterpieces and cuisine, it is also a country of natural wonders, incredible views and various outdoor activities.

In order to learn something new about this astonishing country, we present you 19 interesting facts about Italy, a wealth of related articles, including links to books and guidebooks for the mountains of Italy, and of course, some suggested adventures you can browse to start planning your own travel:

Val di Fassa, Dolomites.

Val di Fassa, Dolomites.


1.    Going back 3000 years, a region now called Calabria in south Italy, was named Italia and that is how the name Italy first came about. Apparently the word “Vitalia” or víteliú back then literally meant “land of calfs” or “a land of little cattle”. 

2.    Almost 60 million people live in Italy, which makes it one of the most crowded countries in Europe. Actually, the population density in Italy is 206 per sq km (527 people per sq mi), which makes it the 10th densest country in Europe.

3.    As Italy’s ancestor is the Roman Empire and it is also the place where Renaissance originated there is no surprise that Italy is rich in heritage and art. In fact, Italy is considered to be the densest country with masterpieces. 

4.    Italy’s terrain is mostly mountainous or hilly, believe it or not, but 4/5 of its land is either one or the other. The Alps run on the northern border line of Italy across to the Dolomites, the Apennines stretch along the Italian Peninsula and there are also other mountain massifs in Sardinia and other islands, including Mount Etna in Sicily.

5.    The highest mountain in Italy is Mont Blanc - 4,809 m (15,777 ft), on the other hand, it cannot be solely considered an Italian mountain as it is on the frontier with France and there is even a tunnel underneath the mountain that is 11.611 km (7.215 mi) long.

6.    The Apennines run for around 1,500 km (930 mi), which is more than the whole length of the country - 1,185 km (736 mi). Even though this mountain range is not as high as the Apls in the north, it still provides 21 peaks over 1,900 m (6,200 ft) elevation, with the loftiest one - Corno Grande being 2,912 m (9,554 ft) high.

7.    There is plenty of volcanic activity in Italy. Such volcanoes as Vesuvius, Etna and Stromboli have caused a lot of trouble for Italians through the years. In 79 AD Mount Vesuvius killed over 10,000 people, making it the sixth most devastating volcanic eruption in the history of men. Etna erupts regularly.

8.    The first man to ascend all 14 peaks that have the elevation over 8,000 m (26,246 ft) is Italian born Reinhold Messner. Not only did he conquer the highest of the highest peaks on the planet, but he also managed to be the first one to reach the summit of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen.

9.    Italy’s superstar – the Dolomites is certainly a place where every outdoor lover should spend a holiday or two. It is extraordinary for its unique edgy look and is famous among climbers, skiers, hikers, base jumpers, power gliders, etc., because of a wide variety of outdoor adventure possibilities.

10.    Italy has the tallest active volcano in Europe and also one of the most erupting volcanoes in the world. Etna has erupted around 200 times since 1,500 B.C. and had 109 years lasting continuous eruption!

11.    A popular holiday destination - the island of Capri is, in fact, a single huge brick of limestone that is 6,25 km (3,9 mi) long, and 2,9 km (1,8 mi) wide. The island is breathtaking, yet at times pretty touristy as it gathers around 180,000 visitors annually (counting the ones who spend at least one night on the island) and in August around 20,000 people visit the island each day.

12.    One of the greatest natural wonders of Italy is the Fiord of Furore. Furore is a little town in the region of Campania that has around 810 people population. The Fiord of Furore though sees much more faces as it features a bright blue river and a nice beach right on the base of the gorge.

13.    In Tuscany, you can find the thermal baths of Saturnia, which has been used by ancient Romans since 183 B.C. The water in these baths reaches 37,5 °C.

14.    The largest lake in Italy is Lake Garda, which was formed during the ice age. Lake Garda is not only rich in stunning mountainous landscapes, but also is famous for three historic battles that occurred on this natural site - the Battle of Benacus in AD 269, the Battle of Rivoli in 1797, and the Battle of Solferino in 1859. 

15.    The Vatican City and San Marino are two independent states within Italy’s territory. In fact, Vatican is located within Rome, so, basically, Vatican is the state located in the city, while we all know that usually, it is the other way around. 

16.    Sicily and Sardinia are the biggest islands in the Mediterranean Sea – Sicily covers around 25,900 sq km (10,000 sq mi), while Sardinia’s land area is 23,821 sq km (9,197 sq mi).

17.    The majority of Italians believe that Italian cuisine is the best in the world and they certainly have a good point as with such dishes as pasta and pizza it is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. On the other hand, what foreigners consider Italian is not actually Italian, for example, spaghetti with meatballs did not originate in Italy and a pizza pepperoni actually means a pizza with bell peppers.

18.    Talking about Italians taking pride in its cuisine it is a fun fact that when McDonald’s first arrived in Rome in 1986, there were proud Italian chefs outside the fast food restaurant serving spaghetti for free, just to remind the fellow Italians the delight of their own cuisine.

19.    Italy experiences more earthquakes than any other European countries. As much as 100,000 people died in an earthquake in Sicily, in 1693. Earthquakes occurred in recent years as well; just in January 2017 the regions of Abruzzo, Lazio and Marche was hit by an earthquake that cost at least 300 lives.