9 Things You’d Never Guess are True About Italy

Would you ever guess that high school attendance in Italy wasn’t required until a few years ago? Or that pasta production dates to far earlier than the country’s existence? Read all this and more below.

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1. In a surprise to no one, pizza was invented in Italy

Margherita pizza, made with just tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil, was invented in Naples in 1889 in Naples. It was made for—and named after— a visiting Queen Margherita.

Leaning Tower of Pisa
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2. The Leaning Tower of Pisa will only be stable for another 200 years

Built in 1173, the Tower of Pisa began to lean shortly after its construction. Because of its poorly built foundation, engineers estimate that it will continue to lean and eventually collapse in about 200 years.

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3. High school attendance has been required only since 1999.

Up until 1999, Italian children were not required to attend school after 14 years old. The literacy rate in the country has steadily increased from 96.5% in 1981 to 99% in 2013.

© Pixabay

4. Pasta production is more than 25 centuries old

Evidence suggests that the inhabitants of modern-day Italy made pasta as early as the 4th century BCE. There’s even a cookbook from the 5th century CE that describes a dish called lagana made with layers of dough and a meat stuffing!

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5. Italy is home to more UNESCO sites than any other country

With 50 incredible sites, Italy tops the list for most World Heritage Sites, ahead of China, at 47, and Spain, at 44!

Vatican City
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6. The Vatican City, within the city of Rome, is the smallest country in the world

Nestled within Rome, Vatican City is only .17 square miles, over 100 times smaller than the island of Manhattan!

Coffee Beans
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7. Italians consume over 14 billion espressos each year

Italians are so obsessed with coffee that unspoken rules that dictate how to drink it have emerged: never mix it with milk unless it’s for breakfast, always drink straight shots of espresso in one sip, and be sure to pronounce it ess-press-oh (not ex-press-oh)

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8. It’s illegal not to smile in Milan

An old law requires citizens of Milan to smile in all public places! Only hospital workers and those in mourning are exempt.

Countryside in Tuscany
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9. Almost a third of 30 to 35 year old Italian men live with their parents

It’s common for Italians to live at home until they get married and move in with their spouse.

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