There are many truths about Italy that people never discuss and few even know about. Here are a bunch of interesting truths I've discovered about Bello, Pazzo Italia:
1. Naples and New York City are on the same lines of latitude (both being the same distance from the North Pole and the Equator). Their weather should be the same. New York can have a lot of snow and even blizzards each winter, while snow in Naples is very rare. New Yorkers will be bundled up in October with frost on their pumpkins, while in Naples the locals could still go to the beach for a few last swims.
2. The word pizza is one of the most understood words all around the world, in any language. It's right up there with Coca-Cola and OK. Put them all together and you can order a pretty decent meal just about anywhere on Mother Earth... "Pizza, Coca-Cola, OK?"
3. The average Italian earns nearly $28,000 per year, with those in the South earning far less and those in the North earning as much as $40,000 annually. That's some crazy distribution of wealth!
4. Italy has a larger proportional senior population than the United States... 20% of their population is over 65 where in the United States it's only 14%. Eating all that pasta, taking 2-3 hour lunch breaks and the antioxidants in tomato sauce must be doing some good! (It's almost lunchtime... I'm going to have some pasta and then lie down for a few hours.)
5. Italians are increasingly reporting that, despite their nation’s reputation for amazing natural beauty, good food and wine, some of the best art in the world, and a laid back lifestyle and longevity, they are not happy. The country legalized divorce, contraception, and even abortion in the 1970s. The current population shows that Italian families have 1.27 children each. Perhaps they should go back to having large families like their great-grandparents did and the happiness will return. Perhaps they need to put in place a truly centralized government that doesn't give preferential treatment only to the large industrial or biggest tourist regions.
6. The population of Italy is over 60 million, fast approaching France's 66 million. France is a much larger country with more space for its people. It's a good thing Italians drive such small cars or the place would really feel crowded.
7. In Italy, people over 18 can vote--well, almost true. That's only for local and general elections. You have to be over 25 to vote in the senate elections. To be elected for the senate, you must be at least 40. Italian Youth = Taxation Without Representation.
8. The unemployment rate in Italy is high at 13.4%, but this is a national average. The shocking truth is that in the South the numbers reach over 18%. To illustrate the difference between North and South, in the North the unemployment rates are less than 0.6%. This could be the reason we found a lot of abandoned properties in the southern part of Italy. Many young people told us they were planning on heading to Rome or Milan or leaving for the U.S.
9. Many of William Shakespeare's stories were set in Italy... Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, A Winter's Tale, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Despite all of this, there is absolutely no evidence that Willy Boy ever stepped foot in Italy, chowed down on pasta and Chianti or had a slice of pizza. Willy, you don't know what you missed.
10. The piano was invented in Italy around 1700 by Bartolomeo de Francesco Cristofori, a harpsichord maker. Besides piano meaning piano in Italian, it also means floor.
11. Eau de Cologne sure sounds French, but it came from Cologne, Germany. To add stinky insult to perfumed injury, an Italian invented it... Giovanni Maria Farina, who later changed his first name to Johann. Take that, you perfumed Frenchies!
12. The Italians got pasta from China, right? Wrong. Way before Marco Polo went to China in 1292, Italy had already been enjoying pasta for several hundred years. After visiting Sicily in 1154, Arab geographer Idrisi wrote about a food people made from flour and turned into long strings. Sound familiar?
13. Italy has always produced cars... That teeny car, the Fiat 500 is only part of an entire automotive empire which owns the legendary brands of Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Much like the Roman Empire, Fiat now has its sights on taking over the world. It now owns all the Chrysler brands. Toyota, bring out your legions and defend yourself!
14. Pizza is said to have originated in Naples. Don't you believe it. The word "pizza" was first documented in 997 AD in Gaeta, about 60 miles north of Naples. But flatbread pizza--called panis focacius by the Romans--was eaten 2000 years ago all over the Roman Empire. Similar to focaccia of today, various toppings were added to turn the flat bread into a complete meal.
15. Tomatoes are not native to Italy. Originally found in the Americas, they were brought back to Europe in the 1500s. Many were convinced that, like its cousin the nightshade plant, they were poisonous. When Italy got a hold of them, they crushed and cooked them. Later, in the Naples area they started putting the red sauce on top of flatbread--the modern style pizza was born.
16. Italian Inventions: Ice cream cone, car battery, wireless communications, nitroglycerin, thermometer, nuclear reactor, eyeglasses, Pinocchio, the typewriter and the telephone (look up Antonio Meucci).
17. Italians are 95% Roman Catholic but only about 30% go to church each week. But they all wear crosses or their patron saint around their neck, so they're covered. Father forgive them.
18. About 35% of Americans are obese. Even after consuming 26 gallons of wine, 182 pounds of bread, and 55 pounds of pasta per person each year, only about 8 1/2% of Italians are overweight. It must be due to all those hilltowns and closed restaurants at lunchtime.
19. The old Jewish Ghetto in Rome is now one of the most expensive places to live in the city.
20. From the end of World War II to the present day, Italians have gone through over 60 governments. I wonder if they have a Tea Party or Pasta Party?
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