Shaped like a boot and hidden away in the deepest darkest depths of the Mediterranean is a country that has spawned a number of things the world could really not live without. From pizza to pasta, Ferraris to Lamborghinis,Gorgonzola to Gelato, Italia is by far the best country in the world. Just look at its history as a country that dates back hundreds and thousands of years, a history so colorful it makes America look like a new born baby. A past so insanely interesting yet at times so voraciously barbaric, it can be difficult not to seem impressed yet horrified at the same time.
And what of the culture? Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo, Federico Fellini, Sophia Loren, and Christopher Columbus… well according to some. But that’s not all. With such a high caliber of men and women that have gracefully entered the world through the streaming sunshine of the world’s best country, it is no wonder the Italians can sometimes come across a little arrogant.
If truth be told, Italy is so wonderful that its capital city Rome is almost outdone by a number of its own other cities. In fact, every single city, town, and village, is as interesting and beautiful as the next, each owning a sense of individualism that doesn’t seem to be reciprocated elsewhere. For that’s the beauty of the country. No two places are alike- even the north and south might as well be two different countries. So to celebrate such a universe that exists only in our own, here are 15 reasons why Italy is by far the best country in the world.
15. The Men Often Cry
You are probably thinking that surely this is just an offensive stereotype reinforced through Hollywood movies and the media. However, as cliched as it might be, this stereotype is well and truly truthful. Yes, that’s right, in a time where men are actively encouraged to hold it in, suffocate their emotions, and just get on with it, Italian men are seemingly told otherwise. Influenced from an early age to let their feelings flow, grown men with tears streaming down their face is as common as ordering a pizza for lunch. Yes, Italian men may have that reputation of protruding muscles and a Fabio-like mystique, however underneath it all you are most likely to find a nurtured mama’s boy, dependent on his mother, who has in all probability spoiled him his whole life. Although, that’s not to say that all Italian are men are blubbering wrecks. But if you are ever able to catch a soccer game among a group of macho Italians, it is a 100% certain that if their team loses you are likely to see some tears.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it all before, ‘Italian food is the best in the world.’ But do you actually know how good it is? Yes, the Italians lay claim to the invention of the pizza, and yes, it is most likely the best tasting pizza in the world (including yours, Chicago), but what most people don’t know is the other delicacies it also has to offer. In fact, Italy is so amazingly wonderful that each region offers up its own dish, each meticulously concocted through the ages, laying down a historic crust for its most gracious taste testers. The meats, the seafood, the risottos, are all carefully constructed to suit their own regional styles, with mixtures of mozzarella, stuffed peppers and Polenta so creamy it melts straight on your tongue. And we haven’t even mentioned the desserts yet! A country so proud of its ice cream that it insists upon the fact that they don’t believe it to even be ice cream makes the whole thing even better. That’s right, although Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, ask an Italian the difference and you will regret it instantly. Oh and did we mention tiramisu?
13. The Cheese
OK, so we mentioned food already. However the cheese in Italy is THAT good that it completely deserves its own category. The world would indeed be a very sad place without the wonderful wonders of cheese, and boy, Italy sure knows how to do it right. From Asiago to Ricotta, Fontina to Mascarpone, it wouldn’t be right to not mention the world’s best formaggio. In fact, cheese is so important to the culture of Italy and the Italian people that the majority of them are named after the town they were made in and have standard instructions on how to eat them correctly. That’s right, far, far away from your average American cheese in a can, the Italians have rules and if you don’t have your Gorgonzola with some wine, pears, and grapes, then expect a stern look. And what of Italy’s most famous export? With the whole world having at least some knowledge of the world famous Buffalo milk-based cheese, Mozzarella, what they don’t know is that you don’t actually have to eat it just on a pizza. Insalata caprese, or Caprese salad, is the simple form of tomato, mozzarella, basil and olive oil. Mmm.
As well as having the best food in the world, the alcohol aspect is also just as good. With liquors, beers, and a ridiculous selection of wine to offer, the art of getting drunk has never looked so classy. However, binge drinking it’s not, as alcohol is meant to be enjoyed. Therefore the sight of a drunk Italian stumbling home at 3am after falling in a ditch is not a common occurrence. With Prosecco its most famous alcoholic export, it is the “Aperol Spritz” that really embodies the country’s signature drink to perfection. Originating in the northeast, the Spritz, as it is now commonly known, is served as an aperitif; the Italian version of pre-drinking. Made with three parts Prosecco, two parts Aperol and a splash of soda water, the drink is then garnished with an orange slice. Common throughout the whole country, the cocktail even comes with nibbles such as mini pizzas, and crisps. Now making its way around the world, albeit ten times more expensive (and begrudgingly without the snacks), this Venetian ‘sex in glass’ as it is commonly known, is only 8% alcohol, meaning you can have twice as many, of course.
11. You Must Eat And Drink Correctly
With eating and drinking being such an important occasion in an Italian’s life, it is extremely important in how you approach each one. Routine is key, and if you are doing it wrong, be prepared for some confused looks. For example, if you find yourself craving a cappuccino after lunch, don’t. In fact, to order a cappuccino after 10am is considered to be strange, weird, and a complete violation of the Italian food and drink rule book. To an Italian, a lot of milk is almost a meal in itself, therefore a cappuccino should only be served at breakfast, alone and with nothing else. However, an espresso is OK to order any time of the day, just make sure you order it after your food as Italians believe it to be a digestivo, and that it should not be mixed with heavy foods or salads. In fact, Italians on a whole seem to be extremely obsessed with digesting food, to the point where it is common to indulge in an alcoholic beverage such as a Limoncello or Grappa after a heavy meal. And if you are driving? No worries! Upon explaining to the police that you have just eaten the world’s biggest meal and needed a very drastic digestivo to settle your stomach, they are likely to give you an extra two hours until they breathalyze you again. Seriously.
10. The People
Depicted throughout the world as the one of the friendliest nations, Italians have a warm and welcoming reputation. From mothers that are desperate to feed you to fathers that are desperate to flatter you, Italians even make catcalling seem OK. Usually only limited to men in white vans or overweight builders on a construction site, catcalling can so often be the bane of every woman’s day. However, with beauty becoming something that should not be ignored, both Italian men and women suddenly feel compelled to let that other person know. Sure, they have their faults, but then so does every nationality. Yet there is something in an Italian’s core that just expresses such a warm and friendly atmosphere that it’s difficult not to feel right at home. Plus, with family being such a core element to an Italian person’s heart, it is hard not to envy the three-hour dinners and three-day Christmases that are usually put into place. In fact, right from the very beginning, you have already had both your cheeks kissed, with personal space being such a nonissue for a typical touchy-feely Italian. With so many Italians being kind, friendly, and courteous, you are sure to meet some of the nicest people in your life.
9. They Know How To Curse
Holding a language that is only spoken in one country in the world, a language that refuses to die out and a language that is so old it is one of the closest in the world to Latin, you know that they are definitely going to have some good curse words. And that they do, with Italian swear words the most looked up curse words on the internet. But why? What is so different about swearing in Italian then say swearing in English or French? The reason? Passion. Often referred to as the language of love or the ‘romance language,’ Italians are considered to be the most passionate nationality in the world, and even more so when expressing their anger. When cursing, Italians sound almost as if they are singing, using that last note to form an operatic legato, as if it is their dying performance to the world. With inspiration coming from religion, mothers, women and mostly pigs, the result is as shocking as it is humorous. And that’s not all. Italians have even devised a whole new language using only their hands, causing the Italian nationality to be the most elegantly hands- on language in the world. In fact, you don’t even need to learn the language, with surviving by the hand signals alone just as sufficient.
8. The Towns, Villages And Cities
With more tourist attractions then you can shake a stick at, Italy outrageously outdoes competing countries in sightseeing destinations. In Rome alone, there are hundreds of things to see, big and small. Still, without a scheduled plan, you can have just as much fun wondering around the winding streets pretending you are working in one humongous archaeological dig. Then, of course, there is Venice, a magical, Utopian, car-less spectacle, floating on a murky lagoon, which in turn just so happens to be near Verona, the romantic setting of one Romeo and Juliet. With the north so extremely different from the south, it can sometimes feel like you have entered two different countries, with drastic weather changes and preferences for food. However, that is the beauty as, with no two places the same, every town and city has something different to offer, coming with it a sense of unique pride that only makes you love it that little bit more.
7. The Weather
Famed for its sunny weather and hot humid days, Italy is actually much more than a sweaty, unbearable, heat wave. Holding its status as a four-season country, it actually really is, with moderately cold winters, a mild fall and spring, and a summer you can really count on. However, not only does it have the best weather, it also has the best locations, making it easy to plan your seasons accordingly. For example, in the winter, the mountains become a huge hot spot for Italians and tourists alike. Each finding the cool air and snow capped mountains perfect for indulging in some winter sports. And in the summer? Look no further than Europe’s finest beaches, with white glorious sands and water so clear you can see your toes dancing with the fish. In fact, the two Italian islands, Sicily and Sardinia, have each become huge tourist attractions for holiday makers around the world, just desperate for that “tropicana” vibe that can so often be misplaced elsewhere. Plus, with the weather being separated into seasons, so is the food, with certain items only becoming available when in-season, making it extra special when they do and also totally worth the wait.
6. It Is Important To Rest
Respecting the need for relaxing, Italians are by far the best in practicing long lunch breaks. But why? Behaving differently from the Spanish Siesta, Italians seem to be more focused on their food rather than on their sleep- what a surprise! Therefore, with lunch being an important meal among most Italian families, it is common practice to shut up shop for a couple of hours while the family gets together and eat. In fact, some stores close for even longer, with the morning hustle and bustle lasting until noon, and the evening shift beginning around 6pm. And that’s only the weekdays, with Sundays renowned for some places not even bothering to open their shutters at all, and some even continuing on until Tuesday morning. So the next time you venture past those Italian shores, make sure you plan ahead before you find yourself gasping for that cappuccino that you’re not really allowed in the first place….
Famed around the world for its art and culture, it is no surprise to see how much of an impact the Italian art scene really had. Taking the number one spot for most influential, Italian art has almost been the sole influence towards several major movements throughout time, and has produced a huge amount of amazingly talented artists, painters, architects and sculptors. With big names such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio and Botticelli all hitting the art scene at one point or another, there were and still are hundreds more making waves in the industry. And that’s not even the half of it! Since prehistoric times, there has always been something going on in the Italian peninsula; from cave drawings to the Romans, the subject of art has always been important to the development of the country, and will most likely continue to do so. Even today, artists around the world make Italy their number one “must see” hot spot, due to the hundreds of galleries, exhibitions, and museums all displaying the most beautiful creations from the distant past to the present day.
4. A Country Within A Country
Italy is so damn cool that it even has independent countries inside of itself. That’s right, two independent states exist within the country’s boundaries, San Marino and Vatican City. So, the Vatican isn’t actually in Italy after all, it’s technically in Vatican City, a walled city inside the capital city of Rome. Confusing, huh? Well, with the Vatican declared as the holiest place on earth, it was decided that the Pope might as well be its leader, answering to no government or force of law. However, although it still uses the Euro as a form of currency, Vatican City is currently not a member of the European Union due to the reason that only democracies are allowed in the EU. And the same goes for San Marino, which is currently Europe’s third smallest country, with its parliamentary rules based on writings from the 16th century. And Italy is only the size of Arizona!
3. The Romans
‘What have the Romans ever done for us?!’ proclaimed Reg from the ever funny Monty Python classic The Life of Brian. Yet the People’s front of Judea, as they were so fondly (and mistakenly) remembered, didn’t really think ahead about what the Romans actually did do for us. From better sanitation, medicine, education, irrigation, public health, a freshwater system, baths, public order and roads, to name just a few, the Romans did rather a lot. But it was conquering other countries that really put them into the history books, of course. That’s right, invading much of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, the Romans had it all, taking everything that came in front of them, even Britain. Yup, the Romans were so good at stealing countries that they even managed to invade the usually locked and bolted island that is the UK, although it did take them three attempts to do so.
Famed around the world for having the most prominent fashion scene on the market, Italian fashion brands and houses have almost always been at the forefront. With cities such as Venice, Florence, Naples and the fashion capital of the world Milan, producing robes, jewelry and glamorous textiles as early as the 11th century, the fashion industry really began to peak during the Renaissance, with art, music and fashion all equally flourishing. However, it was during the 1950s that things really began to take off, when Italian businessman and trendsetter Giovanni Battista Giorgini, held a fashion show in Florence with the sole intention of bringing Italy back to the forefront of world fashion. With brands such as Gucci, Valentino Garavani, Dolce and Gabbana, and hundreds more continuing to supply to the rich and famous, Italy will forever be the fashion capital of the world.
1. Leonardo Da Vinci
OK, so we may have mentioned him a number of times already, but surely the most intelligent, most creative, and most interesting man to have ever graced this earth needs his own category. Born in an era way before his time, da Vinci is by far one of the most influential minds that Italy has ever produced. Mainly remembered as the Italian Renaissance artist and sculptor, da Vinci was also a hugely talented engineer, scientist, and inventor. Was there anything this man couldn’t do? In short- no. As well as drafting the first diagram for a flying object 500 years before its time, da Vinci was also heavily involved in anatomy, which he studied in order to paint more accurately. Living to the respectable age of 67 years old, da Vinci will always be remembered as the man that really knew it all.