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For Educators

Where in God’s World is Italy?

by Tina Tocco

 Fascinating Facts about Italy

This southern European country famously looks like a boot jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea. Italy also includes several islands, including Sicily and Sardinia. Its neighbors are Austria, France, Vatican City, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Italy is slightly larger than Arizona.

Northern Italy’s climate is very different from the rest of the country. Up north, summers are hot and sticky, while winters are frigid. Central and southern Italy are much milder.

Italy is filled with beautiful, historic architecture, including the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Roman Colosseum, and many religious sites, such as St. Peter’s Basilica.

The most popular sport in Italy is football (soccer). Many Italians also enjoy rugby, water polo, cycling, skiing, and bobsledding.

Animals you might see here include wolves, golden eagles, marmots, ibex (wild goats), Corsican hares, and Sardinian long-eared bats.

About 80% of the population here is Christian.

One of the most well-known parts of Italian culture is the food, but there much more to it than the pizza and pasta we usually think of. A few other popular Italian foods include brodetto all’anconetana (a spicy tomato soup with fish), focaccia (a flat bread usually topped with herbs and garlic), and gelato (a creamier version of ice cream).

Christmas in Italy–Christmastime is exciting in Italy! In some regions, zampognari (pipers) come down from the mountains, performing carols on flutes, oboes, and even bagpipes. They are often festively dressed in red jackets and hats with red tassels. Some Italian nativity scenes portray entire towns. For fun, Italians might include a figure of a modern-day person, like a famous soccer player. In rural areas, children dressed in shepherd costumes go door to door reciting poems and singing carols. They might receive a sweet treat in return. On Christmas Eve, most Italian families eat a feast of fish, with some families cooking 20 fish dishes! Children here write Christmas letters to their parents. Usually decorated and tied with ribbon, the letters express the children’s love for their parents and are read aloud on Christmas Day.

 

Learn the Language

Italian is the official language of Italy, though German, French, and Slovene are spoken in certain regions. Try these Italian phrases:

What’s your name? — Come ti chiami?

It’s nice to meet you. — È un piacere conoscerti.

Would you like to come to my house for lunch? — Vuoi venire a casa mia per pranzo?

I’d like some gelato, please. — Vorrei un gelato, per favore.

Merry Christmas and happy new year! — Buon Natale e Felice Anno nuovo!

 

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