Fun facts about Italy for kids: perfect for homeschooling, travel planning and kids trivia!
Italy is an endless source of learning opportunities for kids and adults.
Its long history, the variety of civilizations that called it home, its incredible art and nature, its food: all comes together to create a real-life classroom like no other.
The best way to learn about it would be to plan a trip there but even if travel is not an option, you can put Italy ar the center of your kids learning with these fun facts and curiosities about Italy just for them!
Fun facts about Italy for kids: country overview
- Area: 301,340 sqm
- Population: 60 Million
- Capital city: Rome
- Official Country Name: Repubblica Italiana / Italia
- Political system: republic
- Main language: Italian (but see below, there is more than one!)
- Currency: Euro
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Fact about Italy for kids: geography and history
Italy has a distinctive shape that makes it easy to spot on any map of the world: the shape of a boot!
Italy is a peninsula: the top of the boot connects it to continental Europe but the rest of the country is surrounded by water.
The sea around Italy is called “The Mediterranean”.
Its western part is called Tyrrenian, its astern part Adriatic and its southern part, that along the arch of the foot of Italy is called Ionian
Despite all this water, you cannot see the ocean from Italy!
The Mediterranean is a sea, not an ocean, and if you ask an Italian where you can see the ocean, they would probably tell you that you have to travel to Portugal for that!
Mountains and volcanoes
Italy has 2 main mountain systems: the Alps and the Appennines. The Alps form an arch East to West at the top of Italy, while the Appennines follow the lengths of the boot.
The most Eastern part of the Alps is called the Dolomites and it is special!
The rock here used to be under the sea and the rocks you see now used to effectively be a huge coral reef (read all about it here)!
You can see this is true if you go looking for fossils: there are many areas on the Dolomites for fossil hunters and what you find traces of marine animals.
Really impressive if you think the sea is not hundreds of KM away from here!
Italy has many lakes and the biggest is called Lake Garda.
The tallest mountain in Italy is Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc): it is 4810 m high.
Italy also has several volcanoes, including Mount Etna, in Sicily, which is the tallest active volcano in Europe!
Did you know? You can climb Mount Etna but you can also see its main crater from home: click here to start the (Free) virtual tour via google street view!
Another famous volcano in Italy is Mount Vesuvius, near Naples.
Mount Vesuvius is the volcano that erupted in 79BC and destroyed Pompeii: you can still visit Pompei nowadays and see how the city was back in the day.
The volcano basically stopped time there and you can still see the houses, streets and even some of the people who lived there over 2000 years ago!
Italy also has many islands, the biggest of which is Sicily: Sicily is not only the biggest Italian island but also the biggest island in all in the Mediterranean!
Did you know? You can find this and many more fun facts about Sicily here.
Sates and languages
The Italian peninsula is not all Italian.
Inside it, you also have 2 different states that are independent: The Vatican, which is inside Rome and San Marino, which is near the Emilia Romagna region
In Italy, most people speak Italian but it is not the only language of the country!
Parts of Italy close to Austria speak German and Sardinia also has its own language.
History, cities, civilizations
The capital city of Italy is Rome. In the past, Turin was capital and also Florence.
Italy is organized in 20 regions with some autonomous powers and each region is organized in provinces.
You will see street signs when you drive from one to the other and also you will see them on car plates: each car has the initials of the province it was registered in (RM= Rome FI=Florence Na: Naples etc).
Italy has been inhabited constantly since prehistory.
You can see a natural mummy of a man who lived between 3400 and 3100 in Bolzano, in the North of Italy: the name of the mummy is Otzi!
Italy has seen many civilizations.
Among the most famous you can still see remains of the Etruscans (In Lazio and Tuscany), The Greeks (Sicily, south of Italy), the Romans (Rome, Pompeii and many other locations), the Normans (Sicily), the Arabs (Sicily) just to name a few!
Despite this, Italy as such is a young country: it only became a state in 1861. Rome became its capital in 1871.
Italy is the country in the world with the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: it has 60 of them!
Among the most peculiar there are Matera (famous for special troglodyte dwellings, caves used as homes), Alberobello (famous for hobbit-like homes), Rome city center (with the Colosseum for instance), Paestum, Siracusa.
Italy also has natural Unesco sites, such as the dolomites, underwater ones and intangible ones like original Neapolitan pizza!
Italian national flag and festivities
The Italian flag is called tricolore (tricolor = 3 colors) and is green, red and white.
Rome celebrates its birthday on the 21st of April. Italy celebrates festa della liberazione on 25th April to commemorate the regained freedom from Nazi-Fascism.
It also celebrated festa della repubblica on the 2nd of June, to celebrate the end of monarchy and the start of Republican times.
On these occasions, parades and celebrations happen, often with the aid of the ‘Frecce Tricolori’, the acrobatic aviation team of the Italian Army, who draws the Italian flag in the sky!
Fun facts about Italy for kids: most famous places in Italy
Italy has some very famous landmarks and landscapes that you may have seen in photos or on the web. Some of the most famous are:
The Colosseum – the most famous of all! Built in the Ist century AD, the Colosseum is in Rome and yes, you can visit it inside!
The tower of Pisa – a tower like no other, you can visit the leaning tower of Pisa and you can also get to the top, if you can take the 273 steps to get there!
Milan’s Duomo – In the center of Milan sits the famous duomo, a church in Italy with a unique look. The best way to see up close how elaborate it is, it’s to climb all the way to its roof, which you can easily reach by elevator!
Piazza San Marco, Venice – You may know this square because of its impressive church or because of its most distinctive inhabitants: pigeons! You cannot feed them (it is illegal) but you can surely join the other kids in the square chasing them!
St Peter’s Dome – if you want to visit the biggest church in the world, then you need to go to St Peter’s, in Vatican City. The church is inside Rome and from the top of its dome you see Vatican City below you but also Rome, so technically two different countries, all from the same viewpoint!
Florence’s duomo – One of the most famous photos of Italy shows a city with a massive red dome. That is Florence and that view is taken by a square you can reach by car or on foot (if you don’t mind steps!) called Piazzale Michelangelo.
Colorful coastlines – you know those cute pictures of Italy with colorful houses that seem to cling to vertical cliffs? Those are in an area called Cinque Terre and you can visit it by train or, if you are sporty, hiking from one town to the other!
Pompeii – You may have heard the story of Pompeii and of the Volcano that stopped life there and yes, it is true you can visit! Ancient Pompeii is not far from Naples and if you want to get a taste for what a visit is like, you can have a look here and go on an interactive free tour!
Did you know? These places alone attract over 400 million tourists each year, making up a huge part of Italy’s economy.
Italy fact for kids: food, cars, trains and fashion
Italy is very famous for food: pizza, gelato and pasta are maybe its most famous export but you will taste much more than these in Italy!
Each region has its specialties: some you may like to taste are fried chicken (Milan), steak (Florence), pesto (Genoa), Cannoli (Sicily), pizza (Rome and Naples), but if you are adventurous you can also taste octopus and sea urchins!
The most famous type of pizza in Italy is pizza margherita and it was born in Naples in the XIX century.
It takes its name from Queen Margherita, for whom this pizza was first cooked: the 3 colors of this pizza (tomato=red, mozzarella=while, basil=green) are those of the Italian flag!
While pizza margarita is somewhat recent, it is said bread with toppings that resembled a pizza already existed in ancient times.
Italy is famous for building great cars like Ferrari and Lamborghini. You can visit the Ferrari Factory in Maranello, near Modena.
In 2012 a vintage Ferrari was sold for 35 million Euro
However, there is more in Italy than cars!
In Venice, you don’t have cars at all but rather, you travel on foot or by boat, motored or not.
The most traditional mean of transport in Venice is the gondola: you can take a tour on one, but if you want to become a gondolier you need to study: it takes 400 hours of training and an exam to get your gondolier license!
Want to learn more about Venice? Find more facts about Venice for kids here
There are more than 5 million scooters in Italy and the most famous of all is called ‘Vespa’ now world-famous. You need to be at least 14 to drive one though!
Train travel is very popular in Italy and very fast. The high-speed trains are called ‘Freccie’ (arrows) and they can bring you from Rome to Milan in about 3 hours.
This is very fast if you consider that tome and Milan are over 470 km apart!
You can even use the train to get from mainland Italy to Sicily. The train boards a ferry so you pass the sea without having to even get off!
Italy is famous as a fashion country, home to many designers and fashion houses.
The capital of fashion in Italy is Milan.
If you visit Milan any time of the year, you can see its amazing shops but if you want to bring your fashion love to the next level, you need to visit during fashion week when you have models, designers and fashion shows all over the city.
More Italy facts for kids and curiosities
Milan was the first city in Italy to get a skyscraper and still now has some impressive modern architecture.
One of its most peculiar buildings is the so-called ‘bosco verticale’ (vertical forest) a tall building with so much vegetation it effectively as a vertical man-made park!
Italy has a special relationship with music: opera was born here, some of the most famous and oldest opera theaters in Europe are in Italy (la Scala in Milan, La Fenice in Venice) and Italy is said to be the place where the piano was born!
Italy gave birth to many famous personalities.
Marco Polo, Dante, Cristoforo Colombo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo, Volta and Marconi are only some of the most famous from the past.
Italy is fond of football. The Italian football team is called ‘Azzurri’ (from the color of their jersey).
Italy won the title of world champions 4 times, making it one of the top 3 teams in the world for numbers of world trophies (the others are Brazil and Germany).
Italy has some very interesting animals such as wolves, bears and even whales!
Italy has national parks to protect its animals but also some city rules to protect particular types. For instance, Rome has special laws that protect stray cats!
Genova is a great place to learn about marine life as it has the biggest Aquarium in Europe!
While Italy does now celebrate Halloween, the traditional time for kids to dress up in Italy is carnival, usually in February.
This is a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages: the biggest celebrations are in Venice and Viareggio.
Italy is a wonderful place for crafts. Here you can learn not just to cook but also how to make paper (Florence), masks (Venice), glass (Murano), mosaic (Rome) and pottery (Deruta)!
I hope you enjoyed this selection of fun facts about Italy for kids and it helped them to learn and get excited about this amazing country!