By Rosario Mariani, http://www.europebychoice.com
Fast Facts: Quick snippets of Italian culture for your busy Tuesday
- 842 years ago this week, on August 9, 1173, marked the first day of construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was completed in 1370 after two building stoppages. In 1178, when the tower was three stories tall, construction was halted for some unknown reason. 96 years later, in 1272, construction resumed and 6 years later the tower had seven stories, a skyscraper for those days.
- Italy and France produce 40% of all wine in the world.
- Opera stars Luisa Tetrazzini and Nellie Melba are famous for more than singing – they are also known for foods that were named after them: Chicken Tetrazzini, Peach Melba and Melba Toast.
- The parachute was invented 500 years ago (1515) by Leonardo da Vinci.
- The city of Venice stands on 120 small islands. Many Jews lived in Venice in “Il Borghetto”. The word Ghetto derives from this congregation.
- By 1763, there were over 200 coffee shops in Venice. Today the most famous one is the “Florian” in Piazza San Marco, which is worth the experience.
- Italy’s annual consumption of coffee amounts to 10 pounds per person, while Scandinavia has the world’s highest consumption at 26 pounds. Nevertheless, the best espresso is served in Naples at the Gambrinus Bar.
- There have been 266 Popes since Saint Peter. The youngest of the popes was 18 years old (John Xll). The first Pope, Peter, was born Jewish.
- Enrico Caruso and Roy Robinson were the only two tenors in the 20th Century capable of hitting E over high C.
- A painting of the Madonna in the Fiorano Castle, in the commune of Lodi in Lombardy, Italy, escaped without even being scorched when the invading soldiers set the castle on fire, yet the rest of the building was completely destroyed.
- The Italian Renaissance painter Fra Lippo Lippi, while chaplain of the convent of Santa Margherita in Prato, ran off with Lucrezia Buti, one of the youngest and prettiest nuns. She later bore Fra Lippo’s son, who also became a famous painter. Fra Lippo Lippi is famous for his images of the Madonna, and he used Lucrezia as his model.
Rosario Mariani is the owner/CEO of Europe By Choice, which promotes travel to Italy and other select European countries. He has more than 40 years of experience in the travel industry, previously serving as Director of Italy Product for Italiatour and Club ABC Tours, and also in other positions with EuroFly, Alitalia and Air France.