10 Things you Didn’t Know Originated in Italy

So many things either originated or were invented in Italy. This is a country with a lot to offer the world, and so much to see for those who visit here on vacation. We can’t wait to welcome students on a study abroad program to many of our Italy trips, such as our Rome to Interlaken Tour and our Florence to the Amalfi Coast Tour. While you wait to visit, come read a little about Italy with our list of the 10 things you [probably] didn’t know originated in Italy!

10. Shopping malls

If you thought shopping malls were a recent idea, think again- Ancient Rome’s Trajan’s Market was the first of its kind, dating back to about 100 AD.

9. So much music

Thank Italy for much of today’s music- the piano, violin, and cello were invented by Italians. Not to mention the concept of opera, orchestras, and symphonies.

8. Shakespeare’s settings

Sure Shakespeare was English, but his many of his most famous plays were set in Italy: Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, The Winter’s Tale, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

7. The French flag

Okay, maybe the Italians didn’t exactly sew the first French flag, but during Napolean’s 1797 invasion of Italy, the red, white and green of the peninsula’s country inspired France’s red, white, and blue design.

6. Ice cream cones

Though there is no absolute consensus of who was the first to invent the ice cream cone, the most accepted answer is Italo Marciony, an Italian entrepreneur. Marciony patented, and began marketing and manufacturing the edible ice cream cone in 1903.

5. Money management

The earliest modern banks first appeared in Genoa during the 12th Century, and the oldest bank has been operating continuously since 1472 is Monte dei Paschi di Siena, headquartered in Siena, Italy. The Italians protected their money, and also knew how to use it. The first stock exchange instituion was started in Bruges by members of the Della Borsa family, originally a family of wealthy Venetian merchants.

4. Jacuzzis

The Jacuzzi brothers who immigrated to California from Italy, are credited with inventing the first self-contained, fully integrated whirlpool bath a.k.a. “Jacuzzi” in 1948. Shout out to them for changing pool parties forever!

3. Pretzels

Thought the German’s invented pretzels? Think again! The original “pretiola” was first baked by an Italian monk. The name for the tasty treat change to “bretzel” as the recipes worked its way up to Germany.

2. Eyeglasses

Around 1284 in Italy, Salvino D’Armate is credited with inventing the first wearable eyeglasses. All hipsters thank you, Salvino.

1. Nutella

Clearly the most important contribution from the Italians to the world. Who could imagine a life without it? Fun facts: Nutella was created during WWII by Mr. Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker and founder of the Ferrero company. It was created as a substitute for chocolate during the war when there was a limited supply of chocolate and an abundance of hazelnuts available in the Piedmont region of Italy. Mr. Ferrero, you’re a hero.

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