what is italy know for

18 Things Italy Is Famous For Beyond Italian Cuisine & Famous Landmarks



I think it’s safe to say that Italy’s fame has no borders. You likely know that Italy is famous for its pasta, pizza, gelato, Italian language, and beautiful destinations, independently of your country of origin and culture.

But you might be asking yourself, what else is Italy known for?

That’s exactly what we are going to cover in this port – all the other aspects that made Italy so unique, popular, and loved.

I have identified 18 pillars of Italian charm, as I like to call them. Let’s discuss each one.

  1. Italian Food & Wine 
  2. Italian Culture
  3. Italian Art
  4. Italy Weather
  5. Italian Family & Values
  6. Italy History
  7. Italian Language
  8. Italian Traditions
  9. Italian Famous Landmarks
  10. Italian Music
  11. Italy’s Natural Landmarks 
  12. Famous Italians
  13. Famous Italian Cities 
  14. Italian Fashion
  15. Italian Shopping
  16. Italian Craftsmanship 
  17. Italian Religion & Vatican
  18. Dolce Vita Lifestyle

Italian Food & Wine

Of course, I am going to start here. Italian food is the number one most loved, known, and eaten food in the world, according to a survey carried out by TasteAtlas and many other studies.

Whether one is coming to Italy or just craving Italian food all these come to mind:

  1. Pizza & Focaccia
  2. Pasta & Lasagna
  3. Gelato
  4. Tiramisu
  5. Cannoli
  6. Risotto
  7. Fiorentina Steak
  8. Cheese like parmesan, mozzarella, ricotta, pecorino, blue cheese, and asiago
  9. Aperitivo like Aperol Spritz
  10. Liquors like Limoncello and Amaro Averna

The food list goes on and on, and with that comes wine too. 

wine tasting in Tuscany countryside

Italian Wine

Italians have been drinking wine since before Ancient Rome, explaining why this drink is deeply ingrained in Italian culture and society, playing a central role in everyday life, celebrations, and religious rituals. 

Italy is home to several prestigious wine regions, such as Tuscany, Piedmont, Veneto, and Sicily, known for producing some of the world’s most sought-after wines. These regions often have strict quality regulations and prestigious appellations that further enhance the reputation of Italian wine.

Italy boasts an incredible diversity of grape varieties, producing a wide range of wine styles, and that’s thanks to its diverse geography, including a range of climates, altitudes, and soil types, all contributing to the unique character of its wines.

Read more:

If you’d like to continue learning about Italian food, I have a series of foodie articles you can choose from here. Here’s a short list to start with:

Top 10 Italian Food To Try

The History of Pasta

Learn About Aperitivo In Italy

Italian Food Glossary

Discover All Italian Pizza Types

The Best Sicilian Food

Italian Culture

Italian culture is known for its emphasis on family, food, and festivity, creating a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere that is distinct from many other cultures. 

One unique aspect is the slow pace and importance placed on meals, which serve as opportunities for rest, recharge, celebration, and family bonding.

An interesting fact about Italian meals is their duration, especially during festive occasions when a special lunch or dinner can last for three hours or longer, consisting of at least three courses.

After indulging in such long meals, Italians often go for “la passeggiata”, an evening stroll taken by families and friends in towns and cities across Italy. This leisurely walk allows people to socialize, admire the scenery, and indulge in gelato or espresso along the way, reflecting the relaxed and social spirit of Italian life.

Read More:

I have an entire section on this blog about Italian Culture; it’s called Dolce Vita.

Next time you are sipping on an espresso or cappuccino, I suggest you read these:

What To Expect When You Go To A Bar In Italy

Italian People Common Looks & Features

Aperitivo History, Culture & Best Drinks

30 Lasting Italian Superstitions

100 Unique Italian Traditions & Customs

Chiostro di Bressanone paintings
Chiostro di Bressanone Paintings

Italian Art

Italian art heritage spans centuries, from ancient Roman sculptures to Renaissance masterpieces by artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. That’s an important reason why so many foreigners keep coming to Italy, crowding our museums every day. There’s so much artistic richness to see and admire, it’s understandable.

Each piece, although very different in style, shares the characteristics of beauty, elegance, and attention to detail, reflecting Italy’s deep appreciation for aesthetics and craftsmanship. 

One lesser-known fact about Italian art is the existence of “hidden” or “secret” messages concealed within many famous paintings and sculptures. 

For example, Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” is said to contain various symbolic meanings and hidden details that have intrigued art historians and enthusiasts for centuries, adding layers of complexity and intrigue to these iconic works.

If you’d like to discover the greatest Italian artists throughout history, you’ll find many listed in this other post: These 53 Famous Italian People Made History.

Italy Weather

Italy’s climate varies incredibly depending on the region, with Mediterranean climates prevalent in the south and alpine climates in the north. 

This diversity of weather patterns allows for a vast range of agricultural and outdoor activities throughout the country. 

One fascinating aspect of Italy’s weather is the phenomenon known as the “tramontana” or “mistral” wind, which sweeps down from the Alps and can reach speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour. 

This wind not only affects the weather but also plays a role in shaping the landscapes and ecosystems of regions like Sardinia and Corsica.

There’s an Italian saying, “La tramontana la pioggia tien lontana”, which translates to “The tramontana keeps the rain away.” This proverb highlights the strength of the tramontana wind, which is so powerful that it can prevent rain from falling.

Read More:

Looking for information about how Italy feels and looks at different times of the year? If the weather is an important aspect of your Italian holiday, have a look at these articles about specific months and seasons:

What It’s Like Traveling to Italy In January?

What To Wear In Italy In October

Many more will come. You can check back here.

Italian traditions about family

Italian Family & Values

Family is at the heart of Italian society, with strong bonds and close-knit relationships forming the foundation of everyday life. 

Italians place a high value on loyalty, respect, and support within the family unit, often gathering for multi-generational meals and celebrations. 

“Il pranzo della domenica”, or Sunday lunch, is a weekly tradition that Italian families strive to keep up all year round. It usually happens at the parents’ house, where the mum cooks for the entire family, including daughters sons in law, and grandchildren.

Speaking of parents, did you know that in Italy it’s very common for children to continue living with their parents until they are 30, and even longer?

I dive deeper into Italian family values in this article: 11 Italian Cultural Values Beyond Pasta and Dolce Vita.

Italy History

Italy has a rich and very old historic past, including ancient civilizations, medieval kingdoms, and the birth of the Renaissance. 

This deep and intricate past has influenced the country enormously, shaping its architecture, language, and cultural identity. 

One intriguing aspect of Italy’s history is the legacy of the Roman Empire, which extended across much of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East at its height. 

Despite its eventual decline, the influence of Roman civilization can still be seen in modern Italian society, from the layout of cities and towns to the legal and political systems that endure to this day.

Read More:

If you’d like to learn more about Italian History, check out these two articles:

  1. Italian History: Key Events & Timeline
  2. Ancient Rome Facts: From Romolo To Rome (coming soon)

where in Italian example

Italian Language

The Italian language is known and loved for being so soft and melodic, which explains why it’s also considered the most romantic language, along with French, making it popular in opera, music, poetry, and other arts.

While Italian is certainly not as widespread as English, with around 63 million native speakers, it is still one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Wikipedia ranks it at 21st in terms of the number of first-language speakers, and 28th when looking at the total number of speakers.

Italian is widely spread in the European Union and is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, and parts of Croatia and Slovenia.

Italian is a Romance language derived from Vulgar Latin which has influenced many other Romance languages, including Spanish, Portugues, French, and Romanian.

Did you know that the Italian language is not as old as one may think? 

While Italian comes from Latin, which is one of the first languages in the world dating to the 7th century B.C, it was only in the 14th century that Latin started slowly turning into the Italian we know today. For that, we have to thank Dante and his use of the Tuscan dialect in his work.

Need Help Learning Italian?

Whether you are at the start of your Italian learning journey or need to brush off verbs conjugation and other grammar elements, Italy With An Italian has an entire section on Italian Language.

If you are a beginner start here:

Italian Numbers 1 to 100 & Beyond

Italian Alphabet & Pronunciation

Italian Days Of The Week Lesson

For more advanced learners, I suggest these:

Complete Guide To The Italian Verb Avere

Master The Italian Essere Conjugation

The Best Italian Food Sayings

Italian Traditions

Italy is one of the most traditional countries in the world together with Japan. Not only is Italy a country with a high number of traditions but it’s the fact that those traditions are still kept alive today that makes it so special.

Italians love their traditions and take pride in honoring them, whether that’s religious, Christmas traditions, wedding customs, Carnival-related ones, and more.

One such tradition is the “Festa della Befana,” a beloved celebration held on the night of January 5th. According to legend, La Befana is a kind-hearted old woman who flies on her broomstick on the eve of the Epiphany, delivering gifts and sweets to children across Italy. 

Learn more about La Befana traditions, the food, the celebrations, and the poem here.

Read More:

I have written separate articles covering different sets of Italian traditions. Here are four I suggest you look into.

100 Unique Italian Traditions & Customs

Key Italian Holidays & Celebration

Unique Italian Christmas Traditions

The Italian Tradition Of The Aperitivo

Firenze city centre & Duomo

Famous Italian Landmarks

From ancient ruins to modern buildings, Italy is well known for housing many of the best attractions in the world. 

One unique landmark is the Leaning Tower of Pisa, famous for its distinctive tilt caused by unstable ground conditions during its construction. Despite numerous attempts to correct its lean, the tower remains a testament to human ingenuity and architectural marvel.

The beauty of Italy is that it’s so diverse, and that applies to the list of top famous attractions. These cater to people with different interests and backgrounds, from history lovers to art and architecture enthusiasts.

Below is a short list of the most iconic Italian attractions, other than the Tower of Pisa:

  1. The Colosseum
  2. Florence Cathedral
  3. Venice Rialto Bridge
  4. St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican
  5. Piazza del Campo in Siena

To discover all the other top attractions in Italy and the best cities for sightseeing read this article. 

Italian Music

Italy’s musical heritage is as diverse as its landscapes, spanning opera, classical, folk, and contemporary genres. 

An iconic symbol of Italian music is the accordion, known as the “fisarmonica.” This versatile instrument can be heard serenading crowds at lively festivals and intimate gatherings alike, infusing every note with the spirit of Italy.

Italy is also the birthplace of the best music artists, including composers Giuseppe Verdi and Antonio Vivaldi and Tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Not only is Italy the best representation of Baroque music (Monteverdi, Puccini, Da Palestrina, Rossini) but Italians also invented the violin, cello, and piano.

If you’d like to explore the different genres of Italian music, from folklore and tarantella to modern Italian artists, and get a list of the best musicians in each field, read this article on the 50 Italian Musicians To Remember.

Admiring Seceda viewpoint

Italy’s Natural Landmarks

Italy is blessed with the most beautiful sceneries and natural diversity. It’s precisely this power duo that attracts so many tourists every year. From the snowy Alps to the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea, there’s a lot of beauty to see and admire. 

This diversity caters to every interest and activity, including hiking, mountain climbing, boating, yachting, sunbathing and swimming, surfing, fishing, bird watching, mountain biking, photography, wine tasting in magic vineyards, driving bikes and cars through the most beautiful landscapes, and much more.

One remarkable natural landmark is Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that famously destroyed the ancient city of Pompeii in 79 AD. Today, Vesuvius stands as a reminder of the raw power of nature and a testament to Italy’s resilience to survive and thrive.

Read More:

If you can’t wait to discover Italy’s best landscapes on your next trip here, I suggest you take a look at these articles I wrote.

Experience The Breathtaking Beauty of Seceda

Rivers in Italy: Key Facts & Gorgeous Destinations

Highest Mountains In Italy & How To Visit Them

Famous Italians

An important part of what makes Italy so special is the people that inhabited it throughout the centuries. 

Italy has produced some of the world’s most influential figures, from Renaissance artists to modern-day innovators. 

One such luminary is Leonardo da Vinci, whose contributions to art, science, and engineering continue to inspire generations. Did you know that Leonardo was not only a painter but also a skilled musician and inventor? That’s why he is called the Italian Polymath. His curiosity knew no bounds, leading him to explore the depths of human creativity and ingenuity.

If you’d like to learn all about these key figures in Italian history, I suggest you read this article: These 53 Famous Italian People Made History.

Famous Italian Cities

Many go to Italy to see historical and architectural landmarks like the Colosseum and the Uffizi Gallery. Others can’t wait to explore the natural beauty of coastlines or the Alps, whether that’s Amalfi, Sorrento, Trentino, or Piemonte.

Then there are the romantic, foodies, dreamers, and street lovers who travel to explore the cities and the way each makes them feel. That includes me, what about you?

If that’s your reason to travel, even if just one of the many, I am sure you love Italy as a city break destination, one where you can wonder, eat, and let time pass while you get immersed in the Dolce Vita vibes.

From the ancient ruins of Rome to the romantic canals of Venice and the Renaissance grandeur of Florence, Italy offers the best city destinations. 

Did you know that Venice is built on a network of 118 small islands connected by canals and bridges, making it one of the most unique and picturesque cities to get lost in in the world?

If you are still new to traveling in Italy, start with the most visited cities: Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan.

Don’t stop there though! Consider exploring these lesser-known stunning cities (my favorite ones), including Bolzano, Merano, Bressanone, Lucca, Lecce, Turin, and Trento.

Learn More:

If you want to dive deeper into Tuscany and Florence, you’ll find several articles to inspire and guide your adventures.

For those who love nature, Trentino Alto Adige is the number 1 region I suggest visiting. 

Trying to choose your next Southern city destination? Read that article.

If you are in love with Rome’s history, food, and relaxed vibes (how can I blame you?), click here to get inspired and plan your Rome itinerary.

I will be sharing more about other Italian cities soon.

Gucci Italian clothing brand

Italian Fashion

Italian fashion is synonymous with elegance, luxury, and impeccable craftsmanship. 

From renowned fashion houses like Gucci, Prada, and Versace to emerging designers pushing the boundaries of style, Italy is at the forefront of global fashion trends. 

If you love fashion you have to visit Italy’s iconic fashion cities – Milan and Florence. It’s also the best place for people-watching and getting inspiration for your own outfits. After all, Italy is considered the most stylish country in the world, together with France.

What sets Italian fashion apart is its commitment to quality materials, meticulous attention to detail, and timeless aesthetic. 

Fun Fact 1: Milan, Italy’s fashion capital, hosts one of the most prestigious fashion weeks in the world, attracting designers, celebrities, and fashionistas from around the globe.

Fun Fact 2: Many think Gucci is the oldest Italian fashion brand. It’s not. The first fashion house was founded by Antonio and Martino Prada in 1913. I share more about it and a list of the best Italian fashion brands here.

Italian Shopping

Speaking of Italian fashion, trendsetters but also lovers of timeless classics don’t come to Italy just to watch what others are wearing. They of course come to shop too.

Large cities like Milan, Rome, and Florence offer great shopping travel destinations. When you add the charm of the historic surroundings the beautiful views, and the mouthwatering local delicacies, it’s easy to understand why Italian cities are full of tourists shopping.

All the fashion brands I mention in that article can be found in most Italian cities, especially the big ones. You can also find local boutiques and artisan shops that sell unique pieces, which can truly make your outfits stand out.

Other than clothes, Italy offers a shopping experience like no other, with a diverse array of souvenirs, artisanal products, and luxury accessories to tempt every shopper’s palate.

Whether you’re seeking authentic Italian leather accessories, handcrafted ceramics, or exquisite wines and gourmet delicacies, you won’t be disappointed. 

Italian Craftsmanship

Italy is renowned for its artisanal craftsmanship, from exquisite leather goods and hand-blown glass to intricate jewelry and finely crafted cars. 

Italian artisans are celebrated for their dedication to tradition, attention to detail, and commitment to quality. 

You likely know that Italy is famous for producing some of the world’s most iconic luxury cars, including Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati. Each car is meticulously handcrafted by skilled artisans, combining cutting-edge technology with time-honored techniques to create automotive masterpieces.

One thing you might not know is that Emilia Romagna in general is known as one of the best Italian regions to appreciate crafts, from luxury cars to the famous Balsamic of Modena, prosciutto, parmesan, and Bolognese sauce. The region is also famous for its iron, ceramics, and mosaics.

If you are looking for ideas about what to buy in Italy next time you visit, for you and to gift, read my guide (coming soon).

Italian Religion & The Vatican

Italy’s rich religious heritage is intertwined with its cultural identity, with Roman Catholicism playing a central role in the country’s history and traditions. 

The Vatican City, located within the heart of Rome, is the smallest independent state in the world, the spiritual center of the Catholic Church, and home to the Pope. 

It’s also ranked among the top richest countries in the world, at 18th place. Nasdaq shared in 2015 an interesting fact about the Vatican finances. 

“The Vatican Bank manages $6.4 billion of assets on behalf of its 17,400 customers”.

That seems still the case since the Vatican bank reported holding a total amount of EUR 5.2 billion in assets at the end of 2022. Considering the recent financial scandals, that drop is understandable.

Did you know that Vatican Museums are the largest not only in Italy but in the top 20 in the world? They are home to some of the most iconic works of art in history, including Michelangelo’s breathtaking frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.

Regardless of your religion and how much you practice it, visiting the Vatican is a must for everyone. 

two italian ladies greeting each other on the street

Dolce Vita Lifestyle

Here is exactly where I want to end this long article, with the one aspect that ties everything together and it’s one of the reasons the world loves Italy and anything Italian so much. I am referring to the concept of dolce vita, slow living, and the dolce far niente.

The Dolce Vita lifestyle epitomizes the essence of Italian voglia di vivere, celebrating life’s simple pleasures and embracing leisure, indulgence, and relaxation. 

From leisurely meals shared with loved ones to long breaks during working hours, the Italian lifestyle captures the essence of Italian culture. 

Fun fact: The term “Dolce Vita” was popularized by filmmaker Federico Fellini’s iconic movie of the same name, which depicted the hedonistic lifestyle of Rome’s elite in the 1960s.

If you’d like to learn more about this concept and Italian culture, I suggest reading the other Dolce Vita posts on Italy with an Italian.

What Next?

After this journey into Italy’s famous characteristics, you’ll likely appreciate more your next trip to Italy. 

You can explore more about Italy’s fame in these articles:

Famous Italian Brands (Fashion)

Famous Italian Painters & Other Famous Italians

Famous Italian Musicians

You likely also got some inspiration about famous cities to visit and famous Italian food to try. If you want to dive deeper into the regions in Italy, and what each one has to offer, here’s a blog post all about that. 

Are you a fan of Southern Italy? Then, this article about 7 Cities in Southern Italy To Put On Your Radar is for you!

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