What Is Italy Known for? 15 Things Italians Love About Themselves

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Published: January 21, 2024
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Italy is a dazzling and diverse country known for its stunning, breathtaking landscapes, extraordinary food, and passionate people. With roots that trace back to the ancient Roman Empire, Italy continues to shine today with its unique personality and rich culture. Let’s look at what Italy is most known for and the 15 things that Italians love about themselves!

1. Cultural Heritage and History

Grand Canal and Basilica Santa Maria della Salute in Venice, Italy.

Italy has been a famous tourist destination for hundreds of years.

©Olga_Gavrilova/ via Getty Images

Italy has a long, rich history that goes back to the Ancient Roman Empire. In fact, Italy is often known as the birthplace of Western Civilization. Today you can witness the incredible feats of Roman engineering and architecture in the Roman Colosseum or visit Pompeii and Herculaneum for the well-preserved remnants of life in the ancient world. Italy is filled with museums, churches, and other magnificent buildings designed by and decorated with the works of world-renowned masters like Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, and Bernini. Italy is also the birthplace of the Roman Republic and democracy. It is also home to many philosophers and scientists like Galileo.    

2. Passion 

Woman drinking coffee at outdoor cafe near coliseum, the most famous landmark in Rome. Concept of italian lifestyle and traveling Italy. Caucasian woman wearing dress and shawl in hair

Italians are well known for their warm and passionate nature. They connect with others on a deep level.

©RossHelen/Shutterstock.com

The Italians are passionate people who are unafraid to express their emotions and feelings. They tend to be direct in their speech, revealing a unique and authentic emotional transparency. They do not shy away from strong or “difficult” emotions, whether expressing their unbridled joy or endless grief. Italians are known for living in the movement, appreciating all aspects of life, and passionately engaging in everything they do.

3. Italian Language

Italian flag

Many Europeans speak Italian, even outside of Italy.

©iStock.com/okfoto

The people of Italy are proud to speak their native language. The naturally melodic rhythm and rolling sounds of Italian vowels seem to infuse every conservation with a deeper sense of movement and emotion, adding liveliness and color to the words. In the artistic realm, Italian reigns supreme, with literary giants like Dante and Petrarch writing their monumental works in the Italian language. Many operas are written in Italian, and artistic terminology is pulled from the language as well. In addition, the diverse regions of Italy have individual dialects, boasting the local identity and cultural heritage of the people. 

4. Art and Sculpture

The Trevi Fountain, Italy

The Trevi Fountain is one of the most iconic landmarks in Italy.

©iStock.com/Yasonya

For centuries Italy has been the heart of Western Civilization, with artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello forever transforming art during the Renaissance. Italy is home to countless masterpieces, from the impressive Sistine Chapel Ceiling to the larger-than-life sculpture of David. Many of the world’s most famous artworks were produced in Italy and created by Italian artists. Even after the Renaissance, art in Italy flourished, from the Trevi Fountain and Caravaggio’s dramatic paintings to Canova’s Neoclassical sculptures. Italian art continues to transcend time and space with its unique storytelling prowess and deep emotion.  

5. Music and Opera

young woman playing violin on black background

Vivaldi’s lively violin concertos are still some of the most popular pieces around the world today.

©Chris Harwood/Shutterstock.com

Italian composers shaped much of the music in Western Civilization, from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” violin concertos to Bellini’s hauntingly beautiful bel canto melodies. Italy is also the birthplace of opera, beginning with Florentine artists in the sixteenth century. The Italian language and passionate culture were the perfect medium for operatic styles, with melodic rolling vowels and a harmonious natural rhythm. From early masters like Monteverdi to later icons like Verdi, Puccini, and Rossini, opera is very much an Italian art. Even today Italian artists like Luciano Pavarotti of the Three Tenors and Andrea Bocelli continue to grace modern music. 

6. Amazing Food

Stromboli stuffed with cheese, salami, green onion and tomato sauce

Seasonal ingredients rule the dinner table here, with fresh produce bursting with flavor.

©NoirChocolate/iStock via Getty Images

Italians are famous for their incredible culinary dishes. Food in Italy isn’t just about satisfying your hunger — like all things Italian, food is a true art form, meant to be slowly savored and enjoyed with family and friends. Italy is well known for pasta in every shape and size, authentic Italian pizza with fresh toppings, and delicious frozen gelato. In addition, Italians pride themselves on their family recipes, many of which have been passed down through countless generations. Each region has its own culinary identity, full of dishes that reflect their individual histories and heritage. 

7. Italian Wine

The beautiful village of La Morra and its vineyards in the Langhe region of Piedmont, Italy.

Italian winemakers pride themselves on infusing each bottle of wine with a wealth of knowledge and skill. 

©e55evu/iStock via Getty Images

Some of the most famous vineyards in the world are located in Italy. Here, wine isn’t just about its amazing flavor — Italian wine is an art form that tells a story and is meant to be enjoyed with others. The country has a rich and lengthy history with wine, with evidence suggesting that even the Etrucscans were cultivating vines back in 800 BC! In fact, there are hundreds of grape varieties native to Italy, each with its unique flavor.

8. Scenic Beauty of the Italian Landscape

St. Magdalena village in Funes Valley, Dolomites, Northern Italy

The Dolomite Mountains are a scenic mountain range located in northeastern Italy.

©PositiveTravelArt/Shutterstock.com

There is nothing quite as stunning as the diverse landscapes of Italy. In Tuscany, you’ll find sun-kissed vineyards with fields of gold stretched out across the horizon. The Amalfi Coast, on the other hand, offers dramatic cliffsides straight out of a romantic fairytale, with elegant villas and colorful villages built along the stunning azure blue sea. The Dolomites are prized by mountain climbers and hikers, featuring emerald-green valleys, crystal clear alpine waters, and jagged mountain peaks. 

9. History and Architecture

Pantheon in Rome, inside view, Italy

The Pantheon’s dome is one of the largest unreinforced concrete domes in the world.

©Pavel Ilyukhin/Shutterstock.com

The rich history of Italy is deeply intertwined with its incredible architecture, with a legacy that spans thousands of years. Each building tells its own unique story, standing as a testament to the resilience, ingenuity, and identity of the Italian people. Even before the Ancient Roman Empire, the Etruscans built several impressive temples. The Romans added their incredible innovations, and many of their architectural marvels still stand today, like the Colosseum and the Pantheon. Later, beautiful Byzantine and Romanesque churches were built throughout the country. During the Renaissance and Baroque eras Italian architecture continued to flourish, led by innovative architects like Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, and Bernini.

10. Family-Centered Life

Grandmother and granddaughter unraveling fresh tagliatelle with knife , Italy

Recipes are often passed down from one generation to the next in Italian families.

©&#169 Getty Images/The Image Bank via Getty Images

In Italy, family goes far beyond the traditional “nuclear” definition. Italian families are tightly knit, not just with parents and children but also include larger networks of extended family members. Multiple generations of a single family often live together or near one another, supporting each other in their familial community. Italian families spend a lot of time together, often sharing meals and telling stories around the dinner table. 

11. Community and Tradition

Italian street with flags

There are many region-specific festivals in Italy.

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The people of Italy spend much of their time cultivating friendships and spending time with families. They nurture and honor these close community relationships with a variety of different festivals, carnivals, and celebrations. For example, the Tuscan town of Montepulciano celebrates a yearly wine festival. The festival includes the Barvio delle Botti, wherein people compete by rolling enormous wine barrels through the streets. In Calabria, the Peperoncino Festival offers all sorts of amazing spicy foods and chili peppers. The Sanremo Music Festival is another popular event in Italy, known for the millions that flock here to experience a myriad of talented performers.

12. “Dolce Far Niente” and a Slower-Pace

Young woman tourist fashion white dress with glass of white wine in front of panoramic view of Rome cityscape from campidoglio terrace at sunset. Landmarks and domes.

Italians intentionally take time to relax and enjoy a slower pace of life.

©TFILM/iStock via Getty Images

Italians pride themselves on their intentional way of life, employing the Italian practice of “Dolce far niente” or “the sweetness of doing nothing”. Although slower paced, this uniquely Italian practice is anything but lazy. Instead, dolce far niente is where you consciously and deliberately take time to relax and enjoy what you are doing. Essentially, it is a form of mindfulness that encourages people to disconnect from the hustle and bustle and savor the moment. Italians deliberately take the time to enjoy themselves, whether that is indulging in amazing food, soaking in the beauty of a sunset, or enjoying lively conversations with friends and family. 

13. Religion

Rome, Italy. Papal Basilica Of St. Peter In The Vatican. Sightseeing Boat Floating Near Aelian Bridge. Tour Touristic Boat

Many prominent Italian artists worked on St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

©Grisha Bruev/Shutterstock.com

Religion is a core part of life for many Italians. The primary religion in Italy is Roman Catholicism — the Pope lives right at the heart of Rome in Vatican City! For many families, being a Catholic is a part of their family heritage, passed down through multiple generations. There are religious festivals and celebrations throughout the year, several of which occur in a specific town or region. Festa di San Gennaro, for example, celebrates the patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro. In Sicily, people from Catania honor Saint Agatha during the Festa di Sant’Agata. 

14. Fashion

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls.

©scaliger/iStock via Getty Images

Italy is known for “la bella figura” or “a beautiful appearance”, and Italians take pride in presenting themselves at their best. This mentality goes back to the Renaissance, with well-dressed Italians like the Medici family of Florence. Today, Italy is one of the global leaders in the fashion industry, and many world-renowned designers and fashion houses are Italian. Just think of names like Prada, Benneton, Gucci, Versace, Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, and Valentino — just to name a few. 

15. Cars

Ferrari 488 Pista, at racing circuit Miguel E. Abed, Puebla, Mexico

The Ferrari Headquarters is based in Maranello, Italy.

©Carlos Valenzuela / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Italy is known for many of the world’s favorite luxury sports. Back in the late nineteenth century, Italian pioneers like Ettore Bugatti and Enzo Ferrari changed the face of automotive design in racing. This then migrated into the world of luxury road cars, with manufacturers like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati becoming synonymous with exclusivity and excellence. Italian cars are a work of passion and art, celebrating “la doce vita” or “the good life”. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Greens and Blues/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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