Italian Heritage: The Food, Wine, and Language

Updated by Jim Deckebach

Italy is a country shaped like a boot jutting out of Europe into the Mediterranean Sea. Seas surround the country, and mountains divide the interior into smaller regions. That divide is part of the reason Italy didn't become a unified country until 1861. Before then, the Italian peninsula was fragmented into different kingdoms, duchies, and city-states. Despite this fragmentation, there was a unified language that was used and plenty of similarities in the cultures that have influenced the art, food architecture, and more.

Fun Facts About Italy

Italy is a highly traveled tourist destination and is one of the most visited countries in Europe thanks to a fascinating history, delicious wine and cuisine, and a rich culture. However, there's more to Italy than just the food, art, and architecture. If you're planning a trip to Italy or if you are just curious to learn more about the country, getting familiar with fun, little known facts may surprise you and give you some travel inspiration.

The Geography of Italy

Italy consists of a 620 mile long peninsula that is surrounded by water and covered in mountains, such as the Apennines that run north to south through the peninsula, the Alps, and the Peloritani mountains in Sicily. Italy is one of the larger countries in Europe and it is also one of the most diverse in terms of geography, flora, and fauna thanks to the different mountain ranges.

Italian Food and Cuisine

Italian cuisine is known for its regional diversity, which is especially distinct between the north and south of Italy. Italian cuisine offers an abundance of taste that countries all over the world have tried to imitate thanks to its simplicity and its heavy reliance on the quality of the ingredients.

The Wine of Italy

There is simply nowhere else in the world where you can find a beautiful fusion of food, wine, and culture like there is in Italy. Wine from Italy is especially popular because it is one of the most diverse wine-making countries in the world. It's been part of the culture for thousands of years because grapes are easily cultivated in the region. In the nineteenth century the wine took a hit after a vine called louse phylloxera destroyed most of the vineyards but in the 1960s, a series of laws were passed in the country to control quality. Today, Italian wine is more varied and popular than ever thanks to hundreds of varieties of grapes that are grown in Italy.

The Italian Language

It's estimated that around 60-65 million people in the European Union speak Italian as a native language. This doesn't make it the most widely spoken of all the European languages; however, that doesn't make it any less desirable to learn because of the value it offers cultural immersion while visiting Italy. While there are many ways to start learning Italian, the most important part of learning Italian is to ensure you have a good motivator. The best way to motivate yourself to learn a new language, especially Italian, is to go public with your intentions with family and friends to put pressure on yourself and so you have people who may practice with your or remind you of your goal. Once you have that, there are plenty of great starting points to learning Italian.

Italian Genealogy & Heritage

Family is an important part of Italian culture and even when a family has left Italy to immigrate to another country, they are still Italian. For those who are interested in researching family history, also known as genealogy, it's an adventure to go through databases, photos, and personal stories from family members. There's no one way to research Italian genealogy and everybody has a different approach to it, but if you're interested in learning more about your family history in Italy, but you aren't sure where to start, there are plenty of helpful jumping off points and resources to give your research a boost.



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