Our Friendly Italian Conversation class was eccellente! Sra. Antonella taught Italian lessons during this 6-week series at Mastic Recreation Center. The students learned, practiced, sang, played games, and met new people…all with the love of Italy and Italian! It was an excellent opportunity to connect with members from the local community group, Dr. Calabro Lodge: Sons & Daughters of Italy. 


  1. Italian is the official language of music!
    If you play an instrument or are familiar with classical music, you must know the meaning of terms like crescendo, soprano, alto, and tempo. These words have Italian origins and this phenomenon is due to Italian music notation becoming popularized during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Italian became the standard language for music compositions and at that time, many prominent composers were, in fact, Italian.1 
  1. The world’s first bank is located in Siena, Italy.
    Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena can trace its history back to 1472 and has been in its current form since 1624. 2 
  1. Soccer is one of the most dedicated and organized sports played in Italy.
    The fans are referred to as Tifosi, which means Typhus carriers because their fanaticism is akin to having fever. Italians consider this sport as part of their culture and history and they are extremely patriotic when their team plays. The Italy national soccer team is considered one of the best national teams in the world. They have won the FIFA World Cup four times (1934, 1938, 1982, and 2006). The Italians also won the European Championship in 1968 and 2020.   
  1. The town of Trabia in Sicily is mentioned in historical documents as the birthplace of pasta.
    In 1154, the Arab geographer Al Idrisi, while traveling around Sicily on behalf of the Norman King Roger II of Sicily to study customs and traditions of the Sicilian population, described in the famous “Tabula Rogeriana” the existence of a town called Trabia and its local production of pasta:

    To the west of Termini there is a town called Trabia (‘At Tarbiah, the square), an enchanting place to live, abounding in streams that drive numerous mills. Trabia sits in a vast plain with many great estates, where great quantities of pasta (in arab – itriya – spaghetti) are made and exported everywhere, especially to Calabria and other Muslim and Christian lands; many shiploads are sent. In the port of this town they catch that big fish which is called tuna.” 

    With this historical testimony, it is then confirmed that the dry long pasta called “itriya” (spaghetti) used to be produced, even before 1154, in the laborious town of Trabia, a place known for its manufacturing, commercial and maritime activities.3 
  1. Toss a coin into the Trevi and you’ll return to Rome!
    That’s the legend. Tourists toss around €3,000 a day into the fountain. This amounts to roughly €1.5 million every year, which is all donated to charity. The Trevi Fountain was built between 1732 and 1762, and is one of Rome’s most iconic sights. It was designed by Nicola Salvi and represents the taming of the waters.4 
  1. Tiramisú actually means something… 
    Italy’s most famous dessert (at least abroad) – the delectable Tiramisú – was born in 1971 in La Beccherie Restaurant in the Venetian town of Treviso. It was proposed as a dessert which would stimulate customers due to its high energetic content of eggs and sugar. Followed by the caffeine of the strong espresso coffee. Thus, the name ‘tiramisu’ – meaning “pick-me-up” in English – was coined.5 
  1. Italy is the world’s largest wine producer!
    Some of the best wines in the world are produced by Italian wineries, and their exports reflect this quality. More than 400 different grape varieties and an endless number of wineries can be found in Italy today, each crafting unique and exquisite wines. In 2023, Italy exported wines valued at $8.40 billion. Italy is the world’s leading exporter of wine, with the majority of its shipments to the US, UK, and Germany.6 

    It’s also interesting to note that wine consumption is extremely common among Italians—not just on special occasions but also every day. It’s part of their culinary culture. 
  1. Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world!
    With 65 million tourists per year (2019) according to ISTAT, Italy is the fifth most visited country in international tourism arrivals.7 Given that most head to Rome, Florence and Pisa, it’s still possible to find uncrowded places. Try Castelmezzano in Basilicata or head to Camogli in Liguria. 
  1. The Vatican City is the world’s smallest country!
    The Vatican City in Rome covers just 1000 acres. In 1929 it became a sovereign nation and the Pope is officially its head of state. The Vatican’s economy is mainly fueled by donations. It’s only a 1/8 of the size of Central Park, yet packed with monuments. This is where you’ll see St Peter’s Basilica and it’s also home to the Sistine Chapel.8 
  1. Vespa
    Because of the unique design, especially the front handle bars, and its sound, it was named Vespa, the Italian word for wasp. It is a global cultural phenomenon. Credited with kick starting the post-war Italy revival, it became a symbol of freedom and elevated Italian design the world over. Vespa has come to represent the lifestyle of young people in Italy as well as freedom and mobility, together with the promise of romance and adventure. For Italy, Vespa has been a symbol of regeneration, of becoming a major industrial power once again. Vespa has been shown in New Work at the Modern Museum of Art (MOMA), in the Guggenheim in New York, in Bilbao and at the Louvre in Paris.9 
  1. The Colosseum in Rome is the largest ancient amphitheater ever built!
    The site is twice as long a football field and at its tallest point, the Colosseum stands 157 feet high.Completed in 80 AD under the emperor Vespasian, this architectural marvel could accommodate up to 80,000 spectators who gathered to witness gladiatorial contests, mock naval battles, and other public spectacles. This history and international admiration earned the Colosseum a place on the list of the New 7 Wonders of the World. 10 
Picture by: Team_Web_Sinalco 


  1. Why Is Italian an Important Language for Music? (n.d.). Wonderopolis. https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/Why-Is-Italian-an-Important-Language-for-Music#:~:text=Around%201000%20C.E.%2C%20an%20Italian,and%20other%20aspects%20of%20music.
  2. The Five Oldest Banks in the World. (n.d.). https://www.cobaltrecruitment.co.uk/blog/2019/01/the-five-oldest-banks-in-the-world?source=google.com
  3. Island, T. F., & Island, T. F. (2024, January 23). The origin of pasta? In Sicily, during Arab domination – Three Farms Island. Three Farms Island. https://www.threefarmsisland.com/how-many-things-we-know-about-the-origin-of-pasta/#:~:text=Historical%20documents%20mention%20Trabia%20as,and%20its%20local%20pasta%20production
  4. Hughes, R. A. (2024, March 29). Tourists throw over €1 million into Italy’s Trevi Fountain each year. Here’s what happens to it. Euronews. https://www.euronews.com/travel/2024/03/29/tourists-throw-over-1-million-into-italys-trevi-fountain-each-year-heres-what-happens-to-i
  5. McNally, T., & McNally, T. (2023, March 13). 18 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Italy. Flavours Holidays. https://www.flavoursholidays.co.uk/blog/facts-about-italy/
  6. T. (2024, May 2). Italian Wine Exports Statistics of 2023. Infinite. https://www.tradeimex.in/blogs/Italian-Wine-Exports
  7. Tourism in Italy. (2024, May 20). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Italy
  8. Klein, C., & Klein, C. (2018, October 29). 10 Things You May Not Know About the Vatican. HISTORY. https://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-vatican
  9. Maltoni, V. (2022, January 7). Vespa, an Icon of Style | Italian Style. Italian Style. https://italianstyle.me/vespa-an-icon-of-style/
  10. Houston, E. (2024, May 8). 5 Fun facts about the Colosseum. EF Go Ahead Tours. https://www.goaheadtours.com/travel-blog/articles/colosseum-fun-facts