Welcome to Italy for Kids, with Karyn from CASE OF ADVENTURE. Today we are going to be talking about the land of pizza and ice cream!
We have a FREE 24 page ITALY printable pack for you to download! Maps, flag, welcome signs, food words, fun info, crossword, word searches, coloring pages, postcards, passport stamps, journal page, recipe cards, food flags and more!
Read or listen to Italy for Kids, watch the videos and download the Italy printable pack with some fun activities for you to do. Click the play button in the player above to listen now (or listen in on iTunes or your favorite podcast app).
Italy for Kids
When you think of Italy, what do you think of?
- Eating Gelato Ice cream at a small street café?
- Gondolas on the water in Venice, with the gondoliers singing soulful songs
- The leaning tower of Pisa
- Rome and the Colosseum
There are so many things that remind us of Italy, aren’t there?
The name Italy comes from the word Italia, meaning “calf land” Some say it was because the bull was a symbol of the Southern Italian tribes.
If you look on a map, you will see that the country of Italy is shaped like a boot and has two islands – Sicily near the toe of the boot is home to 5 million people and the biggest island in the Mediterranean. Sardinia is smaller with stunning beaches and mountains.
France, Switzerland Austria and Slovenia border on Italy.
CITIES AND LANDMARKS IN ITALY
Milan is known for its fashion designers and the second-largest cathedral in the whole world, Duomo di Milano. Also the opera house – La Scala is there.
Genoa on the west coast is where Christopher Columbus was born and shipbuilding continues there today.
Venice is a city built on a whole lot of islands. There are canals instead of roads, and boats instead of cars. You can see the sights in Venice by floating through its canals on a gondola. Gondoliers, men in striped shirts sing romantic songs as they propel you along with a long rowing oar.
In the central part of Italy, olives and grapes are grown to make olive oil and wine, which are some of Italy’s major exports.
In Florence, beautiful architecture and works of art are everywhere.
The capital of Italy is ROME.
Rome, has influenced the whole world. They built roads to and conquered many lands from England to Africa and their ideas about engineering and culture spread to those lands.
Vatican city is the smallest country in the world. It’s inside Rome and it’s where the Pope – the leader of the Roman Catholic Church resides. The country is about an eight of the size of Central Pack in New York. It operates as an independent country, generating revenue from tourism, printing its own money, stamps and passports.
Read more interesting things about it here
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a third of the height of the Washington Monument. It leans because the soil underneath is very waterlogged, which makes it soft. These days it has been stabilized by the removal of soil from underneath the high side of the base and by the adding of 800 tons of lead weights secured with cables..
Italy is the fifth most populated country in Europe, with about 60 million people who call it home.
Italy has a president and a prime minister – The president of Italy is Sergio Mattarella.
THE ITALIAN LANGUAGE
Italians like to show on the outside what they are feeling on the inside. They talk with their hands a lot. They use loud, expressive voices and lots of emotion and animated movement to add to their speech.
They even have specific hand gestures which mean certain things – like their own sign language!
Italians like to take their time doing things. They always have time to stop and talk and are not often in a rush.
The passeggiata is a pre dinner evening stroll that most Italians partake of. Neighborhoods are very friendly as families live in one place for many generations. Italians dress smartly for this evening walk, wanting to look their best at all times. They walk or or sit at favorite cafes sampling gelato, or
specialty coffees like espresso, latte, or cappuccino. They eat and sip at outdoor cafes along city avenues.
Supper is eaten much later around 9 or 10pm
The official language in Italy is, of course, Italian! There are so many words that you and I say that are actually Italian.
Have a look at the video this fun video on how to pronounce common Italian words:
For example pistakkio, and marscapony and brewsketta
Lets try counting in Italian – Uno, Due, Tre, Quattro, Cinque, Sei, Sette, Otto, Nove, Dieci
Hello is Ciao (chow)
Goodbye is Addio (ad-dio’)
Buongiorno! (= Good day!)
Please= Per favore
Thank you = Grazie
THE FLAG AND THE CURRENCY, NATIONAL ANTHEM
The Italian national anthem is Il Canto Degli Italiani (The song of the Italians).
Italy is part of the European Union, and they use the Euro as their currency.
Right now, in October 2017, with one Euro, you can buy $1.19 US dollars, 90p British cents (that’s just less than one British Pound), and R15 South African Rand.
The Italian flag has three vertical stripes, green, white, and red. The green represents the country’s plains and hills, white represents the snow-capped Alps, and red, blood spilt in the Wars of Italian Independence.
The colours of the flag also represent, Faith, hope and charity
THE UNIFICATION OF ITALY
The Kingdom of Sardinia defeated the foreign countries that controlled parts of Italy and unified Italy as one country. In 1848, the Milanese soldiers defeated the Austrians, who controlled much of Northern Italy. Finally, about 150 years ago, in 1870, Rome was captured and the Kingdom of Italy was formed.
WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE?
In Northern Italy, the summers are very hot and humid and the winters cold. In the South, the winters are mild and the summers hot and dry.
WHAT ARE THE HOMES LIKE?
The typical Italian house is two-level, made of bricks or stone. The roof is often tiled and the house usually includes an enclosed yard. Semi-detaches
Some families live in apartments in buildings with grocery stores or bookshops facing the streets and the apartments on the inside of the buildings facing a pretty garden courtyards where neighbors sit and visit.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ITALY
There are three active volcanoes in Italy (they are not extinct). That means that they could still erupt, though they haven’t for many years. Mount Vesuvius, Mount Etna and Stromboli. Mount Vesuvius and Mount Etna are very dangerous as they are near big cities.
Mount Vesuvius is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, and it’s very near Naples! If you look at your map of Italy, you will see that Naples is on the west coast halfway between the toe of the boot and the city of Rome.
The city of Pompeii is where an ancient Roman city was buried by a volcano. After the famous Pompeii volcano erupted all those years ago, it has erupted again a few times. The last time was in 1944, when 26 people were killed, nearby villages were destroyed and US airplanes based at the Pompeii airfield nearby were coated with a thick layer of ash. Imagine living at the foot of a volcano after that!
Have you heard of truffles? They are like the diamond of the kitchen. Truffles are very rare and expensive and they taste and smell amazing! You could say that truffles are the fruit of a fungus. The fungus grows around tree roots and the fruity body is formed. They are highly sought after by chefs. Hunting for truffles is a rewarding pastime in Italy. Most of the world’s truffles come from Northern Italy. Dogs are used to go truffle hunting. They sniff around until they find one and then it is dug up and sold for huge amounts of money! In 2007, a dog named Rocco discovered a truffle in Tuscany that weighed 3.3 pounds. It was sold for $333,000, a world record for a truffle.
About 3000 euros is thrown into the Trevi fountain in Rome every day by tourists – that’s around 1.5 million each year! Legend has it that if you throw one coin into the fountain you will someday return to Rome and if you throw two then you will find romance there. The fountain fills up so fast with coins that the workers sweep it every day to collect the coins. The collected coins are cleaned, weighed, counted, and delivered to Catholic charity. The organization has used the money for many things, including building a grocery store for the poor and supporting a shelter for AIDS patients.
In the city of Turin, dog owners must walk their dog at least three times a day or risk being fined!
On the beaches of Eraclea on the Venetian Lido, it’s illegal to make sandcastles or any other kind of sand structure.
By law gondolas in Venice must be painted black. Pity, they might look nice with a flower design or hearts?
It is also rumored that citizens of Milan are required to smile in public places at all times, except during funerals and hospital visits. I’m not sure if that’s true.
A publicized law was passed back in 2012 in the town of Falciano del Massico in Campania. (pronounce) Because the town’s cemetery is full, the mayor, Giulio Fava, passed a law making it illegal for the town’s residents to die. The mayor told the press that his town’s residents were happy with the new law, but unfortunately two elderly citizens had disobeyed it.
I’m sure the law forbidding dying is more tongue-in-cheek than strictly administered,
I do wonder who in Turin is counting the dog walkers, while the thought of a warden in uniform handing out non-smiling fines in Milan makes me smile.
OTHER FUN FACTS
In 2011 an Italian cat inherited over €10 million after its 94-year old owner passed away, making it the third richest animal in the world (there are richer animals than that). The owner Maria Assunta left her “entire estate” to the cat under the care of a trusted nurse (you may not be surprised that Italian law does not allow animals to inherit directly).
The city of Venice – remember the city with the gondoliers – that is built on water – is made up of 119 islands. Venice is sinking! The mean level of the land has lowered while the sea levels have risen. Flooding regularly occurs between November and March. In order to stop this flooding, a system of 79 flood barriers fixed to the lagoon bed. At normal times the barriers will be full of water and lie flat but when there is a flood warning they will be pumped full of air and raised, therefore creating a dam and saving Venice from being flooded.
Football is the most popular sport in Italy. Italy has won the football world cup four times. That makes them the second most successful football team in World Cup history.
Most people in Italy don’t drive. Italy is built in the old Roman style, so every city is walkable. The roads are narrow. Italian bus drivers drive through intense traffic and narrow roads at high speeds. Very good drivers – I guess you could say. Italians travel by trains a lot, especially for long distance. In the cities, they will use the bus or travel by bicycle or scooters (vespers)
Perhaps the narrow roads are why all those small sports cars like Ferraris and Lamborghinis are made in Italy. Have you heard of an Italian car called a Ferrari. Well, Ferrari is one of most common Italian surnames. It’s as common as Smith in England. Ferrari comes from Smith – meaning iron like a blacksmith.
There is a special Polizia Lamborghini which was specially modified for police duty – perhaps so the policeman can drive as fast as the crooks they are chasing!
It Italy there is a statue of Jesus Christ that is submerged underwater, it is 8 feet or 2.5m tall. Christ of the Abyss off the Italian Riviera in Portofino
Italian diver Dario Gonzatti lost his life, scuba diving in 1947, there now stands a 2.5m bronze Christ statue, created by Italian sculptor Guido Galletti. It’s 10m under the surface, popular among free-divers and scuba divers wishing to pay their respects to those who have taken their last breaths in the sea.
Gallileo was a very famous an Italian scientist, mathematician and astronomer born in 1564. Strangely enough, three of his fingers and a tooth are on display at a museum in Florence!
THINGS INVENTED IN ITALY
The Radio, piano and thermometer were invented in Italy.
Also pizza, pretzels,
The rural parts of Italy are a paradise for nature lovers and animals.
From wild boar mud baths, to hovering birds of prey, groups of roe deer, a porcupine crossing the road, hermit crabs scurrying under the sand, jellyfish and dolphins. And the occasional shark!
The Italian Wolf is the national animal of Italy.
Italy is the only place in the world where the Marsican brown bear is found.
There are only nineteen species of snakes in Italy – that’s my kind of town!
FESTIVALS AND CULTURE
Each September in even-numbered years, is a medieval town named Marostica. Each year the town remembers a chess game played between two noblemen in 1454, who competed to win the hand of a lady. Now, the town remembers the match by setting up a life-size chess board in the main piazza. People dressed as chess pieces stand on the board. The knights even ride horses, and the castles are on wheels for the chess match.
The Battle of the Oranges is a festival in the Northern Italian city of Ivrea, which includes a tradition of throwing of oranges. It is the largest food fight in Italy. Unlike La Tomatina, the tomato festival in Spain, the ammunition at Italy’s orange battle doesn’t get squished before it is hurled in the streets. It may, however, become smushed after colliding with the helmets that keep faces from getting injured.
In Venice they celebrate Carnivale di Venezia, a two-week party in early spring. It is marked by parades, live performances of music and, most famously, masquerade balls. People wear masks are worn throughout the Carnival.
Italian women typically don colorful skirts with embroidered images of flowers and fruit, light shirts and decorated hats. Men’s clothing is simpler, pants often have elaborate embroidery or metal buttons. The clothes are all vibrant colors and made out of fine material such as silk and velvet.
However, these outfits would have been extravagant for Italian peasants. The working class had much more sensible clothes. Women wore plain skirts and bodices with square hats. The flat top of the hat helped the women carry baskets to market. This style eventually evolved into hats with artificial flowers or fruits worn by upper class ladies, mimicking a peasant carrying a basket on her head.
Typically, all peasants’ clothing came in gray, brown, or black. After all, dye was expensive back then.
For special occasions, peasants had a few colorful and embroidered outfits that resembled those of the wealthy. Poor women would pass down dresses from generation to generation. This helped save money, as well as preserve family history.
Some say that the Italians cook with the colors of the Italian flag. They love to use use basil, (green) mozzarella, (white) and tomatoes (red)
Pizza was invented in Naples, Italy
I am quoting in part from this website.
A pizza without toppings – like a flat bread dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. They both ate baked flat breads that were topped with olive oil and local spices.
The pizza we’re all familiar with — the kind with tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings —originated in Italy.
Sometime around 1889, Italy’s royal couple, Queen Margherita and King Umberto I, toured their kingdom. The Queen took note of the large, flat bread being consumed by the workers. She tried it and loved it. She called Chef Rafaelle Esposito to her palace, where he created a variety of pizzas for her. In honor of her name, he designed a pizza with toppings in the colors of the Italian flag (red tomatoes, white mozzarella and green basil). This pizza became her favorite and is known to this day as the Margherita. Her love for pizza made her incredibly popular among her subjects — most royals would never have dined on peasant food, much less encouraged its spread.
Pizza sauce is usually tomato-based. However, the list of unconventional pizza sauces includes pesto, alfredo, ketchup and barbecue. “White pizza” recipes often eliminate the sauce entirely, replacing it with garlic butter.
Pizza made its way to Spain, France, England, and the United States via Italian immigrants. It didn’t gain popularity until after World War II, when returning soldiers sought out the food they had grown to love while fighting overseas.
The first United States pizzeria — G. Lombardi’s — was opened in 1905 and is still open today using its original oven.
If you ask for a pizza in Italy you get the whole thing, not share slices.
Risotto and polenta are more common in the north, pasta in the centre of Italy
Arabs brought dried pasta to Italy in the 1200s and there are now where are now over 140 types of pasta.
Pasta wasn’t eaten with tomato sauce until the 1600’s in Italy. Until then, it was eaten with honey and sugar.
The ald fashioned way of eating pasta was with the fingers, arm held high, and head tilted back. What do you think your Mom would say about that?
Italians serve cannelloni, risotto, and minestrone, as well.
Spaghetti Bolognese, one of the most popular Italian dishes in America, does not exist in Italy. The real thing is Tagliatelle al Ragu, which has at least two types of meat – usually pork and beef.
It is often cooked for eighteen hours – the longer you cook it the better it tastes.
There is no Alfredo sauce in Italy, No meatballs in spaghetti
Gnocchi is a type of pasta usually made from potatoes.
Many cheeses originate in Italy, the most well-known are mozzarella and parmesan.
Ciabatta was invented in 1982 by Francesco Favaron, because French baguettes were becoming too popular.
Because the climate is perfect for growing grapes, Italy is famous for its wine. Italy and France are the leading wine-producing nations in the world. Like Italian food, Italian wines vary by region, and they are known for going perfectly with Italian meals.
MUSIC, INSTRUMENTS AND THE ARTS
The violin was invented in Cremona, Italy, by Andrea Amati.
Opera originated in Italy in the late 16th century. Skilled dramatic singing
Giuseppe Verdi was one of the most famous Italian opera composers. Monteverdi is considered by many to be the father of modern opera. Rossini and Verdi each composed operas still loved today.
Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Verdi’s Aida have been performed again and again.
Puccini produced La Boheme and Madame Butterfly, while Scarlatti wrote almost one hundred operas.
Musical notation or the way we write music comes from Italy
Leonardo da Vinci produced the Mona Lisa. Da Vinci was an incredible man, creating sculptures as well as paintings, and inventing all sorts of gadgets and fanciful items. He even created sketches for flying machines, hundreds of years before man created the airplane.
When Leonardo da Vinci was a boy… his father was in a village and he met a peasant who said that he had carved a round piece of wood. He asked his friend to take it to get it painted in the village. The gave it to his son, Leonardo who liked to paint, who painted a cave with a fierce dragon on it.
His father was so impressed with it. .It was so good that he sold it to an art dealer who sold it to a duke for a large sum of money. and he bought a cheap shield of the same shape with a simple design on it to pass on to the peasant
Other artists from Italy include Michelangelo and Donatello, whose sculptures seem as though they could spring to life.
In Florence, you’ll find expert silkweavers who work on a loom designed by Leonardo da Vinci, weaving strands into a beautiful designs.
CHRISTIANITY IN ITALY
Italy is Catholic country, but many people have lost faith in the Catholic Church – and sadly, in God altogether.
The Catholic Church has a powerful strong identity because the Pope resides in Rome in the Vatican city.
Paul in the Bible wrote a letter to the Romans – and his missionary journey ended in Rome.
There was a church that was established there that was a genuine gospel church.
It was later in history when Constantine made Christianity the official religion that it got mixed up with Roman practices and became the Roman Catholic State Church. As a result, believers who disagreed with the Catholic Church’s doctrines, were forced literally underground to meet in the catacombs.
Watch this video about catacombs in Rome
Largely untouched by the Protestant Reformation, Italy has never seen widespread Biblical revival. Italians are cynical about the church even though eighty-two percent of Italians profess to be Christians. Only three percent practice their faith.
The challenges for missionaries in Italy are great. They need missionaries who are happy to go, who won’t give up, who are mature in their faith and who are willing to share the gospel with the people who may not be that interested at first, but who need the Lord.
Excerpt read from Drina Dances in Italy by Jean Estoril