Its proper name is Repubblica Italiana, but Italy’s nickname is “Bel Paese,” which means beautiful country. Rome was founded in 753 BC. Ice-cream (gelato) is an Italian creation. You can find more than 200 different pasta shapes in Italian grocery stores. The Italian soccer league is followed by nearly as many fans abroad as those in Italy. Italian is a romance language and is derived from Latin. It is so beautiful when spoken, that it was the preferred language used by German operatic composers. Italy surrounds two of the world’s smallest countries – San Marino in northern Italy, the oldest republic in the world, and Vatican City in Rome, the smallest country in the world. In the south of Italy, you will find three active volcanoes: Vesuvius near Naples, Etna on Sicily, and Stromboli off the coast of Italy. The Po is Italy’s longest river. Italy is said to be the easiest country to recognize on a world map.