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Curious Italian Trivia

  1. Everyone has heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but in which direction does it lean?
  2. Most people realize that Vatican City is its own state, separate from Italy. How many residents does it have?
  3. Speaking of Vatican City, in what year did it become an independent sovereignty?
  4. What is the other sovereign nation that lies within the Italian peninsula?
  5. Venetian restaurants specialize in seafood, so why is it a poor choice to order fresh fish on Monday in Venice?
  6. Why was the statue of Marcus Aurelius, mounted on a horse and now in the Capitoline Museum, the only Roman statue left standing in public when the Christians took over Rome?
  7. How does the word “sincere” relate to marble quarries?
  8. What is the only work that Michelangelo signed?
  9. Although Michelangelo considered himself a sculptor first, he is justly famous for his breathtaking painting on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. How many square feet does the masterpiece cover?
  10. The Spanish Steps are an often visited tourist spot in Rome. How many steps does the iconic location have?

Answers

  1. It leans about 13 feet off its center to the south.
  2. About 800 people live in Vatican City, of which roughly 600 hold citizenship in the city-state.
  3. From the 4th century to 1870, the Vatican gained control of territory around Rome and served as the capital of the Papal States. It was not until 1929 that Vatican City became an independent sovereign nation.
  4. The Republic of San Marino, also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino. The microstate is surrounded by Italy and is roughly 24 square miles in size, with a population of less than 35,000.
  5. The Rialto Market in Venice is the city’s famed place to purchase fish; however, it is closed on Sundays and Mondays, meaning that any fresh fish on Monday’s menu is at best, a catch from Saturday.
  6. The statue of Marcus Aurelius was mistakenly thought to be a statue of Constantine, the Emperor who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.
  7. It was common practice in ancient Rome for marble quarries to fill imperfections with wax. Marble that was certified as sine cera (without wax) was therefore genuine and is the origin of the word sincere.
  8. The Pieta, housed in St. Peter’s Basilica, is the only work signed by the artist. Supposedly he overheard someone attribute the work to another artist and Michelangelo carved his name diagonally across Mary’s chest to eliminate any question as to whose work it was.
  9. The Sistine Chapel ceiling is 5,800 square feet in size and Michelangelo painted every square inch of it over a period of four years.
  10. There are 138 steps.