St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, known as the “Jesuits,” died in 1556 at 64 years old & is buried, not in the country of his heritage in Spain, but in Rome, Italy, in the Church of the Gesù. He wanted to be buried in a church not dedicated to him, but dedicated to Christ. St. Ignatius is famous for writing the “Spiritual Exercises” and also the “Discernment of Spirits” on evaluating your spiritual life and making decisions. Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope. St. Ignatius’ feast day is July 31st.
Prosecco is a youthful but elegant white Italian sparkling wine from the Veneto Region of NE Italy, made mostly from the Glera grape. With aromas of fruit & flowers, its frothy bubbles pair well with fruity appetizers, cured meats, antipasto & almonds. 500 million bottles of Prosecco are produced in Italy each year. Here’s everything you need to know about this lovely sparkling wine, and some wonderful cocktails you can make with it.
Toscanini, Verdi, Puccini – just some of the great names of conductors & composers associated with Milan’s famous Opera House, Teatro alla Scala. Most of the greatest singers in the past 200 years, such as Enrico Caruso and Maria Callas, have performed here, as well as some of the greatest ballet dancers. Built in 1778 it is arguably the most prestigious opera house in the world. It has a rich history, learn more here!
Anisette. The famous licorice flavored liqueur has a rich and interesting Italian history, both for drinking and adding to mixed drinks and espresso. National Anisette Day is July 2nd.
National Spaghetti Day is January 4th. Pasta arrived in Italy before 1295 when Marco Polo brought it from China. He called it “lasagne,” which then meant “noodles.” Tomatoes weren’t added until the 1800’s. Here are some very interesting tidbits on the history of spaghetti, its friend the meatball, and where that glorious tomato sauce first appeared!
The Sistine Chapel & Michelangelo. Interesting and surprising facts about the history and artist of one of the world’s most famous paintings.
Ponte Vecchio: Florence, Italy’s Fascinating Bridge Over The Arno River. The only bridge on the Arno river in Florence not destroyed by the German army in World War II. And you’ll be surprised why.
The Feast of All Saints Day, on November 1st, commemorates all those in Heaven, not just those officially recognized as saints.
White Truffles are a very rare type of mushroom mostly found near Alba, Italy. Sniffed out by dogs, and even pigs, their sublime taste makes them worth thousands of dollars. They are so rare and precious you need a special license just to hunt for them!
Panattone is the tall, rich Italian bread baked especially for the holidays has been made in Milan since the early 1400’s. Made with wheat flour (then an expensive rarity), candied citron or orange peel, butter, and eggs, many of its ingredients came from far away. It is now a world favorite for Christmas.
Olive Oil. Did you know that the region of Puglia, the heel of the boot, is Italy’s top olive oil producer with some 40% of total output. Next is Calabria or the toe area of Italy with about 27%.
San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore, Italy is a hilltop town in the Abruzzo region of central Italy, named after St. Valentine & is nestled in the Appennine mountains, located on the northern edge of the National Park of Majella.
For Fun Facts On Italy’s Beloved Saints Click Here.