9 big misconceptions about Italy

Most Germans had never heard of pizza and spaghetti until the 1950s. Then tourism boomed and Italy established itself as one of the most popular travel destinations for German holidaymakers. Over the decades, many clichés about Italy have been established. The traveling reporter reveals the biggest prejudices and mistakes.

1. Pizza was invented in Italy

According to Italian legend, the pizza maker Raffaele Esposito baked the first pizza in Naples in 1889 – in honor of King Umberto I’s wife Margherita, it is said that he took the Italian national colors as a model for the ceiling: basil (green), mozzarella (white) and tomato (red). It seems like a real recipe for success: “Pizza Margherita” is still the most popular type of pizza in the world.

Italian Craftsmanship: The pizzaiolo profession has a centuries-old tradition.

According to research by historians, the Italian court was already served pizza. The king’s wife chose eight favorites from a list of 35 toppings, which were then baked in different “pizzaolos”. So Esposito wasn’t the first pizza baker—unlike the other court vendors, he could only provide proof of receipt.

The origin of the dough circle on top goes back a long way. Assyrians baked dough covered with meat 2000 years before Christ. It is from here that today’s Lahmaku developed in the Far East.

Today’s piazza was invented before the Italians cultivated it. It is unclear whether Italian chefs once took pizza as a model. The first pizza-like dishes with tomatoes, oregano and basil are proven to have been baked in Italy as early as the 18th century.

However, the country can pride itself on its famous cuisine: “The art of baking Neapolitan pizza” has been on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2017.

2. Ice cream was invented in Italy

No, just like pizza, ice cream is produced in Italy, elsewhere. There, researchers found a document with a 1692 ice cream recipe. Ingredients: sugar, salt, lemon juice, cinnamon, chocolate, various fruits – and ice. Almost 100 years later, Neapolitan Filippo Baldini published the first ice cream recipe book.

The Ice Cream House in Venice: The place where ice cream was invented is still unclear.

In the 18th century, evidence of ice cream recipes was also found in France and America. This was made possible by the early 13th century world explorer Marco Polo, who observed and wrote about ice production in China with ice and saltpeter. Asian recipes can make the rounds in Europe.

However, some older ice cream recipes from ancient Rome and Arab countries contradict this. Exactly where ice cream was created cannot be determined with certainty.

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3. Italian women have many children

From a German point of view, a family reunion in Italy seems like a big event. The number of people who gather around the dining table on special occasions in many Italian families may be the origin of this cliché: Italians have many children.

However, a look at fertility rates in the EU disproves this prejudice. According to the Statista data platform, every Italian woman giving birth had an average of 1.4 children in 2020. This puts Italy in 25th place, followed by France (1.83 children), Romania (1.8) and the Czech Republic (1.71). The German birth rate (1.53, level 15) is even higher than the number of children born in Italy.

4. Cupid! Italians have a lot of sex

The Italian macho cliché that almost every woman has wrapped around his finger in no time may have been spread by jealous German men. Apparently, you think you feel a lot less flirtatious in this country – or is that just a cliché?

One thing is certain: “Flirting success rates” are inherently difficult to determine. However, it is based on data from a 2006 study by condom manufacturer Durex, which surveyed nearly 22,000 people around the world about their sexual behavior.