Welcome to ItalianTrivia.com!!!

This website was launched by Scott Paul Frush, author of the book Ultimate Italian Trivia: A Treasure Trove of Fun and Fascinating Facts.

Over time I will add more trivia to this website. Please email me your trivia and I am happy to cite your name and website if you’re interested.

—————–

FROM CHAPTER 1: Astronomy, Exploration, & Transportation: Italian Discoveries of New Worlds

On August 3, 1492 Columbus set sail with ninety sailors and three ships on his first voyage of discovery. Name his three ships.

Santa Maria, Nina and Pinta

.

Born in Genoa around 1450, I am known for my service to the English crown and for claiming land that would become the first American colonies. Who am I?

John Cabot, born Giovanni Caboto (1450 – 1498)

.

According to an ordinance that dates back hundreds of years, how many colors can gondolas be painted?

Only one, black. This was in response to gondoliers painting their gondolas many different colors, thus detracting from the environment.

.

In Italy, what does the street sign “Senso Unico” signify?             

One-way street

.

Christopher Columbus referred to this newly discovered food as “pinas de Indes”, or Indian pine cone. What fruit did Columbus discover and bring back to Europe?

Pineapples

.

In contrast to street addresses in the United States, how are street addresses typically written in Italy?

They begin with the street name followed by the address number

.

This island, located in the West Indies due north of South American, was discovered by Columbus on his third voyage to the New World in 1498. Which island did Columbus name for the Holy Trinity?

Trinidad

.

What is the name for highways and expressways in Italy?

Autostrada

.

What do Cristobal Colon and Cristovio Colombo have in common?

The names for Christopher Columbus in Spanish and in Portuguese, respectively.

.

Born in Florence around 1483, I am known for my great exploration of the North American coast. In addition, I was the first European to explore present-day New York harbor and the first to prove that the New World was indeed a new land and not part of Asia. Who am I?

Giovanni da Verrazano (1483 – 1528)

.

FROM CHAPTER 2: Cuisine & Culinary Contributions: The Essence of Italian Food and Drink

This triangular shaped pastry is made of thin, layered flakes of dough, all wrapped around a moist and creamy filling, typically almond flavor. Name this pastry.

Sfogliatelle

.

This food, invented by an Italian monk around 610 A.D., is shaped to mimic the folded arms of praying children. It was invented for the purpose of giving children an inducement and reward for memorizing their prayers. Name this food.

Pretzel, specifically the crisscross pretzel

.

This region of Italy boasts some of the finest lobsters in all of Europe. From here, lobsters make their way to many dinner plates throughout Europe. Name this region.

Sardinia

.

This Italian sparkling wine, produced in the regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto, is made from a variety of late-ripening white grapes. Name this wine.

Prosecco

.

The father of modern ice cream is a 15th century Florentine architect. Name him.

Bernardo Buontalenti

.

Many Italians like to put anisette or sambuca into what drinks?

Espresso or cappuccino

.

What is the name for the noontime meal eaten by Italians?

Colazione

.

What gives red grapes its distinctive color?

Resveratrol, small molecules found in the skin of red grapes

.

In 1917, Achille Gaggia of Milan invented a high-pressure machine to replace the outdated steam machine. This invention, even more popular today, produces a more flavorful and intense drink while reducing the time needed to produce it. Name the drink this machine produces.

Espresso

.

This pastry of Sicilian origin is a tube of crisp, fried pastry dough filled with ricotta cheese and other ingredients; including nuts, dried fruits and chocolate chips. Name this pastry.

Cannoli

.

FROM CHAPTER 3: Economics, Money, & Business: The Rise of Italian Commerce and Wealth

In which Italian city was the oldest bank in the world, Banca Monte Paschi, founded in 1472?

Siena

.

The art of shoemaking began in which Italian city in the 12th century?

Venice

.

Only recently discovered in Spain, what unique map is now on display in the city of Turin?

World’s oldest surviving map from the 1st century B.C. by a previously obscure geographer, Artemidorus of Ephesus.

.

What did the Bank of Venice invent in 1171 to facilitate purchases of personal and business property?

Letter of credit

.

This Italian sports automaker, acquired by Volkswagen subsidiary Audi, is recognized for their sleek and innovative body styles. Name this company. (Hint: Countach and Diablo)

Lamborghini

.

Textile manufacturing is Italy’s second largest manufacturing industry. What is the largest manufacturing industry in Italy?

Auto manufacturing

.

What type of coin did Florence mint in 1252 that made this coin the first of this type in the world?

Gold coin, called the florin

.

Located in the financial center of London, England, this major street was established by Italian bankers from Lombardi. Name this street that is a counterpart to Wall Street in New York.

Lombard Street

.

Italy has scarce mineral resources, except for one found extensively in Tuscany. Name this mineral where Italy is the world’s largest producer.

Mercury

.

Italy was the first European nation to mint what type of currency in 1998?

Euro

.

FROM CHAPTER 4: Holidays, Traditions, & People: Uncovering Italian Customs and Civic Life

Born in Modena on October 12, 1935, I am known as one of the greatest tenors of all time and recognized for my ease at hitting the difficult high C notes with repetition. Who am I?

Luciano Pavarotti (1935 – present)

.

What do the three colors—green, white and red—of the Italian flag represent?

Green is for liberty and hope, white is for virtue and faith and red is for courage and charity.

.

Written to remind Italians of their past battles for freedom, this patriotic song was played for the first time on December 1, 1847. Name this song written by Goffredo Mameli and composed by Michele Novaro.  

Italian National Anthem, known as L’Inno di Mameli

.

What is an “edicole sacra”?

Sacred niches or small roadside shrines along Italian roads

.

This event, celebrated in Siena on July 2nd and August 16th, pits the city’s 17 districts (contrades) against each other in a horserace where horses are selected by lottery and winning for your district is very important. Name this event.

Corsa del Palio, or Parade of the Banner

.

In Italy, school is compulsory until what age?

Age 14

.

Now known as the Mexican Hat Dance, this dance originated out of southern Italy where the foot was pointed, in contrast to the Mexican version where the foot is flexed. Name the Italian version of this dance.

La Raspa

.

The Roman symbol of protection was represented by which animal?

Dog

.

What is the origin of the term “Your Valentine”?

Prior to his execution, Saint Valentine wrote a letter to a friend and signed the letter with the salutation, Your Valentine.

.

What tree is symbolic of an Italian’s love of family, friends and mother nature?

Fig

.

FROM CHAPTER 5: Holy Catholic Church & The Vatican: Little Known Facts and Figures

Pope Pius VI established the first Catholic diocese in the United States on April 6, 1789. Name the American city where this diocese was established.

Baltimore

.

What pagan tradition in ancient Rome led to gift giving by Christians at Christmas time?

During the feast of Saturnalia from December 17th through December 23rd, gifts were exchanged to honor the god Saturn.

.

The second largest religious procession in the world is held in Catania, Sicily on February 5th. Which feast day do Sicilians celebrate on this day?

Saint Agatha

.

What is the name for the skullcap worn by bishops and other prelates?

Zucchetto

.

Saint Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine Order, and his twin sister are buried together at the Abbey of Monte Cassino. Name this twin sister and saint.

Saint Scholastica

.

Who is the patron saint of Milan?

Saint Ambrose

.

The modern Saint Peter’s Basilica was built atop an older basilica erected by Constantine. In what year was the new Saint Peter’s Basilica consecrated? (a) 1056 (b) 1401 (c) 1626

(c) 1626

.

During the early days of the Christian Church when persecution was wide-spread and frequent, what food did Christians serve as a secret code to identify other Christians?

Fish

.

What wild animal did Saint Francis of Assisi tame?

Wolf

.

What is the birth name of Pope John Paul II?

Karol Wojtyla

.

FROM CHAPTER 6: Government, Organization, & Leadership: Trailblazing Italian Statesmen and Their Contributions

How many linguistic minorities are recognized by the Italian constitution and laws?

Eleven

.

The mysterious Etruscans are thought to have immigrated from Eastern Europe or perhaps from Asia Minor. Approximately when did Etruscan society begin in Italy and how long did it last?

Began around 800 to 900 B.C. and lasted about 700 years before being absorbed by the Romans.

.

“Black Shirts” was the name given to the Fascist followers of this leader that forcefully seized power in Italy on October 28, 1922 with their legendary “March on Rome”. Name this leader.

Benito Mussolini

.

What distinction does Pietro Badoglio, a 20th century Italian politician, hold?

Prime minister after Mussolini was toppled

.

This Italian organized a political society called “La Giovine Italia” or “Young Italy”. His motto was “Dio e il Popolo” or “God and the people”. Name this great leader of the Italian reunification.

Giuseppe Mazzini (1805 – 1872)

.

What aspect of the U.S. electoral system is based on the ancient Roman Republic form of election?

Use of the electoral college

.

Which Italian city was the first to fly the modern Italian flag in the 19th century?

Modena

.

Born in Nice on July 4, 1807, I am known as one of the fathers of Italian unification with the Italian National Anthem named in honor of me. Who am I?

Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807 – 1882)

.

On what date was Mussolini named prime minister of Italy?

October 31, 1922

.

What symbols were present on the Italian flag, but removed when Italy became a Republic in 1946?

Crown and Coat of Arms

.

FROM CHAPTER 7: Italian Americans & Immigration: Italian Heritage and People Outside of Italy

Born Concetta Franconero in 1938, this legendary Italian American music star sung such hits as Who’s Sorry Now and Where the Boys Are (1963). Name her.

Connie Francis

.

This Italian American, a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law, is the first American of Italian heritage to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Name him.

Antonin Scalia, the son of Sicilian parents

.

George Randazzo, a Chicago businessman, created a sports organization and museum in 1978 to honor the contributions Italian Americans have made to athletics. Name this organization and museum located in Chicago.

National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame

.

What is the name for the center of the Italian community in Chicago located just west of the loop?

Little Italy

.

Which American singer was born Frank Paul Lo Vecchio?

Frankie Lane

.

Which two great leaders of the American Revolution were fluent in the Italian language?            

Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin

.

In contrast to the immigration boom of 1880 to 1930, the 30-year period of 1820 to 1850 saw approximately how many Italians immigrate to the United States?

Fewer than 5,000

.

New Yorker Francis B. Spinola was the very first Italian American to serve in which political establishment?

United States House of Representatives

.

This former U.S. Senator, born on May 7, 1932 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is one of five children of Italian immigrants from Lucca, Tuscany. He is also the first Republican in 38 years elected from New Mexico to the United States Senate. Name him.

Pete Domenici

.

In 1837, Italian American John Phinizy became the first Italian American mayor of a major U.S. city. Name this city. (a) Providence, Rhode Island (b) Washington, D.C. (c) Augusta, Georgia

(c) Augusta, Georgia

.

FROM CHAPTER 8: Language, Literature, & Philosophy: Investigating Italian Communication and Expression

Julius Caesar was frequently quoted as saying “Veni, Vidi, Vici”. This expression was first spoken by Caesar to report his victory over Pharnaces, King of Pontus, in 47 BC. What is the English translation?

I came, I saw, I conquered

.

This commonly spoken English word originated from an Italian word meaning an expression used to convey something special about a person or organization. What is this Italian word?

Motto

.

The fall of the Roman Empire and the destruction of Rome by the Vandals, a Germanic tribe, inspired what term that is used today to describe destructive acts?

Vandalism

.

What does an Italian say when he sends you good wishes?

Auguri

.

What is the name for the language group that is based on the Latin language?

Romance languages

.

Alessandro Manzoni (1785 – 1873), considered the greatest writer since the Renaissance, is credited with helping to foster the Tuscan dialect as the modern Italian national language and pushing for Italian unification. Name his 1827 masterpiece book that he is most remembered.

I Promessi Sposi (in English, The Betrothed)

.

This commonly spoken English word originated from an Italian word meaning an ethnic section of a city or town that is economically depressed. What is this Italian word?

Ghetto

.

This word, now commonplace in the English language, originated from Latin meaning a large open hall or patio located within a Roman villa. What is this word?

Atrium

.

Born in Milan on March 7, 1785, I am known for defining the modern Italian language by rewriting my novel, Il Promesso, with a Tuscan dialect, thus promoting a unified Italy and unified language. Who am I?

Alessandro Manzoni (1785 – 1873)

.

The English word “music” is derived from the Italian word “musica”, which itself is derived from the word “mousike”. From what language does “mousike” originate?

Greek

.

FROM CHAPTER 9: Military History & Contributions: Pivotal Battles and Wars that Shook the Landscape

The victory over the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 signaled the rise of which city-state?

Venice

.

During World War II, the capture of what island off the coast of Sicily by the Allied forces in June of 1943 launched the Italian campaign and the beginning of the end for Mussolini?

Pantelleria

.

This town, called Cassinum by the ancient Romans, is known for its famous Abbey of Monte Cassino, established in A.D. 529. During World War II, this town was devastated in a famous battle that was later depicted on the big screen by Hollywood. Name this town located 80 miles south of Rome.

Cassino

.

The Venetians were the first to mount what type of weapon on naval vessels?

Cannons

.

Approximately how many years did the ancient Romans colonize and occupy modern-day England?

475 years, ending in 420 A.D.

.

The Saracens (Arabs) were responsible for introducing sugar cane, coffee, cotton, oranges, lemons and other fruit to Europe via their 9th century conquest of Sicily. What people expelled the Saracens for good from Italy in the 11th century?

Normans

.

Similar to the Blue Angels in America, this elite group of military pilots is trained to represent Italy in special air shows around the world. Name this elite aviation unit.

Le Folgore

.

Invented in Italy in the early 14th century, this weapon was the first cannon that fired iron projectiles. Name this weapon.

Bombarda

.

Who were considered the most revered, and therefore most expensive, of all ancient Roman slaves?

Educated Greeks

.

During World War II, who were the Partigiani?

Partisans, or rebel fighters, fighting the Fascist regime

.

FROM CHAPTER 10: Music, Art, & Architecture: Exploring Italian Masters of Craft

How long did Leonardo da Vinci take to paint the Mona Lisa?

Three years, from 1503 to 1506

.

Where can you find a replica of the statue of David?

Florence, near the Palazzo Vecchio

.

This literary great was the first to write a major literary work in the vernacular rather than in Latin. He is also considered the father of the Italian language. Name him.

Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321)

.

Born in Cremona in 1567, I am known as the father of the modern opera and wrote the first opera, Orfeo. Who am I?

Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643)

.

Which great present-day Italian tenor who holds a Doctorate of Law from the University of Pisa? (Hint: sang at the closing ceremony of the 2006 Olympic games in Turin)

Andrea Bocelli (1958 – present)

.

Born in 1240, I am known as the Italian painter who bridged the gap between Byzantine art of the Middle Ages and Renaissance art. Who am I?

Cimabue, born Bencivieni di Pepo (1240 – 1302)

.

What exquisit international art gallery houses the famed Mona Lisa painting by Da Vinci?

Louvre, located in Paris

.

What terrestrial phenomenon can be seen in the upper portion of The Adoration of the Magi by the great Italian painter Giotto?

A comet. Thought to be Halley’s Comet.

.

Name the most treasured opera from composer Vincenzo Bellini.

Norma

.

What is Michelangelo’s last name?

Buonarroti

.

FROM CHAPTER 11: Sciences, Biology, & Invention: Contributions Italians Have Given to the World

The first medical school in the Western world was established in the 9th century in which Italian city?

Salerno (Sicily), at the University of Salerno

.

Resveratrol, an anti-oxidant in wine, is said to help slow what biological process?

Ageing

.

To protect soldiers from the elements of weather, specifically their feet, ankles and neck, what articles of clothing did the Romans introduce to the world?

Neck ties and socks. Socks, or hosa as they were called by the Romans, were said to be introduced by Julius Caesar.

.

In 1900, Enrico Forlanini invented the first true device that lifted and propelled boats. Later versions enabled boats to reach speeds of 50 mph. What did he invent?

Hydrofoil

.

Established in the 11th century, this university was the first university in all of Europe. Name this renowned university.

University of Bologna

.

An Italian café owner is credited with selling the first ice cream. In which European city was the first ice cream sold?

Paris, France

.

What type of fencing was invented by an Italian?

Rapier

.

This type of instruction book was introduced in the early 17th century by Agostini Agazzari. What type of instruction did this book provide?

Music

.

This game was invented in Rome using flattened iron rings. The rings were tossed at two different stakes located 18 feet apart and 1 inch from the ground. Name this game invented by Italians that was originally called quotis.

Horseshoes

.

According to Roman mythology, this goddess of flowers is synonymous with flowers and vegetation from a particular area. Name this goddess.

Flora

.

FROM CHAPTER 12: Sports, Leisure, & Fashion: Italian Entertainment, Pastime, and Lifestyle

This game was invented in Rome using flattened iron rings. The rings were tossed at two different stakes located 18 feet apart and 1 inch from the ground. Name this game invented by Italians that was originally called quotis.

Horseshoes

.

According to Roman mythology, this goddess of flowers is synonymous with flowers and vegetation from a particular area. Name this goddess.

Flora

.

What element of design did the ancient Romans incorporate into shoes around 200 B.C.?

Shoes crafted with one designed for the right foot and one designed for the left foot

.

Italians Vincenzo Viviani and Giovanni Alfonso Borelli were the first to accurately measure what type of speed in the 17th century? (Hint: they estimated the speed at 1,148 feet per second)

Speed of sound. The modern and refined measurement for the speed of sound is 1,087 feet per second, darn close.

.

In 1890, Italian Giuseppe Airoldi invented a language thinking puzzle that can be found in most newspapers across the globe. What did he invent?

Crossword puzzles

.

Born in Rome on September 29, 1901, I am known for my groundbreaking work with atomic particles, which lead to the development of the atomic bomb. In 1938, I received the Nobel Prize for this work. Who am I?

Enrico Fermi (1901 – 1954)

.

Venetians are known for their skill in crafting glass. What unique type of glass did they introduce that made looking through glass much easier?

Colorless glass

.

Which musical instrument did Italians invent that is based on the violin?

Cello

.

In Latin, a “caeso matris utere” is a birth by Caesarian section. Which Roman general, perhaps the most famous of all generals, was born this way?

Julius Caesar (102 B.C. – 44 B.C.)

.

What article of clothing did Italians invent that originated from the Italian comic character, Saint Pantaleone?

Pants or trousers

.

FROM CHAPTER 13: Travel, Destinations, & Geography: Revealing Italian Hotspots and Spectacular Locations

Which naval base in Italy is the home port for the United States Navy’s Sixth Fleet?

Gaeta, near Naples

.

This British capital was founded by the Romans in 115 A.D. as Londinium. Name the modern city.

London

.

Naples was founded by the ancient Greeks and given the name “Neapolis”. What does this mean in Greek?

“New City”

.

What mighty river runs through both Florence and Pisa?              

Arno

.

In which Italian city would you find the remains of Saint Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of Russia?

Bari, capital of Apulia

.

In Latin, the word for this place means “tellers of the future”. During ancient Roman times, the location where this place now sits was once home to fortunetellers. What stands on this location today?

Vatican City

.

This hilltop town of Umbria was known as Volsinii by its Etruscan founders. Below the town in caves you can find ancient 9th century B.C. settlements from the Etruscans. Today this town is known for their excellent wines. Name this town.

Orvieto

.

What straight divides Sicily from Calabria and the rest of Italy?

Straight of Messina (Streeto di Messina)

.

How many Italian cities have populations of over one million and which cities are they?

Four—Rome, Milan, Naples, and Turin

.

This town is known as the first city to emerge from the dark ages and has a coastline and road named after it. Name this town.

Amalfi

 

*** END OF ITALIAN TRIVIA ***

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized