|Mr. Roberto Cajati is Senior Consultant - Former Deputy Consul General of Italy in HCMC.
Ngoc Diep: Buon giorno. Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Roberto Cajati. Talking about Italy, everybody would say about Vatican, Rome, the colosseum, Pisa, Venice, Florence, food like pizza, pasta, and gelato ice cream. But you promised you would share with us something totally different and surprising about the Italian culture. What are they?
Mr. Roberto Cajati: Ciao. Thank you, too, for having me today. Italy has become well-known for many things culturally like you just mentioned. However, there are many surprising facts about the country that not many have heard of, I assume. For example, Italy is home to 3 of the world’s most active volcanoes.
Ngoc Diep: That I did not know for sure. What are they?
Mr. Roberto Cajati: They are called Etna, Stromboli and Vesuvius. Some of you might be familiar with Vesuvius’s reputation as it is responsible for one of the most famous volcanic eruptions in history. The eruption in the year 79 CE caused the destruction of the important cities of Pompei and Ercolano and the story of Vesuvius endures today for that very reason. These volcanoes are all monitored very closely by the Italian government and scientific groups to ensure the safety of the citizens in the event of an eruption. No catastrophic eruptions have occurred for a long time but they remain vigilant. In total, there are about 60 active volcanoes in Europe, mostly located in Italy and Iceland.
|Stromboli is counted as one of the most active volcanoes on earth and one of the four hikeable active volcanos in Italy. Photo: https://www.theglobetrottingdetective.com/
Ngoc Diep: Wow. That is new to me, at least. I did not know that most of Europe’s active volcanoes are located in Italy and Iceland. I really can’t wait for more fun facts about Italy. So, what is the next fact you would share with us today?
Mr. Roberto Cajati: Well, you may not be aware, that when you travel to Italy, you may actually visit 3 countries in one go. The first if of course Italy, the other two are: Vatican City and San Marino. Both countries are entirely enclaved by Italy, however, they are independent.
|In the northeastern part of the Italian Peninsula lies San Marino, one of the world’s tiny micro states surrounded entirely by the country of Italy. Photo: https://borgenproject.org/
Ngoc Diep: It’s amazing to know. I’ve been to Rome, Vatican, and Venice, but not San Marino. This country should be on my bucket list the next time I visit Italy. The country has so many amazing geographical fun facts. What else should we learn?
Mr. Roberto Cajati: One more thing that you should know about the terrain of Italy is that it is chock-full of hills and mountains. One-fifth of the entire country is either hilly or mountainous. This can make for some interesting hiking adventures for people who are so inclined. What’s interesting is that you don’t need to go for in the mountains to find a good hiking route. Only a few people know that you can take a good hike while visiting Tuscany. Just take a taxi to Florence to start a Renaissance Ring Trail that circles this city. But if you really want a taste of discovering not well-known places far from the historical cities but beautiful and interesting I suggest you to rent a car.
|The Italian volcano Etna is located in the eastern coast of Sicily. Photo: https://scitechdaily.com/
Ngoc Diep: Is that all to know about Italy’s special terrain?
Mr. Roberto Cajati: Actually, there is one more fact relating to Italy’s terrain. Italy is known to have more earthquakes than the other countries in Europe and sometimes these natural disasters can prove deadly. The most recent earthquake with a high number of deaths, around 300, was near Rome in 2016, but the worst in recent history with very high deadly results was back in 1980.
Ngoc Diep: Too bad. I’ve read about that quake, too.
Mr. Roberto Cajati: Yes. It’s really a disaster. It occurred in Southern Italy near Naples and took the life of an estimated 3,000 people. Although earthquakes do not occur with incredible regularity, the people of Italy remain mindful of the fact that they are a possibility that they will have to deal with.
Ngoc Diep: Now, let’s change to a more delightful subject. Is there anything special we should know about Italy’s food? I’ve tasted pasta and pizza in Rome and they were super delicious.
Mr. Roberto Cajati: Indeed, they are. Everyone knows that pasta is a large part of Italian culture. The pasta history is also one of the food facts in Italy that is worth knowing. Many of the finest pasta dishes have been created and perfected in Italy. What you may not know is that the use of pasta in Italy dates back to ancient history. Historians have been able to place people using pasta dishes in Italy as far back as the 4th century BCE.
Ngoc Diep: Wow. That’s really long in history. What about pizza? Are there any special fun facts about it?
Mr. Roberto Cajati: Of course, yes. The origin of the pizza, could be placed at the turn of the '500 and' 600 in the Kingdom of Naples. But the first Pizza Margherita was created in June 1889, to honor the Queen of Italy Margherita of Savoy, a pizza topped with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, to represent the colors of the Italian flag, green white and red. Pizza has gone through many changes and has become a staple treat in many people’s diets across the globe. But if you want to taste something real special, because of the techniques of preparation and high-quality ingredients, there is only one place: Naples.
Ngoc Diep: I can’t agree with you more. And what are other curious facts about Italy’s food that we might have not known?
Mr. Roberto Cajati: Yes. One important fact about Italy’s food is biodiversity. Italy is extremely rich in biodiversity; it has the highest number and density of both animal and plant species within the European Union. And this affects directly the variety of food, As an example Italy has the highest variety of chees in the world. It’s one of Italy’s greatest gifts to the world, with over 2,500 traditional cheeses. Some of the most popular include parmesan, mozzarella, ricotta, provolone and gorgonzola. The country is the third-largest cheese producer in the European Union, behind France and Germany. If you’re a cheese fanatic, head to Lombardy where they make 77 varieties of cheese.
Ngoc Diep: That’s a lot. I’ll definitely visit Lombardy for its landscape and cheese when I have the opportunity. Well, pizza, pasta, and cheese, all are so yummy. Italy is for sure a heaven for many food lovers, including me.
Thank you, Mr. Roberto Cajati, Senior Consultant - Former Deputy Consul General of Italy in HCMC, for sharing with us some interesting facts about Italy’s geography and food.
Mr. Roberto Cajati: It’s my pleasure. Thank you, too. Goodbye. Arrivederci.