Italy has more to offer than just sun, sea and cultural treasures. The Mediterranean country holds many secrets and we take a trip through the weirdest things our readers can experience there.
Eat at Cencio La Parolaccia in Rome
This traditional Roman ‘osteria’ is one of the weirdest places to visit in the Italian capital. The food is great, of course, but the waiters swear at you.
La parolaccia, in fact, means swear word. And while you wait for trippa or pajata – a sort of Italian haggis, made of lamb’s stomach and bowels - you’ll be delighted by the waiters and the owners shouting four-letter words and cursing you in Romanesco, the local dialect. It's a humiliating experience, but one of Rome’s best-sellers.
Go to the top of the Asinelli Tower in Bologna
But only after you have graduated. This 97 metre tall Medieval tower will make you sweat with its 498 steps.
But pay attention: to climb Bologna’s tallest tower you have to be a university graduate, if you want to avoid bad luck.
The worst thing you can do is to climb it during lecture time. Nobody knows what is going to happen if you do it, but in Italy there’s a saying: ‘Prevenire è meglio che curare’. Prevention is better than a cure.
Looking for the Italian Nessie
In San Marco's church, Milan, there’s a strange 14th century painting, with a sort of dragon. Historians and milanesi – Milan’s citizens – believe that it is an Italian monster, similar to the one believed to live in Lochness, Scotland, which once inhabited a lake near the glamorous Italian city.
In the church there are other images of the dragon. So, you can delight yourself with a treasure hunt, looking for a bit of Scotland in northern Italy.
Sea and seafood
Italy is one of the few countries in which you can eat sea urchins. From Puglia to Sardinia, a lot of Italians get together in coastal towns in spring.
Scissors and gloves are the instruments used to open the delicacies and the taste is that of the Italian sea. Clean, fresh and an aphrodisiac.
Sardinians used to say that sea urchins are like Viagra. And you can also eat them with spaghetti.
Surfing the Venetian waves on a sea scooter
In theory, it is not allowed. But sometimes you can see a sea scooter running in the old Venetian canals. No cars, no buses, no bikes: Venice is one of the strangest cities in the world. So, why not to enjoy a ride on the water?
You can hire a sea scooter at Il Lido, Venice’s beach. And then try to divert to the old town. But pay attention to the gondolas: they are everywhere!
Avoid pink and choose orange; and join a food fight
The battle of the oranges is a Carnival and festival in the northern city of Ivrea. It includes a tradition of throwing oranges between organized groups. Dangerous but fun.
The origin of the tradition to throw oranges is not well understood, particularty as the fruit do not grow in the foothills of the Italian Alps and must be imported from Sicily. Every year, an average of 265,000 kilograms (580,000 lb) are brought to the city.
If you love someone, lock your padlock in Ponte Milvio (Milvio Bridge) in Rome
In late 2006, the bridge began attracting couples, who use a lamppost on the bridge to hang padlocks as a sign of their love and then throw the key behind them into the river Tiber.
The writer Federico Moccia invented this ritual, which appears in his popular book I Want You. In 2007, the lamppost partially collapsed: there were too many padlocks. However, couples decided to use road posts, garbage bins and railings all around the bridge.
Join Articolo 28, the first Italian gay fetish military group
The group organize trips to the country, where they dress and fantasize about living like Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman.
The real aim of the group is to avoid the typical camp gay culture. Their next trip, from 18 to 20 May, will be to the region of Marche, but the real venue is still a secret. A strict dress code and rules apply. It's definitely not for everyone.
Good luck in Milan’s Galleria
If you look at the floor, you can see a mosaic with a bull. You can see that there is a hole in its genitals and you may wonder why. Well, a tradition says that if you put your right heel on this hole and turn around three times, this will bring you good luck.
Hundreds of tourists rotate around the bull’s genitals every day, that is why the mosaic needs a lot of maintenance. True locals – milanesi – think those naïve tourists doing the bull testicle squeezing exercise are a bit pathetic. But everybody needs good luck. So, why not to try it?