who am i?...

I invented the presepio or nativity scene.

I'm one of the most venerated religious figures in history, but was never ordained a Catholic priest.

My mother was French and I was a devotee of the troubadours in my youth.

I was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant but married "Lady Poverty".

In 1219 I went to Egypt in an attempt to convert the Sultan and end the Crusades.

I wrote the first poem in Italian (Umbrian to be exact).

Along with Caterina di Siena I'm the Patron Saint of Italy.

I referred to the sun and moon as my brother and sister and preached to the birds.

My real name is Giovanni but you know me as Francesco.

Who am I?

St. Francis of Assisi.


st. peter's basilica by the numbers

Year construction began: 1506

Year it ended: 1626

Total years it took to build: 120

Number of popes who reigned during this time: 21

Age of Michelangelo when he took over as superintendent of the building program at St. Peter's: in his 70s

Cost to build: 46,800,052 ducats

Year Pope Pius XII announced, in a radio broadcast to the world, the discovery of St. Peter's tomb under the Basilica: 1950

Height of the letters inscribed in the dome, which read, TV ES PETRVS ET SVPER HANC PETRAM AEDIFICABO ECCLESIAM MEAM. TIBI DABO CLAVES REGNI CAELORVM ( are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church...I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…): 2 meters

Number of tombs within the Basilica: over 100

Year the Basilica's oldest bell dates to: 1288

Length: 730 feet

Width: 500 feet

Height (max): 452 feet

Dome, diameter (outer): 137.7 feet

Total area covered: 5.7 acres (roughly 5 soccer fields)


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who am i?...

In 1492, at age 20, I took over from my deceased father as ruler of Florence and head of our vast banking empire.

By 1494 I had lost everything. Charles VIII of France led an army to our gates - I unconditionally surrendered and was exiled.

My four kids all died young, two in infancy, one at 26 and one at 35.

I was attempting to flee battle in 1503 when the boat I was in, overloaded with arms, capsized in the Garigliano river, and I drowned. I was 31 years old.

I was nicknamed Lo Sfortunato, and Il Fatuo (The Unlucky, and The Fatuous).

Who am I?

Piero de' Medici, unlucky firstborn son of Lorenzo the Magnificent.


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pasta by the numbers

Ranking of pasta in Oxfam's recent survey of the world's favourite foods: 1.

Total value of pasta sold worldwide in 2010: US$16 billion.

2011 kg per capita consumption of pasta in...

Italy: 26
Venezuela: 12.3
Tunisia: 11.9
Greece: 10.5
Switzerland: 9.3
US: 8.8
Canada: 6.5
Japan: 1.7

Number of times a week in 2011 average Italian ate pasta: 5.

Number of shapes and sizes of pasta: 310.

Number of names these shapes and sizes are known by: 1300.

Century when mass production techniques introduced in Naples made pasta available to the masses for the first time (prior to this it was a luxury food): 18th.

As for the the age-old Italy vs China debate about who invented pasta, this should settle it...


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how did italy get its name?

Well no one knows for sure but it seems "Italia" comes from VÍTELIÚ, an Oscan word meaning "land of young cattle". (Similar to vitello in Italian which means "calf" or "veal".)

Oscan was a language spoken mainly in Southern Italy from about 500 to 100 BCE. When the Romans took over it went extinct.

The most famous Oscan-speakers were the Samnites, a tribe who even the Romans feared as very fierce warriors. Still today people in certain parts of Campania, Puglia, Molise and Abruzzo often refer to their territory as il Sannio (or Samnium as the Romans called it, the nation of the Samnites).

Anyhow some experts say the name originally applied to Calabria only. Others that it was imposed on the young Roman Republic by conquering tribes from today's Abruzzo. It was later applied to the whole peninsula by Emperor Augustus as a province of the Empire, and the name stuck.


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