Amazing Things You Never Knew The Italians Invented

We have much to thank the Italians for – from the Roman roads to their delicious cuisine – which is why so many of us love to visit Italy, to the lively streets and ancient ruins of a Rome city break to mountainous Abruzzo villa holidays. But they have also brought all manner of fantastic, life-changing inventions which have helped shape society to become what it is today. Many of these inventions would not normally be associated with Italy, so expect a few surprises as you read on!


A pair of jeans on a hanger


Jeans are mostly associated with American fashion and culture, so it may surprise you that they can actually be traced back to the Italian city of Genoa. Sailors there began wearing them in the 17th-century, and it is thought that the word ‘jeans’ actually derived from the French word for Genoa, Genes! It is thought that it was in this city that the cotton corduroy, named jeane or something similar was manufactured. Who knew?


A radio with a plant and record


One of the inventors of the radio was Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor and electrical engineer, who sent and received the first transatlantic radio signal in 1901. His pioneering invention later won him a Nobel Prize for Physics, and was used on board the RMS Titanic, saving hundreds of lives in the disaster.


A piano, invented by an Italian


The piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori, who worked as a harpsichord maker for the Grand Prince of Tuscany, Ferdinando de’Medici. He built his first piano in 1700, transforming the performance of music to the beloved sounds we all know and love today!


A pile of news papers on a bench


The very first form of newspapers can be traced back to 16th-century Venice, when ‘avvisi’, monthly handwritten news-sheets, were published by the government. They were a very primitive form of the newspapers we have today, carrying only the most important political, economic and military news without any entertainment sections. They were primarily created to be a better way to share news around the country (and sometimes the world) with a wide audience.


An espresso machine in use

Espresso machines

Perhaps the least surprising invention to feature on this list, the espresso machine. It was built and patented by Angelo Moriondo of Turin, who first demonstrated his invention at the Turin General Exposition of 1884 and was granted a patent in the same year for ‘new steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of coffee beverage’. This prototype was then improved upon by Milanese mechanic Luigi Bezzera. It is no wonder that the Italian’s hold coffee so dearly to their hearts!


A pile of money stacked in a bank


The very first banks can be traced to medieval and early Renaissance Italy, with The Medici Bank, having been founded by Giovanni di Bicci de’Medici in 1397. Italy is also home to the oldest bank still in operation today, the Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which opened in 1472. The English word ‘bank’ derived from the Italian word ‘banco’ or ‘banca’ which originally simply meant a bench with a back. Over the years the name developed in meaning, changing to a shop country, a work bench and finally a counter where money would exchange hands!