Flattery – A historical tool for both disarming and defusing, flattery is the fulcrum on which Italian society teeters. Friends and beautiful strangers alike can often find themselves confounded, embraced or allowed to walk around in matching wicker hats, as a result of Italy's direct, or tacit, compliments.
Sports cars – Italy doesn't even crack the top 20 in global auto production, but for out-of-your-league supercars that cover more adolescent male bedroom walls than Kate Upton, no other country can outrace Italy.
Cursing – Powered by the passion characteristic of the Italian people, the results of a local cursing can stun, intimidate and even charm their recipients, sometimes all at once. But the best thing about an Italian curse -- it looks as good as it sounds.
Desserts – Much is made of pizza, pasta and antipasti. But the real stars of Italian cuisine are gelato, tiramisu, cannoli, Neapolitan, biscotti spumoni, tartufo, zeppole and more.
Hot baths – Boiling as much beneath the surface as its people, Italy pioneered the world's first large-scale spas, exporting them as they colonized Europe. Watery therapies include island baths (such as those on volcanic Ischia), Tuscan hot springs, mountain baths in the town of Bormio and the thermal park of Lake Garda.
Beach lazing – With 7,400 kilometers (4,600 miles) of coastline, Italy boasts the most beaches in Europe, as well as 27 marine parks. It's like swimming in tropical waters, minus the sharks and trinket hawkers.
Volcanoes – Ten active volcanoes allow Italy's geology to vent the way voting gives release to its citizens. The country's (and Europe's) largest volcano is Mt. Etna in Sicily, the world's second most active volcano after Hawaii's Mauna Loa.
Changing governments – Italians tear through regimes like their sports cars do dinosaur juice. Since the end of World War II, Italy has established 63 governments under 39 prime ministers (42 if you count Silvio Berlusconi's three total terms), and only one has lasted a full five years.
Caving – Italy is one of the most cave-pocked countries on the planet, with more than 35,000 cavities above ground and thousands more underwater. Grotta Gigante holds the Guinness World Record for largest accessible cave on Earth at a yawning 850 meters (2,788 feet) wide, with 500 steps that descend 100 meters (328 feet) into the earth.
River cruising – River cruising on the peninsula is a vibrant business. Italian rivers aren't as long or easily navigated as those in the rest of Europe, but visitors can float from one beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site to another.