After the fairy-tale Polish dwarves and Lithuanian angels, this week we invite you to discover some picturesque corners of Europe that were used as the set in the Game of Thrones series (in Croatia and Malta). You may also consult the ultimate guide to Italian non-verbal language (finally it’s all clear!) and learn how Hungarians are good at… pretty much everything. 🙂 Read on!
Marijana from Croatia informs us:
- The necktie was invented in Croatia
However you may feel about the modern-day office noose, we have to thank Croatia for it, and it may very well be Croatia’s most successful export. After all, it used to be called the cravat, and where did the word cravat come from? Croat.
In the 17th century, Croatian mercenaries fought for the French in the Thirty Years’ War and they brought their distinctively knotted neckwear along with them. From there it spread to other militaries, other countries, and, eventually, into the cubicles of modern-day offices and other fancy places.
You’re probably far more familiar with Croatia than you may have realized, and we have to thank Game of Thrones for it. Seasons 2 and 3 of the popular HBO series was filmed on the Dalmatian coast, in Split, and Dubrovnik.
- The Dalmatian dog breed is named after Dalmatia, a south coastal region in Croatia, as the breed has its roots in that region.
Thanks to its eye-catching white coat and black spots, the Dalmatian is one of the most easily recognizable dog breeds in the world. And now you know where they come from!
Zoltan from Hungary boasts of the following:
- We are the champions!
Hungarians won gold medals at every summer Olympics except Antwerp 1920 and Los Angeles 1984 when they did not compete.
- Not only sporty, but also brainy!
As of 2007, 13 Hungarians received a Nobel Prize (this is more than Japan, China, India, Australia or Spain) in every category except peace.
Hungary has one of the most important thermal spring cultures in Europe. The country boasts no less than 1,500 spas, typically featuring Roman, Greek, and Turkish architecture.
Fabio from Italy explains:
- Gestures: we can’t help it!
Non-verbal communication, in particular gestures and facial expressions, is something innate to Italians and when you happen to meet some people raising and continuously moving their hands, arms, and heads well… it is not difficult to guess where they come from! Whenever we talk, we always use gestures and we would not be Italians if we did not do so. And, the more one travels to the south of the country, the more common this phenomenon becomes. Try and see!
But why do we use gestures? Here are some explanations. One theory holds that Italians developed them as an alternative form of communication during the centuries when they lived under foreign occupation — by Austria, France and Spain in the 14th through 19th century — as a way of communicating without their overlords understanding.
Another theory is that in overpopulated cities like Naples, gesturing became a way of competing, of marking one’s territory in a crowded arena: to get attention, people gestured and used their whole bodies. In the 19th century, comparisons were discovered between the gestures used by the figures painted on ancient Greek vases found in the Naples area and the gestures used by Neapolitan contemporaries.
Now a small quiz.. what do the following gestures of some famous Italian “actors” mean (yes, someone apart from being a politician can be an actor, as well…)? Try to guess before looking at the solutions.
And now… the keys! As you can see some of them are not polite at all…
And what is the other typical feature that characterizes Italians? Probably even more known than gestures? Of course, we are noisy! This might surprise tourists visiting Italy for the first time when they find themselves in the middle of a crowd of people that whistle and sing while walking around.
The following habit is also widespread: drivers talking on the phone, having arguments with other people in the car and honking when stuck in a traffic jam.. of course, everything at the same time! When talking about noise we can be multitasking!
Whenever you come to the “Belpaese” and you use public transportation to get around you will realize that the situation is slightly different than in quiet Luxembourg: buses and trains are usually the noisiest places!
Concerning Italians’ noise, joy and enthusiasm, take a look at the following video with Roberto Benigni:
Charles from Malta reports:
The Azure Window is a limestone arch on the island of Gozo – and it’s absolutely gorgeous. So gorgeous, in fact, that it’s been featured in Game of Thrones (Westeros!), The Odyssey, Clash of the Titans and The Count of Monte Cristo.
- Speaking of Maltese (literally)…
Maltese (or Malti) is the official language of Malta, as is English (a remnant from previous British rule). The Maltese language is the only Semitic language written in Latin script. The language has a heavy Arabic influence and also features words adopted from both Italian and English.
- Malta is home to Popeye’s Village
Originally built for the Popeye movie released in 1980, Sweethaven (AKA “Popeye’s Village”) was left standing and now serves as a tourist attraction featuring boat rides, water trampolines, costumed characters and more.
Remember: if you can’t wait to share some fun facts about your country like your colleagues did, you are more than very welcome to do so! Drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org. And stay tuned!