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Italy Travel Skills

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If for any reason you need an ambulance, the number for general emergencies across Italy is Pronto Soccorso is the emergency section of the hospital, which also offers immediate dental treatment when necessary. Food and water standards in Italy are similar to those in the United States, and therefore it is not necessary to take food or water precautions when traveling, beyond any precautions you would take at home. Ancient springs continue to feed cities and towns across the country, allowing for crisp, clean, and refreshing water springing from Nasoni, free fountains. Whether worried about your gluten-free diet or suffering from an autoimmune disorder that affects the way you can digest wheat, Italy is the perfect destination for those who still want to indulge in the delights of Italian cuisine.

The Italian government learned that one percent of its citizens suffer from celiac disease. Regulation has ensured the majority of restaurants across the country have gluten-free options, including pizza and pasta. Even when ordering a gluten-free option, it is important to confirm the pans, floured surfaces, and doughs were not cross contaminated. There are gluten-free restaurant guides to Italy available, which helps someone otherwise unable to partake in the more than varieties of pasta in Italy learn about Italian culture through the cuisine.

The app is offered in Italian or English. When traveling through Italy, you should expect Western-style toilets in accommodations across large cities, small towns, and even in secluded villages. This also applies to campsites, lodges, national parks, and refurbished historic buildings such as monasteries or castles. The unique properties of ancient villages hidden in the mountains and structures hundreds of years old can mean the pipes might not be thick enough or new enough to allow for flushing toilet paper. In these instances, a note is often left inside the bathroom, visible to remind you not to flush the paper.

A small trashcan will also be set beside the toilet as the place to deposit the paper after use. Outside of department stores, trains stations, and museum galleries, there will be few opportunities in Italy to use public restrooms. If a public restroom is available for use somewhere in town, it is often contingent upon payment of between. Visa and immigration requirements for Italy are the same as for other members of the European Union. Travelers hoping to stay longer than 90 days in Italy must apply for a permesso di soggiorno, a permit to stay. The residence permit pertains to any person of non-European Union citizenship wishing to stay longer in Italy to study, work, or relocate.

Before arriving in Italy, you must have proof of onward or return travel within 90 days of your arrival readily available for immigration officers to view. The electricity in Italy adheres to the European standards of frequency and voltage, ranging from V to V with a frequency of 50Hz. Thus, converters for other European countries will work while in Italy. Wall outlets accommodate plugs with two or three round pins. You will not be able to charge your accessories while in Italy without a converter or adapter due to the different plug shape of European sockets, along with the possibility of electrical fire or damage.

Voltage can also make a difference when deciding to use an adapter versus a converter. Adapters do not convert electricity but allow a dual-voltage appliance to access electricity through the socket. You should always check the device to ensure it can withstand the difference in voltage. Common dual voltage devices are iPhone chargers, laptops, iPads, and cameras.

A stamp on the power label will say if the device is single or double voltage. If the device is single voltage V or V , a converter is recommended to keep the device from damage. Examples of a single electric product are:. The alternative measurements used in most countries around the world uses the base unit uses meters, liters, and grams as the base units of distance, volume, and weight. The system applies the idea that units get larger or smaller by units of The basic conversions between the metric system and the USCS are:. Being a member of the EU also ensures that Italy must meet international standards of hygiene and cleanliness, making it one of the safest countries in the world to visit.

There is little risk of major disease, the water is safe to drink, food cooking and preparation standards are extremely high, and all hygiene facilities are modern and well-kept. While much has been written about the pushiness of Italian men, this trait is essentially benign. Some single women suggest wearing a false wedding ring to discourage advances, but this is generally considered overkill: even the most dedicated flirters will back off if they feel their advances are unwelcome. The incidence of violent crime is much lower in Italy than in the US, and major city centers are almost always well-lit and patrolled by local law enforcement.

As with any travel experience, it is wise to employ some basic discretion in your everyday practices. Keep your passport separate from your cash and credit cards your hotel is almost always the best place to keep it , travel in groups, keep to well-lit streets and intersections, and try not to appear obviously lost or disoriented. The overwhelming majority of Italians are friendly, engaging people who will help you if asked, so never be afraid to ask for assistance if you need it.

Like most of Western Europe, the official currency in Italy is the euro. Changing money is very easy, although you generally get the best exchange rates if you withdraw cash from an ATM rather than exchanging bills at a currency exchange. Many American banks have sister banks in Europe, allowing you to use their ATMs without incurring a fee. For most of its history, the euro has been more valuable than the dollar, so keep that in mind when making your purchases. If you do want to add a tip for exceptional service, you can always leave a small amount of cash on the table.

Italy is a modern nation with contemporary sensibilities, but it is also a country with a strong conservative past. Shorts are more common now than they were even fifteen years ago, but everyday fashion is, generally speaking, slightly more formal in Italy than it is in the States. Finally, while most Italians — particularly in the service sector — can speak English reasonably well, every Italian appreciates an effort to try to converse with them in their own language. Italy remains rather formal in its etiquette, at least compared to other western countries, such as the United States, Canada, and members of the United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand.

Casual greetings are enthusiastic but retain a sense of formality in the way familiar friends or business partners or strangers shake hands while making direct eye contact and a small smile.


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After a relationship develops, friends will kiss both cheeks, starting with the left. Men also add a pat on the back as a formality. However, Italians will not refer to one another by their first name until invited. First impressions are important in Italy and can shape the entire relationship between people, making propriety and respect important. Punctuality is not considered an important part of etiquette in Italy, with friends or acquaintances arriving between 15 and 30 minutes later than the specified time.

When invited to a home, guests bring gift-wrapped chocolates or wine, preferring to spend more for a smaller amount with better quality than for a larger amount of a less delicious product. Traveling to another country can be an enriching experience that teaches you about other cultures, spectacular history, and fascinating contemporary lifestyle, or it could lead to awkward glances, anxiety, and unfortunate misunderstandings if not adhering to simple social norms of Italy.

While traveling Italy, it is important to use common sense in terms of what is considered respectful and what might be taken as rude. As a member of the European Union, many of the traditions and cultural conventions of Italy adhere to the standards you might be familiar with if living in an English-speaking westernized country such as the United States or Canada. However, there are still certain aspects of the Italian tradition that might be considered strange or overlooked. Italians do not walk while eating or drinking.

Italians stop for their meals, even when in a rush, to enjoy a small pleasure during their busy day. An exception to the rule is for children who are often seen with a breadstick or piece of pizza while wandering the city at any time of day. Dinner is eaten later in Italy than what you may be accustomed to back home.

Most traditional restaurants in Italy do not open until 7 pm, with many Italians not sitting down for dinner until or 8 pm. The best way to keep the hunger pains at bay is to partake in an aperitivo, a type of Italian happy hour, when small snacks, such as sandwiches, olives, or cheeses, accompany your cocktail order. Friends, families, and couples meet between 5 and 7 pm to chat about their day before heading home or to a restaurant for dinner. Do not use your fingers when eating, and use a fork instead to pick up pieces of fruit and a knife to pick pieces of cheese is polite and considered more sanitary.

It is rude to refuse a glass of wine. Rather, if you do not want anymore or do not wish to imbibe at all, you can leave your glass relatively full. La Passeggiata is one of the few traditions to permeate the culture across the entirety of Italy. The simple act of walking through town becomes an art form when couples, families, and friends arrive on the boulevards to see and be seen. Locals window shop while walking up and down the street before bumping into friends and acquaintances. In smaller cities and towns, the passeggiata can be the social event of the weekend as people represent the personification of fare la bella figura, cutting a beautiful figure.

Via del Corso in Rome provides an elegant panorama of the luxury boutique shops and window-shopping pedestrians. The narrow lanes of Florence lead locals to the public square of Piazza della Repubblica. Locals of Siena return to their medieval streets after the crowds of daily tourists retreat, winding around the shell shape of the main square Il Campo.

Italians are known for their passion, whether in business, love or with personal interests. Their enthusiasm spreads to their communication, leading to wordy, eloquent, and emotional illustrations accentuated by facial expression and hand gestures. While traveling Italy, you should be aware of your hand movements so as not to offend those around you and better understand a heated situation. Clenching your middle and ring fingers against your thumb, while extending your index and pinky is known as The Horns. When made with both hands, this gesture is used to ward off curses or bad luck.

However, the gesture is also an insult, used to accuse someone of being a cuckold. A gesture often made when imitating Italian hand gestures shows the thumb and fingertips brought together upright, while simultaneously waving the hand up and down. A classic gesture involves the hands loosely in front of the body, shaking from the wrists. The movement means that you have had enough or give me a break, reflected in an attempt to imitate testicles exploding. Coffee has its own culture in Italy, and with that culture comes its own rules.

Coffee in each region mirrors the predominant heritage, personifying distinctive features of a city or region. There are eight common types of coffee in Italy:. You can also order a Latte macchiato, which rotates the ratios of milk to espresso. It is milkier than a macchiato. However, the coffee substitute is caffeine free and often considered an alternative for children or those looking for decaf. It is often enjoyed with the bright citrus of a fresh orange peel.

The time of day has a heavy influence on the type of drinks Italian will order. This type of drink is not common for Italians to order, however visiting the local barista multiple times a day for coffee breaks is normal behavior for most Italians. Each region of Italy boasts its own special flavors of coffee, adhering to the local palates shaped by the cuisine and cultural history over the centuries. In the late 17th century Vienna exiled the occupying Ottomans with the help of the Venetian Republic.

The retreating army abandoned approximately bags of coffee, beginning the coffee drinking tradition in Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy, most notably Venice. Coffee in Venice continues to in the traditions of its heritage with well-rounded aromatics of a Middle Eastern and Central Asian vanilla fragrance. Milan coffee is light, delicate, and fine, connoting the high-speed pragmatism of the industrial city. The fast-paced urbanites drink their espresso quickly before heading to the office.

The regions of Piedmont and Liguria produce sweet and delicate coffee shaped by the world wards, turning coffee into a small luxury in which to indulge. Neapolitans prefer their coffee intense and dark, with Neapolitan espresso becoming the worldwide embodiment of Italian coffee standards in style and quality. The nomenclature of coffee changes between cities as well, with the city of Trieste claiming the most creative terms for its most popular beverage. The official language of Italy is Italian. However, there exist many different dialects dependent upon the region.

Groups along the northern border of France speak with an accent heavily influenced by a history of French occupation, along with the fluidity of the border connecting republics to the French monarchy.

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German is also spoken with prevalence in the mountains along the Swiss and Austrian borders due to deep border connection with former German-speaking monarchies and the occupation of eastern Italy by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Beyond language, Italians remain loyal more to their hometowns than to their country, with ancient feuds continuing to draw families together or wedge them apart. Italy is accessible through various modes of transportation, with the major cities reachable by train and small towns accessible by car or bus.

The way you travel across Italy will offer different experiences through the various perspectives spanning train tracks, country roads, and vast coastline. The view can also change dramatically between driving a car, having a private chauffeur, or riding like an Italian on a Vespa. Click here for a more extensive insight on transportation in Italy.

There is no shortage of festivals to celebrate in Italy no matter the season or month of the year. Attending one or more festivals when visiting Italy can turn a great vacation into a memory your family and friends will want to hear over and over again.

It is important to note that national holidays in Italy are public holidays, which means many workers have the day off, including workers in tourism and transportation. The following list offers a comprehensive calendar of the major festivals and celebrations across Italy. The list includes a selection of national holidays--when banks, businesses, and major attractions close -- legal holidays, and regional events or festivals, which provide a better experience during your travels, including the possibility in celebrating like a local.

Festive ambiance erupts in the cities, towns, and villages from the tip of Sicily to the top of the Italian Alps. The meal is less family oriented than on Christmas but remains a large part of the holiday, complete with certain dishes popular for their commitment to tradition and symbolism. Pork ushers in a new year with a commitment to the richness of life. Lentils symbolize money, with each bean representing a coin to bring wealth and prosperity in the coming year. Grapes, a delicious crop harvested late summer and early autumn, embodies frugalness, so Italians who gain their fortune in the next year will spend their money wisely.

The custom has ancient roots, deriving from the belief that only a prudent person could have saved a portion of their grape harvest for a celebration of the new year. Cities, towns, and villages fill with an uproar of excited locals eager to spend their time on amidst the community, with bonfires and light displays filling main piazzas. Fireworks displays fill the sky at midnight for a celebratory exhibition. The farther south you travel in Italy, the grander the fireworks display.

Naples provides the largest spectacle in Italy. Larger cities, such as Naples, Bologna, Palermo, Rome, and Milan turn the evening into an outdoor festival, often using pop and rock bands to emphasize the jovial atmosphere. Southern Italians throw their old crockery out the window at midnight. The custom has transitioned to many locals crashing pots and pans together from their front door to frighten away spirits in the new year.

Pay attention to the first person who helps you celebrate after midnight. Custom dictates that someone older or of the opposite sex brings signs of long life or luck in love, respectively. The party carries on early into the morning. Many Italians choose to stay in the main squares or venture to a perfect viewpoint at which to watch the sunrise. New Years Day, also known as Capodanno, is quiet in the morning. Adults sleep late, resting after a long night of festivities. Trains and buses run on a holiday schedule on December 31st and January 1st.

The methods of transportation still run between cities but travel few and far between their normal consistent times. This leads to an overcrowding of train cars and sold out buses. It is better to stay in your location until after the celebration. If you must travel over the New Year, book all your transportation ahead of time; this includes taxis or private transfers, as many people working in local transport also choose to take a break during national holidays. Epiphany Epifania — January 6th — The iconic image of Christmas in the English-speaking western world depicts a child running down the stairs to find presents Santa left in the night, with elegant wrapping glinting beneath a lush tree.

Italian children receive their Christmas gifts on the Feast of the Epiphany. While Italy does have a character similar to Santa Clause, who visits on Christmas, it is La Befana from whom the children wait for a visit. La Befana is a witch who travels around Italy on a broomstick on the eve of January 5th, bringing presents to the good girls and boys of the country and lumps of coal to those who have been naughty.

The legend dates back to the Three Wise Men, who stopped at a small shack on the way to the manger to ask for directions. They met an old woman and invited her to join their party. She refused at first, but after seeing the bright light in the sky attempted to follow their path to reach the manger. The woman was lost and never heard from again. Ever since, she travels around on her broomstick on the 11th night of Christmas, bringing gifts to children in the hopes she might one day find the baby for whom she originally set out.

Cities and towns across Italy celebrate the holiday in their own unique way. A procession forms along the wide avenue leading to Vatican City with participants dressed in medieval costumes. Hundreds of people carry symbolic gifts for the pope before the Bishop of Rome leads morning mass in St. Flag throwers perform in medieval uniforms in Piazza della Signoria, under the shadow of the Palazzo Vecchio. Smaller towns celebrate with live nativity scenes, with locals donning the costumes of the historical characters involved. Venice holds an annual regatta, with participants dressing like the fabled witch.

One of the most notable festivals takes place in Urbania, in the region of. The Epiphany is a national holiday and therefore disrupts the normal train and bus schedules. You can avoid the inconvenience by booking any transportation ahead of time or staying in your respective destination to join in the celebrations with the locals. Flag Day Giornata Nazionale della Bandiera — January 7th — The flag is an important symbol of Italy, representing the unification of what was once separate city-states, proud kingdoms, and also occupied territories under Spanish, French, and Austro-Hungarian sovereignties.

The Tricolore was originally created as a representation of the Cispadane Republic in the s, which is currently the region of Emilia-Romagna. The red and white represented the French flag, under whose authority the region fell in the 18th century. The colors also have a deeper meaning. Red represents charity, white symbolizes faith, and green embodies hope. A selective part of the Italian Republic celebrates Flag Day with vigor, with the majority of celebrations concentrated in the region of Emilia-Romagna and the cities of Bologna and Reggio Emilia.

The most notable ceremony takes place in Rome at 3. Large cities around the country organize ceremonies, public initiatives, meetings, and lessons to provide locals and visitors a chance to reflect on the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany, its supports, and its allies, which included the Social Republic of Italy under the administration of Mussolini. The yearly commemoration also allows Italy to shed light on the lesser-known stories of victims and heroes of the Holocaust through different mediums of storytelling.

Over the years the memorial has brought to the forefront the Foibe, a term symbolically referring to the disappearances or killings of Italian peoples in Yugoslav occupied territories. The annual event also offers insight into the role Italy played during as an ally to Germany, which lasted from to Many people from around Italy travel to the national museum of Risiera San Sabba in Trieste, the only concentration camp located on Italian soil. Nazi Germany managed the camp from to , engaging in the systematic murder of political prisoners and members of the Jewish and LGBT community.

Milan also has a popular and moving Shoah Memorial providing exhibits and tours in English and Italian, located in the Central Station once used to transfer deportees away from the prying eyes of the city. The festival celebrates an Irish monk who traveled the region handing out wooden sandals to the poor, giving way to a celebration lasting more than a millennium. Craftspeople bring objects carved from wood, keen on demonstrating their mastery of the material for two days. Local restaurants serve regional specialties. The vendors showcase grolle, a cup with many spouts used for sharing wine, along with mortars and pestles, ladles, and instruments used to remove cream from milk.

The most popular items on display are the wooden sandals known as socques. The fashionable footwear resembles clogs made with wooden soles and a leather top. The tradition of the leatherwork dates back to Roman times. Artisans also exhibit other skills over the two days, such as weaving, wrought ironwork, looming, lacework, and how to properly use wicker. The blossoms connote the spring, with their delicate pink and white buds indicated the warmer weather is not too far behind. The folk festival has spread a message of peace, integration, and cooperation between peoples since The highlight of the day celebration culminates with song and dance performances accompanying a parade winding through the streets of the city.

The ancient Greek edifices of the Valley of the Temples acts as a backdrop to the special event, with the remains of the seven Doric temples providing an example of the interconnectivity of the world. You can follow the parade through the city and participate in the folk dances taking place along the cobblestone streets and inside the public squares leading to the Temple of Concord, the largest and best-preserved Greek architecture in the ancient city.

Carnival Carnevale — February 25th — Carnival is the most famous holiday of February, conjuring images of Venetian masks, grand regattas, elegant banquets, and a constant celebration of debauchery. The true winter festival has pagan roots and was adapted to fit the Catholic rituals and calendar. The holiday falls on one day each year, but cities across Italy have elongated the celebration into a festival lasting weeks before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

Historically people wanted to indulge in sugar, meat, and fats before restricted by a religious diet for 40 days. Children throw confetti in the streets. This same belief gave way to participants wearing elaborate costumes and participating in masquerade balls in private or public spaces. The festivities gained prominence in the Italy in the 13th century, with visitors traveling from around the world to watch and partake in fabulous costumes, dramatic masks, and captivating ambiance.

Carnival begins on the holiday known as the Feast of Maries, Festa delle Marie, which began as a Venetian custom when the Doge offered jewels to humble Venetian girls as bridal dowries. Venice begins celebrating two weeks on average before the start date of calendar holiday. Parades take place on the Grand Canal featuring gondolas and children take part in fun activities in the family-friendly neighborhood of Cannaregio.

Carnival is not a considered a national holiday, so the train and bus schedules are not affected. However, staying in a city such as Venice during Carnival can be stressful due to the large crowds and limited accommodations. Be sure to book your accommodations and travel to a city known for a grandiose Carnival celebration before arriving in Italy.

The Feast of St. Agatha — February 5th — The celebrations of the Feast of St. Saint Agatha lived during the 3rd century AD and remains a popular figure in the hearts and minds of locals of Catania more than 1, years later. The city stops for three days to commemorate the woman, Agatha, who refused the advances of a Roman prefect, resulting in her torture and eventual sentence to life in prison. The festival begins with mass on the dawn of February 3rd. The midday parade carries eleven candle-shaped structure symbolizing historic guilds, connected to the local Senate.

The following day members of the church place a statue of St. Agatha and her relics on a 40,pound silver carriage. It takes 5, men to lift the carriage and carry the emblem down Via San Giuliano as nuns from churches around the city chant. Local officials estimate approximately 1 million people line the streets to participate in the celebrations during the three-day festival. The document offered an alliance between Italy and the Vatican, separating the heart of the Catholic religion into its own independent principality, unattached to the governance in Rome.

The pact is named after the Lateran Palace in Rome, where the treaty was signed. The treaty consisted of political, financial, and concordat issues between to the two states, including letting the Church influence public education in Italy. The holiday passes without much fanfare across the country. However, both Italy and Vatican City recognize the pact, updating the treaty most recently as , sharing views regarding international issues and foreign relations policy.

Shop windows in the main cities represent the customary reds and pinks of the holiday in the naturally adoring ambiance cast by the historic city centers and gorgeous landscapes in the north and south of the country. The devotion to the holiday varies depending more on the city and its romantic history than on the location of the city itself. The sleepy town awakens annually as the center of romance along the coast, bordered by olive and mimosa groves. Hearts decorate the streets and traditional fishing nets adorning the harbor wall. A marketplace on the promenade specializes in confections, cakes, pastries, and jewelry.

Shops participate in a window-dressing competition, while poets and artists partake in contests of their own dedicated to the theme of love. Chefs and bartenders also offer classes on Valentine recipes, from cocktails to desserts. The small town of Terni in Umbria decorates the streets with lights and inviting hearts.

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The festivities are spread over six weeks, beginning February 1st and ending in mid-march. Young couples participate in the Festa della Promessa, and the locals indulge in sweet treats during the Cioccolentino, a celebration of decadent chocolate. On the evening of February 14th, the city glows by candlelight for the final touch of romance. Italians passion and love of a good celebration has broken away from the need to applaud coupling over the independence of begin single.

Saint Faustino is the patron saint of singles. What started as a joke in , grew into a full-fledged holiday celebrated in cities around Italy each year, promoting social events for singles and opportunities for new people to meet whether in social or romantic capacities. Little is known about St. Faustino, but legend states the priest helped young and unwed women find partners. The small town in Piedmont continues the customs began in medieval times. A colorful parade travels down the main avenues of town before the iconic orange-throwing battle begins.

Historians are not sure when the orange throwing officially began as a custom, but folklore dictates the story of a young peasant girl who rebuffed the advances of the ruling tyrant in the 12th or 13th century. The girl decapitated the tyrant, inspiring a revolt resulting in the villagers burning down the castle.

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The present-day reenactment has a local girl playing the role of the heroine, Violetta. Dozens of people known as aranceri signify both the tyrant and the peasants and throw oranges at each other. The fruit represents stones and other ancient weapons. The townsfolk are divided into nine teams on foot, with a number of locals positioned on carriages. The participants on the ground embody the ordinary citizens contributing to the rebellion.

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The orange battle begins on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday and culminates in the burning of the scarli, which are big poles covered with dry bushes and positioned in the middle of the main square. Visitors eager to watch the festivities but not participate in the battle wear red caps. There is no guarantee those choosing to observe will not be hit by a misfired orange, but joining in the fray will certainly have you marked by a well-guided throw.

The battle ends when a victor is declared in front of the town hall. Men purchase yellow mimosas for their wives, girlfriends, daughters, and sisters in a tradition begun in after moving away from the customary violets and lily-of-the-valley the French presented. Yellow mimosas and chocolates are more prevalent in the Italian landscape and therefore less expensive to purchase.


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However, the commemorating takes place on March 8th due to a memorialize the women who took the streets of St. Petersburg in demanding an end to the Great War. Mimosa is not just the symbol of the holiday in Italy but has become an important ingredient in the cuisine, showcasing the ingenuity of mixologists and chefs alike, utilizing the bright flower in cakes, cocktails, custards, and creams. It is not uncommon to see women out in the bars and nightclubs with their male counterparts at home for the evening.

The dates have moved multiple times over its three decades of existence, including taking place on January 1st, to bring in the new millennium. On race day much of Rome shuts down due to the route, which passes through the major tourist attractions changing minimally from year to year. Participants pass landmarks such as St. Runners are expected to complete the race within seven hours before the streets are reopened to regular traffic. In Rome held a commemoration race in memory of the 50th anniversary of the gold medal winner from Ethiopia Abebe Bikila, who ran the entire marathon barefoot during the Rome Olympics.

The winner of the race, Siraj Gena from Ethiopia, crossed the finish line barefoot to honor the original champion from his home country. Joseph, the husband of Mary, go hand in hand in Italy.