Pizza, pasta, Verdi, the Coliseum, runway models.
We know Italy does some things incomparably well.
But travelers to the elegant boot don't just want to eat spaghetti, deal with opera and gawk at old ruins.
Beyond the clichés, you'll find 10 other surprising ways in which Italy shines.
Depending on whether or not you think the occasional catcall or butt grab is flattering, you'll find Italians are aggressively complimentary of friends and beautiful strangers alike.
A historical tool for both disarming and defusing, flattery is the fulcrum on which Italian society teeters.
As Luigi Barzini writes in "The Italians," "The people have always employed such arts offensively, to gain advantages, destroy rivals and conquer power and wealth; and defensively, as the squid uses ink, to blind and confound powerful men, dictators and tyrants."
But you'll likely only notice the butt grabs.
2. Hot baths
If flattery doesn't get you out of your clothes, the peninsula's 380 spa sites offering healing mud and bubbles will.
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.
Just drinking the mineral-rich water in some places is reputed to be healthy.
So convinced is the Italian government of the healing power of hot springs and geothermal mud packs that it covers the cost of some therapies for its citizens.
Be it in Italian or any other language, the accent of native Italy turns any expletive into a blunt force instrument.
Rhythmic, staccato and with an almost operatic legato that fuses syllables together like a hammer-on guitar note, swearing here is a performance art.
Inspired mostly by pigs, anatomical exit points and promiscuous women, Italian profanities -- which vary by region -- sound equal parts dramatic, angry and comical.
Powered by the passion characteristic of the Italian people, the results stun, intimidate and even charm their recipients, sometimes all at once.
4. Beach bumming
With 7,400 kilometers (4,600 miles) of coastline, Italy boasts the most beaches in Europe, as well as 27 marine parks.
Summer temperatures peak in many places at just below 30 C (86 F), compared with the mid 20s (70s F) in France and Portugal.
It's like swimming in tropical waters, minus the sharks and trinket hawkers.
When it comes to beaches, it's a tough choice between blinding-white dunes, pebble and even turf shores, but 248 Italian beaches have been awarded Blue Flag status for clear waters and unspoiled sands.