Setting Records:
Some Facts You Might Not Know About Italy

The First Solo Ascent of Mount Everest
was by Reinhold Messner of Italy (b. Sept. 1944) who reached the summit on August 20, 1980. It took him three days to make the ascent from his base camp at 6,500 m (21,325 ft), and the climb was made all the more difficult by the fact that he did not use bottled oxygen. Ironically, Messner, who was also the first to climb all fourteen of the world's 8000 m (26,000-foot) peaks, is not interested in setting records. He just loves being by himself in nature's most magnificent areas. Indeed, one of his more frequently quoted statements is, "I do this for myself because I am my own fatherland, and my handkerchief is my flag." Several books have been written about his conquests.

The Largest Underground Temple
has been excavated over 16 years by members of the 800-strong Damanhur religious community living in Baldissero near Turin, Italy. Dug into the side of a hill, the Temple of Humankind takes up a total volume of 6,000 cubic meters (211,888 cu. Ft.). Click here to learn more about this mystic sect and how you can visit the temple.

The Largest Steam Rings title goes to the active volcano, Mount Etna, in Sicily, Italy. It is the tallest and most active in Europe. A complex physical process, thought to involve the unusual geometry of the shape of one of the volcano's vents, is causing the volcano to produce huge steam rings. The steam rings are around 650 ft. across and can last up to 10 minutes as they slowly drift upward to a height of 3,300 ft above the volcano.

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