‘What does hypochondriac mean?’: What Italy Googled most in 2017

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Jessica Phelan - [email protected]
‘What does hypochondriac mean?’: What Italy Googled most in 2017
Photo: luismolinero/Depositphotos"

Google has released its list of most-searched terms in 2017. What does Italians’ search history say about the year in Italy?


1. Italy is (still) obsessed with food

In a development that will shock absolutely no one, Italy’s top search terms reveal a fixation with food. Of all the questions that Italians asked Google beginning “how to make...”, five of the top ten concern edibles – the number one query being “how to make olives in brine”. Apricot jam, carbonara, pesto and pastry cream were the other leading sources of confusion.

And when we say that Italy Googles food a lot, we don’t mean any old food: Italians want to know about Italian food. The top ten for recipes were exclusively for regional specialities, including migliaccio napoletano (a sort of Neapolitan cheesecake), caponata siciliana (an aubergine stew from Sicily), ribollita toscana (a hearty Tuscan vegetable soup). Even the French-sounding gateau di patate at number ten is actually a Neapolitan version of potato gratin.

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Interestingly, each dish was overwhelmingly searched for within the region it comes from. Don’t young Italians have a nonna they can ask for recipes? Or do they ask Google instead of Grandma these days?

2. Italians aren’t much better at tech

Finding their way into the “how to” queries were two fairly simple procedures: how to do a back up and how to take a screenshot.

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It’s not surprising when you consider that Italians are behind most of their European neighbours when it comes to using the internet: a study earlier this year found that some 40 percent of Italians, especially those over 65, said they weren’t used to going online.

3. It was the year of the World Cup that wasn’t

Italy-Sweden, the ill-fated World Cup playoff, was more Googled than any other sporting or news event – including earthquakes, North Korea’s rocket launches, Catalonia’s independence referendum, Hurricane Irma or even (!) the annual Sanremo music festival.

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4. All of the most famous people are Italian (in Italy)

Many of Italy’s most-searched celebrities of 2017 will have non-Italians reaching for Google too – to ask who on earth these people are. (At the same time, Italians in their droves were asking the internet: “What does Despacito mean?” Please, someone, tell us.)

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The only internationally famous names that made it into the top ten were, morbidly, American men who died untimely deaths this year.

Meanwhile the concert that Italians most looked for tickets to was by veteran crooner Vasco Rossi, ahead of U2, Ed Sheeran or the Rolling Stones.

5. The most important thing in Sicily was not its election

The southern island, considered a bellwether for the rest of Italy, held a regional election in November that could prove a preview of Italy’s general election in March. But that’s not what Googlers wanted to know about.

In early November, at the same time as the vote, there was a massive spike in searches for “holiday destinations Sicily”, making it the most popular search of its type of the entire year. What’s more, they Googled the attractions of Sicily at the same time as they sought updates on the vote. Because, priorities.

6. Italians might have something wrong with their ears

Italians had many reasons to ask Google “why” this year: Why does Catalonia want independence? Why does North Korea want to attack the United States? Why is there war in Syria?

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But what they really wanted to know was: Why do ears ring? The inquiry was Italy’s second-most “why” query of the year.

Guys, please, stop Googling and go to a doctor. And now it might be a good time to mention that the word most Italians looked up this year was “hypochondriac”. Now what does that mean again...  

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