The quick travel guide to Italy and Rome
Italy occupies a large peninsular in southern Europe and two large islands in the Mediterranean Sea, - Sardinia and Sicily. Strictly speaking Italy is border by the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west and the Adriatic Sea to the east both od which are branches of the Mediterranean Sea. To the north Italy has borders with France to the west, Switzerland to the north Austria to the north east and Slovenia to the east.
Italy covers 301,270 sq km of territory including the two major islands of Sardinia and Sicily which are the largest in the Mediterranean. The country has a population of 60.2 million and 2.7m live in Rome, the capital. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula, and Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.
The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula's backbone, and The Alps form its northern boundary. The highest point in Italy, Gran Paradiso (4,061m) is in the Alps range. The Po, Italy's longest river, flows from the Alps on the western border with France and crosses the Padan plain on its way to the Adriatic Sea. On either side of the Apennine range the land drops away to fertile lowlands which reach to the coasts. In the north in the foothills of The Alps are numerous large lakes, the largest of which is Lake Garda which is a well known holiday resort. Other notable lakes in the region are; Lake Maggiore and Lake Como.
There are 14 volcanoes in Italy, three of which are active: Etna, Stromboli and Vesuvius. Vesuvius is the only active volcano in mainland Europe and is most famous for the destruction of Pompeii and Herculanum. Several islands and hills have been created by volcanic activity, and there is still a large active caldera, the Campi Flegrei north-west of Naples.
Italy has a Mediterranean climate as would be expected with hot summers and mild winters. However more extreme weather is present in the alpine region to the north and Sicily has a sub tropical climate - the island is only 200 km from the coast of Africa
Italy is divided into 20 regions - some of which are as well known as Italy itself, such as Tuscany, Umbria and Lombardy. Italy's major cities are; Rome 2.7million people, Milan 1.3m Naples 963,000, Turin 908,000, Palermo 659,000. Smaller cities of note are Genoa, Florence, Venice, Verona.
The land known as Italy today has been the cradle of European cultures and peoples, such as the Etruscans and the Romans. Italy's capital, Rome, was for centuries the political centre of Western civilisation, as the capital of the Roman Empire. After its decline, Italy would endure numerous invasions by foreign peoples, from Germanic tribes such as the Lombards and Ostrogoths, to the Normans and later, the Byzantines, among others. Centuries later, Italy would become the birthplace of the Renaissance, an immensely fruitful intellectual movement that would prove to be integral in shaping the subsequent course of European thought.
Italy was a founding member of the EU (EEC) and NATO and is a member of both the G8 and G20 group of counties. Italy uses the Euro for currency. It is an open borders country under the Schengen Agreement.
Tourism is one of the fastest growing and profitable sectors of the national economy: with 43.7 million international tourist arrivals and total receipts estimated at $42.7 billion, Italy is the fourth highest tourism earner and the fifth most visited country in the world. Italy's most popular tourist attractions are the Colosseum (4 million tourists per year) and the ruins at Pompeii (2.5 million visitors). In 2008, Italy's most internationally visited cities were in order: Rome (6,123,000 tourists), Milan (1,914,000 visitors), Venice (1,798,000), Florence (1,729,000), Naples (381,000 tourists),
With more than 43.7 million tourists a year, Italy is the fourth highest tourist earner, and fifth most visited country in the world, behind France (76.0 million), Spain (55.6 million), United States (49.4 million), and China (46.8). People mainly come to Italy for its rich art, cuisine, history, fashion and culture, its beautiful coastline and beaches, its mountains, and priceless ancient monuments but not football team!!
Northwest Italy Regions: Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy and Valle d'Aosta Home of the Italian Riviera, including Portofino, and of Cinque Terre. There are many historic cities in this part of Italy such as Turin, the manufacturing capital of Italy, Milan, the business and fashion capital of the country, and the important port of Genoa share the region's visitors with beautiful landscapes like the Lake Como area. 
Northeast Italy Regions: Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto This part of Italy also boasts several important tourist attractions, such as the canal-filled city of Venice, the cities of Verona, Vicenza, Padua, Trento, Bolzano, Bologna, Ferrara, Piacenza, Parma and Trieste. There are also several mountain ranges such as the Dolomites in the Italian Alps and first-class ski resorts like Cortina d'Ampezzo these four regions offer much to see and do. The area has a unique cuisine, including wines and dishes such as Prosecco and Tiramisu in Veneto and Cotechino, Ragu and Parma ham in Emilia Romagna.
Central Italy Regions: Lazio, Abruzzo, Marche, Tuscany and Umbria This area is possibly the most visited in Italy and contains many popular attractions. Rome boasts the remaining wonders of the Roman Empire and some of the world's best known landmarks such as the Colosseum. Florence, regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, is Tuscany's most visited city, whereas nearby cities like Siena, Pisa, and Lucca also have rich cultural heritages. Umbria's population is small but it has many important cities such as Perugia
Southern Italy Regions: Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania and Molise. Naples is the most visited city in the area, and the ruins of Pompeii are the most visited sights. Other important tourist destinations include the Amalfi Coast and Ravello, Apulia and the beaches and sights of Calabria, as well as up-and-coming agritourism make this less visited region become increasingly popular.
Sicily the largest island in the country is a diverse and popular tourist island, famous for its archaeology, seascape and unique Sicilian cuisine. Nearby Corsica is part of France.
Sardinia is the second largest island some 250 kilometers west of the Italian coastline. It includes several popular tourist attractions and has many beaches and archaeological ruins.
Location Map of Italy
Interactive Map of Italy
|Travel Guide to the European Union 2013|