Italy dubbed the ‘boot’ (due to the peninsula’s shape resembling a boot) enjoys a strategic location in southwestern Europe and the Mediterranean basin. The country washed by the Adriatic, Ligurian, Tyrrhenian and the Ionian seas from three sides, has land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the two undersized states of Vatican and San Marino within its boundaries.
With around 60 million inhabitants Italy takes up the fourth position on the continent. The highest concentration of the population is to be found in Milan, Rome, Turin, Naples and Venice being the country’s main political, economic and social hubs. The 20 regions, including the Mediterranean’s two largest islands of Sicily and Sardinia, define Italy’s idiosyncratic yet still homogenous character.
History of Italy
Having its origins in the ancient Etruscan tribes, the Italian territory was completely occupied by the Romans in the 8th century BC with the world’s greatest empire under their dominion till the 5th century AD. The huge currents of the Germanic tribes of Goths and Longobards gained the entire control soon after the fall of the empire and, by reducing the Byzantine rule to northeastern Ravenna, established their independent kingdoms against the political unity of the country.
Being in the shade of its former glory through the entire Middle Ages, Italians came in the vanguard of giving a new lease of life to the ancient values in their lives, in plastic arts and in science in the 13-14th millennials, that, as a result, led to the Renaissance and its accompanying humanism in Florence and on the rest of the peninsula. Brimmed with the artificers in all fields, performing to their level best, Italy shortly reached the pinnacle of its success under the reign of the Medici dynasty. The following periods saw many transformations, both on political and artistic stages that were crowned with the Risorgimento movement and the country’s final unification in 1861.
Having its fair share of importance and participation in the WWI and WWII with different allies and motivations, the country held under the fascist control for a couple of decades chose its path as a democratic republic since 1946.
The Main Cities of Italy
Having Rome as its capital and the most populous city, the biggest part of Italy’s ancient remains, the Renaissance and the Baroque monuments are kept here. Rome is also the residence of the highest legislative organ and the Pope.
Florence in the region of Tuscany shares the appellation of the most visited art city with its Renaissance heritage scattered across the city.
Milan is the largest economic, cultural and fashion center with its modern image and hundreds of designer stores aligned along its streets. Milan is also home to Italy’s most renowned opera – La Scala.
Turin in northwestern Italy is the country’s one of the biggest industrial hubs. Italy’s largest car production FIAT is located in Turin.
Naples – the southern city with direct access to the sea and a sheer number of cultural monuments. It is deemed Italy’s quintessential part also due to the long-standing culinary traditions.
Geography & Climate
Inhabited by the acclaimed mountaintops and one of the longest coastlines in Europe, Italy is likely the most sought after destination worldwide. The wintry resorts of the Alps and Apennines, with their highest peaks in the Monte Rosa (4634m) and the Gran Sasso (2912m) slope down to the famous seaside zones stretching from the Amalfi Coast to the Ligurian Riviera and the Tuscany beachside, from Venice to the Apulia region, not to mention the worldly acclaimed sandy beaches of Sicily and Sardinia. Italy has beautiful lakes with the highest percentage of tourists and locals around the northern Lake Garda, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore.
Given the mild climate year-round, globetrotters enjoy a unique chance to soak up the entire area crawling with the bone-chilling wonders, the summer havens and one-of-a-kind hillside charm in between. A plethora of pintsized towns with characteristic planning that repeats the country’s craggy outline make Italy home to a highbrow legacy other than the ones kept in Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples and Milan.
Italy is located in southwestern Europe neighboring France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia to the north and the Mediterranean basin surrounding the peninsula from the remaining three sides.
Apart from the external neighbors that of France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia, Italy has borders with the independent republic of San Marino and the Vatican City within its mainland.
Comprising 20 regions with their geographical and historical peculiarities, Italy boasts great beauty on the account of its high-octane mountainous landscapes, mesmerizing waterfronts and islands in the Mediterranean. The acclaimed cradle of Renaissance, Tuscany and its capital Florence are likely to come on top for their natural beauty pro rata with the highest number of cultural monuments.
Located in the country's northeastern and central parts relatively, the driving distance between Venice and Rome covers 533.53km that is tantamount to 4 hours and 45 minutes with an average speed of 112km/h.
The Freccia Rossa trains instead take up time from 3 hours and 45 minutes to 6 hours when it comes to the slow-speed railway transportation.
Being the cradle of art, music and science, Italy is home to many famous artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, composers like Giuseppe Verdi, Antonio Vivaldi and Giacomo Puccini. Italy has one of the largest contributions to the cinema world with its names such as Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Franco Zeffirelli, actors/actresses like Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Giulietta Masina. The Italian designers such as Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Salvatore Ferragamo, etc. acquired worldwide fame. No less impact was left by the Italian politicians like Benito Mussolini, etc.
Sharing a land border with four countries, only one, Switzerland, has Italian as an official language within the Canton of Ticino and its neighboring Campione d'Italia.
Considering the fast rhythm of economic development, Italy ranks the 8th place in the world and the 3rd position in Europe.
According to the ancient data, the country borrowed its name from the Oscan viteliu meaning the 'land of calves', while the Greek historian Dionysius Halicarnassus assigns its etymology to Italus, the king of Oenotrians aka Italy's original settlers.
With its 301,340 km2 area, Italy takes the 71st place in the world.