"Il Belpaese" or, in English, “the beautiful country” is the name given to Italy by many people. This is due largely to the beauty and variety of its landscape as well as the fact that it is home to world's greatest artistic heritage.
Lining the centre of Italy,the Appenine Mountains form the backbone of the country, leading north until they blend into the Alps. At this point the large alluvial plain of the Po River can be found. Italy is also home to two volcanoes – the dormant Mount Vesuvius near Naples and the more active Etna on Sicily.
Although the Italian language is spoken thoughout the country, Italy offers a wide cultural, economic, and political diversity. The country has the fifth highest population density in Europe. However the majority of the population is concentrated around the main cities such as Turin, Rome, Milan, and Naples.
Sport is highly popular in Italy and Italians are great fans and participants. Football is the most popular of all with basketball and cycling following close behind. Of course, Italy is home to Ferrari and motor sport has an important place in all Italian hearts.
Music is synonymous with Italy and it is known as the birthplace of opera. The piano and violin were invented here and Italians love music, from folklore to classical. Wherever you go, you will commonly hear music in the streets.
Owing to its geography, the climate in Italy varies greatly from north to south. The north of Italy (Turin, Milan and Bologna) has a continental climate – hot summers and freezing cold winters. From Florence to the south, the climate becomes more Mediterranean.
The coastal regions have a very different climate from the interior especially during the winter months. On the coast the climate is typically Mediterranean – dry, hot summers and mild winters. However higher altitudes are cold in winter and are wet and often snowy. The further south you travel, the longer and more intense the summer season becomes.
Archaeological excavations in Italy show there were settlements ranging back to the Palaeolithic era some 200,000 years ago. From that time on Italy has influenced the development of the western world both culturally and socially.
The Roman Empire dominated Europe for hundreds of years and left a set of laws, many of which still form the basis of the legal systems of numerous modern countries. Through the Holy Roman Empire, Italy was the centre of Christianity and the cradle of the Renaissance. It was the hub of art and science investigation that would influence the rest of the world.
The world would be poorer without the cultural legacy of Italy; from the earliest of Roman times to today it has left its mark on the world. Scientists such as Galileo Galilei, who invented the telescope, put us on the path of scientific discovery.
Napoleon had an influence on Italy when he invaded Italy. Although it was not a battlefield, many of the former states were reshaped during this time.
In March 1861 Italy became a united country after Guiseppe Garibaldi defeated the Austrians and organised invasion of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Naples and Sicily). Victorio Emmanuel became the first king of the newly united country.
Later Mussolini formed a fascist dictatorship that lasted from 1922 to 1943. It was out of the ashes of this dictatorship that modern day Italy was born.
Medical, Water and Vaccinations
Vaccinations are not needed for travel to Italy.
It is worth taking insect repellent as even inland towns, most notoriously Milan, suffer from a persistent mosquito problem, especially in summer.
The water is perfectly safe to drink and you'll find public fountains in squares and city streets everywhere, though look out for “acqua non potabile” signs, indicating that the water is unsafe to drink.
Italy has long been a tourist destination and is well served by airlines. Most major airlines fly into Italy and it is simply a case of choosing your Italian destination and the airline. Italy is well covered by low cost airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet too.
Not required for visitors from the EU. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA passport holders are limited to stays of three months
No vaccinations are required
The time is Central European Standard time – GMT+1 summer, GMT +2 winter
Current is 220 volts 50mhz European standard two pin plugs are used on appliances.
The Euro is the currency
The metric system is used
00+39 (country code)+ area code + number
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