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Italy Travel Guide, Italy Travel Information, Destinations in Italy
ITALY  |  Italy Travel Guide
Saturday, June 15, 2024



Italy Travel Guide

Italy (Italia in Italian) encompasses some 301,255 square km of primarily mountainous terrain. The Alps peer down from the north, and the Appennines run down the center. Less than one third of the country is plains – the largest portion of that being the Po flats in the north of the country. Major rivers include the Po, Tiber, Arno, and Adige. Italy shares its borders with France to the northwest, Switzerland and Austria to the north, and Slovenia to the northeast. Two tiny states within the country, San Marino and Vatican City, maintain their independence. Italy’s boot dips into the Adriatic, Ionian, and Mediterranean seas, kicking the small islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

Italy is a democratic republic of 20 regions; the capital is Rome. Its chief of state is the president, who is elected to a seven-year term. Its head of government is the prime minister, who is appointed by the president and confirmed by parliament. The country enjoys a lively political scene, and some 50 governments have been in place since the establishment of the republic’s 1948 constitution. Multiple parties vie for attention, including one of the largest Communist parties in Western Europe.

Ongoing issues concern the social disparity between the wealthy industrialized north and the poor, rural south. Two-thirds of the population now lives in the upper half of the country and the migration continues, as southerners move to the north’s large cities in search of work. Further complicating matters, industry has been slow to develop in the south, for reasons of low investment capital and the influence of the Mafia crime groups. Unemployment rates have steadily declined over the past several years but still remain high at 8.7%.

The population of Italy is 99% Italian, an ethnic mix that includes the Germanic ancestry of the north, the Greeks, Spaniards, and Saracens in the south, and a large influence of Latin and Etruscan cultures in the central regions. Today, although Italian is the official language, other dialects are widely spoken in pocket regions of the Alps and its foothills – languages including German, French, Ladin, and Friulan.

Approximately 83% of the population is Roman Catholic, although only about a quarter of those attend mass regularly. The government eradicated the custom of an official state religion in 1985, and religious education is no longer mandated in public schools. Some 70% of the Italian population resides in urban settings, many of them in the large cities of Rome, Milan, Turin, and Naples. The average population density is approximately 192 persons per square km; however, the population is much sparser in the south than in the industrialized north.


Destinations in Italy (30)

  • Arezzo Province, Italy

    Right on the Tuscan border, the Arezzo province may be the anticamera dell’Umbria (Umbria’s lobby), but it also includes some of Tuscany’s richest cultural and natural sights. This is a land of illustrious sons, with Masaccio, Piero...

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  • Arezzo, Italy

    Arezzo, which literally hangs onto a steep hillside that was first inhabited by the Etruscans, is one of the most peaceful of the Tuscan cities, with a pleasant pedestrianized historical center that is a pleasure to walk around. The Aretines (...

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  • Assisi, Italy

    Assisi, beautifully situated in the medieval heart of Umbria, is one of the most popular sightseeing and pilgrimage destinations in Italy. Not only does it have an historical center of distinguished monuments, collections of art and breathtaking...

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  • Beach Towns of Veneto, Italy

    Bibione, Caorle and Jesolo are among the Adriatic Coast’s most popular beach towns between Venice and Trieste. Although they are all great places to enjoy the sun and the sand and have a developed tourism industry with a wide range of...

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  • Belluno, Italy

    Belluno is a richly diverse province, from its more densely populated southern district between Feltre and Longarone, where the land rises steadily through the valleys and dense forests, to the crests of the jagged Dolomite...

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  • Best Art Museums and Art Galleries of Florence

    Best Art Museums of Florence. Florence is all about art. There are literally scores of monumental art collections throughout the city - housed in more than 60 art museums and galleries - enough to overwhelm even the most seasoned...

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  • Best of Florence

    Florence is literally bursting with places of visitor interest, particularly art and architecture. There are scores of impressive medieval palazzos (palaces) and piazzas (public squares) throughout the city,...

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  • Florence, Italy

    Florence (Firenze in Italian), situated on the Arno River, is the capital of Italy's Tuscany (Toscana) region. It is the largest city in Tuscany, with a population of nearly 370,000. Florence is also a "...

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  • Foligno, Italy

    Foligno is one of the province’s flattest cities. It has sprawled over the banks of the Tobino River Valley since the Romans colonized and made it into an important Umbrian base. A bustling stop along the Via Flaminia during the...

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  • Lucca, Italy

    Lucca, situated in a fertile plain between the Apennines and Monte Pisano, is a delightful city to explore. Inside its four-kilometer (2½-mile) stretch of city walls, narrow streets lead onto irregularly shaped squares revealing...

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  • Maremma and Grosseto, Italy

    The province of Grosseto, a malaria-infested swamp until Leopoldo II brought his land reclamation processes to the area, is the least populated of the Tuscan regions and, as a result, the wildest. Its long stretches of beautiful and undeveloped...

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  • Milan, Italy

    Milan, as the city's residents will tell you, is "the moral capital of Italy." Which may be no more than a tongue-in-cheek jab. Still, to most Italians, Milan might as well be the capital of Italy, for it's at the center of Italy...

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  • Orvieto, Italy

    Orvieto is actually situated halfway between Florence and Rome, perched on a hilltop and reached directly on the A1 highway. Orvieto's unforgettable architecture gives a strong indication of the important role the city has...

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  • Padua, Italy

    Padua, situated at the confluence of the Brenta and Bacchiglione Rivers, was originally established as a fisherman’ s village in the fourth century BC. Later on, during the Roman period known as Patavium, it was...

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  • Perugia, Italy

    Perugia, set in the hills 500 m (1,617 feet) above the Tiber Valley, has beautiful views over the lush Umbrian countryside that surrounds the capital city. From its perfectly preserved travertine walls, you can see Lago Trasimeno...

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  • Pisa, Italy

    Pisa isn't only about its leaning tower. It is in fact an absolutely fascinating city, rich in art and culture. It is the city of the lungarni (the “sides of the River Arno”), where the river's winding path has literally...

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  • Rome, Italy

    Rome wasn't built in a day. It took nearly 2,800 years to build. Its mind-boggling array of monuments and ruins can attest to that. The city, in any case, is famously built on seven hills, and is among the most ancient in...

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  • Rovigo, Italy

    Rovigo is easily the least known of Veneto’s provincial capitals and thus the least visited. Consequently, this medieval industrial town surrounded by flatlands has a remarkably different pulse than its counterparts. Still, even...

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  • Siena Province, Italy

    For many, the province of Siena offers the enduring image of rural Tuscany with the medieval city of Siena at its heart, the rolling hills of Chianti to its north, the white clay hills of the Crete to its east, the abbeys and castles of the Val d...

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  • Siena, Italy

    Siena is an endearing city. Most visitors arriving from the hustle and crowds of busy Florence cannot help but fall under the charm of Siena’s gracefully winding (and pedestrianized) medieval streets. Laid out on the slopes of...

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  • Treviso, Italy

    Treviso, a small city once allied to Venice, is a colorful medieval market town and a lively cultural center that is off the beaten path for most travelers, leaving it virtually untouched by the tourism industry and a real...

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  • Venice, Italy

    Venice, Venezia in Italian, is arguably the most romantic city in the world. It sits on a lagoon, crisscrossed by canals navigated by gondoliers in sleek, black gondolas, with centuries-old palaces heaped with art and...

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  • Verona, Italy

    Verona, a cosmopolitan city with a historic core, is notable for its associations to Romeo and Juliet, the world's most famous lovers. The story of Romeo and Juliet first appeared in the 16th century in Luigi da Porto's novella...

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  • Vicenza, Italy

    Vicenza is an important Renaissance city with an impressive number of buildings dating back to the 1500s, many of them attributed to Andrea Palladio. It was during this period that Andrea di Pietro della Gondola came to Vicenza...

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