Geographic and environmental location of ITALY

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Geographic and environmental location of ITALY


Italy is located in southern Europe and comprises the long, boot-shaped Italian Peninsula, the land between the peninsula and the Alps, and some islands including Sicily and Sardinia. Corsica, although belonging to the Italian geographical region, has been a part of France since 1769. Its total area is 301,230 km2 (116,310 sq mi), of which 294,020 km2 (113,520 sq mi) is land and 7,210 km2 is water (2,784 sq mi). It lies between latitudes 35° and 48° N, and longitudes 6° and 19° E. Italy borders with Switzerland (740 km/460 mi), France (488 km/303 mi), Austria (430 km/270 mi) and Slovenia (232 km/144 mi). San Marino (39 km/24 mi) and Vatican City (0.44 km/0.27 mi) are enclaves.


Italy has a variety of climate systems. The inland northern areas of Italy (for example Turin, Milan, and Bologna) have a Humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), while the coastal areas of Liguria and the peninsula south of Florence generally fit the Mediterranean climate profile (Köppen climate classification CSa).

Between the north and south there can be a considerable difference in temperature, above all during the winter: in some winter days it can be ?2 °C (28.4 °F) and snowing in Milan, while it is 8 °C (46.4 °F) in Rome and 20 °C (68.0 °F) in Palermo. Temperature differences are less extreme in the summer.

Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco), the highest mountain in Italy and Western Europe.

The east coast of the Italian peninsula is not as wet as the west coast, but is usually colder in the winter. The east coast north of Pescara is occasionally affected by the cold bora winds in winter and spring, but the wind is less strong here than around Trieste. During these frosty spells from E–NE cities like Rimini, Ancona, Pescara and the entire eastern hillside of the Apennines can be affected by true “blizzards”. The town of Fabriano, located just around 300 m (984 ft) in elevation, can often see 0.5–0.6 m (1 ft 7.7 in–1 ft 11.6 in) of fresh snow fall in 24 hours during these episodes.

On the coast from Ravenna to Venice and Trieste, snow falls more rarely: during cold spells from the east, the cold can be harsh but with bright skies; while during the snowfalls that affect Northern Italy, the Adriatic coast can see a milder Sirocco wind which makes snow turn to rain—the mild effects of this wind often disappear just a few kilometres inside the plain, and sometimes the coast from Venice to Grado sees snow while it is raining in Trieste, the Po River mouths and Ravenna. Rarely, the city of Trieste may see snow blizzards with north-eastern winds; in the colder winters, the Venice Lagoon may freeze, and in the coldest ones even enough to walk on the ice sheet.<href=”#cite_note-0″>[1]

Summer is usually more stable, although the northern regions often have thunderstorms in the afternoon/night hours and some grey and rainy days. So, while south of Florence the summer is typically dry and sunny, in the north it tends to be more humid and cloudy. Spring and Autumn weather can be very changeable, with sunny and warm weeks (sometimes with Summer-like temperatures) suddenly broken off by cold spells or followed by rainy and cloudy weeks.

In the north precipitation is more evenly distributed during the year, although the summer is usually slightly wetter. Between November and March the Po valley is often covered by fog, especially in the central zone (Pavia, Piacenza, Cremona and Mantua), while the number of days with lows below 0 °C (32 °F) is usually from 60 to 90 a year, with peaks of 100–110 days in the mainly rural zones.<href=”#cite_note-1″>[2] Snow is quite common between early December and early March in cities like Turin, Milan and Bologna, but sometime it appears in late November or late March and even April. In the winter of 2005–2006, Milan received around 0.75–0.8 m (2 ft 5.53 in–2 ft 7.50 in) or 75–80 cm (29.5–31.5 in) of fresh snow, Como around 1 m (3 ft 3.37 in) or 100 cm (39.4 in), Brescia 0.5 m (1 ft 7.69 in) or 50 cm (19.7 in), Trento 1.6 m (5 ft 2.99 in) or 160 cm (63.0 in), Vicenza around 0.45 m (1 ft 5.72 in) or 45 cm (17.7 in), Bologna around 0.3 m (11.81 in) or 30 cm (11.8 in), and Piacenza around 0.8 m (2 ft 7.50 in) or 80 cm (31.5 in) <href=”#cite_note-2″>[3]

Lake Garda from Riva del Garda.

Summer temperatures are often similar north to south. July temperatures are 22–24 °C (71.6–75.2 °F) north of river Po, like in Milan or Venice, and south of river Po can reach 24–25 °C (75.2–77 °F) like in Bologna, with fewer thunderstorms; on the coasts of Central and Southern Italy, and in the near plains, mean temperatures goes from 23 °C to 27 °C (80.6 °F). Generally, the hottest month is August in the south and July in the north; during these months the thermometer can reach 38–42 °C (100.4–107.6 °F) in the south and 32–35 °C (89.6–95 °F) in the north; Sometimes the country can be split as during winter, with rain and 20–22 °C (68–71.6 °F) during the day in the north, and 30–40 °C (86–104 °F) in the south; but, having a hot and dry summer does not mean that Southern Italy will not see rain from June to August.

The coldest month is January: the Po valley’s mean temperature is between -1–1 °C (30.2–33.8 °F), Venice 2–3 °C (35.6–37.4 °F), Trieste 4 °C (39.2 °F), Florence 5–6 °C (41–42.8 °F), Rome 7–8 °C (44.6–46.4 °F), Naples9 °C (48.2 °F), and Cagliari 12 °C (53.6 °F). Winter morning lows can occasionally reach -30 to -20 °C (-22 to -4 °F) in the Alps, -14 to -8 °C (6.8 to 17.6 °F) in the Po valley, ?7 °C (19.4 °F) in Florence, ?4 °C (24.8 °F) in Rome, ?2 °C (28.4 °F) in Naples and 2 °C (35.6 °F) in Palermo. In cities like Rome and Milan, strong heat islands can exist, so that inside the urban area, winters can be milder and summers more sultry.

On some winter mornings it can be just ?3 °C (26.6 °F) in Milan’s Dome plaza while -8 to -9 °C (17.6 to 15.8 °F) in the metropolitan outskirts, in Turin can be just ?5 °C (23.0 °F) in the city centre and -10 to -12 °C (14 to 10.4 °F) in the metropolitan outskirts. Often, the largest snowfalls happen in February, sometime in January or March; in the Alps, snow falls more in autumn and spring over 1,500 m (4,921 ft), because winter is usually marked by cold and dry periods; while the Apennines see many more snow falls during winter, but they are warmer and less wet in the other seasons.

Both the mountain chains can see up to 5–10 m (16 ft 4.85 in–32 ft 9.70 in) or 500–1,000 cm (196.9–393.7 in) of snow in a year at 2,000 m (6,562 ft); on the highest peaks of the Alps, snow may fall even during midsummer, and glaciers are present.

The record low is ?45 °C (?49 °F) in the Alps, and ?29 °C (?20.2 °F) near sea level (recorded on January 12, 1985 at San Pietro Capofiume, hamlet of Molinella, in the Province of Bologna), while in the south cities like Catania, Foggia, Lecce or Alghero have experienced highs of 46 °C (114.8 °F) in some hot summers.


What follows is a monthly breakdown of climate, tourist number expectations, and seasonal trends in Italy.

January and February are cold, wet or snowy, and at times altogether dreary. Tourism is very low, as are hotel and flight prices.

March and April are rainy and still much chillier than visitors often expect. Tourism surges briefly during Easter week, seeing many traditional Catholic festivities, including pilgrimages.

May and June are pleasantly warm throughout most of the country, attracting large amounts of tourists. Expect long lines and crowds, and high season pricing. Reservations for hotels, train travel, and museum entrances recommended.

July is essentially an extension of May and June, with continued heat, high prices, and long lines.

August is likely the cruelest month, especially in cities. Visiting in August can be tricky, as it is still officially high season, but also the traditional vacation month in this country. In August, Italians wisely head for the cooler climes of mountains and beaches, all but abandoning hapless tourists in blistering city centers. Expect chiuso per ferie (“closed for holiday”) signs storefronts, particularly the week of Ferragosto, an important Italian holiday that falls on August 15. Attractions remain open in August, but often operating under limited hours. Reservations still highly recommended.

September’s climate is improved slightly from August’s, though it is still quite warm. Depending on the establishment and region, prices may begin to return to low season levels. (September would fall under the “mid” season price category used by some establishments). Businesses re-open, Italians return to work from their August holidays, and there are fewer tourists than in prior summer months.

October sees fewer tourists, low season prices, cooling temperatures and lovely fall landscapes – reasons, all, to make this month more attractive to visitors who can swing an off season vacation (more difficult if you have school-aged children).

November in Italy is cold and virtually empty of tourists. Count on low season pricing.

December is low season up until the period encompassing Christmas through the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6). As early as the week after Christmas, many Italians begin the popular settimanabianca, or “white week” of ski breaks, thus sending Alpine resorts into full swing. Christmas in Italy is an exciting, tradition-rich time to visit, worth considering for your second or third trip.

Brief History


Evidence of civilization has been found on the Italian peninsula dating far into pre-history. Thousands of rock drawings discovered in the Alpine regions of Lombardy date from around 8,000 BC. There were sizable settlements throughout the Copper Age (37th to 15th century BC), the Bronze Age (15th to 8th century BC) and the Iron Age (8th to 5th century BC). In the north of Italy, the Etruscan culture took hold around 800BC, while Greeks settled in southern Italy from 700 to 600BC, namely in Apulia, Calabria and Sicily (then known as Magna Graecia).

The Roman Empire (5th Century BC to 5th Century AD)

According to legend, Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus in the heart of Etruscan Italy in 735BC. Over the next several centuries, Rome expanded its territories into what became known as the Roman Empire. The Romans named the Italian peninsular “Italia”. The Italian states north of Emilia-Romagna were considered part of the Roman province of Cisalpine Gaul.

Italia flourished under the Roman Empire, which ended in 476AD with the death of the emperor Augustus. The Italian peninsular was later divided into separate kingdoms, with reunification only achieved in 1861.

The Middle Ages (6th to 14th Century)

A brief history of Italy in the Middle Ages begins with a series of invasions. In 493, the Ostrogoths, an eastern Germanic tribe, conquered the Italian peninsula. The resulting Gothic War led to the Lombards, another Germanic tribe, establishing a kingdom in northern Italy and three regions in the South in 568. Subsequently, the popes began building an independent state. In 756, when the Franks (French) defeated the Lombards, they granted the popes authority over central Italy, and the Papal States were created. The northern states of Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany were ruled by the Germanic Holy Roman Empire from 962.

By the end of the 11th century, the worst of the invasions was over and trade began to flourish once again. Four Italian cities – Genoa, Pisa, Amalfi and Venice – became major commercial and political powers. In the twelfth century the Italian cities ruled by Holy Roman Empire campaigned for autonomy. The result was that northern Italy became a group of independent kingdoms, republics and city-states.

The Renaissance (14th to 16th Century)

At this point in our brief history of Italy, the disparity among the regions was extreme. In contrast to the prosperous northern states, central and southern Italy were economically depressed. The Papacy temporarily relocated to Avignon in France, returning to Rome in 1478. Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia were controlled by foreign powers.

The Italian Renaissance was a cultural movement that began in Tuscany in the 14th century, spreading from Florence to Siena. A number of factors contributed to its emergence, including the influx of Greek scholars following the second invasion of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The patronage of the arts afforded by the Medici family was another contributing factor. The era gave rise to a number of artistic giants – Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarotti, Sandro Botticelli, Dante Alighieri and Francesco Petrarch, to name a few. The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 1440s also contributed to a freer flow of information.

Reaching southwards to Rome, the Renaissance inspired the Italian popes to rebuild their city and Rome flourished once again. The movement also spread to Milan, Venice, and further north into Europe, influencing art, literature, philosophy, politics, science, religion and other intellectual arenas. Within Italy, the dominance of Tuscan culture led to the Tuscan dialect later becoming the official Italian language.

Foreign Rule (1559 to 1814)

Once again in this brief history of Italy, a ‘golden’ era is followed by a dark one. In 1494, France invaded northern Italy and many of the city-states collapsed. In 1527 Spain and Germany attacked Rome. By the end of the “Italian Wars” in 1559, three Italian republics regained their independence – Piedmont Savoy, Corsica-Genoa and Venice. Both Savoy and Corsica were later sold to France – Corsica in 1764 and Savoy in 1860.

By 1559 Spain controlled Milan, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia and southern Tuscany, and dominated the rulers of Tuscany, Genoa, and other smaller states in northern Italy. Spanish control of Italy lasted until 1713.

During the era of domination by Habsburg Spain (1559 to 1713) and Habsburg Austria (1713 to 1796), Italians enjoyed a long period of relative peace. During the Napoleonic era (1796 to 1814), Italy was briefly united by Napoleon as the Italian Republic and later the Kingdom of Italy, becoming a client state of the French Republic.

After the defeat of Napoleonic France in 1814, the Congress of Vienna divided Italy into eight parts, most under foreign rule: Parma, Modena and Tuscany were ruled by the Hapsburgs; Lombardy and Venetia were ruled by Austria; Piedmont-Sardinia-Genoa and the Papal States were independent; and Naples and Sicily were ruled by France. This abysmal condition was the impetus behind the Italian unification movement.

Unification (1814 to 1861)

Our brief history of Italy culminates in unification. The Risorgimento was a complex process that eventually unified the different states of the Italian peninsula into the modern nation of Italy. The movement began in 1815 with a growing resentment towards the peninsula’s domination by Austria.

Two prominent figures in the unification movement were Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi. A native of Genoa, Mazzini was imprisoned in 1830 for his role in the Carbonari secret society. From his exile in France and later England, he mounted a series of unsuccessful uprisings in Italy, but eventually worked with Garibaldi to achieve their dream of unification. His funeral in 1872 attracted 100,000 people.

Giuseppe Garibaldi was born in Nice (Nizza), and, like Mazzini, was a member of the Carbonari secret society. He fled Italy in 1834 after a failed insurrection, but returned in 1854 to continue his campaign. Italy was officially unified in 1861, with Rome and Latium annexed in 1870 and the Trieste region after World War 1.

Present Day Italy

Since unification, Italy has experienced a tumultuous period that saw a mass exodus of her people and the disastrous consequences of two World Wars. Yet over the past 60 years the country has reclaimed its position as a major social and cultural player in world affairs. Italian goods and services have excellent international reputations, and Italy remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Italy was one of the founding members of the European Economic Community, and despite the turbulent nature of Italian politics, enjoys positive economic growth and a high standard of living.

The richness of its past and the ‘live-life-to-the-fullest’ attitude of its present combine to make Italy a must-see travel destination.

Top Five Cities

Italy has many beautiful and historic cities worth a visit. Travel to cities is best done by train as driving in Italian cities may be very difficult and the extensive Italian train system is inexpensive. Most city centers are well-suited to walking and parts of the city centers may be closed to transportation. Large Italian cities generally have good public transportation, too.

1. Rome – Roma

Rome is the capital of modern Italy. Rome is full of history everywhere you look. It has many ancient monuments, interesting medieval churches, beautiful fountains, museums, and Renaissance palaces. Modern Rome is a bustling and lively city and has some excellent restaurants and nightlife. The Vatican and St. Peter’s are also found in Rome.

2. Venice Venezia

Venice is a unique city built on water in the middle of a lagoon. Venice is one of Italy’s most beautiful and romantic cities as well as one of the most popular for visitors to Italy. The heart of Venice is Piazza San Marco with its magnificent church. There are many museums, palaces, and churches to visit and wandering along Venice’s canals is interesting. Venice is in the northeast of Italy and historically was a bridge between East and West.

3. Florence – Firenze

Florence is one of the most important Renaissance architectural and art centers. Its Duomo and Baptistery are magnificent but crowded with tourists as is their large piazza. Florence has several interesting museums with many famous paintings and sculptures. There are also Medici palaces and gardens. Florence is in Tuscany.

4. Milan – Milano

Milan, one of Europe’s richest cities, is known for stylish shops, galleries, and restaurants and has a faster pace of life than most Italian cities. It also has a rich artistic and cultural heritage. Its Duomo, with its beautiful marble facade, is magnificent. La Scala is one of the world’s most famous opera houses.

5. Naples – Napoli

Naples is one of Italy’s most vibrant cities. It lies on the coast south of Rome and is the most important city in southern Italy. Naples has recently undergone some renovation but still retains much of its old character. It holds many historical and artistic treasures.


The latest population estimate from 1ST AT (Italian Statistics Office) shows 59,131,287 inhabitants in Italy in December 2006, an increase of 3 percent since 2001, Italy has the fourth largest population in the European Union (after Germany, France and the United Kingdom), and the 22nd in the world. Gradual increase of population is mainly supplemented by immigrants and an increase in life expectancy of 79,81 years. Despite population growth, Italy is rapidly ageing. With a fertility of 1.35 children per woman, almost one in five Italian inhabitants is a pensioner: if this ageing trend continues, the Italian population could shrink by a quarter by 2050.

Italy has the fifth highest population density in Europe with 196 persons per square kilometre. The highest density is in Northwestern Italy, as two regions out of twenty (Lombardy and Piedmont) combined, contain one quarter of the Italian population, where an estimated 7.4 million people live in the metropolitan Milan area. The literacy rate in Italy is 98% overall, and school is mandatory for children aged 6 to 18 Approximately two thirds of the population live in urban areas, which is much lower than other Western European nations.

Largest Cities

Rome Milan

Italian cities with a population of 300,000 or more (JSTAT data, December 2010):

Pos. Common Region Prov. Inhabitants
1 Rome Lazio RM 2,895,603
2 Milan Lombardy MI 1,203,437
3 Naples Campania NA 1,005,139
4 Turin Piedmont TO 900,569
5 Palermo Sicily PA 666,552
6 Genoa Liguria GE 615,686
7 Bologna Emilia-Romagna BO 373,026
8 Florence Tuscany FI 365,966
9 Bari Apulia BA 325,052
10 Catania Sicily CT 301,564

Government and politics

In 1946 Italy changed its government. In this year, the people voted to change their nation from a monarchy, which was ruled by a king to a republic that was headed by a president. King Humbert the 2nd fastest left the throne and the voters elected 556 members to the Constituent Assembly to write a constitution. The constitution was passed in 1947 and took effect on January 1,1948. The constitution established a government, which was made up of a president, the Council of Ministers headed by a prime minister, and a Parliament with a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies.


The president of Italy was elected to a seven-year term by both of the houses of Parliament. In Italy the president must be at least 50 years old. They show the prime minister, who forms the government. The president has the power to get ride of Parliament and call a new election. The president is the commander of the Italians. Italy doesn’t have a vice president. If the president of Italy is sick, the president of the Italian Senate takes over the job. If the president dies, a presidential election is held.

Prime Minister and Cabinet

The prime minister decides a national policy and is the most important person in the Italian government. The prime minister is picked by the president, but can be voted out of office any time. Members of the cabinet are picked by the prime minister, and usually come from the members of Parliament. The president then appoints the members to the cabinet, and they are approved by Parliament. The Italian prime minister and the cabinet are officially called the government.


The Chamber of Deputies and Senate are the Parliament. The Chamber of Deputies has 630 members who are elected by voters from 27 voting districts. The Senate has 315 members who are elected by voters, from 20 units called regions, and members picked by the President for life. Plus, former Presidents are life members. The Chamber and Senate both share equal power to pass laws. Members of each serve 5-year terms.


Judges of courts appoint rather than elect. The Italian judges get appointments during service exams. The President of the Parliament picks five of the judges from the constitution court, and 5 are by judges of other courts. The courts work under a national ministry for a justice panel of the judges.


The Amalfi Coast seen from Ravello in Campania. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy.

The Italian Alps.

With more than 46.1 million tourists a year, Italy is the fifth highest tourist earner,<href=”#cite_note-0″>[1] and fifth most visited country in the world, behind France (79.5 million), United States (62.3 million), China (57.6) and Spain (56.7 million). 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, especially those from the Greek and Roman civilization. Tourism is one of Italy’s fastest growing and most profitable industrial sectors, with an estimated revenue of $43.0 billion.



The Lungomare of Livorno, where there are several hotels which were constructed in the late-1800s and early-1900s.

People have visited Italy for centuries, yet the first to visit the peninsula for touristic reasons were aristocrats during the Grand Tour, beginning in the late 17th century, and flourishing in the 18th century.

Rome, as the capital of the powerful and influential Roman Empire, attracted thousands to the city and country from all over the empire, which included most of the Mediterranean, Northern Africa, mainland Great Britain (England) and the parts of the Middle East. Traders and merchants came to Italy from several different parts of the world.

Islands such as Capri became popular in the late 18th century and first decade of the 19th century

When the empire fell in 476 AD, Rome was no longer the epicenter of European politics and culture; on the other hand, it was the base of the papacy, which then governed the growing Christian religion, meaning that Rome remained one of Europe’s major places of pilgrimage. Pilgrims, for centuries and still today, would come to the city, and that would have been the early equivalent of “tourism” or “religious tourism”. The trade empires of Venice, Pisa and Genoa meant that several traders, businessmen and merchants from all over the world would also regularly come to Italy. In the 16th and early 17th century, with the height of the Renaissance, several students came to Italy to study Italian architecture, such as Inigo Jones.

Grand Tour

Real “tourism” only affected in Italy in the second half of the 17th century, with the beginning of the Grand Tour. This was a period in which European aristocrats, many of whom were British, visited parts of Europe; Italy, Greece and other Mediterranean places were amongst the most popular. This was in order to study ancient architecture and the local culture. The Grand Tour was in essence triggered by the book Voyage to Italy, by Roman Catholic priest Richard Lassels, and published in 1670. Once inside what would be modern-day Italy, these tourists would begin by visitng Turin for a short while. On the way there, Milan was also a popular stop, yet a trip to the city was not considered essential, and several passed by, or simply stayed for a short period of time. If a person came via boat, then they would remain a few days in Genoa. Yet, the main destination in Northern Italy was Venice, which was considered a vital stop, as well as cities around it such as Verona, Vicenza and Padua. Tourists rarely, yet occasionally, got to Trieste.

As the Tour went on, Tuscan cities were also very important itinerary stops. Florence was a major attraction, and other Tuscan towns, such as Siena, Pisa, Lucca and San Gimignano, were also considered important destinations. The most prominent stop in Central Italy, however, was Rome, a major centre for the arts and culture, as well as an essential city for a Grand Tourist. Later, they would go down to the Bay of Naples, and after their discovery in 1756, Pompeii and Herculaneum were popular too. Sicily was considered a significant part of the trail, and several, such as Goethe, visited the island.

Mass tourism

An old poster from the 1910s advertising Amalfi as a holiday destination.

Throughout the 17th to 18th centuries, the Grand Tour was mainly reserved for academics or the elite. Nevertheless, circa 1840, rail transport was introduced and the Grand Tour started to fall slightly out of vogue; hence, the first form of mass-tourism was introduced. The 1840s saw the period in which the Victorian middle classes toured the country. Several Americans were also able to visit Italy, and many more tourists came to the peninsula. Places such as Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples and Sicily still remained the top attractions. As the century progressed, less cultural visits would also be made, and several tourists came for Italy’s nature and weather. The first seaside resorts, such as those in the Ligurian coast, around Venice, coastal Tuscany and Amalfi, became popular. This vogue of summer holidays heightened in the fin-de-siècle epoch, when numerous “Grand Hotels” were built (including places such as Sanremo, Lido di Venezia, Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi). Islands such as Capri, Ischia, Procida and Elba grew in popularity, and the Northern lakes, such as Lake Como, Maggiore and Garda were more frequently visited. Tourism to Italy remained very popular until the late-1920s and early-1930s, when, with the Great Depression and economic crisis, several could no longer afford to visit the country; the increasing political instability meant that fewer tourists came. Only old touristic groups, such as the Scorpioni, remained alive.

Resorts such as Rimini became popular with Italians, especially in the 1960s and 70s.

After a big slump in tourism beginning from approximately 1929 and lasting after World War II, Italy returned to its status as a popular resort, with the Italian economic miracle and raised living standards; films such as La Dolce Vita were successful abroad, and their depiction of the country’s perceivedly idyllic life helped raise Italy’s international profile. By this point, with higher incomes, Italians could also afford to go on holiday; coastline resorts saw a soar in visitors, especially in Romagna. Many cheap hotels and pensioni (hostels) were built in the 1960s, and with the rise of wealth, by now, even a working-class Italian family could afford a holiday somewhere along the coast. The late-1960s also brought mass-popularity to mountain holidays and skiing; in Piedmont and the Aosta Valley, numerous ski resorts and chalets started being built. The 1970s also brought a wave of foreign tourists to Italy, since Mediterranean destinations saw a rise in global visitors.

Despite this, by the late-1970s and early-1980s, economic crises and political instability meant that there was a significant slump in the Italian tourist industry, as destinations in the Far East or South America rose in popularity. Yet, by the late-1980s and early-1990s, tourism saw a return to popularity, with cities such as Milan becoming more popular destinations. Milan saw a rise in tourists, since it was ripening its position as a worldwide fashion capital.

Reasons for Touring


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 which share the region’s visitors with beautiful landscapes like the Lake Como area.

Northeast Italy

Regions: Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol 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, Ravenna and Trieste. There are also several mountain ranges such as the Dolomites, the Carnic and Julian Alps and first-class ski resorts like Cortina d’Ampezzo and Madonna di Campiglio. 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, San Daniele ham and white D.O.C. wines in Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

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 and Assisi. The natural parks of Abruzzo include the Abruzzo National Park, the National Park of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga the National Park Maiella and Sirente Velino which every year attract thousands of visitors due to their nature and rare species of wildlife such as Abruzzo chamois; also the region boasts many natural reserves and areas protect.

Southern Italy

The Forum with Vesuvius in the distance. Pompeii is Italy’s third and the world’s 48th most visited destination, with over 2.5 million tourists a year.

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.


The largest island in the country is a diverse and popular tourist island, famous for its archaeology, seascape and unique Sicilian cuisine.


Large island some 250 kilometers west of the Italian coastline. It includes several popular tourist attractions and has several beaches and archaeological ruins.

Ancient resorts

Italy has some of the world’s most ancient tourist resorts, dating back to the time of the Roman Republic, when destinations such as Pompeii, Naples, Ischia, Capri and especially Baiae were popular with the rich of Roman society. Pompeii is currently Italy’s third the world’s 48th most visited tourist destination, with over 2.5 million tourists a year



Main article: Tourism in Rome

The Colosseum, Rome’s second and the world’s 39th most popular tourist attraction, with 4 million tourists a year.

Rome is one of the most visited cities in the world, with an average of 7-10 million tourists a year. The Colosseum (4 million tourists) and the Vatican Museums (4.2 million tourists) are the 39th and 37th (respectively) most visited places in the world, according to a recent study. Other main sights in the city include the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, St Peter’s Basilica, the Roman Forum, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Spanish Steps, Villa Borghese park, Piazza del Popolo, the Trastevere and the Janiculum. In 2005 the city registered 19.5 million of global visitors, up of 22.1% from 2001. and also, in 2006 Rome has been visited by 6.03 million of international tourists, reaching the 8th place in the ranking of the world’s 150 most visited cities.


Main article: Tourism in Milan

Milan Cathedral is a busy tourist spot in Milan. It is the world’s 4th biggest cathedral and took over 5 centuries to complete.

Milan is one of EU’s most important tourist destinations, and Italy’s second; with 1.902 million arrivals in 2007 and 1.914 million in 2008, it places itself 42nd and 52nd respectively, most visited city in the world. According to a particular source, 56% of international visitors to Milan are from Europe, whilst 44% of the city’s tourists are Italian, and 56% are from abroad. The most important European Union markets are the United Kingdom (16%), Germany (9%) and France (6%).<href=”″> According to the same study, most of the visitors who come from the USA to the city go on business matters, whilst Chinese and Japanese tourists mainly take up the leisure segment. The city boasts several popular tourist attractions, such as the city’s Duomo and Piazza, the Teatro alla Scala, the San Siro Stadium, the Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery, the Sforza Castle, the Pinacoteca di Brera and the Via Monte Napoleone. Most tourists visit sights such as Milan Cathedral, the Sforza Castle and the Teatro alla Scala, however, other main sights such as the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, the Navigli and the Brera district are less visited and prove to be less popular. The city also has numerous hotels, including the ultra-luxurious Town House Galleria, which is the world’s first seven-star hotel, ranked officially by the Société Générale de Surveillance, and one of The Leading Hotels of the World. The average stay for a tourist in the city is of 3.43 nights, whilst foreigners stay for longer periods of time, 77% of which stay for a 2-5 night average. Of the 75% of visitors which stay in hotels, 4-star ones are the most popular (47%), whilst 5-stars, or less than 3-stars represent 11% and 15% of the charts respectively.

Other cities

Florence and the River Arno, with Ponte Vecchio in the foreground

  • Bologna—home of the first university in the western world. This city has a rich history, culture, and technology. Bologna is well known for its cuisine.
  • Florence (Firenze)—the city of Renaissance. This city is known for its architecture and art and for the impact it has had throughout the world. Florence is also home to Michelangelo’s famous statue of David. Home too many other well-known museums of art.
  • Genoa (Genova)—it was one of the most important medieval maritime republics. Very wealthy and diverse city. Its port brings in tourism and trade, along with art and architecture. Genoa is birthplace of Columbus and jeans.
  • Naples (Napoli)—is one of the oldest cities of the western world, with a historic city centre that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Naples is also near the famous volcano Vesuvius and the ruins of the ancient Roman towns of Pompeii and Ercolano.
  • Pisa—one the medieval maritime republic, is home to the unmistakable image of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Very touristy city. Streets are filled with vendors who will try to sell you anything. Famous too for the University “La Normale”.
  • Turin (Torino)—first capital of Italy, after being the capital of Kingdom of Sardinia (actually Piedmont-centred), what had promoted national reunification. Home of the FIAT, the most important industry in Italy,. Turin is a well-known industrial city, based on the aerospace industry and, of course, automobile industry. Home of the 2006 Winter Olympics.
  • Venice (Venezia)—known for its history (the most important, beside Genoa and Pisa, of the medieval maritime republics), art, and world famous canals. One of the most beautiful cities in Italy; it is home to Island of Murano, which is famous for its hand-blown glass. St. Mark’s Square is where most of the tourists are and can get very crowded in the summertime.

Other Popular destinations

Apart from Rome, Milan, Venice and Florence are the top destinations for tourism in Italy. Other major tourist locations include Turin, Naples, Padua, Bologna, Perugia, Genoa, Sicily, Sardinia, Salento and Cinque Terre. Two factors in each of these locations are history and geography. The Roman Empire, middle ages, and renaissance have left many cultural artifacts for the Italian tourist industry to use. Many northern cities are also able to use the Alps as an attraction for winter sports, while coastal southern cities have the Mediterranean Sea to draw tourists looking for sun.

Italy is home to <href=”#Italy” title=”List of World Heritage Sites in Europe”>forty sevenUNESCO World Heritage Sites,<href=”#cite_note-19″>[20] more than any other country, including many entire cities such as Verona, Siena, Vicenza, Ferrara, San Gimignano, Urbino, Matera, Pompei, Noto and Siracusa. Ravenna hosts an unprecedented eight different internationally recognized sites.

Tours and Packages Available

Taste of Italy Day Tour from Rome including Chianti and Umbria

Duration: 13 hours (approx). Departs from: Rome, Italy

When you think of Italy, do you think of food and wine? Combine it all on this tour off the beaten track to experience just a taste of Italy in parts of Tuscany and Umbria.

From USD $155.27.

Afternoon Tour to the chianti Region with Wine Tasting and Dinner from Florence.

During: 9 hours (approx.)

On this Afternoon Tour to the chianti Region with Wine Tasting and Dinner, you can enjoy two of the greatest aspect of Tuscany-food and wine. After a tour of the region and a local wine tasting. From USD $93.90

Tuscan Cooking Course and Dinner in Florence

Duration : 4.5 hours (approx.) departs from: Florence, Italy

If you have always wanted to learn how to cook Italian food, them this may be the tour for you. A skilled chef will demonstrate how to prepare a Tuscan menu, followed by the enjoyable task of eating it from USD $77.80 Bottom of Form

Florence, Chianti, Umbria Two Day Tour-Discover the Taste of Italy

Duration: 2 days/1 night (approx.)

Departs from: Rome, Italy

Experience the unforgettable city of Florence before you overnight in a farmhouse set amongst the green hills of the Umbria region. Let this tour take you off the beaten track to experience just a taste

From USD $409.13 per pers