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 Travel Guides > Italy



Florence - Duomo

General Information

AREA: 301,323 sq km (116,341 sq miles).

POPULATION: 57,268,578.

POPULATION DENSITY: 190.1 per sq km.

CAPITAL: Rome. Population: 2,687,881

RELIGION: Roman Catholic with Protestant minorities.

TIME: GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in September).

ELECTRICITY: 220 volts AC, 50Hz.


GEOGRAPHY: Italy is situated in Europe and attached in the north to the European mainland. To the north the Alps separate Italy from France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.


Northern Italy: The Alpine regions, the Po Plain and the Ligurian-Etruscan Appennines. Piemonte and Val d'Aosta contain some of the highest mountains in Europe and are good areas for winter sports. Many rivers flow down from the mountains towards the Po Basin, passing through the beautiful Italian Lake District (Maggiore, Como, Garda). The Po Basin, which extends as far south as the bare slopes of the Appennines, is covered with gravel terraces and rich alluvial soil and has long been one of Italy's most prosperous regions. To the east, where the River Po flows into the Adriatic Sea, the plains are little higher than the river itself; artificial (and occasionally natural) embankments prevent flooding.


Central Italy: The northern part of the Italian peninsula. Tuscany (Toscana) has a diverse landscape with snow-capped mountains (the Tuscan Appennines), lush countryside, hills and a long sandy coastline with offshore islands. Le Marche, lying between the Appennines and the Adriatic coast, is a region of mountains, rivers and small fertile plains. The even more mountainous regioni (administrative districts) of Abruzzo and Molise are bordered by Marche to the north and Puglia to the south, and are separated from the Tyrrhenian Sea and to the west by Lazio and Campania. Umbria is known as the `green heart of Italy', hilly with broad plains, olive groves and pines. Further south lies Rome, Italy's capital and largest city. Within its precincts is the Vatican City.


Southern Italy: Campania consists of flat coastal plains and low mountains, stretching from Baia Domizia to the Bay of Naples and along a rocky coast to the Calabria border. Inland, the Appennines are lower, mellowing into the rolling countryside around Sorrento. The islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida in the Tyrrhenian Sea are also part of Campania. The south is wilder than the north, with mile upon mile of olive trees, cool forests and rolling hills. Puglia, the `heel of the boot', is a landscape of volcanic hills and isolated marshes. Calabria, the `toe', is heavily forested and thinly populated. The Calabrian hills are home to bears and wolves.


The Islands: Sicily (Sicilia), visible across a 3km (2 mile) strait from mainland Italy, is fertile but mountainous with volcanoes (including the famous landmark of Mount Etna) and lava fields, and several offshore islands. Sardinia (Sardegna) has a mountainous landscape, fine sandy beaches and rocky offshore islands.


LANGUAGE: Italian is the official language. Dialects are spoken in different regions. German and Ladin are spoken in the South Tyrol region (bordering Austria). French is spoken in all the border areas from the Riviera to the area north of Milan (border with France and Switzerland). German is spoken around the Austrian border. English, German and French are also spoken in the biggest cities and resorts by people connected with tourism.


COMMUNICATIONS: Telephone: Full IDD service available. Country code: 39 (followed by 0 6 for Rome, 0 2 for Milan, 0 11 for Turin, 0 81 for Naples, 0 41 for Venice and 0 55 for Florence). Outgoing international code: 00. Telephone kiosks accept Lit100, Lit200 and Lit500 coins, as well as gettoni, tokens which are available at tobacconists and bars. There are some card phones, and phonecards can be purchased at post offices, tobacconists and certain newsagents. Fax: Some hotels have facilities. Telegram: Both internal and overseas telegrams may be dictated over the telephone. Post: The Italian postal system tends to be subject to delays. Letters between Italy and other European countries usually take a week to ten days to arrive. Letters intended for Poste Restante collection should be addressed to Fermo Posta and the town. Stamps are sold in post offices and tobacconists. Post office hours: 0800/0830-1200/1230 and 1400/1430-1730/1800 Monday to Friday; Saturday mornings only. Press: The main towns publish a weekly booklet with entertainment programs, sports events, restaurants, nightclubs, etc. There are several English-language publications: monthly magazines Italy-Italy (Rome), Grapevine (on the Lucca area) and The Informer (Milan), as well as Wanted In Rome, published twice monthly, and the English-language newspaper, Daily American (Rome). Among the most important Italian dailies are La Stampa (Turin), Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), Il Messaggero (Rome), Il Giorno (Milan) and Il Giornale (Milan).



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