AREA: 301,323 sq km (116,341 sq miles).
POPULATION DENSITY: 190.1 per sq km.
CAPITAL: Rome. Population:
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
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
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
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
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
German is spoken around the Austrian border. English, German and French
are also spoken in the biggest cities and resorts by people connected with
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).