Italy is a popular sophisticated destination,well known throughout the world for its cultural heritage, cuisine and stunning various landscapes. It is a mountainous peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea. To the north there is a mountainous area called the Alps, that separates Italy from France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia. At the south of the Alps is the Po Valley, a fertile farm land and the basin of the Po River, the longest Italian river. Sicily is located across the narrow strait of Messina where there is Mt. Etna, the highest European vulcano and many small vulcanic islands. The island of Sardinia has a mountainous landscape, and the most enchanting beaches of Italy!
Within the borders of Italy lie two of Italy's independent countries, the Vatican and the world's smallest country and ancient republic, San Marino.
The climate in Italy is mild and temperate but varies from one region to another. In northern Italy, the temperature is relatively cold during winter and most areas have a lot of snow, while southern and central Italy has a more pleasant winter and a warmer climate with hot dry summers.
Italy's population is well over 55 million with more than three million people living in Rome, the Italian capital. Italian is the official language of the country but there are also small groups of German, French, and Slovene speaking minorities, located in the northern alpine valleys and cities. A large majority of Italians are Roman Catholics. A small minority of Italians are Jews, Orthodox and Muslims.
The old Italian currency, the LIRA was converted to the Euro along with other twelve European Union countries in January of 2002.
Italy is known as the world's "living art gallery", with both art and architectural masterpieces created throughout the centuries, attracting hundreds of thousands of travelers each year from every part of the globe. Visiting Italy means a full immersion in art, history and culture, from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to Rome with the archeological treasures of ancient Romans, to the antique buildings, fountains and museums, when the city was the capital of the Vatican state, with some of the world's most famous painters. Florence, the home of Giotto and Dante and capital of Renaissance of art, is awash in history with ancient churches, villas, and palazzos.
Every turn in Venice is a dip in its rich past of the independent Republic, “Serenissima”, from The San Marco Cathedral, a 13th century church, the square or a monument. The Doge's Palace and the Bridge of Sighs are just a couple of the city's jewels.
Besides the unending, tangible history and culture , the nation has remarkable enchanting landscapes. Tourists can go skiing in the Alps, visit Roman ruins and Greek temples, or explore the charming Tuscan landscapes, visit the elegant beauties of the Lake Districts, or relax and enjoy the stunning views offered by the Amalfi coast, Capri and Ischia.
As one of the world's best-loved destinations, Italy is the land of la dolce vita meaning "the sweet life". After an adventure tourists can unwind, relax, and be pampered by staying at one of Italy’s high end spas or simply enjoy Italy's sophisticated dining pleasures, various places where to experience the real Italian cooking and typical dishes.
Pasta is the most common course in an Italian meal, cooked in various different ways from region to region, while the Neapolitan Pizza is the symbol of Italian food all over the world,. Meat is not common in most Italian homes but instead Italian diets are full of vegetables, fruits, seafood, veal, or chicken. Gelato(ice cream) is available in many different flavors mostly home made, which can be found in the Gelaterias around the country.