Italy Location and Geography:
Italy is a Mediterranean country in the south of Europe. Its west coast is the Mediterranean Sea and the east coast is the Adriatic. France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia form its northern border. Its highest point, in Monte Bianco, is 4748 meters. The mainland is a peninsula and Italy also includes the two large islands of Sicily and Sardinia.
Italy Geography Map and Basic Facts
Climate and When to Vacation in Italy:
Italy enjoys a predominantly Mediterranean (mild) climate with a colder Alpine climate in the mountains to the north and a hot and drier climate in the south. Italy's coasts are pleasant almost all year, although swimming is mostly limited to summer months. Much of Italy is very hot in summer and summer is the height of vacation season. Probably the best seasons to visit Italy are late spring and early fall.
When to Go to Italy
More about Italy's Climate on Wandering Italy
Regions of Italy:
Transportation to and within Italy:
Italy's official language is Italian, but there are many regional dialects. German is spoken in the northeastern region of Trentino-Alto Adige and there are small French-speaking populations in the Valle d'Aosta region to the northwest and a Slovene-speaking minority in the Trieste area to the northeast. Many Sardinians still speak Sardo in the home.
Italian Language on about.com
Italian Currency and Time Zone:
Italy uses the euro, the same currency used in most of Europe. 100 euro cents = 1 euro. At the time the Euro was adopted, its value was set at 1936.27 Italian Lire (the previous unit of currency).
Italy's time is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+1)
Non-EU visitors to Italy need a valid Passport. The maximum length of stay is 90 days. For longer stays, visitors will need a special permit. Visitors from some countries may be required to have a visa to enter Italy. EU visitors can enter Italy with only a national identity card.
See Italy Visa Requirements and How Long Can I Stay in Europe? for more information.
Religion in Italy:
The main religion is Catholic but there are some small Protestant and Jewish communities and an increasing Muslim immigrant population. The seat of Catholicism is Vatican City, the Pope's residence. In Vatican City you can visit St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the extensive Vatican Museums. Vatican City Travel Essentials
Major Travel Destinations in Italy:
Italian Hotels and Vacation Lodging:
Italian hotels are rated from one to five stars, although the rating system doesn't mean the same thing it does in the United States. Here's an explanation of the European hotel stars
from Europe for Visitors. My favorite booking site for Italian hotels is Venere.com
, where you'll find guest reviews, hotel photos, and can easily check rates for your dates and make reservations. For top-rated hotels in the most popular places see Best Places to Stay in Top Destinations
For longer stays, an agriturismo or vacation rental is a good idea. These rentals are usually by the week and often include some kitchen facilities. Read more about Self-Catering Vacations in Europe.
Italy also has a good network of Hostels, offering budget lodging options. Read more about Staying in a Hostel and Hostel FAQs on our Student Travel site.
More: Places to Stay in Italy
Saving Money on Your Vacation
Even with increasing costs and decreasing dollar value, Italy can still be affordable. See our Tips for Italy Budget Travel
for suggestions on how to save money on your Italy vacation.