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  Italy

CAPITAL : Rome
POPULATION : 60,231,214 (2009 estimate)
DISTRICTS : 20; Lazio (capital district)
RELIGION : Christian (Roman Catholic)
TIME : CET (Central European Time)
CURRENCY : Euro

Overview 

There are many descriptors for Italy: voluptuous, steeped in culture, historic, spontaneous, rich and religious are all applicable. Italy is one of the most prominent influences in western culture and history, contributing immensely towards religion, philosophy, art and politics. 

Geographic 

Italy, ‘the Boot’, juts southwards from continental Europe, overseeing the Mediterranean Sea. A generally rocky but resource-rich country, Italy has a diverse climate that is Mediterranean and sunny in the south, and grows progressively more continental and prone to colder, temperate climes to the north, where the country terminates at the Swiss border and the Alps. Italy also has numerous rivers criss-crossing its landscape, carving the countryside into multiple valleys, rolling hills and beautiful mountain scenes. 

History 

Despite existing long before then as a nation, it was not until the rise of the Roman Empire that Italy began its most memorable chapter in history. Influencing the entirety of Europe – and ultimately the rest of the world – through laws, languages and the most innovative and pioneering highway system of the ancient world, Italy has a diverse and colourful history. This is also evident in its later influences; the Renaissance period was an explosion of cultural progress. Monuments like the Roman Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, the ruins of Pompey and the still-picturesque city of Venice have drawn tourists to Italian shores for centuries. 

Economy and Infrastructure 

Italy like many EU countries, has undergone massive infrastructure enhancements during the last decade. The country has a rich import-export economy, importing crucial necessities like power while exporting food and clothes, not to mention more sophisticated and recognizable products like cars. Italy is also the world’s biggest producer of wine, and trade with EU partner countries like France, Germany and Spain provides Italy with a prolific and productive economy.  

Cuisine 

Italy produces some of the most iconic dishes known today. These dishes, like lasagne, pizza, many types of pasta, focaccia and gelato, as well as espresso, are known and emulated throughout the world. Food in Italy is fairly cheap, but there is no skimping on quality, which adds to the ideal for tourists. Ethnic restaurants and cuisine are also becoming more popular. 

Getting There

There are many discount airlines that fly to Italy from the UK and US. International flights to Italy are a bit more expensive than normal, but Italy can also be reached via high-speed railways, highways, ferries and sea travel.   

Interesting Facts 

  • The Basilica of Saint Peter, in the Vatican City of Rome, is the world’s largest Christian monument.
  • The world’s oldest pizzeria, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, opened in the city of Naples in 1830.
  • Tiramisu, a world-famous Italian coffee- and chocolate-based dessert, literally translates as “pick-me-up”.
  • The city of Rome loves its cats; there are over 300,000 of them in the city alone.
  • The Venice Film Festival is the oldest show of its kind in the world, and first started running in 1932.
 
 
 

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